Hands down, the hardest thing about being a single mom is leaving my girls on a somewhat regular basis. I have to get in my car and drive away from them. With an empty heart and empty car seats in the back. It hurts. Bad. Every single time.
For a while, I tried to distract myself on the drive home. You can read about my “99 problems” theory here. It works for the most part, but it didn’t help all the time.
I would tell myself that God was there, dutifully watching over them. They are, after all, His precious daughters too. There wasn’t anything that God wasn’t in control of. That was comforting and helped. But it couldn’t quell the knot in my stomach.
Then, one afternoon, it hit me. A very tangible solution.
You see, from an early age, I was reminded regularly that Jesus was always watching me. No matter what I was doing, according to my parents and Sunday School teachers, Jesus was always there. And instead of accepting it as a loving sentiment, it just plain freaked me out. I didn’t like that at all. Just another set of eyes to stare at me while I slept, along with the puppets and dolls in my room.
My little mind deduced that this Jesus MUST be hiding in my closet; since there was nowhere else a grown man in a flowing white robe could possibly fit in my little bedroom. I’d insist that my mother close the closet door promptly upon tucking me in. That way, I could sleep in peace without those eyes ALWAYS WATCHING.
What I imagined as a child wasn’t the typical imagery of Michelangelo’s Pieta. My Cartoon Jesus was way more brawny and way less bony. He was a larger than life super hero. You didn’t mess with Cartoon Jesus. He was enormous. Draped upon his broad and sturdy shoulders was a flowing white robe—his enormous feet always sporting massive leather mandals. He was intimidating. It wasn’t until I truly believed that he was there to protect me and not get me, that I could tolerate the idea of Cartoon Jesus following me around all day. Only then did I picture his huge, capable, loving, hands and warm, friendly smile.
As I’ve grown up, my mental picture of God has shifted away from that of a cartoon super hero. It’s to be expected as I’ve learned more about faith and life and love. But I’ve realized that there is a lot to be said for the Cartoon Jesus of my youth. So maybe I’m not with my girls all the time. Whether they are at daycare or with their dad—no doubt Cartoon Jesus is there. Protecting them. Watching over them. Loving them.
And when I’m able to picture it that way, the knot in my stomach subsides. Just like that.
These days, I think of Cartoon Jesus often—like when there has been an uncomfortable exchange with you-know-who. I imagine answering the door with the 8-foot-tall, mega-savior behind me. Who’s gonna mess with me then? There’s nothing I can’t face with him in my corner. When I’m lonely or just plain sad—I imagine Him right there with me, protecting me, watching me, loving me.
Except now, at night, there is no closet door to shut and nowhere to hide. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.