I don’t remember what we were talking about when it happened. I just remember I was having a nice time eating my buffalo chicken salad in the booth of the restaurant when my Mom cried out, “Oh no! Bekah!”
But it was too late. My two-year-old daughter who was sitting in my lap, began throwing up right there in the booth. “Give her the bag!” Mom said.
I scrambled for the plastic Target bag next to me, and held it out, missing most of it, and catching only a few ounces. I sprang up from the booth, holding her in my arms, wet with vomit and ran through the restaurant, yelling, “Excuse us!” at a crowd of people in the lobby, who moved like frantic seagulls as we dashed wildly through them. I was still clutching the plastic bag of puke in my hand, which I’m sure left a nice trail behind us.
As we burst into the ladies’ room, she threw up again, on the floor in front of the sink.
I locked us into the first open stall and squatted next to the toilet, holding her frail little body on my knee and told her, “You can throw up in the toilet, okay?” But she just looked at me with her deep blue eyes, and started crying, “I’m sorry Mommy.” She collapsed her blonde head on my shoulder, “I’m sorry.”
And my heart wrenched. “Oh honey,” I said, pulling her close to my chest, “You don’t have to be sorry. It’s okay.”
Mom came in and handed us baby wipes under the bathroom stall door and helped us into our car. She wished me well, gave me a hug and some hand sanitizer. And we headed out for our hour journey home.
In the car, she fell fast asleep just minutes after pulling out of the parking lot. And as I drove, she smelled like throw up, and so did I. Her clothes were wet with it, and so were mine. But I couldn’t help glancing into the rearview mirror at her–sleeping with her head cocked, still holding the empty box of wipes I had given her to catch her throw up in.
And I never loved her more.
My heart ached with love for her.
I just wanted to stop the car and crawl back there and hold her, just as she was. I wanted to keep telling her it was okay, and that I was taking care of her, and that I wouldn’t leave her side. I wanted to tell her, even in her mess, that she was still so beautiful to me. That she was never more precious.
That I loved being her mom.
Tears trickled down my cheeks, as I drove the interstate that day. Love-sick for her.
And as I drove, and glanced at her, precious and asleep, I thought of God.
Of how He feels about us.
Because He knows what it’s like to be a parent. He knows exactly how it feels. This. This deep ache of love.
This love I feel today, that is so tender and violent, it would move mountains, and rend heavens, and go to the ends of the earth to rescue her–He feels this all the time.
For His sons.
And His daughters.
When He finds us deep in our mess, our weakness, our sickness, with throw up in our hair and tears on our cheeks. He doesn’t run from us.
He runs to us.
He sprints, He chases wildly. He scoops us into His arms. He washes us. And clothes us. And comes to our rescue.
And this is why He came.
For, “He remembers that we are dust.” And He is gentle, and kind, full of mercy and compassion, slow to anger, and rich in love. “A bruised reed He will not break, a smoldering wick, He will not snuff out.” 12:20
And Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
I look back in the rearview mirror again, and see her. And love her. With aching love. And know, just a little bit, of how God feels toward me. Toward every son. And every daughter.
In need of rescue.