Crisp air floated around me as wisps of deep-green grass bowed, straightened, then bowed again. Shadows drew back to the base of the mountain as the sun continued its ascent.
A bird dove from the tip of a tree and landed like a swirling feather, dipped its beak, and pulled. Moments later, it soared back to the treetop. Some babies would enjoy breakfast soon.
My husband and I turned toward a worn path on our hike. Each step took us farther from the beauty of the mountain, away from our car, down the road, and into the lane of trees. Tinder, fallen pine needles, and small stones blanketed the trail.
There’s no pain as life-changing as the loss of a loved one. It is immense. And it’s a common thread throughout humanity.
I have experienced heartache that hangs on like a bull rider clinging to a rope.
Maybe you have as well.
Each year, during Holy week, I re-read the true story of what Jesus went through during the days before His crucifixion.
One of the things that always amazes me is that a group of people welcomes Him by laying down palm branches and even pieces of clothing; but within seven days, they’re chanting for Him to be crucified.
Jesus disappointed them. They thought He was coming as a political savior and so gave Him a conquering hero’s welcome. But He didn’t do what they wanted—to get them out from under Rome’s powerful control.
Women stood in worship and raised their voices to God. The song spoke of upstretched hands, and I raised mine high. But I couldn’t keep them elevated. Weakness pulled stronger than my desire and the weight drew downward. How much longer could I keep my arms up in praise?
You may not know this, but I’m a writer. Creating stories in my mind occupied much of my time as a child. Over the years, I’ve scribbled ideas on napkins (though that will stop considering the state of affairs with paper products—smile), notepads, corners of newspapers, and any tidbit of paper I could grab.
Thoughts swirled like dust bunnies released from captivity. Self-talk pulled me farther down with each ticking moment.
“You’re not good enough.”
“No one wants to pick you.”
“What makes you think anyone would hire you.”
“Your words don’t flow well enough.”
And the darkness tugged harder.
Another line of accusation joined.
It’s Christmas Eve morning. The lights of the tree glisten, soft music plays in the background. As is my tradition and in order to prepare my heart for Christmas, I’m sitting with a cup of tea reading the Bible chapters of the story of Jesus’s birth.
Every year, I’m struck anew by the points of both fear and obedience. Several times, angels say “Fear not” or “Do not fear.” And I smile because the only reason to speak that encouragement is because there will be reason to humanly fear.
Malls, craft fairs, web stores, and many other places are busy with people either trying to find the perfect gift for someone they love or looking for something to add to their own wish list. Online retailers make hopeful promises that orders will arrive in time for the Christmas celebration.
The words connected like a cast-iron skillet to the head.
And just as painfully, it hurt.
I've been reading Wendi Lou Lee's book of devotional thoughts from her days on Little House on the Prairie.
In one day’s entry, she talked about comparisons and how detrimental they are.
“You’re so dependent, it drives me crazy.”
“Raise your kids to be independent thinkers.”
“Why should I be dependent on anyone else? I’ve got this.”
“I want my independence.”
“A woman should never be dependent on a man.”
After years of living under lies and fear, I have found truth and victory in God.