When You're Still Looking for the Kingdom of God


He stopped what he was doing there in the kitchen, there in the middle of our world, and said simply, "I'm sleepy.  I'm going to have rest time."  My breath caught in my chest but I tried not to let on, tried to just open the door to my bed and watch him crawl in, snuggling into the smells of us. Tried to do it like it was the most normal thing in the world.

Four years into this and he finally feels safe enough to take a nap.

And I'm sitting in the silence bawling like a baby because it's not fair.  Because it shouldn't be this way.  For any child.  But it is, oh it is.  The complexities of the human heart and mind know no bounds.  We can be safe for years before we believe that we are.  Maybe some of us never really do.

I don't know what it's like to work so hard to believe that things like love and trust are real.  I'll never have any idea.  But I do know what it's like to carry tension in your body everywhere you go, to feel your heart race when you step out in public, to live in hyper vigilance in your own home.  I don't have to work hard at all to believe that secondary trauma is real.

I don't know what it's like to have my earliest life experiences mold my brain around fear.  My first weeks and months on this earth were filled with comfort, care, and nurture.

But I know he hasn't been the only one that's scared.

I know I've locked myself behind the closet door, sobbing in the dark to a God who I know is there but who won't answer me.  Telling Him He made a mistake; that I'm not who He thought I was. That I can't do this, I can't parent this child.  I am too broken, too sinful, too full of rage, too untrustworthy.

When I say I have been as broken as anyone, when I say I'm just as sinful, just as messed up, please know that this is not false modesty.  It's not even humility.  Humility would be detailing all of the times I willfully chose not to meet my tormented baby inside his pain because it was just too hard and I was just too tired.  But those details are still safely barricaded behind what's left of my pride.

Hopefully someday the barricade will burn.  If I know anything about the Consuming Fire, I'm thinking it will.

You've heard of the "fight or flight" stress response, the part of our brain that triggers an instinctive reaction to seek safety from an outside threat, whether by withdrawal or by aggression.  Your brain and mine would default to it if we were to be mugged.  My son's defaults to it when he walks into Kroger, or when he can't seem to fit in to social mores, or when it's time to take a nap.

All God's children gots their problems but some of us suffer a heck of a lot more than others of us. It doesn't seem fair, but what do we know of fair?  There is Good News to be heard, and the Good News is this: the Kingdom of God is for the broken, the hurting, the suffering - these are the ones who get in first.  The rest of us get in clinging to their coattails.  And that seems fair to me.

I've spent my whole life trying to catch a glimpse of what this Kingdom looks like with skin on; long before I could even understand it and long after, when you would've thought I was running from it. I've looked for this Good News in 24 hour prayer rooms, on inner city American streets, and in volcano-ravaged villages in Indonesia.  But until this little boy cracked me, it was always "us" and "them"- no matter how much I wanted it to be otherwise.  I've never been more thankful for anything than I am for the pieces of me that chipped and scattered and are blowing all over Texas.  Good riddance to some very bad rubbish.  Because now when I look at your face, whoever you are, I can see a bit of myself there too.  The Kingdom of God will invite us in together.  Never alone.

I don't know what it will be for you.  Maybe it will be a little boy with a gap in his teeth and love in his scared little heart.  Maybe it will, but probably not.  Probably God has a different story for you, and it will be beautiful and it will be ugly and it will be fun and it will be terrible and it will break you to pieces and it will be everything you ever wanted but didn't know to ask for.  There is a Kingdom of God for you to see too, loved one.  May you never stop seeking to find it.

*All photos by Kathryn Krueger Photography


  1. Randall O'BrienFebruary 16, 2015 at 1:43 PM

    I've been reading almost 60 years. Have a doctorate in theology. Written, published in excess of 100 articles and 4 books. Read every day. Stitching on a pillow in the soft burgundy chair in my study reveals my confession, "Can't live without books." A sign on my wall of books whispers, "Book Drunkard." 65 years of addiction to letters, and I've never read anything like this. Ragamuffin Gospel comes close, but it's more objective than subjective. Wounded Healer approaches this fire, but is clothed autobiography, not storytelling naked, while praying for a child. The Dark Night of the Soul, MotherTeresa's posthumously published confessions, are powerful, but posthumous. We are witnessing the making of a saint. Maybe more than one.

