This year we had a 4th of July we won't ever forget. Peter and I were trying to be all patriotic and make memories for our kids and stuff, so we dressed in our red white and blue, snapped a family selfie (of course) and went to the parade down at Town Hall. Even just saying it makes me feel all Americana. We were late (also of course) and Royce was moody (ditto again on the "of course"), but we were making the best of it, ya know, getting way more excited than the event warranted in an attempt to raise family morale. "Look guys! I know its a bazillion degrees and we can't find a spot in the shade, but there is POLITICIAN riding in the back of some guys pick-up truck!! And they're waving at YOU! Whoooaa! I am so glad we came to this parade! Isn't this AWESOME!??"
Royce was still complaining, this time that her tummy hurt, so Peter took her to the bathroom. On their way back to our spot of
And that's when it happened, perhaps my most surreal parenting moment to date. Royce started throwing up everywhere, right in the middle of the parade, literally-the middle, you guys. Right in between a judge throwing tootsie rolls and a Kid's Bible Sports camp squirting the crowd with water guns. Peter was carrying her and they were walking towards us in slow motion and she just started spewing and couldn't stop. Now, I don't want to brag or anything but she attracted more attention than any of the politicians I saw there. She didn't even have to throw tootsie rolls. To make matters even
Royce ended up being fine. We chalked the whole big scene up to the fact that the day before she had eaten enough "waterlemon" to feed half of North America and swallowed enough pool water to hydrate Africa. Girlfriend was full to the brim and couldn't hold it in any longer.
I can sympathize.
"I need to schedule time to cry". That's what I told Peter the other day.
Life has been coming at us so fast and hard for the past year, and even more so the past few weeks, really heavy stuff, one right after another where if I wasn't living it I wouldn't believe it could be possible. I have felt no space because of the pace and weight of it to ever take a few minutes and just process it all. Every time the feelings start surfacing and my eyes well up with tears, I look over my shoulder and someone needs a reassuring cuddle or a juice box or a shoe tied or a 'pankin. A 7 year old artist wants to show me her latest chalk drawing, 5 year old man-child is hungry...again, a 3 year old needs her butt wiped and the baby is up from his nap. The phone is vibrating with another text bearing a bad news update or a request to add to my to-do list. I look at the clock only to see we have to be out the door in 10 minutes and nobody has had a potty break and even knows where there shoes are, or has brushed their hair today, including me...and the 5 year old is hungry again. So I twist the cap back on the tears, like a fizzy bottle of coke about to explode, and press on. One foot in front of the other. No tears right now.
I knew a breakdown was coming. If I didn't schedule it in, it would erupt at an inoppritune time.
Then I woke up yesterday to another day scheduled to the hilt, only to find poor Royce was sick again. This time with a fever, nothing waterlemon induced. So the plans were canceled and new plans were made. We rested.
Yesterday we let rest settle down deep in us, as we settled down into it, Royce to a little Disney Junior and me to my own rest-to let it speak honesty to the parts of me where the Truth has gotten twisted up, to let it rub grace over the calloused places in me, and give space for held in tears and laughter. We settled into rest to let it cure what ailed us.
I am not going to pretend there wasn't an untimely meltdown mixed in there for good measure, but it was a long time coming. Girlfriend was filled to the brim and couldn't hold it in any longer.
I took time to process some of the crap-ton of stuff that has happened the past couple weeks. Life has left my soul screaming for some truth, but my heart aching for a hug of grace.
Suffering is brutal, but it is also a teacher in lessons of truth and grace. Sometimes a bit of the grace offered in that place of suffering is learning to take time for deep, holy rest. Summer fevers suck. But without that being on our docket for yesterday, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to add the rest I was craving to the docket either.
Sometimes, in a twisted way, suffering gives me just what I need, if I will just take it.
Yesterday it was a little space to process and grieve and be okay with not being okay. Sometimes the gift in suffering is encountering God in ways I never would have otherwise. Sometimes it is learning to trust farther than my eyes can see, or to experience comfort and peace that transcend understanding, or to grow in compassion for other people who I see suffering. Other days suffering shines the light on the sinful crevices inside me that need to be cleaned out, another gift of truth and grace.
There are dozens of other gifts I have found in suffering, gifts of hard grace. Suffering doesn't always take, although it robs us of so much. I never want to minimize that, please believe me. But I have been in the place that only wallows in what suffering takes and its no where I want to stay. I am allowing the suffering to hurt, not pretending that it doesn't, but I am trying to look for the gifts in it too. I have learned, to my great joy, that the gifts are always there if I am looking for them. They might sting a little. They might need to be brushed off and shined up a bit in order to really look like the gift they are. They might not be the gifts on our wish list. But they are there. The gifts are there in suffering because my God is there too. And He has promised to never leave me or forsake me. He has promised to bring all things together for my good. That's truth and grace, sweeter than any waterlemon.