It all started with Eden. She is slightly paranoid. Very smart but slightly paranoid. She had just gotten out of the shower and she was standing in front of me, wrapped in a towel, asking if she could put some Polysporin on a mark on her leg that she thought was infected.
I don’t know about you but my mind likes to run away with me. I call them rabbit trails. Just go out for coffee with me and watch where the conversation goes. Yes, I am getting better. But that night, I just let my mind run. I won’t bore you with the story of how I went from antibacterial ointment to where the trail ended. You might think that I am losing it. Suffice to say, I ended up on belly buttons.
No, I will not be showing you an assortment of pics of belly buttons. I don’t show anyone mine. Mine has gone through stretching and shrinking too many times to ever be considered attractive. If there is such a thing as an attractive belly button. To me, belly buttons are about connection. I have told my kids ever since they were little that their belly buttons were very special. Their belly buttons mark the spot where their umbilical cords connected them to me in my womb. Needless to say I love their belly buttons. I know, I’m weird.
Pete and I attended a GriefShare group at our church after Arlynne died. During one of the sessions, a man started telling me how I wouldn’t be Arlynne’s mom in heaven. And it upset me. A lot.
I guess what I was afraid of was that this beautiful daughter that I gave birth to would no longer consider me to be her mother. She wouldn’t value me. She wouldn’t need me. So I would be nothing.
I often think about Heaven. I think we, as human beings, are meant to ask questions about eternity. If we weren’t we wouldn’t have questions about God. I believe that He made us to want to know what is next. Those questions draw me to Him. Most people have had thoughts about what follows life on this planet. Losing someone close to me made me think about it so much more. It becomes very important. So it made me think, “Would I still be Arlynne’s mom in heaven?”.
The book of Luke paints a picture of one aspect of life in Heaven. The Sadducees (a religious sect of Jews) were questioning Jesus about life after the resurrection. According to Jewish custom, when a woman married a man and he died without having children, his brother is expected to have children with the widow. The Sadducees try to trip Jesus up by asking Him who the woman’s husband will be in Heaven. “Jesus replies, ‘The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage'” (Luke 20:34-35 NIV). I guess what that says to me is that my relationships in Heaven will definitely be different than they are now. My focus will be different. It will all be about my Father God and His Son.
My kids, especially the twins, have had lots of questions about Arlynne’s body. It is always a challenge to answer. Especially when we are at the cemetry and Nathan is standing about 3 feet away from Arlynne’s headstone and asking if he is “standing on Arlynne”. There is nothing like a child to force me to figure out what I really believe. We have had a lot of discussions about souls and physical bodies. I love Stephen Curtis Chapman’s album “Beauty Will Rise”. He and his wife, Mary Beth, buried their 5 year old daughter and he wrote this album that really expresses the heart of a grieving parent. I can’t tell you how many times I have listened to it and cried along. The last song on the album is called “Spring Is Coming” and he describes burying his daughter’s body like planting a seed. A seed does not usually ressemble the plant that it will grow into. Unless you have a seed packet or an incredible knowledge in botany, you might have no idea what will come up in time. My friend says she wants to be in the cemetery, by her son’s grave, when Jesus returns so that she can watch him come back to life. I can’t say I feel like that. But the Bible says that “the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16 NIV). Knowing the laws of this world and things like decomposition, I am thankful that God will give her a new body. I might not know exactly what it looks like but I will know it is Arlynne.
In 2 Corinthians 5:1-3 Paul calls the bodies we inhabit on this earth a “tent”. Temporary. I used to like camping but I wouldn’t want to live in a tent for any length of time. I am waiting for the permanent dwelling. The indestructable, uncorruptible, beautiful body that my Father God will clothe me in when this world is finally gone. And it will be perfect. Untainted by sin. It is what my body longs for. It groans for.
If you know me, you will know I have a “thing” for butterflies (see blog entry entitled “Reminders of Grace” to read the whole story). This life on earth could be compared to living as a caterpillar. We are definitely alive but the best is yet to come. I believe that I will be transformed when I get to Heaven. Just like a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. I don’t know if I will have wings there. I don’t think so. The Bible says I won’t be an angel but I will live among them. And our bodies will be changed. Without pain. Immortal. Indestructible.
Arlynne’s physical body is under the ground right now but the part of her that loved us and loved God with all her might, her soul, is already with her Saviour. Paul writes about himself in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that he would be “satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord” (HCSB). I believe that is true. As soon as Arlynne died, she was with Jesus. I cling to that hope.
Will I still be Arlynne’s mom in Heaven? Will we still have that external marking of connection on our bellies? I don’t know. But it doesn’t really matter. I know I will be at perfect peace there. I will be with my Saviour. Arlynne won’t need someone to look after her because she is in the safest place there is. And her Heavenly Father is her protector. I may not be her mother anymore. She may not have a belly button to mark the spot that connected her to me. But I can be her friend. Her fellow redeemed soul. Her sibling in Christ.
Heaven will be the place where we will finally have a rest from all of earth’s travail. That might even include mothering. But I will have my Saviour to give me a new name (“You will be called by a new name that the Lord’s mouth will announce.” Isaiah 62:2 HCSB). And I believe that I will have a new identity. The bride of Christ. A child of the Most High. An heir to the King of all creation. And that sounds okay to me.