Is it just me, or do you have days or at least moments where you feel normal? I live in Normal, so I at least have one thing to claim that is “normal” about me. We’ve all been asking questions. What is normal? What is normal these days? Will things ever go back to normal? What will be the new normal?
I admit, I have more questions than answers. And to be honest, I try not to think about things too far out these days. Why? Probably at least two reasons: One is that I have been trained by the last 11 months to not hold on to any of my plans too tightly—they are most likely going to change anyway. And two, I’m afraid to dream right now: I’m conserving my energy and guarding my heart.
Overall, I feel like I am weathering this storm fairly well. Most days I’m fine. But, then I have days that hit me like the winter ice storm hit our Midwest trees. That storm dropped rain that froze, then snow on top of the ice. The weight of it all tore the trees limb from limb. I have days like that where I am fine, standing strong, feeling my deep roots, and soaking up the sun. Then it hits—rain in my face and I flinch, then I get cold and weary and I am ready for the soaking to stop, but it doesn’t relent. It freezes and I can’t move, I can’t breathe well: I’m a mummy in a tomb of ice. I’m no longer free.
When I am not fine, I am not free. Often I’ve lost my perspective, my peace, and my joy. Often the weight of trials: health issues—mine and others, heartaches—mine and others, and the What-if Monster runs amuck, again, mine and others. I can become undone—unfine.
I’m fine until I am not.
Like the trees, trying to stand up under the weight of the ice, sometimes the weight leads to fractures. I watched as my three favorite spring trees were nearly flattened with ice, with one’s broken branch raised up as if crying for help. I cried when I saw them.
Other trees, large, mature, strong trees couldn’t stand up to the day-upon-day pressure. The temperature wouldn’t rise, the sun wouldn’t shine, and limbs ripped flesh off trees, some split in pieces.
As I walk along and look at my tree friends, I see their hurts, especially spotlighted by the sun. The fresh wounds almost glow and I wonder if my wounds are so obvious to those close by. When I am unfine, they are glaring to me. Like the trees, I choose not to hide. I choose to let them show and receive the warmth of the sun, or the kindness of a friend acknowledge them, or the love of the Father bind them up.
Easier to hid. Easier to pretend. Easier to deny. Easier until it’s not.
Better to accept, and receive, and heal. Better by far.
If you are reading this in current time, COVID time, political unrest, fires and storms galore, then you have been touched by the times. No one is immune from all the stress. It’s ok to acknowledged the burden of your load. It’s ok to admit you are down, discouraged, or even brokenhearted: that you are unfine.
We have all lost so much. We are grieving.
Maybe we can grieve together? Maybe I can acknowledge my pain and you can acknowledge yours. Maybe we can help each other and encourage each other and point each other in a good direction. I’ll watch your back and you can watch mine.
And if we hurt each other, I’ll show you grace, God knows I desperately need grace. Humanity has been in the pit before, and yet, we’ve made it though.
Everyday is new. Everyday contains good, and beauty, and hope—we have to look for it, expect it even. I’ll keep looking and sharing and showing. You keep looking too, and help me see on the days that I am covered up, weighted down, or even feel as if I’m being torn limb from limb. Remind me.
I’m fine until I’m not, but with you, I can be fine again. Help me see the beauty and I’ll help you: it’s there.
After the storm, I walked day after day and watched the changing landscape. I saw damage, but looked for beauty. Beauty of this broken world points to an unbroken beauty that awaits us. I watched my husband tirelessly working, helping neighbors and cleaning up the storm’s mess, to make things right: he was fixing what was broken—making it beautiful again—or at least helping it along the way.
Gratefully, today I am fine, again. And I’m grateful for each day that doesn’t feel so heavy, so all-encompassing, all-encasing. But, I write this for each of us, that when that come-undone day comes, where you cannot stand up alone, when you find yourself unfine once again, I hope you know that you are not alone in your unfineness. We’ve all been there and will probably be there again, but with each other, we don’t have to stay there.
Lord, help us each bear with each other. Pair us up with another, to help lighten a load. Group us together, so we can weather the storm. Gather us up, under Your wings, so we will know—that no matter what—we are truly safe with You. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen