I can hear them bickering in the next room. Their voices rising and cresting over each other, the keening whine of the wild things pent up too long. I sink down further under the covers, pull my pillow onto my face until my chest thrums tight and cruel with panic that the summer looms ahead and I cannot bear to face it today.
I’ve been sick for a week and as if on cue, the skies turn darker and cloudy and the temperature drops to match my plummeting mood.
I’ve made summer bucket lists and packed sunscreen and floaties and water bottles, wrung out wet suits a thousand times and hung them out to dry. The cycle of towels runs constant in our machine, washing out the lake water and Coppertone, the places watermelon dripped down chins and pooled in the folds.
We make memories in the spots on the calendar I’ve cleared. I have said no and fought off the filling of days so we could hike the wild trails of flowers growing along the river and skim toes and then ankles and knees off the edge of partly deflated floaties, jump with arms flung out wildly into the coldest of lakes, and pick the choicest of river stones to haul home in muddy fingers.
And every day I have thousands of gifts to count. Every day the blessings pour down, dousing me with God’s goodness. He’s given me eyes to see.
And yet, this week I am gasping for breath every day. Every day I am gulping down stolen moments of rest and coming up short. A dull ache welling up inside me, unquenchable sorrow.
And the kids sense I’ve lost my follow through. Mommy is tamed and weary and her frustrated barks empty of consequence. “Stop picking on your brother,” “Use nice words,” “He had it first, give it back…” my voice trails away.
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 this week I am scavenging for another measure of grace.
My nerves frayed and crackling like static interference picking up signals from too many places. Sometimes the litany of needs seems more than the measure of me. I simply cannot do all that is required.
I know they’re going to breach the door any moment, find me cocooned and hiding from my life. And I’ve worried this is beginning again. These days I am sinking down deeper, into that familiar numbness and rage. The slow anger and frustration that bursts 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.
Because 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. And I’ve been bloodied in this battle so many times.
So I pray, “God, please, not now, please,” 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. I am always so 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 tell you why, when I have no answers for the sadness.
I’ve seen Him even when I cannot see, because I’ve penned my memories of His faithfulness.
I am Moses glimpsing the back of God’s glory as He passes me by, clefted in the rock under the hand of the Almighty.
And I’m hoping the weariness in my bones fades when the skies clear again and my health returns. As I don my swimsuit and sink into the water, lapping like a baptism into the strength only God can provide.
Today, I push the covers back and seek out the squabbling kids, patiently righting the injustice of an unshared iPad.
I’ve been learning to say no to the excess, to the worry that another day will be darker than this, that it’s looming out there. I’m learning to dwell in God’s provision moment by moment. The spot at His feet where nothing is required of me but adoration. The space in my mind where I choose to believe and see. The hidden parts of my heart where I’m gaining strength should the battle come again but bolstered by the remembrance that I need only be still and know because my God will fight for me.
And this is my yes. This is my choosing each day, my cup to bare, my thorn piercing deep. His strength made perfect because I am weak again and again.
I live the reminder when my eyes go weak and blurry with tears that none of the agenda and crossed off list means anything if I can’t awake my soul to joy. So I answer with yes, Lord, I am here. Your joy is my strength.
Let me know your joy, Lord , deep in my weary bones and see it with every counted thing.
I may not always see His face but His glory never ceases.
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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