Yesterday on my iPad I found a journal entry I wrote last fall, during a time when I felt unsettled and scattered. Reading old journal entries can sometimes feel like meeting a different version of myself, particularly when I’m no longer in the situation or mood I was in when I wrote. So, even though this is not recent, I’m posting it today as a blog entry, for a couple of reasons:
First, because I find great comfort and value in looking back and seeing, in hindsight, how messy I was (and still am) and yet how faithful, creative, and gracious God was in and through it. Continual reflection of this kind builds my faith, since every backward look reveals more of my messiness AND more of His never-failing faithfulness.
And second, because, though I’m not currently feeling anywhere near as scattered and unsettled, I may be tomorrow or the next day. Or maybe what I was feeling in that time is something someone else reading is feeling right now (if you are, I’d love to hear from you). What I wrote then is still true.
December 2011: This week I got an e-mail from a writing-class friend. He was critiquing a piece I’d read in class the week before. He said that my writing was as “strung tight” as his was “loosey goosey.”
Then today, as Dave and I finally had time to talk on a long car trip, he told me I was full of tension and seemed borderline annoyed much of the time–and that this was a trait I’d displayed for several weeks.
I’ve reflected on these two comments, and I think they’re both right–and wrong. I’m actually feeling unraveled, ready to fall apart like a loose skein of yarn several times a week–and so I’m holding tight because one snag and I’m nothing more than strands of scattered color on the floor ready to be swept up. So, yeah, I am tense (and my current writing is probably pretty tight, too, technically correct but careful).
A few weeks ago I was driving to school after dropping the kids off, and I found myself catching my breath like it was a floating thread about to get away, like I had to suck it back in or it would be lost. Just then I passed a Thanksgiving greeting tied to a mailbox. “Count your blessings.”
Dutifully, I accepted this reminder and said, “Yes, I have so many blessings.” I was about to start listing some when I heard the Holy Spirit’s “Shush.”
In that moment I suddenly knew I was held–not because of my constant striving to be the good daughter of God–and, consequently, the good mom, the good homemaker, the good wife, the good host mom, the good teacher, the good writer.
Not held because of anything I do or feel.
But held because that is what God’s arms long to do.
“Oh!” My lungs expanded to take in a full, deep breath, and I let go of my loose strands. I let it all fall apart for a few moments.
“You hold me, You pursue me, You never let go. That is my greatest blessing.”
Later I read Psalm 27:1b “The Lord is the refuge of my life.”
It says “stronghold” in the ESV, but a footnote says it can also be “refuge.”
That’s what I need right now. A place to let go, stop holding on so tight and be held.
I need a refuge.
And He is one.