I’m half way through my 20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself series!
(I promise, if you stick with me until the end of this blog, it will be worth it.)
And #10 has made me think a lot.
When was the last time you felt truly joyful?
I feel many emotions each day. We all do. Most of us have learned that sometimes, just after our best moments in life, we come crashing down fast and hard into a hurtful catastrophe. But just the opposite can happen, too. When we think we’ve hit rock bottom, and then sink just a little lower, suddenly things turn around and we smile wider than we have in years.
My emotions feel BIG. This is both a blessing and a curse. I love hard, feel everything and can’t fake a smile to save my life. Luckily, most days are good days. I have a fairly joyful life and many reasons to give thanks. God blesses me every single day.
There was a day just before Christmas when I cried so hard, I wound up taking a bewildered walk at midnight with my husband and calming my heart down with silence and prayer. And you know what? The worst and most troubling fears I’d built up in my head didn’t happen. I need to remember my mom’s words:
Don’t borrow trouble.
She said it to me often as I grew up. She said it to me a few days ago on the phone. As I began to tell her everything I was afraid would happen, she said simply, “Melinda, don’t borrow trouble. Don’t do it.”
What she means: Don’t be afraid of what hasn’t even happened. Don’t let yourself get worked up over a projection of a maybe. Have faith. Walk in it.
Which leads me to what I learned about ICE yesterday, and what I was reminded of this past weekend.
I was blessed by my good friend Carmen when she asked me to go with her to Hayward, WI for the IF:Gathering. IF is a Christian women’s conference/retreat/motivational speaking extravaganza (mostly done through remote broadcasting) that I’d never heard of before. I went with a few friends and wound up having a life changing time. We sang, cried, laughed, had FUN girl time and I feel forever changed by the experience. This wasn’t a “mountaintop” experience, where you return home and forget. No, this was one that was so down to Earth that I’ll be forever grounded through what I learned.
What I learned is that Yes, as my heart already felt so strongly, God is everywhere. And Yes, my relationships matter. And Yes, one on one conversation IS the KEY to changing lives, stable friendships and growth in ourselves. Because of who I grew to be as an adult, conversation has never been hard. Intentional conversation comes pretty easily, too. I hardly walk around and reconsider each move I make. I laugh and look on the bright side and overshare… most of the time.
It’s only when it comes to just a few small aspects in life, and suddenly I can hardly SHAKE the feeling of uneasiness and wondering if I should have done things differently. Having faith in what I say and do each day in this regard has been a struggle. A new struggle and an unfamiliar one.
And here’s the ironic part: I have been saying and doing NOTHING. In this current struggle, I’ve been silent, possibly for the first time in my entire life, and each day I wonder if it is the right choice. Because when I pray about it and ask for help and wisdom, silence is usually the answer I hear. “Say nothing.”
And for anyone who knows me, you know that this is the biggest struggle of my entire life. You know I’m proactive. You know I wear my heart on my sleeve. You know I solve all of my issues through open communication and saying the truth and hoping so badly for the truth back in return, no matter how hard it might be to speak or hear.
So I’m biting my tongue. Though I want to speak kindness and openness. I am holding back a letter. Though writing is my second form of open and true communication. I am remaining still. Though I want to act.
I am also learning not to borrow trouble, but remain in the peace and presence of God, who I have literally felt wrap around me and calm me down in the most tragic of moments.
We’ve all heard this since we were little: we can’t control what others do or say… we can only choose how we react. Perhaps my greatest lesson in life is learning patience and silence, even when it’s just so damn confusing and hard to not right the wrong.
I’ll wrap this up by talking about What The Ice Taught Me.
So right after I returned back from my awesome weekend experience, I went on a walk on the river with my husband. This always, always, always makes me nervous. Which is probably why he was so giddy (like a kid) to get me out there and show me what he discovered earlier that day. We walked and found large patches of snowless ice, and you could see down, as far as the ice lasted. There were easily 18 inches of ice underneath us. “You could drive a tank on here,” Israel assured me.
That should have made me secure enough. But I still yelped a few times and my heart raced more than once, mostly due to the eerie (yet lovely) sounds of ice cracking beneath us, all over the river.
“Are you SURE that there won’t be enough cracks, just surrounding us, that will cause the ice we’re standing on to go plunging into the river??”
I imagined a scene from some crazy action movie… ice shooting up through the cracks and the giant icy cascade that would surely include us.
He then explained something that made me SMILE and feel like a kid.
“It’s physics,” he said. Then he pointed at each shore. “This ice is trapped between that shore and that shore. It can’t go anywhere. It’ll keep shifting, but it’s so compacted that it won’t fall in. Physics won’t let it.”
That’s a paraphrase, but let me tell you, those were some of the best words I’d ever heard. Ohhhhhh, pressure!!! That’s what’s keeping us safe!!!!!
And then I got that feeling in my soul, that tingling in my body, when I feel God talking to me. I looked from shore to shore. I felt the cold air touching my face. I listened to the ice springing apart right beneath my feet.
Because you see, that’s exactly how life is.
Right there on the ice, I had one of the strongest visions of my life. God was one side. Jesus was the other. The Holy Spirit was the air. And even though my life is breaking apart in some ways, I’m being asked to die to some of my dreams, and there is a frightening noise constantly surrounding me and surprising me, I can be assured that they WILL NOT let me fall. The ice, my life, is secure in this perfect trio. Two hands and the air above me. The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
I tell you, I will never be the same. Oh, and to answer the question that this whole blog series revolved around: this was the first time I’ve experienced true, down to my core joy, in far too long.
I want to leave you with this. The reminder that silence is okay. That though fears creep up on us, we don’t need to defend ourselves.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Lou (who was much happier after learning about physics)