Sometimes life feels overwhelming. If I let my mind go back over the past year and a half of life’s events I can suddenly be immersed in tears: two miscarriages, father-in-law passing away, house on the market becoming house-on-the-market-for-almost-a-year, a household move imminent yet never arriving, husband and daddy away during the work weeks, and now suddenly my home being invaded by water due to faulty siding.
Yes, life can be weighty. It can feel overwhelming to the point of little things like a random stain on the carpet sending you over the edge when in the world of sane thinking all it merits is a strong “dang it!” and a rush to get the carpet cleaner.
As I type, almost a third of my living room carpet is actually up on end, ripped up and off the damp floorboards which are (as of now) blessedly free of moving puddles seeping in from below the baseboards. At this point, stains are the least of my worries, although I’m pretty willing to bet that, should I see one, I might break down into messy tears and unintelligible oaths. Life can be weighty.
And I’ll admit, I have wondered if, with this seemingly unfortunate series of events, I’m not unwittingly starring in some dark comedy like Will Ferrell in Stranger than Fiction. But since life is so far devoid of an English accented narrator dictating my fate, I’ve been able to rule that theory out.
When I first felt the damp spots on the carpet and moved on to discover the insidious source, I stood for a moment in the living room considering my options. The dizziness coming in waves told me I could very well break out into some sort of overload of nerves, complete with tears and snot. The absurd straw-and-camel's-back-ness of the situation and previous life events definitely warranted some incredulous laughter, although I knew if I attempted that one at that very moment it might come out sounding a little scarier to my poor mother – who was nearby, watching me carefully and making sure her cell phone was close at hand. Then there was what I knew should happen: I could figure out practical moves to save my home and do my very best to keep it together and try to praise God through it all.
See, I don’t think God made my house leak. I think it was the result of sloppy, hurried work done by someone who just didn’t know or care enough to do a good job. I do think, however, that God expects me to believe that He will care for me through this crisis – because He’s saved me before, so many times. Sometimes saving came in little ways, like providing a new friend or a job just in time, sometimes it came in big ways, like protecting me and caring for me through a bus wreck when I was in high school, or in a tiny foreign plane skimming the trees of the Guatemalan jungle which housed armed guerillas and still landing safely and without incident. Big event or small occurrence, I have enough evidence from my life alone which proves that, even in the face of a series of unfortunate events, God concerns Himself with me and will work actively on my behalf – even when it doesn’t feel like it. Even with no evidence at the moment. And the way that I handle the moment – to praise God for His faithfulness and eventual rescue and restoration – is the way that I will enter the next chapter of life. In defeat or in victory. In sadness or in rejoicing. How I choose to handle these moments in the face of no evidence of care or concern is how I will enter the next season of life.
Seasons do change - it's the nature of life. Some seasons will be easier and happier, some harder and maybe sadder. But they will end eventually, and the next one will begin. What the storybooks fail to tell us is that Happily Ever After is a moving target. Even when you finally get that to that one point you've really wanted: a marriage, a baby, a house, a new job - life keeps going. It's how we choose to make it through as life keeps going that really matters. It's what we choose to do when our house springs a leak.
I planted seeds today. It was sort of a devil-may-care, fate-be-damned kind of act on my part, mostly because a woman in my situation shouldn’t be sowing into ground that might be someone else’s at any moment. But today I didn’t care.
You see, I’m tired of waiting. And I’m tired of loss.
So during a coldly sunny moment this afternoon, while Siennalee napped sweetly, I ran outside armed with last year’s leftover seeds, my still winter-stiff purple gardening gloves, a trowel and my trusty organic fertilizer.
I’d already scoped out my raised bed when I weeded it this last weekend and knew right where I needed to plant. I scratched the fertilizer into the dirt, carefully added the seeds (lettuces and peas), buried them, and ignored the spills due to my shivering and the blasts of icy wind that blew down unexpectedly. By the time I got the remaining snow peas tucked into their little semi-circle, I was feeling pretty good.
Chilly, but good.
I was doing it.
I was making something happen.
Even though the ground may not even be mine by the time the little sleeping seeds awake and grow and produce, by golly, something’s going to happen. Standing there, quaking slightly in the cold light, I felt like I was standing up to fate. For all this endless waiting and loss we’ve endured, something good is going to happen.
That’s when something did happen. Standing there, shivering and gazing contentedly down at the quiet little rows of upturned earth, I suddenly felt whispers of chill drift down on me; I scrutinized the dirt incredulously and then looked up at the sky.
It was snowing.
But come winds or rains or weird March snows, my seeds are planted.