Thursday, July 21, 2016
Recently, I had a party. It was a big one. If you’re wondering why you weren’t invited I’ll tell you that, although the party was huge, the guest list was small. My husband came for a short time before going to work. My oldest daughter was invited but it really wasn’t her kind of thing. My mom had other plans.
I served mostly sour foods. There were balloons everywhere, all popped; and a large pool for diving, swimming, or wallowing. The pool was full of self—self-pity, self-doubt, and self-loathing. There was also a very shallow wading pool for self-esteem but I didn’t spend much time there. Most enticing, was the petty-fountain, dripping with free flowing whys, hows, and whats. I sat with my popped balloons, sour snacks, and pity pool making the most of every minute.
I dove into the pool thinking about how a year ago my husband lost his job of twenty-five years when the theatre program he had built from the ground up was reduced to nothing. Angry that one year later, the company I had given my time and heart to had closed. Ruminating over money owed to me that would easily see us through until I find work but will not be paid. Frustrated over the mistake I made in filing for unemployment insurance that will delay a check coming for another two weeks.
I swam through pain and sorrow about my youngest daughter and our perpetually fragile relationship. I trudged to the deep end, and wallowed in the possibility of losing our house, how to buy groceries, or put gas in the cars. And what about the world falling apart all around us—corrupt cops and cop killers, Facebook rants, and terrorists?
I dragged myself out of the pool, and picked up some “petty-fors” to dip in the fountain. Why could no one stay at my party? Why am I always short on money? How is it that I have energy to clean every room in the house but mine? What’s the city ordinance on the possession of dust bunnies? Why do I have jowls, and none of my friends do? Why have select facial hair follicles gone rogue? Why me? Why? How? What?
On Sunday, I got to spend time with my long time friend, Jean. I invited her to my party and she accepted. She even brought a few of her own sour snacks and popped balloons. She swam by my side in the pool, sampled the nasty food, and took a turn dipping “whys” in the petty fountain. We talked, we laughed, we cried; and then took a short walk.
As we walked, Jean commented, “You know, Satan loves to attack us through our children.” I stopped in my tracks. “But God has access to their hearts.”
There was the crux of it. All the other struggles are just logistics, life challenges that can and will be overcome. But our children are at the tender nucleus of our souls—our Achilles’ heels that cannot be controlled or forgotten—only loved and covered in prayer. Of all my recent trials, the one with my precious daughter had caused me to plan and execute a party like none before. Satan wants us to live in self-doubt and pity—and I complied.
Once I succumbed to that darkness, the bog of depression began to suck me in like quicksand. But God sent my cherished friend to say just the right things at just the right time. There was such comfort in those words. Remembering that I am really not in control. That Satan targets our vulnerabilities, that God is even more interested in my daughter’s wellbeing than I am; AND has complete access to her heart.
It was then that I piled up the rancid food and listless balloons. I shook my head at the energy wasted on the petty fountain. Next, I drained the toxic water from the pool, aware of the real, but no longer consuming presence of the heap of debris. I allowed the pool to fill with crystal clear Living Water. I opened my arms wide, fell back into the pool and let myself float, simply float.