Monday, July 18, 2016

At the Still Center

{It has been way too long. Summer is so wonderful, such a necessary time of stepping back and soaking in and I need it, this break. Sharing a post I wrote back in the Spring and never posted, because it's still true -- and sending you all love from here.}

My dear friend gave me a ride to and from Girl's Night this week and, because it had been too long since we last had a private conversation, we spent the drive catching up. Questions about life and work and how are you, really? floated between us as the car splashed through springtime puddles on the warmest night of the year so far.

I shared the frustration I felt whenever I was asked about my husband's current job because yes, it was a relief he had one but for many reasons, no, we aren't out of crisis mode. Before I ever make it to the explanation point, the inquirer is already turning away, satisfied that this chapter has already been tied up neatly. Because that feels good to believe. No one likes an unresolved tale. We all want to hear the happy ending - even if it's not true. It's comforting. Comfortable.

Our difficulties ending would be nice. They haven't.

Thankful as we are that he has work, it is a 30 minute drive away with our one car - often longer during the evening commute. It also frankly cannot be a forever situation for other reasons, mostly financial. Our crisis isn't over. Every day, struggles still loom before us like a massive wave and, at best, we're just treading water.

She understood. "It's like saying the roof's fixed when you put up a tarp to keep the water out. It's a bandaid." Yeah. It's just like that. Things aren't fixed. Not by a long shot.

All that said, there's a curious joy that has found me in the past few weeks. My hard headed plodding of "just do the next right thing" has helped keep us buoyant in a way. We plan the kids' birthdays. We do school and the kids are doing so well. I revamp the chore chart and we seem to have found a really nice groove here. Rhythm and (loose) organization and setting things in their proper places when the bigger things of life seem to sway unpredictably is unbelievably comforting. I cling to the joy small things bring. Staying on top of laundry. Making beds. Daily prayers and read alouds and baking birthday cakes.

So we're not done. Our struggles are not fixed, secure, or ended. But at the still center there is still that spark of joy. It is a loving and gentle God that gives us the ability to find pleasure in small things.

The more I think of it, the more I realize that buoyancy may just be a spiritual gift, showered upon us mere mortals for such a time as this. Struggles and unknowns and upturned plans are the norm, not the exception in a life like ours. As our children grow and begin their own lives and we hold space for them, this truth will only multiply. Being able to float along may just be the key to thriving with joy. Not just for today, but for a lifetime.

So I keep counting the gifts because they keep being revealed to me. And although there's just a tarp over our heads shielding us from whatever unknowns are coming along next, we are safe at the still center. Warmed with a peace that passes all understanding.

A work in progress.

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