PEACE IN THE TENSION

She was paralyzed, frozen. She grasped the splintered rope tightly, its fibers digging into every inch of her sweating palms. Her breathing was shallow and determined. Her muscles trembled as she struggled to hold as still as possible, willing herself not to look down.

He was facing her, hands at His sides. She wanted to yell at Him, to lash out at Him for asking her to come this far. She knew she could not go back and He would not yet tell her where they were going. So she stood, struggling to balance and looking past Him at the line of weathered wooden slats.

She was tired. The bridge jerked and swayed in response to her trembling. She mustered everything in her to stay strong, to tell herself that she could handle this. An outburst now was out of the question. She would surely fall. She must focus.

She looked up at Him defiantly, her jaw tight, her teeth clenched. She wanted to hurl words at Him. To tell Him how hard this was, how unfair. He continued to glance towards her, His face calm and peaceful. His gaze cut right through all of it. Through her anger. Through her hatred. Through her constant struggle to steady herself. A tear slipped down one cheek as her resolve to fight Him begin to wane. Something cracked in her chest and at that very moment, His hand moved to steady her. 

She let out a jagged breath, averting her gaze as He braced her and gently wiped her cheek.

“Why? Why do I have to be here?” she asked Him, her eyelids squeezing tightly as more tears came.

“Because you need Me”  he said quietly “And I am Here.”

———–

“Oh my goodness!” they said. Every person I talked to.  “A concussion? How did you do that?”

I would have loved to have had some fabulous story. “Oh, well let me tell you…” I would have snickered, ” I was breaking in my new four-inch stilettos and….”

Groceries. I was making room for groceries. In my tiny new pantry – the kind with one door on the bottom and one very separate, very hard, very open door on top. I stood straight up and Whack!

Pantry: 1           Jenny: 0

I immediately crumbled to the floor, stars swirling around me like Wiley Coyote in a Looney Tunes cartoon.

Never mind that I was already in physical therapy for a bulging cervical disc. Never mind that I still had an entire townhouse to unpack. Never mind that it was summer and we had “get-it-in-before-school-starts” travel plans.

I have come to believe that God has a very interesting sense of humor.

Within 48 hours, my brain swelled to the point that I could feel every inch of it pressing out against my skull. I went to the local ER, praying for something – anything – that would stop the throbbing. A concussion, they said. No bleeds…you’re lucky. Take it slow. Rest. Let your daughter put away the groceries, they smirked. Oh, and Do Not do anything strenuous or stressful.

“Ummm…you mean like, life?” I wanted to ask sarcastically. I so did not have time for this.

So… for the next full week, I sat on my couch, surrounded by cardboard boxes that silently mocked me as I napped way too much and functioned in little spurts. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t drive. It took me six hours to watch one movie. I couldn’t even talk on the phone without being in a dark room because managing my brain and my eyes at the same time was just not happening. Trying harder at everything wasn’t going to cut it. I had to just…stop.

And then…I surrendered. It was a done deal and I decided that I could either be mad and make my head hurt worse or I could rest. And you know what? Once I made the decision, it was kind of peaceful.

I don’t surrender nearly enough. I mean, I am a girl who likes plans. I can see them and touch them and try them on and picture myself wearing them in the future. They can be  a little confining, but they’re pretty and they make me stand taller – a lot like four inch stilettos.

But I began to realize that while this concussion was not in my plans, it definitely seemed to be part of His.

Those of you who know me know that I am becoming accustomed to things in my life that I did not plan. Things that I did not want to surrender to. Doors that were left open – or slammed shut – that knocked the wind out of me and left me in a heap on the floor, stars swirling. I am willing to bet that you can think of doors like that in your life, too.

But at some point during my week of recuperation, God began to whisper to my heart that this time to rest – this time to be still and present on this “bridge” – had a greater purpose in His eyes. He was teaching me that I needed to stop gripping the rope so tightly and grasping for solutions and to learn to focus on one thing at a time. On Him. He reminded me that He had brought me “here” for a reason and that (Praise the Lord!) He wastes nothing. That going back was not an option, and that it was okay that it was not yet time to move forward. And don’t miss this…that He was ready and waiting to steady me as soon as I was willing to stop fighting and trust Him.

Please, friend, hear my heart: He seeks to give you peace in your tension, too. In the tension at work. In your relationships. In your marriage. As you fight to get your health back. In your daily struggle to serve Him. In the tension as you parent or are in the process of becoming one. As you adjust to new seasons in your life. In the maddening tension that is created when we simply do not know what lies ahead or how long we can hold on for dear life.

He seeks to replace that tension with something far greater – with Himself.

Are you willing? Are you willing to be where He is, no matter how scary?

My hope is that wherever you find yourself in your journey, that you will stop struggling to hold on, take a jagged breath, and let Him steady you too.

rope bridge

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You 

Isaiah 26:3

May His peace be with you

~ Jenny

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