The day my family went white-water rafting was rainy, and unseasonably cold. To my little girl eyes, the waves were monstrous, my life-jacket was choking me and our boat was far too small.
I remember crying, begging my parents not to go and wondering why we would ever want to ride these white-with-rage waves? But on we went. We all lived to laugh about it (sort of), but it was by far the most traumatizing family “adventure” I can recall.
This week brought a flood of emotions, and reminded me of those dark clouds, bitter wind, and white waves that thrashed and rattled me as a girl.
The waves of emotions rolled in as I walked down into our basement, flicked on the light and felt the chill of the concrete floor meeting my warm body. I picked up a heavy plastic box, marked “regular mom clothes”. Grunting with each step, I slowly made my way back up the stairs to the main floor, up another flight of stairs and finally around a corner into my bedroom.
I have been putting off this job since my miscarriage, but it was finally time to put away my maternity wardrobe, and restock my drawers with “normal” clothes.
Changing out clothes for different seasons of life. Such a normal task. But why is normal at times so painful? Maybe because I was expecting something altogether miraculous?
I am still in process, trusting God with my disappointment and questions, but one thing I know: my heart is being held tightly by the strong love of God. Each morning, I come to God in a place of honest trust, asking Him to meet me in my now, daily giving Him my heart, and trusting Him to hold it with His gentle hands.
As I opened that plastic lid and looked at my “normal clothes”, the need to be held felt very real. I began to unpack those clothes, making room in the box for the outfits I wore as I walked, just weeks ago, with expectancy and anticipation. I felt waves of emotion rushing in and crashing over me. Currents of sadness, the sting of emptiness and what-if’s rolling all around.
I texted a dear friend, mentioning my morning activity, and how I was feeling overcome with what is normally such a meaningless task. She was tender to my pain, and part of her response was this:
“…Praying continued comfort for you as you ride the waves of emotion with Him”.
Riding the waves of emotion, with God. The message stopped me in my tracks. It gave me freedom to feel the pain, yet reminded me to seek shelter in Jesus right in the moment of my very real emotions.
Instead of standing alone and overcome by strong feelings of grief, I asked Jesus to overcome them with me. To grip me in His peace as those waves rolled on by.
With that prayer, I sighed a breath of relief. I am free. I don’t have to stuff my emotions, be ashamed by them, or let them overtake me. As a child of God, I can look to Him to be my “white-water Guide”, and ride them with Him. I can come boldly to Him and trust Him, even with my strongest feelings and cloudy doubts.
No emotion I feel is too hard for Him to handle. So, I identify my dark, angry, ugly, sad, doubtful thoughts and emotions, and I tell them to come close; to sit before the unchanging truth that God really is good, and He really is trustworthy.
Instead of fighting my feelings and running away from the white-water of my emotions, I grab as many as I can, and I wrestle them all down before God. I ask Him to absorb the whole range of my feelings, and to simply hold me as they pass. As I ask, I realize that He’s so near and so strong, and so very willing.
And in that act of faith, He led me through those fiercely white-waters and into the still waters that mark His sweet presence. I sat on the floor of my room, I folded shirt by shirt and dress by dress, putting away and boxing up the clothing that represented my hope, disappointment and questions. And I gave them all to Him.
My role in processing the emotions of life is not to figure out all the “why’s” and “what-if’s”. My job is to simply trust Him, the Prince of Peace, to be my guide as we navigate the splashing, thrashing waves of emotions together.
And my prayer is that my the eyes and affections of my heart would never stray from this good, wise, gentle and courageous Guide.
He is with me, even in this.
Nothing can get Him off course; He knows exactly what He’s doing. And together, we will find those still waters just around the bend.
“He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2-3