My grandfather’s bucket list.

When I was pregnant with my first, my grandfather shyly asked me if he could attend the birth. So shyly, in fact, he went through my mom.

Papa would really like to be there when Ames is born. He’ll stay wherever you put him, but he’s never seen a baby be born. Not even his own kids. You know they didn’t allow it back then.

I cannot even imagine what it would feel like to know my husband was out on the golf course smoking cigars while I sweated and grunted and bellowed a baby out into the world. Thank God I had him right there with me all three times for all four babies. Anyway, I told my mom that OF COURSE Papa could be at the birth. We had already announced we’d name our son after him, so it was only fitting.

I remember sitting on the birthing ball twenty-some-odd hours in. I was naked and nobody could keep me dressed to save a life. I’d yelled for my dad to be brought in, and he sat obediently and silently in the corner with a newspaper up, giving me an approving nod every now and then when I demanded eye contact. What can I say? I had some serious Daddy issues growing up.

But here’s what else I remember – my Papa. Being escorted in, after the midwives whispered that my mom might want to get him if he didn’t want to miss it. At this point, I’d lost count of how many adults were in a room cheering for me while I sat on a birthing ball, and then a birthing stool… naked. Tired, sweaty, swollen, sore. Defeated, as the night dragged on and the clock struck three and my son still hadn’t come yet.

But my Papa. Standing in the doorway, one fist in the air, smiling ear to ear with tears in his eyes. He had waited all night for this. He had waited his whole life for this. He quietly repeated himself over and over as Ames arrived into my hands.

Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

Fast forward six years. Ames had made the decision to follow Jesus a year prior, but the opportunity had come for him to be baptized. My grandparents faithfully made plans to attend, my mom scheduled to drive them down for the week. One night at dinner, we asked Papa if he had ever participated in a baptism. Declaring he hadn’t, we asked if he’d like to baptize Ames. He just smiled with an OF COURSE like the one I’d given him years ago.

Last night, I got to experience birth from a different angle. I stood outside the tub while my grandfather gingerly backed into the water to join my son. He stood patiently and followed the pastor’s cues, and then he helped lower my boy into the water and bring him back up again.

There he was again, smiling ear to ear with tears in his eyes. He had waited all day for this. He had waited his whole life for this. And don’t you know there was a fist in the air when it was all said and done, with a quiet but sure response to the celebration happening around him.

Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

Just you wait.

I used to say that people meant well when they said it, but now I’m not even sure I believe that anymore. I heard it when I graduated high school and the world was my oyster. I heard it when I’d just said “I do.” I heard it when I found out I was pregnant, and when I took two hours to get out of the house with one baby. I heard it at the grocery store when I tried to keep eyes on the kids and the cart and the list. I still hear it when I meet a couple who has been married twenty years.

JUST YOU WAIT.

Just you wait until you get out of college with all of that debt and can’t find a job. Just you wait until y’all start having babies. Just you wait until the birth. Just you wait until you have more than one kid to look after. Just you wait until they’re asking to borrow the car. Just you wait until you’re a homeowner and the water heater bursts. Just you wait until you have an empty nest. Just you wait until the arthritis sets in and the hearing starts to go.

Can we just not? If our only job as Jesus-followers is to shine his light, can we just not talk like that to people? And while I’m on my soapbox, why do I hear the phrase coming from more women than men? It ain’t cool. It ain’t pure. It ain’t lovely.

I would’ve given anything for a sweet college grad to lead me in deep-breathing exercises while I filled out applications. This is so important, yes, but it’s not life or death. It’s just not.

I would’ve given anything for a married woman to squeeze my newly-engaged hand. It’s gonna be great. It’s gonna be so hard, and so holy.

I would’ve given anything for a seasoned mom to rub my pregnant belly – no, my back. Or my feet. It hurts so much, doesn’t it? Your body, your brain, your heart. This is what lovesick feels like.

To this day, I would love to run into a nice couple while I’m out on a date with my husband, a couple who stays quiet when they find out how many kids we have and instead, tells me everything with a smile. You’re doing great. These are good years.

Always the clarifier, I must do so here. I’m still in the thick of dealing with my own pride and defensiveness. Heck, I’ll probably always be in the thick of dealing with it. The last couple of years have been ones during which I’ve learned to receive correction and constructive feedback. And I’m still on that journey. I’m letting the Lord lead me to see how humble can I get, how vulnerable can I get, how soft I can get.

I know I can’t be found out. I know I’m seen and loved. I know I don’t need approval from anywhere or anyone else and yet at the same time, I try to live in a space where trusted people have the freedom to speak truth into my life and choices and relationships. But I’m not talking about the folks who have patched you up in the trenches and sent you back out to battle. I’m talking loose lips. I’m talking flippant speech. I’m talking “if you can’t say something nice…”

I’m talking about taking James 3 seriously. How powerful would it be, to shift a generation of naysayers into a generation of encouragers? What if we turned “just you wait” from a negative to a positive? What if women moved through seasons of life feeling empowered and spurred on by other women, instead of challenged and threatened? What in heaven’s name would that look like? Can you even imagine?

Just you wait, it’s gonna be incredible. Just you wait, you’ll look back on this and smile so hard. Just you wait, you won’t regret what’s coming next. Just you wait, God is mighty in you and he’ll blow your mind if you let him.

JUST YOU WAIT.

What I can do – a day in the life of a white woman with privilege.

How do you tell people one of your 2016 goals is to see more racial reconciliation? How do you quantify unity and healing when people ask about your aspirations for the year? How do you put words to something like that, and keep it from looking hollow and trite when it’s written down on the same piece of paper as “read thirty books?”

I don’t know. I don’t have answers for avoiding the discomfort of the discussion, just like I don’t have answers to the problem of racial inequality in America as a whole. But I do know that I want to be part of the solution. I do want to hold this whole thing up to Jesus. I do want to lock arms with a generation that ends racism once and for all, by standing on the shoulders of the generations who have fought the good fight before us.

So how do I respond when people ask why Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar made me weep this month? How on earth can I encourage other people with my baby steps? A day in the life snapshot, perhaps? A day in the life of a thirty year-old white woman with privilege who longs for racial reconciliation in her community and beyond? You want a bullet point list? Because that’s all I’ve got these days.

I can talk about race on a regular basis, with my friends and family. I can address phrases and lingo and headlines head-on with my children around the dinner table. Yes, all lives matter. And they’ll matter even more when black lives matter.

I can cross the tracks. I can literally drive my truck across the railroad tracks one town over and frequent a barber shop where we’re the only white people. I can sit in that uncomfortable feeling, exchanging side-eye and shy smiles, and realize that it’s what my black neighbors endure every day of their lives, depending on the situation. I’m just here for a haircut.

I can use emojis with diverse skin tones on my iPhone. Because black is beautiful and nobody’s actually that bright shade of yellow and those little brown fists were a long time coming.

I can open my home to people who don’t look like me. I can cook for my neighbors and ask them to get a little awkward with me because I’m doing my best and I just don’t want to live in a bubble forever.

I can pray. I can pray for hearts to be healed. I can pray for eyes to be opened. I can pray for a renewal of our justice system, redemption of relationships and restored reputations of people – red and yellow black and white, for they are precious in His sight; and Lord Jesus, please make them all precious in mine.