This week has been heavy, hasn't it? Mentally, I think we are all collectively, as a nation, just treading water, trying to keep our heads afloat. And all the while attempting to keep a calm exterior, while kicking with all our might to hold our kids above the water too, as they have been with us every second of every day (or for many the worry of how they are doing at home without you while you continue to work and go on). It's a lot. It's so much. It's exhausting. And it's okay to not be perfect, to not knock it out of the park every day. It's okay to to just hang on the best you can and make survival the goal for each day.
Fear is an awful beast, one that can creep in with every news story, scroll of your feed, or new statistic released. It can pull you down in to that dark hole of despair and anxiety so fast. It is evil. This week, I find myself grateful that Jesus was sent to overcome evil, to overcome fear.
"God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. For every break of the day, God will protect it. The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God's voice thunders, and the earth melts." Psalm 46:1-6
He is our safe place, especially in times of turbulence, when it seems like the earth is crumbling around us. When we feel like we may drown, He is there to reach down and hold us, hold our kids so we don't have to.
And that holding of us, and protecting of us, may not include warding off COVID-19 in our country, state, city, or even our household. We live in a fallen world, it is not perfect. Hardships and heartaches exist here, and having faith in Jesus does not grant us immunity to that. What it does give us is peace. A peace we need to seek throughout the day, sometimes throughout the hour.
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for what he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. " Philippians 4:6-7
I have not been above the scared and sad this week, it is very present, but I keep choosing to seek Jesus, and seek that peace, that comfort, that rest. This up and down ride of emotions and constant minute by minute reliance on God, has brought me back to the scariest and most sacred year of my life. The months following our son Koen's death, the world felt like it was crumbling around me. Being with others was hard, so I did my own social distancing, because at that time it was essential for my survival too. Most days that summer it was just Hackett, our oldest son, and I, just quietly navigating life together. I couldn't come up with lesson plans or crafts, my main focus was on getting out of bed and making sure we were fed. My patience wasn't perfect, and tears streamed down my face doing ordinary things. It was survival for us that summer, much like it is for us all right now. And you know what? It is probably one of my favorite summers. There is beauty in the hard, because it is like being fit for glasses you didn't know you needed. Suddenly, you see the world in a new light. Your priorities fall in to perfect alignment without even thinking, you now know what is important and valued. In solitude you are able to take a step back and savor and enjoy the small moments. During the ache of uncertainty you get the gift of see the purity in others hearts and spirits. This week, and the weeks ahead may be hard, but in a year you may find yourself wishing you could go back to the simple. To the place where you knew what was important and you clung on tight to it. You will see the beauty.
Shortly after we lost our son, Koen, I was pregnant again. This time with our third son, Tobin. His pregnancy was difficult, I was taken off work at 16 weeks, and admitted to the hospital at 21 weeks. They prepared us for his very early arrival, my specialist telling me that if we made it to 31 weeks it would be a miracle. My job? Lay down and stay calm. If I could do those things I had a greater chance of keeping him growing and safe. Every morning I woke alone at the hospital early as the nurses and doctors made their rounds, and from the moment my eyes opened I started praying. I sought Jesus peace, and in the moments where I was still experiencing eminence heartache over my loss of Koen, all while fearing the potential of losing Tobin, God gave me peace. Peace beyond my understanding. I laid there, most days very alone, I was about as socially distanced as possible those 3 weeks, and I was given peace. It was just the Lord and I in that hospital room, I needed Him, relied on him to walk through every minute of the day, and He was there. It was such a sacred and beautiful time, when by all accounts it shouldn't have been. This time in all of our lives can be filled with peace, if we invite the sacred arms of God to wrap around us. And we can look back on this time in the years to come with the strange dichotomy of turmoil that was overshadowed by peace and beauty, because we slowed down and embraced the quiet with our family and with our Lord.
I have had these songs on repeat this week and wanted to share:
Tobin, our daily God is good reminder.
I am Jackie.