As long as I live, I think her words will ring in my ears. I'll be the one in the polyester softball pants, hitting just a bit too high on my lanky legs, arms stretched high above my head, sweaty bangs falling in my eyes.
"What are you doing?! That was in your eyes, Emily Rose!!!! Quit reaching for those!!"
She just wanted her baby girl to wait on the perfect pitch, but it made me so mad. I didn't want the ones slowly sailing toward my waist. I wanted the ones no one thought I could reach because deep down, I knew if I did reach them I'd send them sailing for the fences. I knew it because (once or twice) I'd done it. So, I kept on reaching and she kept on shouting.
It's who we were, who we still are.
She's my fierce protector, always wanting what's best for me.
I'm the girl who stops at nothing to reach that which seems just beyond my reach, sometimes out of stubbornness and sometimes out of zeal. Sometimes I look like a fool. (Okay, most times I look like a fool.) But sometimes? Just sometimes - God lets me knock one to the fence and lets me run all the way home.
And that keeps me reachin'. Even if they are in my eyes.
I don't know why exactly, but I'm a master at filling my plate with good things and then getting terribly sad when I realize there is no room left for the best things. My flesh gets real comfortable in this world sometimes and I settle for things that glitter, but are not made of gold. I feast on delicious things that have no nutritional value whatsoever. I spend my hours toiling away at what has no eternal significance whatsoever. I reach for things that will surely turn to dust.
And when I do? My hands are too full to reach for that - for those - which will never perish.
The world tells me to stop reaching anyway, that I'll look foolish to ever reach for those folks that are so far out of reach. The ones trying to protect me are sure that I'll miss the good ones I could easily snag if I'd keep my eyes off the skies. But what I know is these folks are in my eyes and that's right where I like them, right where God means them to be. I'm easily distracted. I pay no mind to so many others that pass me right by in the midst of my comfortable circles every day, at ordinary, appropriate distances. But it's the ones that are just a little further than I can quite reach by myself that catch my eye and tug on my heart strings.
The little boy with tattered shoes and sad eyes. The woman who believes she's made one too many mistakes to stay on the path she knows she should take. The man who walks like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. The little girl who thinks she's unworthy of love. The widow who doesn't know where to turn now. The ones who cannot help but mourn, grieve, and bleed.
Those are my people.
It's who they are. And it's who I will forever be.
It's who we are: you and me.
I'm the girl whose God stopped at nothing to reach me when I was beyond everyone else's reach. I was looking like a fool and throwing my life away and He gave His life away to save mine. He risked His name on me and saved me from utter destruction. He's watched the pieces of my life fall to the ground, held every tear in His hands as I have wept, and tenderly put the pieces back together again. And He just keeps on doing it, in every season I have lived.
And I have every reason to believe He's going to keep on doing it until I've made it all the way home.
So how can I not reach for those who look just like me? The ones who need somebody to reach them if they're ever going to make it all the way home? I've just never met anyone who's a bigger mess than me. I've never known a heart more broken and shattered than mine has been. I've never known anyone who has been more prone to wander, more apt to fall. I know a lot of people who look great on the outside and I like them fine, but I long to linger with the broken ones who have fought to let their light shine. The ones who have pushed back the darkness that nearly swallowed them whole and have a story to tell about how the light lit up their skies again. The ones who have scars to show and stories to tell.
The ones we know we should reach but the enemy says we never will: they are the ones we are here for.
The ones He's set before our eyes because they were in His first.
Seated at the right hand of the Almighty, our fierce protector, showing us what's best, cheering as loud as He possibly can.
"What are you doing? They're right in your eyes. Keep reaching for those!"