I stepped out of the shower in Kansas City this morning to a slew of messages. Thinking of you, praying for you, remembering. I'm always amazed that I can feel this day coming for weeks and yet be surprised by its arrival. I can't believe it's been four years.
I knew it would be a hard semester, but I had no idea it would be so good, so deeply and beautifully restoring. Not that everything has been sunshine and laughter by any means. Between single parenting and teaching, someone is always unhappy with me, and I've had plenty of failures in both areas to keep me humble for quite a while.
I haven't written in many months. At first that was because life was too big for me, and I found myself in May wondering how I got there. Lately though I haven't written because I can't wrap my mind around joy. If I were home with access to my books, I'd pull out good old Brene and see what she had to say about this in her book The Gifts of Imperfection. She has a great chapter about the difficulty of embracing joy out of our fear of being caught off guard when grief comes around again.
And that's been my problem with God. It's not that I haven't made time for reading and praying, it's that I can't seem to draw near his throne because I'm afraid he'll decide it's time for another round. I've found myself unconsciously preparing for the next blow, trying to anticipate it's arrival. In all my years, I have found grief more bearable than joy. Grief is familiar and comfortable, and I see why so many people choose to stay there and let it define them.
In March I met a dear friend in Nicaragua for some rest and recuperation. One morning we hiked part way up a rock on the edge of the bay where we were staying. On a promontory overlooking the bay, we paused and left the shelter of the trees to check out the view. I don't particularly enjoy heights, but that day it was the wind that caught me unprepared. While the trees were calm and shady, the wind at the edge was so fierce that standing up was terrifying. The way it gusted, changing directions and force without warning left you off balance. That's what joy feels like to me, unpredictable and even violent, shifting directions.
But as I sit in the Kansas City airport with beautiful blue skies above me ready to go home to my favorite boy, I remember today's new mercies. This season is about finding the strength to stand in these shifting winds and learning to trust the one who holds them in his hands.