I could feel it building all day. I could feel it rising in me like a tide that is building and building and building, and before you know it, the calm sea turns into a torrent of crashing waves at high tide that overtake everything in its path. I was in its path and it was overtaking me fast.
As I walked out of my classroom, sirens blared and an ambulance passed the school in a rush of sound and flashing lights. (That didn’t help for sure.) I felt my chest tighten and breathed a prayer for those who needed that ambulance. But the very sound of sirens is one that I heard a few times too many last year for my own family and I still need to chase irrational fears away when I hear those sounds. Even with my vain attempts to breathe, it felt as though the tide had risen to a point where I felt overtaken by a wave of pure irrational fear. I held my phone and started to text a friend to ask her to pray, and then, I just stopped. No, I just needed to pray through all of this nonsense because there really was not one thing to fear…I needed to get myself together. As I took my eyes off of my phone, the sirens slowly faded into the distance, and…
I finally looked up! White sunlight was streaming through a silhouette of a tree that has been standing, probably for longer than I’ve been alive. Blue skies were filtered by white and gray clouds slowly moving off into the distance. The sky that was raining buckets this morning was now a beautiful mix of sunlight and clouds. The puddles that I had to dodge this morning had disappeared. A warm breeze blew, a welcome change from the cold winds of the day before. I don’t know, it just helped me stop for a minute and that’s all I needed.
A moment earlier, I had felt a wave of fear overtaking me. I had no excuses for feeling this and was surprised by the intensity. But just as a huge wall of water is made up of millions of drops of water, this huge wall of fear originated in a myriad of so very many concerns or stressors that when put together, felt absolutely overwhelming. One drop plus another drop plus another drop eventually led to this great overwhelming wave of pure fear.
So here’s the thing. In a world where fears can wash over us like a wave, remember this principle: water…evaporates! Those little drops of water (financial stressors, relational tensions, work-related stretched-too-thin sentiments,) evaporate. One by one, in the light of the sun, water evaporates. And the ‘buckets’, the huge things (like a dear friend fighting the battle of her life against an invasive cancer, or the heart-of-a-mom-and-wife longings that only God knows, or the constant weights of too little too late work mentality, well, they may take a little more time to evaporate.
I need to bring them into the Light, the Light of the Son. One by one by one by one, drop by drop, bucket by bucket, I need to entrust the stuff of life to the One who can dry it up. He wipes the tears from our eyes, and He can ‘evaporate’ the things that would overtake us. He can handle what I can’t. Why did I feel like that wave was about to crash and overtake me? I had let drop by drop add up, bucket after bucket, weight after weight until the cumulative effect ‘suddenly’ hit me. I had reached my threshold and the wave was crashing down and that ominous feeling that comes with fear was starting to set in. I am the wife of an alcoholic. I know chaos and rational fear. (He has been sober for almost 2 years, thank God, but I will never forget the chaos.) I am the mom of six children. I know being spent. I am a teacher of students with special needs, I know the feeling of being stretched thin. We all have our areas of knowing our need, where the drops add up little by little over time.
It wasn’t any one thing I was dealing with, it was a thousand little things that I had been carrying without even realizing it. But grace is deeper and wider and stronger and larger than my abilities to cope or reason or work through. So between closing the door of my classroom and opening the door of my car, something had changed. Circumstantially, nothing had changed. But in my mind, my perspective, everything had changed. I had taken my eyes off my feet and my phone and prayed, and it opened up my eyes to the world around me.
Funny, as I opened the car door, I found this earring.
This wasn’t just any earring. This was the earring that I had made for a dear friend of mine who is battling cancer, the dear friend that I visited yesterday who was candid and kind and brave enough to talk about funeral plans. She’s hoping for the best and preparing for possibilities. She’s open about fears. She’s open about hope. She’s candid with her trio singing friends that they (including me) maybe shouldn’t sing at the funeral because she really doesn’t need a blubbering mess up there. She would cringe over that one. And we laughed heartily over that one! But I found the earring. It was a timely reminder of how we are so not alone in this world. Not alone. And I believe that there’s life beyond this world. The earring was a reminder of that as well.
As I picked up the earring, I couldn’t help but smile and realize my ‘buckets’ are pretty small. I’m thankful for this day, this moment. So is my friend. There’s hope, but it’s so not in this world. Each day is a gift. The thing that I’m reminded of however, is that in order to see the beauty in the day there are a few things I need to do. Here are my lessons from the day. First, I need look up. Next, I need to bring the struggles to the Lord on a ‘drop by drop’ basis, not wait till the drops are like an enormous wave of accumulated struggles. I need to cast my cares on Him knowing He cares for me so that the cares don’t become a huge weight or wave that overtakes me. Last, I need to look around and be thankful for the beauty that is right there in front of me in this moment. Gratitude changes everything, because it changes the whole way I see things.
I love the verse that says, “Why are you so downcast, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalm 43:5) Downcast. Looking down so doesn’t help. And do you see the word ‘countenance’….He changes our countenance. Our perspective. The way we see and the way we are seen. So, again, I’m reminded to get my eyes off my feet and the struggles of this moment and look up.
Those waves in life will come. They will. But part of being prepared is looking to the horizon to see them coming. Keeping my eyes on my feet is a sure way to get knocked over by an unexpected incoming wave. Part of walking/ (swimming ) by faith is knowing that we’ll face the wave head-on and we may get knocked down and go under for a bit, but we’ll resurface. Waves come and go. They just do. This moment won’t last forever, but we can focus on Who and What does. My God is eternal. Eternal Life is knowing Him and starts now. Nothing I do or don’t do can change that. Neither can any incoming waves. Not for me. Not for my children. Not for my dear friend facing funeral plans. His Presence is Present, now and NOTHING separates.
Well, this was another long-winded un-edited session of me processing things. Yes, very long-winded, I know, so that makes me even more appreciative of those who make it to the end and read through! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to share the journey…even when it’s me venting and processing and just trying to walk by faith in a world that sometimes knocks me down. But faith (mixed in with a bit of stubborn determined will!) always helps me get back up…as I look up.
Romans 8:38,39, “Neither death nor life nor anything….can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus…”
Psalm 30:5 “Weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning”