This has been a really sweet season of celebration with my family. My older sister got married in March, my younger sister gets married in August, and we’ve spent a lot of time together planning and partying.
Now that it’s almost summer time here in Texas, we’re spending more weekends together at my grandparents lake house, we’re celebrating anything and everything just because we can, and I am realizing every time we’re together that these days are numbered for me. Noland and I will move to Utah sometime in the next year, and as excited as I am about all that God has promised ahead of us, my heart is often full of uncertainty, fear, and a little bit of grief.
There are moments I spend with my sisters where I wish we could freeze time and sit there forever. Moments where we sit around the dinner table long after plates and glasses are emptied, telling stories we’ve all heard a thousand times, laughing as if it were the first time any of us had heard it. Moments dancing in the car and still borrowing each others clothes for weeks at a time until we meet up again to swap back.
There are moments with my mom that I hold onto more dearly than I used to, getting our nails done together or driving to one another’s city to spend one night hanging out, just because we felt like it. A friendship we’ve developed in my adulthood that I’m growing to really love. Of course, in this season of wedding planning for my sisters, most of our conversations are out of the necessity of, “Sara I need to you show me how to do this one creative thing.”
There are times spent with my dad that feel like precious stones — moments I want to stow away in a special box or set in a bracelet to wear all the time, keeping them close and in sight so I never forget them. Encouraging words he speaks into the deepest places of my heart, big bear hugs, and a kiss on the forehead that usually comes with an, “I’m so proud of you” — immediately bringing tears every time. I don’t want to let go of those moments.
Maybe it sounds silly to you that I feel this way, like I’m planning a funeral for my family that isn’t dying, but the reality is that when change happens, there usually is a funeral of sorts. A season ends so a new one can begin, and somewhere in the transition we all grieve a little bit. And that in-between space can often be a dark, uncertain, fearful place.
A few weeks ago, we were at the lake with my family for Easter. All day on Saturday I was thinking, “God, what is this day for?” I know Friday we remember what Jesus did for us on the cross, and Sunday we celebrate His resurrection, but what do we do — what do we feel — on that day in between?
I felt like He very simply answered, “Here is where you hope.”
That space between death and resurrection invited all of us in to hope against hope, knowing that the third day would come, and with it, new life. This gap is worth standing in because Jesus saw that tomb as worth laying in. He saw us as worth laying in it for. So we enter into these “spaces between” in our lives, and when we do that we enter into a space of knowing Him in a place that only He has ever truly known.
So we don’t have to fear this place, after all. He’s been here. He’s been here and then he walked right out of here, raising not only himself but all the rest of us to new life. And that’s why we can hope that all will be well. Ann Voskamp says all is well, because there’s always a well.
There’s always a well. How quickly I forget this, and go wandering through the desert not remembering that even in this place He intends to refresh me.
But I’m still scared. I’m scared of being far away from my family, as my sisters’ lives settle in Texas, close to my parents. I’m scared of their kids knowing each other and knowing my parents in a way that my kids won’t have the opportunity to. I’m scared of being “that sister/aunt/daughter.”
I’m scared of all sorts of failure. Feeling like I’ve recently failed in my job has made me wonder about all the things I’ll fail at in the future.
I’m scared of being a mom one day, and I’m scared of my body not being able to make me one.
I’m uncertain about how all the things Noland and I have felt like God has promised us will play out. I’m uncertain on some days about whether or not I really even believe them all wholeheartedly.
This year has felt like somewhat of a winding road with God. I’m pretty sure we’re still headed exactly where He said we would go, but it hasn’t looked at all like I thought it would.
Have you ever driven through the state of Arkansas? Worst highways in America. I feel like I need new tires at the end of it every time. But even though it’s bumpy, and the scenery isn’t the most beautiful, I still know I’m getting somewhere in the end. That’s kind of what traveling through this season of my life has been like.
So when the road is bumpy, cloudy and unclear, and it’s riddled with fear and uncertainty and curveballs that feel more like meteor showers, I can know that He’s already been here. I can rest in the truth that He’s a good shepherd, and He promises that His goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. (Psalm 23:6)
I had a friend remind me of this truth this week, and she said something in an email that I’ve been reading over and over ever since. “His goodness & mercy will be more amazing and more beautiful to you because you saw them chase your heels through valleys deep and chasms wide.”
I love that mental image. Goodness and mercy aren’t just following me in a “lingering behind” sort of way. They’re chasing me. They can’t wait to catch me and remind me that they’re here, and that they’ll be here forever.
This morning I woke up and I could already feel fear trying to steal my day, so I sat before God in my living room and I wrote out everything I’m scared of. I told Him I didn’t want to get up off the couch until He took this fear from me and reminded me of what’s true.
Of course, the very next song that shuffled on my iTunes library was “You Make Me Brave.” I sat weeping at His kindness to remind me of this truth as the bridge played:
“You make me brave, you make me brave.
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves.
You make me brave, you make me brave.
No fear can hinder now the promises you’ve made.”
The shore feels safe, and some days I want to be mad at Him for inviting me into a place that feels unsafe. But He’s here. When I feel like I’m drowning in fear and uncertainty and doubt, He’s here. He called me out here.
And even though I feel like the biggest mess most of my days, I know He’s forging something in my spirit here that I’ll need later. I think when He lets us linger in these places for a while, it’s because there’s a piece of His heart that He intends to impart to us in this place. So I don’t want to leave until He’s done. I want to walk out of this place with His heart.
I’m afraid of failing, I’m afraid of leaving my family, I’m afraid of how, where and when I’ll start my own … but I know He’s here, and I know He makes me brave.
His Presence is the promise, and I want to be a daughter that continues to say yes to the invitations he lays on the table, even when they lead to uncertain, tender places in my heart.
At the end of the day, and at the end of myself, I know that all will be well if I can just be near Him. I’m resolved that it doesn’t matter where that is or what it looks like, or even who or what I’ll have to leave behind.
Lord, just let me come wherever you’re going. Keep reminding me that you make me brave.