  2. It's an understatement to say I feel flattered by those beautiful words! But I can't help thinking you might be a tad biased, having had a front row seat to this show for many years now. :) Nevertheless, praise from a bibliophile is high praise indeed. Love you!

  3. Challenged and blessed with every post. Love this child. Love this woman. Love this mother's heart and it reflects the heart of God.

  4. I am just crying and crying. One of the greatest joys and mysteries and wonders of my life has been to know you before this boy and with this boy. Seeing us all back then - thinking we had it figured out, to suddenly wake and find how different everything is than anyone ever told us. So much bitterness in the sweet and layer upon layer stripped off as the years go by and, as you said, scattered to the wind across the wide open spaces. You are tasting the secrets of the world in the mundane of life and behind closet doors. Thank you for sharing them here. You are one of the great hearts and your daily choosing to love, encourage, and fight another day encourages me more than you know. xoxo

  5. You, my dear, taught me to see with a part of my eyes I'd never used before. I am eternally grateful for that and also for your faithful, faithful friendship. I miss you xoxo

  6. I have a son who is my own flesh and blood. He has suffered his whole life. It's left me perminantly broken hearted. He's almost 23 now. A gifted musician and an incredibly wounded soul. Our journey will have no end up through my and my son's lifetime. I keep praying that he will return to Christ in his heart. He doesn't understand God's reasoning for giving him a brain that betray ' s him as he is trying to get through another day, moment. I try to be present in his suffering with him. But only he and God know what it's like to be him. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Lisa, thank you so much for sharing your pain here. I am honored and I am so, so sorry. My heart breaks for both of you. I won't do you the injustice of trying to offer trite comfort, because in my experience it is actually more of a comfort for someone to just absorb my painful reality, rather than try to fix it. I do pray that you and he will both find meaning in the suffering somehow, and I believe with all of my heart that the rest of us are made richer by both of your presences in the world. We have much to learn from you. Praying for you both today.

  8. I'm late to the party (or should I say parade?), but just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this article. Truly beautiful and challenging. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Thank you, Curt! That means a lot to me :)

    I love seeing your little mini-me on Kimi's IG feed!

  10. We adopted a brother-sister pair from a orphanage about 15 years ago. Both of them, now adults, still struggle to overcome the bad experiences of their childhoods. They may never completely heal, and in the meantime we love and pray for them.

  11. Hi there, thank you for bringing your family's experience to the conversation! I'm so sorry for your children's heartbreak. It is an interesting and very real tension that we live in in the adoption world- that of hoping and praying for our children's full healing, balanced with the admission that that may never fully take place, or at least not to the degree we would like. And in addition to that, there is so much more research, support, education, etc. regarding adoption issues than there was 15 years ago. My heart goes out to couples like you who faced these challenges with very little (or no) professional guidance. Praying for you and your children tonight!


  13. Really enjoying perusing your blog and beautiful thoughts. Found you on quick takes and I was intrigued. This post is very meaningful for me and may be just what God wanted me to hear today. I have a broken and hurt little boy also, whose struggles have shaped my existence. But he was given a heart that is hurting for a reason we can't understand, while the circumstances of his life have always been in his favor. On and on my conversation with God has been as your's: "I'm not who You think I am! I'm not who I need to be for this boy!" It is an incredibly painful path, but not so lonely when you see that others are also on it.

  14. No, it's not so lonely when you see others on it. Thank you so much for sharing, Rebekah. I'm sure in many ways it may be more painful to parent a hurting child when you don't know "why" he hurts. I love how you said, "whose struggles have shaped my existence". That resonates with me on so many levels. I'm really glad to know you and would love to follow along your journey if you have a blog too?

  15. I think it's safe to admit I've been stalk-reading your blog for a good thirty minutes or so now. This one has me in tears.

    "I've looked for this Good News in 24 hour prayer rooms, on inner city American streets, and in volcano-ravaged villages in Indonesia. But until this little boy cracked me, it was always "us" and "them"- no matter how much I wanted it to be otherwise."

    That. All of it, but especially that.

  16. I'm honored. And I have to admit, I tear up every time I re-read it too. I wish I could keep the Truth of it before my face every day.

  17. I had no idea you were blogging again. Oh this post. What a post! To be broken under our very roof, you know. Praise Him that He knows what He is doing in our lives.

  18. Jessica! These lines are why we can text each other once every six months, half a country away, and feel an unshakeable camaraderie. I love you and believe in your life so much, friend.


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Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)