I never met the Pope or Nelson Mandela

Sometimes I worry that me and God won’t have anything to talk about when I get to heaven. I wonder if I will just sit there, nervously picking at my finger nails, not really knowing what to say next. When my husband and I first started dating, we would talk on the phone for hours but every once and a while I wouldn’t know what to say next so I would nervously put in the classic conversation filler: “Um…” He would get confused at my verbal place holder, thinking I had something I wanted to bring up and then I would have to make up something quickly.

Sometimes I make the mistake of thinking that if I was a world renowned journalist or social justice advocate in Africa or Mother Theresa, then God and I wouldn’t run out of things to talk about. We would chat for hours about the time I met the Pope or Nelson Mandela.

But I know that is not true. Deep down, I know that my chat with God will be less about impressing him with my story and more about retelling him my favorite parts of it. I mean, he is the author of it, and what author wouldn’t like their character to spring up from the page and say, “Remember that time…” I think he will delight in my retelling.

Maybe I will tell God about the time when my friends Abby, Emily and I walked across town in the middle of the night just to go sit in a tree. It was the perfect sitting tree during a perfect summer when I was 18 years old before I left for college. God would like that I remembered being young and a free spirit. He would like that I enjoyed that walk and that tree.

Or maybe I will tell him about how I felt when I first met my husband. We were standing in line for a roller coaster at Sea World and I had a strange urge to wrap my arms around him like it was the most natural thing in the world to do. (I restrained myself, but I remember feeling so flustered by the rush of emotion I had toward this stranger). God will probably smile because, as the author, he knew what he would write next for me. He knew that our stories were like a thin thread woven to intersect at that moment.

I might remind God about the Christmas when my brothers and I were shopping downtown Chicago. The snow was coming down beautifully, creating quite a memorable scene. We were waiting in the front of the line for a free trolley when a bunch of people cut in line so we couldn’t get on. My brother got into a fight with the trolley driver because he didn’t pull up to where the line started. He told everyone on the trolley they should be ashamed of themselves and then told them to have a “Merry F#!*ing Christmas!” I might be nervous to tell God this story because my brother’s cursing but I wonder if God will laugh (like my brothers and I do) when I get to the part about how there were several nuns on the trolley! I also wonder if maybe one of those nuns felt bad because they cut in line and later told God about it in confession. I bet they also prayed for my brother because of his foul language.

I don’t think I will leave out the harder parts of my story. Like the first time I had my heart broken and drove to the beach listening to U2, exhausted from crying. Or the time when I was 20 and cried so hard in my dorm room because I wished my parents never got divorced. I think God would get misty eyed, remembering those moments.

I am only 26 now, about to have my first baby, and I am struck by the fact that there will be millions more of these moments I will tell God about someday. At my baby shower, my mother in law, shared an excerpt from one of her books about when my husband was little. It was an ordinary moment, but she wrote it down, captured the moment. We all delighted and cried at her retelling. It wasn’t like she met the Pope or Nelson Mandela. It was a normal afternoon as she watched her boys play but it was so special to her and also to God. She gave me a journal to capture these moments with Miles, to write them down and not let them be forgotten so that one day I can tell God about them. I can’t wait.

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