I am a worrier. An anxious person. I feel ALL THE FEELINGS deeply and outwardly, barely containing them. Since having kids my tears can come at the drop of a hat. I probably need a pill (seriously). At times, I wonder why I’m on edge and snapping at my family for no apparent reason. But then I look inside and see some deep (or maybe not so deep) distress that is eating away at me, exposing my raw nerves. There are so many things in this world that can do us in. So much heartache around us that we can easily be overcome.
Lately I have felt a deep sadness in my very core at times. I feel as though so much is crumbling around me. I can’t take in anymore hurt, despair, loss, anger, fear, or hatred. Because when I do, when I let my brain process ANY of it, I’m weeping again. That familiar, stifling disquiet starts in my chest and threatens to consume me. But I still have to make dinner. I still have to read to and play with my kids. And I still have to fold laundry…or at least put all the clean stuff in one basket. And some days I even have to shower. Crying in the fetal position doesn’t facilitate these activities. So, I put up a tiny bit of a wall. Enough to get through the moment and move on with my life. Enough to read a gut-wrenching headline and not start hyperventilating. And when the tears come anyway I try to keep them brief so I can wipe them away to see where the next brick needs to go. And it’s protective and that feels better. Until it doesn’t.
Building up walls comes with a price. You see, my walls don’t discriminate. They are equal opportunity barriers to sharing my heart, whether with a stranger’s heartache, or the attempts of my husband to reach me. In my place of worry, the place where I shield myself, I’m missing out. I’m missing out on the love and hope God wants to show me. I let my fear harden me when I slap mortar on another brick. And it makes me closed to the good things that can come from the God who loves me, loves this broken world.
I don’t want to miss the goodness of things that bring us hope (with a little “h”). Instead of carrying the hardness into everything, I can let goodness soften me. I can choose to get lost in the laughter of my kids instead of keeping that edge, that wall, in front of me. I can choose to marvel in my three kids wanting to have a family snuggle on the couch that miraculously still holds us all. (By the way, a family snuggle in my house looks a lot like a wrestling match with feet kicking someone’s face and at least one person falling off the couch.) I can choose to let joy and hope fill me in those moments, leaving my worry behind, at least for a time. I can remember the despair of this world is not mine to shoulder. I may feel things deeply and that’s ok – God himself gave me my emotions. But I can’t let the circumstances of the world or my emotional response to them rule me. I need to let Hope (with a big “H”) reign in my heart. A Hope that comes from the God who formed every person and every piece of space dust in this universe. The God who has given himself for you and me. The God who laid down his life for us. And for this hurting world and everyone in it. And oh yeah, he ALREADY WON. Love HAS WON. Like, it’s done! All the anguish in this world, every horror, has been paid for and cannot compare to the glory to come. And when I think of that Hope, the tears come again. But I don’t put up another piece of wall against these tears. Instead I let them wash some of that wall away. As it turns out, I’m a lousy mason in comparison to God’s goodness.
Recently on WGTS, Jerry Woods shared something one of his Facebook friends told him. I was driving so I tried not to cry too much in response - just a few tears escaped my lower lids. He said, “The older we get, the more Heaven looks like home, not Earth.” Amen and AMEN. YES! That’s the Hope. This place IS broken, and I long for a place where my heart is not anxious. A place where peace reigns. But for now, I’m here. And if I open my eyes to the hope God has put around me, I see it’s not all dark. I realize I hurt with this world because I love it, and I love God’s children. And God has given us so many good things in the midst of all the yucky stuff. Are we looking around with expectation and hope? Are we seeing the wonder in the mundane? Recently I was folding laundry (applause are welcome) and grabbed my seven-year-old’s shirt. And it was huge. Like, how did my baby become large enough to fit in this shirt? And I felt the blessing of being his mom weigh heavy on my heart. And, you guessed it, the tears flowed (as they are now…Lord, help me!). What had I done to deserve this gift? Nothing. And this giant green polo shirt filled my heart with hope in a way I’m still struggling to express. Maybe it’s the hope of a better future? Maybe it’s just the hope that comes with watching a child grow up. I don’t know. But it was a beautiful thing. And I let it wash over me.
My husband knows me. He knows my struggles. He knows despite my belief in what Jesus says in Matthew 6:25-34 (look it up, it’s good stuff) I am still anxious. I still feel ALL THE FEELINGS that come with the weight of sin in this world. So, when I verbally spewed my worries at him as we were about to put dinner on the table last month, he wrapped me up in his arms. I often choose to surround myself with my sad little wall in these moments because, if I’m just being honest, it feels safe to stay inside there and reject comfort, stewing in my mess. But this time, I just let go. I felt my worry dissolve and I was melting into his embrace and I felt at peace. And that wonderful man started singing to me. Now, he doesn’t have a crooner’s voice…he’ll admit it. But his rendition of Bob Marley’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” was a salve to my weary soul. And I even laughed a little. And it gave me the Hope I needed to carry on in that moment. If I’d kept up that wall I would have missed that moment of God’s Hope for me. I think my wall-building-and-destroying battle will go on. But I’m hoping to follow the example of my five-year-old and spend more time on the demolition side, embracing the goodness and Hope around me.