In the past, I’ve made summer bucket lists and packed sunscreen, water bottles, and floaties. I’ve wrung out wetsuits a thousand times hanging them out to dry. The cycle of towels ran constantly in our machine, washing out the lake water and sunscreen, the places watermelon dripped down chins and pooled in the cloth.
We’d made memories in the spots on the calendar I’d cleared. I’d said no and fought off the filling of days as we hiked the wild trails of flowers growing along the river and skimmed toes off the edge of floaties.
I’ve watched my kids jump into silver lakes, arms spinning like windmills, coming up sputtering and gasping with smiles almost as wide as their paddling arms.
This year, I misplaced the sunscreen and scribbled it on the grocery list. But I haven’t made it to the store. I haven’t made it much of anywhere lately. The floaties had tiny puncture wounds and leaked air sadly, deflating on our front lawn in a way that was all too relatable to me. We threw out the Orca and the bubble lounger with the cup holder.
I had grand plans for this summer. It’s been three months since my book made its way into the world, and I was desperate for a break. Self-care is recognizing my capacity isn’t like everyone else’s and giving myself permission to say enough when I am at my limit. I needed to be a person again — a mom, a wife, someone who isn’t online all the time trying to promote her book, someone who goes to the grocery store and takes her kids to the library for the summer reading program and barbecues with neighbors and friends. Someone who rests.
But this summer we’re dealing with more than the mundane. This summer, we’ve been struggling with too many things — things I don’t even have words for. Our kids are older. The magic of summer is not as simple as lake days and popsicles and adventures. This summer, we’re grieving and processing, healing and coping, and we don’t always know where one ends and the next begins.
I’ve sunken down further under the covers, pulling my pillow onto my face until my chest thrums tight and cruel with panic that the summer sun hovers above and I cannot bear to face it.
These past weeks, I am gulping down stolen moments of rest and coming up short. A dull ache welling up inside me, unquenchable sorrow.
I am worn thinner than the wisps of clouds misplaced in the bluest summer sky, as if they wandered into the heavens uninvited and trailed out feathery with the summer air.
These are the days of endless sunshine and the sugary scent of peaches and sticky-fingered children, barefoot and tanned. These are the days when hope rises up buoyant and I usually find solace from the weary days of winter. But lately, I am scavenging for another measure of grace, of hope.
My nerves are frayed and crackling like static interference picking up signals from too many places. Sometimes the litany of needs is so much more than the measure of me. I simply cannot be everything to everyone, and as a mom, that’s painful.
I’ve worried I am sinking down deeper, into that familiar numbness. The slow anger and frustration over my limitations that lashes out like a feral animal, and the deep sadness that makes everything feel frail and futile. Like one more burden pushed onto my back will break me forever.
My depression has been manageable at times, but I’ve also seen it consume like a crouching thing, all claws and fangs and tearing apart of me and my world.
So I pray, “God, give me eyes to see your goodness,” knowing that I’ve prayed hard and fervent and faithful and still — still — I’ve sunk, even while He holds me firmly by the hand, even while I take my meds, even while I talk to my psychiatrist.
I am always close to despair, and nothing about this makes sense to me. But I’ve seen God in the silent places, in the dark night and the long loneliness that finds me when I cannot pray anything more than “Have mercy on me, a sinner.”
I’ve penned my memories of God’s faithfulness. It’s dark in the crags and hollows. Sometimes I can’t see God’s face at all, but I am Moses glimpsing the back of God’s glory as He passes me by, clefted in the rock under the tender hand of the Almighty.
Yesterday, we went out as a family. We took our old fishing boat and skimmed across the lake and when we pulled ashore, I sank to my knees in the sand. The water lapped against my skin like it was baptizing me into the strength only God can provide.
I choose to believe in and see God’s goodness — in the hidden parts of my heart where I’m gaining strength as the battle continues but bolstered by the remembrance that I need only be still and know because my God will fight for me. For my family. For all the needs I can’t meet and things I can’t fix.
God’s strength is made perfect because I am weak again and again.
I may not always see God’s face in the rocky crags, but His glory never ceases. This is the goodness of God.
Then the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. “Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”
Exodus 33:21-23 (ESV)
For more on seeing God’s glory in the midst of weakness, Alia Joy’s book, Glorious Weakness: Discovering God in All We Lack, ventures to create a conversation that acknowledges suffering, poverty, and lack as a place for learning, growth, and ultimately, reliance on God.
I may not always see God's face in the rocky crags, but His glory never ceases. This is the goodness of God. -@aliajoyH: Click To Tweet