I read a book yesterday, one of my childhood favorites. It’s called Good As New, written by Barbara Douglass and illustrated by Patience Brewster. My copy was given to me when I was just one year old, and is signed by the illustrator.
I had gone into the spare room (which would have been the nursery) to put something away and I just stood there for a few minutes. I sat down on the chair in the corner and my eye caught this book on the bookshelf. So I decided to read it. Out loud.
Yeah I know, this may make me sound a little crazy, but I think I needed those moments. It’s helpful for me in some way to be in that room and think of her. Reading has always been one of my favorite things, and I was so looking forward to reading books with our baby someday.
I held Faith’s blanket, dress, and hat on my lap while I read. And I cried. I cried because I can’t hold her on my lap instead. And I cried because the words of this story I know so well suddenly meant something brand new.
The story tells of a little boy and his teddy bear. His cousin comes to visit and, after throwing a tantrum, takes the bear and proceeds to totally ruin it… we’re talking smooshing peanut butter on it’s face, drenching it with a garden hose, and burying it in the sand.
As you can imagine, the boy is devastated that his favorite bear is ruined. But his grandpa steps in and says, “I can fix that bear so he’ll be good as new in no time.”
The story continues as the grandpa works on fixing the bear. But along the way it looks to the little boy as if he is destroying it even further. The boy can’t watch as his grandpa cuts the bear open at the seam and pulls out the stuffing.
“Grandpa, are you sure this is the right way to fix my bear?”, he asks.
Grandpa keeps working, scrubbing so hard to remove the peanut butter that the ears fall off.
“Grandpa! I’m not sure this is the right way to fix my bear”, the boy says, holding the ears in his hands.
When they’re finally ready to put new stuffing in the bear the boy still has his doubts, “Grandpa? Are you sure…”
And suddenly I was both that little boy and that bear.
Some days I feel like the stuffing is pulled out of me. I’m hanging on a line to dry, soaked and emptied, with parts of me missing. And in my prayers I wonder, “are you sure this is the right way God? I’m not sure this is the right way.”
But God keeps on working. Because He knows what He’s doing. Faith’s death changed the way I wanted my life to be. From the outside it might look ruined. But God isn’t intimidated by what the world sees as damage. He knows what He is doing in my life and how every bit of my life still works toward my ultimate good.
And He’s not daunted by my questions. Because I honestly don’t understand how this will work towards good. Maybe I will see it in some way down the road, or maybe I will have to wait until Heaven to know. But I know these words are true, even if I don’t understand how…
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
When the grandpa finally hands the bear back to the boy, he looks over it carefully and says, “I thought you could fix anything. But this bear isn’t good as new.”
It’s quiet for a moment, then the boy hugs his grandpa and shouts, “It’s better than new!”
I can’t tell you that I see that now in my life. But I can tell you that I trust God fully. There will come a day when I can see Him face to face (and hopefully hug Him too, not sure how that works!). And on that day, I am sure, I will have no doubts as I say, “this is better than new”.
PS You should buy this book if you ever find it! Sadly I’m not sure if it’s even for sale in bookstores anymore. There’s no intent to infringe on any copyright here, so I will note that all (pictures of) illustrations and all quotes are taken from Good As New by Barbara Douglass, illustrated by Patience Brewster, published by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books – New York © 1982