“Be glad you exited your ministry job right now,” the voicemail from my pastor friend said. “…It is really hard to know what to say as a pastor when every time you go to church there has been a new tragedy.” I could hear the pain in her voice and I feel it in my spirit too. The last two tragedies in Nice, France and Baton Rouge; I haven’t even been able to assimilate into my soul yet. It is too much.
About a year ago, when something absolutely unimaginably sad happened, I remember crying out to God, “I cannot bear this.” And then, God silently whispering back, “Don’t bear it. You can’t. Just hold it in my light.” That is all I know to do right now with the string of violence in our world. I’m lifting it to God’s healing, transforming light. I’m praying for peace in my spirit because I need it. If we all prayed for just that, surely things would be better for all, right?
Meanwhile, the way life is unfolding for me now, I keep learning lessons. I’m in a season of release and being stilled. I let go of a ministry job. I fell in a hole, broke my ankle, lost mobility and the ability to drive. I went from an important set of keys to no keys. Something also happened to my phone in the last weeks and I lost all calendar events. My contacts quit showing up as names only numbers. It created a season of adding back and reflecting about what things to put on my calendar and what contacts did I actually want or need. I told a friend, “I’m in this season of being kind of downsized and stripped down…and it is actually okay.”
This past weekend, our family headed to our friend’s lake house for an annual gathering of two families. Packed and on the road we got the call. A big storm had passed through the area. Power lines were down. Trees were down. Likely, there would be no power for days. We stopped the car and talked it over. If we went it would be more like camping. No air conditioning, no electricity, no hot showers or lights or refrigerators or freezers or kitchen appliances that work. Our vote was “let’s go for it.” I surprised myself and everyone else with my good attitude.
Since my breast cancer diagnosis five years ago, the medication I’m on has made me perpetually very hot (temperature-wise that is). Once, in a meeting, someone asked me if I thought the room was too warm, before I could answer a colleague said “You’re asking the sun if she is hot?” Yes, I’ve become the sun. When I cleaned out my office, there were 10 fans in there. I’m not kidding. So, subtract the ac, the lights, the ceiling fans from my life and what do you have? Lessons learned.
I learned that the things I think are necessary are really not. It was fine. It was fun. It was bearable. Even I don’t need everything I think I do.
I became grateful…for a breeze, some shade, a passing cloud, cold water, an unexpected cooling rain shower.
When I thought I might not make it, I changed something, like my location or my clothes or my activity. It helped.
We got creative. The gas grill became our friend. We made Monkey Bread and coffee on the grill as well as pancakes, breakfast tacos and other foods you would not expect to see grilled. We were proud of our ingenuity.
We let go. My high school son, his friend and I all lost all our cellphone charge the morning after we arrived. We had no phones and no way to plug in those chargers we brought. We had to do something different with our free time. We had to tell time a different way. We couldn’t check the radar. We had to look at the sky. Guess what? That works. It was nice. It was freeing. So was not worrying about how we looked or what we wore.
The power never did come back on. We had a most memorable, sweaty time. On the way home yesterday, soaking up the ac in the car, I realized I have been guilty of making amenities necessities. They are not.
Recent events show us, if nothing else, that life is so fragile, precious and fleeting. Our moments are so short. I pray I will keep learning what is truly necessary and stay grateful for all the amenities and blessings I have. I pray for peace in my spirit and yours.
Stilled, stripped, downsized, humbled, grateful. I wonder what else this new season holds?