I shared all that to say that somewhere along the way I think I lost my voice. Not in the literal sense, as in I needed warm tea with honey and lemon because I couldn't speak, but my voice – the expressive part of me that shared life’s experiences through words. It just slipped away. But it didn't happen all at once; it was gradual, by degrees. And the longer I was silent, the easier it was not to speak. It’s not that I didn't have anything to say. Something funny/interesting/noteworthy would happen, and I’d think – THAT is blog worthy, but when I’d sit down to write, the words wouldn't come. And if they did I would edit myself back down to a blank screen, rendering myself mute. During this time, even though I was not posting and only wrote occasionally (normally when a deadline that I couldn't escape loomed over me) I would tell myself how no one was really affected by my silence. Life went on, as it is prone to do, but there was an uneasiness, a discontent, that seemed to hover.
The little boys took swimming lessons last month, and as it turns out, I learned something too. On day one, he taught them to “Superman” by putting their face in the water, streamlining their arms and using only their legs to propel them. Next he taught them to reach and pull with their arms, in addition to kicking their legs, to freestyle. Then he taught them to float. To lie on their backs, relaxed, and just float. They were pretty proud of themselves and couldn't wait to go back. On day two, he had them jumping off the blocks into the deep end (9 feet) and swimming about one fourth the length of the pool to a “noodle” that he held out for them to grab. Over and over they jumped and swam, while he increased the distance to the noodle slightly each time until they were swimming almost half the length. But the next time they jumped, he said, “This time, don’t swim. I want you to tread water.” He got in the pool with them and showed them how to move their arms and legs just enough to keep their head above water. The next few minutes were spent jumping in, treading water, then swimming to the ladder and climbing out. At the end of the lesson, he sat beside them on the edge of the deep end of the pool and told them, “Today I taught you to tread water because it can save your life if you fall into a body of water.” One of the boys told him, “That made me feel tired!” But it was what the coach said next that struck me: “That’s right. You can only tread water for a short time before you become too tired and begin to sink. But that’s why I taught you to float. When you get too tired, just relax and breathe and float until you can tread water again or swim to safety.” Upon hearing his words, I quietly closed my book, and felt the sting of tears begin to well up because I realized that’s exactly what I had been doing – not treading water, but treading life. Treading through the day to day, through relationships, through loads of laundry and sinks of dishes, through parenting challenges, through responsibilities and expectations, through surgeries and life changes, through feelings of guilt and inadequacy, through preparing for a child to leave the nest … and the list goes on. Treading life. And it’s exhausting. That feeling of inertia, feeling stuck, because you know you should be moving forward but you aren't, either because you can’t, or because you don't know how? Painful.
But God never intended for us to live life like that, struggling to keep our head above water. I love how The Message reads in Matthew 11:28-30:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
And because God is full of grace and mercy for His children and uses the people in our lives to bless us, one of my very best friends, Stefaney, invited me to do a summer Bible study with her. You’ll never in a bazillion years guess the title!!!
“STUCK: the places we get stuck and the God who sets us free.” I know!!! I’m sitting here in tears all over again thinking about how much God loves us and wants to free us, for our own good but ultimately for His glory! And I’m speechless … but this time in a good way. :)
So I promised when I introduced myself to you in my “meet the blogger” post that we’d be keeping it real here. I’m not sure you were ready for all this real-ness, but here it is. And while I am trying to once again find my voice, and to stop treading, please don't be offended if I ask for some warm tea with honey and lemon or for you to throw me a noodle occasionally. This life thing is hard, but God is good.
Keep it real,