After 11 years of infertility, and miscarriage, the Lord gave me and my husband 3 children in 3 ½ years. When our first live child was born we were certain we would remember every smile, breath, outfit, coo, and developmental milestone. By the time the third came along, my husband was in seminary and working full time, and I was horrified to realize that I had forgotten more of their fledgling years than I remembered. In our few hours of adult conversation each day, I would try to recall to Jonathan every cute moment, smile, and point of joy, only to realize they had slipped from my mind in less than 12 hours. I could not believe I was failing so badly at cherishing my children.
Just about two years ago, in my 40s, God gave us a bonus baby. She is the delight of the entire family and is at the stage of development when everything is new and growing. Her words and skills and expressions are new minute by minute. I tried to photograph everything that made us laugh, but so often trying to document an event just distracted me from it, or stopped it completely. The joy of the moment is more important to me now than remembering it forever. If I forget the way she waved her hands in the air that one time on that one walk, it doesn’t change the joy of watching it right then. A moment can be beautiful, and important, and fleeting all at the same time.
Like too many humans, I have dreaded the notion of being forgotten. I have prioritized those things I believed would lead to being memorialized in some way. I have chafed against an ordinary life that appears to leave no generational legacy. I have sought out that single piece of amber in which to encase a piece of my life for posterity. Now, as I watch the bonus toddler’s moments of discovery and delight, knowing that I will forget more of them than I will remember, I understand that this moment is like my life. If no one remembers my name in two generations, it will not mean my life was unimportant. The laughter, celebration, and delight I experience is real, beautiful, and fleeting.
Still, like so many biblical truths, this one is held in balance with another. We are like grass, and dust, and chaff. We are also cherished by our Heavenly Father. My days are a vapor, yet He has numbered every one and written them in his book. Humanity may forget my name, but my creator has known me from before the foundations of the earth were laid. Those moments of unfettered delight that slip from my mind in a heartbeat are forever in the mind of God, who authored them, and cherishes them, and is glorified in them. I cannot hold every moment of my children’s lives in my mind, but He can, and does. I am both more fragile and fleeting than I want to acknowledge, and more treasured and fully known than I can ever imagine.
This is all just dust; eternal, God-glorifying, dust.