“You must wait a long while before your eyes are clear enough to see the most invisible of God’s wonders. But looking at the lovely things you can see will help you to understand the lovelier things you cannot see.”

Little Men~Louisa May Alcott

 Before moving to the Wilderness Place, we had a small back yard in town. Fenced in, safe for our grandchildren to swing and play, dig holes and tunnel to China. ~smile~

We sat side by side on the deck, watched as they picked weeds and made beautiful bouquets. With puffed up pride, pudgy hands, dirt caked under their nails and streaked across their sweet little faces, they would present them to me. Dandelions and buttercups, blades of grass, and pine needles, the occasional pine cone and prized rock.

I would pluck them in a juice glass, display them on the counter. With a Nanna’s heart leave them there ’till they withered to dust long after they had returned home.

We sat in the doctor’s office last week, asking all the right questions, getting all the wrong answers.

Earlier, in the waiting area, I had looked around noticing the older folk, the canes, caregivers sitting close by. A young, sporty woman, cloaked in athleticism. And. Me. Falling somewhere in between.

Senior citizen, according to AARP and McDonalds. Though my mirror doesn’t reflect it, not that I can see. At least when the sun is not too bright, and I don’t stand too close. Nor do I see the crumbling on the inside.

We did not get the answers we wanted. In fact, we really didn’t get many answers at all.

I have come to accept the complexities of all that is me. I’ve embraced The Wilderness Marathon. I savor the journey. Sitting back, experiencing, really experiencing, the wonders of God. The story, He has entrusted me with. The grace He gives in each new day.

I have nearly memorized Psalm 139…a mix of New Living Translation and the ESV

…You go before me and follow me…For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb…in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me.

In spite of all that, I still feel as if I have been punched in the gut when we leave. Every. Single. Time.

Robbed of breath, waves of nausea washing over me. I squeeze my eyes tight, lest the tears slip through.

This time, this time was different somehow. I shattered. A dandelion, bent from holding itself up , with a whisper of breath, I scattered a thousand ways. Reminding me of the many bouquets left to dry and disintegrate on the countertop.

I have waited months for sunshine and warmth to kiss my face. When we stepped out of muted light, a hushed quiet to soften the blows of harsh words; walking towards the warmth, the want to bask in it, fled. I simply wanted to go home.

When my story pummels me off my feet, my tendency is to retreat. To wallow up in my safe place. Wrestle it out with God.

The wrestling takes me beyond the end of me to a place of worn out and wearied yielding. My eyes are opened to the invisible beauty of God. He woos me with words, awes me with provision. Meets me in the pain with tender mercy and grace.

“I am awed by what suffering can produce.” ~from the letters of Francois de Fenelon

I run my finger across the words...”And I am certain that God, who began a good work within you, will continue his work until it is finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6~NLT

In the back and forth moments of my day, I can see this, and then, there are the moments where I cannot see beyond my own self. Beyond the pain.

The starting line long since behind me, somewhere beyond the easy miles, the harder ones lay before me. No Garmin to mark the mileage or the speed, there is only me and God. There’s no perky cheerleader, legs of steel, running backwards up head yelling, “this is where you have to get your head in the game.” Yes, that really did happen, somewhere along mile eighteen in Savannah, Georgia.

“To ask for relief from God~this is human. To pray through the pain, to live in it instead of numbing yourself to it, to subjugate your will to the will of God, even in the face of potential suffering~this is what it means to be like Jesus. This is what it means to yield to the mystery.” Seth Haines~Coming Clean

I long since stopped crying out for relief. I have chosen not to be numbed to the pain. Instead, I pray that God will meet me here, smack in the middle of it. It’s a dance, the back and forth. I let go. He holds on.

Pain is never wasted.

…let them take hold of My strength and make complete surrender to My protection, that they may make peace with Me!” Isaiah 27:5 ~AMP

Surrendering brings peace. Peace brings strength. Strength for one mile at a time. One moment at a time.

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn

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