Relieved Like That
Some days, I practically leap out of bed. I smile as I open my closet and straighten the pillows and covers, thinking about hot coffee and all the things I want to accomplish. Other days, I have to will myself to sit up and place “two feet on the cold floor” as John Blase writes in his poem, The Bravest Thing. Maybe Blase is right, and getting up in the morning is “the brave thing from which all other bravery flows.”
Growing up in California, I noticed how the orange poppies in my yard would open their petals wide during the day, then twirl them back up, tightly, at night. I thought that once flowers bloomed, they were stuck in constant glory until the day they died, but it turns out that even flowers curl up inside themselves from time to time. They open and close, give and retract, the way we do.
Beloved, you are more than what people think of you. While some might only see a sloshing pitcher right now, God sees the depth of the well. He knows when something takes bravery—when fixing the garbage disposal, cooking dinner, or joining yet another Zoom conference call, is an act of faith. When getting dressed for work at the hospital, knowing you will be exposed to a virus that has thrown our world into sickness and uncertainty, takes all the prayers you can muster.
The mother who hasn’t had a break in eight years, loading the dishes for the second time in a single morning. The teenager with depression, putting pencil to paper for an English assignment. The pastor, outlining a sermon he’s not sure anyone will listen to. This is endurance. This is bravery. Whether the world sees it that way or not.
Here in Iowa, I look out my window and see one tree that is still bare from winter, tangled with the branches of another tree, already full with the green of spring. There are seasons to our strength. And that’s okay. You are not stuck in constant glory, singing joyfully in your kitchen as you cook breakfast. Neither are you stuck in constant sorrow, curled up in your blankets in the middle of the day. There are mornings and evenings to our courage. There are weeks, and months, and years of joy, then weariness, then joy again.
I never thought, after losing my marriage, that I would experience full joy again. I figured I would be emotionally homeless until Jesus returned, and I twisted my metaphorical petals up into a safe spiral. Yet today, here I am, in a warm house, doing the thing I love—writing —knowing that at lunch time my husband will come through the door, and announce his presence with a wolf’s howl, because we are strange and happy and relieved like that. Surprised in a good way, to have found the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
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