The Tiny Pink Suitcase I Can’t Put Down

picket-148325-mThe truth is, I don’t really know what was going on. I witnessed a small drama and, as we are all inclined to do, I overlaid it with my own narrative, which may or may not have been accurate.

Here are the facts, no interpretation or assumptions. Just what I saw. You can decide what you think was going on:

I’m walking Smudge the Dog at about 7:30 in the morning. She dawdles a lot, sniffing out all the messages left by dogs that have preceded us on our route, so I have time to take in my surroundings while I wait for her.

Up ahead, I see a car pull into a driveway. A youngish man in a long sleeved shirt and tie gets out, accompanied by a little girl of maybe 4. The man carries a tiny pink soft-sided suitcase to the front door as the child hurries up the sidewalk behind him. The car is still idling.

He knocks, shifts his weight, studies his shoes. Knocks again (several times) and finally the door opens. He hands over the suitcase to whoever answers, then turns and walks back to his car without further interaction. The child disappears inside the house and the door closes.

As the car backs out and heads down the street, I now see the child and a young woman looking out the large front window. The woman is crying and giving a small wave. The child is stone-faced. The man in the car never looks in their direction as he speeds off.

And I walk by like I never saw anything and like these aren’t tears streaming down my face.

I was a single parent from the time my daughter was a toddler until she was a sophomore in college. My interpretation of the scene I’ve just described is necessarily colored by that experience.

Still, it didn’t fit neatly into my “end of visitation weekend” template. If it did, the dad would have at least waved goodbye, the child would have been sad, and the mother would have been the one stone-faced. Something seemed off. But that’s my bias; I know nothing about these people or their lives and they live just far enough away that I probably never will.

This much I know: there was a lot of pain in that scene and it flattened me. I fought my emotions the rest of the way home and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that fractured young family since – if indeed that’s what they were. That kind of thing moves me deeply, even when I don’t know the backstory or the people.

And this is where I go with it: How does Jesus do it? How is the human part of Him not crushed under the weight of so much pain? How is the God part of Him not compelled to intervene and fix it all?

We really can’t ever fully know what’s going on with other people. We filter it through our own experiences and make assumptions that are probably as often wrong as they are right. And we certainly can’t know the mind of God. But He is good and He is just. I believe that. And He has promised to ultimately make all things right.

In the meantime, I don’t have the deep theological answers but I do have this tiny pink suitcase in my mind and a prompting to pray for the cast of that small drama every time I pass that house from now on.

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About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

10 thoughts on “The Tiny Pink Suitcase I Can’t Put Down”

  1. If that happened in my neighborhood, I would pray as you are doing, but I would also knock on the door, introduce myself as a neighbor and ask if the woman had time to visit for a few moments.

    I wouldn’t mention the scene, but I would ask neighborly questions, like, “How long have you lived here?” “Do you work outside of the home?” “Where did you grow up?” “Do you have a church to attend?” and of course, invite her to mine if she didn’t have one.

    You never know, she may be your new best friend….kat

  2. So much pain in the world…. These questions you ask are asked again and again, in Syria and Holland, as much as in your back yard. I agree with you that there are no easy answers, but we confess that God is not absent, and with eyes of faith see slivers of hope – maybe not immediately, but ultimately.

    1. Yes, I agree. Just this week I was asking those same questions in light of all that is going on internationally. It is overwhelming to consider and I know it all breaks the heart of our good God. But you are right, we see with eyes of faith and for that I am so very grateful.

  3. Wow – we are tracking this week. I am drafting a blog right now that’s turning into a rant at God about the pain in the world. It was also precipitated by a neighbor’s pain. Humans can be so, well, inhuman, that it’s hard to believe that are meant to be Christ’s hand and feet and heart in the world. It can seem overwhelming.

  4. It’s good to track with someone, right? Especially about such a difficult topic. I’ll look forward to reading your post to hear your take on it all. Allen’s comment above was encouraging to me, especially the phrase “we confess that God is not absent…” Humans can be incredibly cruel, for sure, but our God is always a source of hope even in these seemingly hopeless times. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Dang. The passions deepen the sense of separation as if it was something external separating people, not internal. It’s internal. “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go.” –.38 Special

  6. As you say, Diane, our own histories color our interpretations.
    I imagine the child not being sad because Dad isn’t a nice Dad -but that’s just where my mind goes.
    Regardless, as you accurately point out. It’s a painful situation, and incredibly sad for all involved.
    I like Kat’s suggestion of knocking on the door and introducing yourself. I think it is something I’d feel comfortable with, but know it’s not for everyone. Prayer is powerful, and you are a prayer warrior.

    1. Sadly, I can see that you would go there, Denise. That’s what I mean, given just the facts of what I saw, we could all overlay different interpretations. I could have got it all wrong. But I do know the pain was real and that’s what hit me right in the gut.

Your feedback is welcome!