I hesitate to write this post, as it leaves me vulnerable and open and human and fallible. But such is me and what am I if not all those things? Fake? A parading facade that gives the illusion of whimsy when I am in despair? Let me be frank.
I learned very quickly after committing my life to Christ that I shouldn’t attempt to make too many long-term plans. Our little charmed life seemed to be turned so easily on its head in a moment’s notice. And because we have had a lot of adjustment, shifting, transition, and directional change in the past ten years, Michael has initiated checkpoints along the way. Our checkpoints are simple. It will be a conversation over coffee, a lingering Sunday drive, a weekend away, in the front porch rocking chairs, or during a routine trip to the grocery store. The setting isn’t so much the point as the content of the conversation.
Our checkpoints must answer a few basic questions. Where are we going? How are we doing along the way?
The checkpoints have been vital to our marriage and ministry. Sometimes they result in seasonal themes like “Family” or “Focus” (<— current). Sometimes they result in additional checkpoints to dig deeper to the root of a problem. Sometimes they result in change. Sometimes they result in staying where we are and feeling confirmed in that position.
I am having the best summer. It’s not only because I am poolside most afternoons. (Although praise God and hallelujah – and I am so sorry for last Sunday when my son puked in the pool and you had to shut it down for the afternoon…) Or because I am hammocking in my yard with my summer fragrance of choice, OFF: Deep Woods. (You can tell your deet-free Avon skin-so-soft that our mosquitos eat repellant like her for breakfast. Give us the deet. Period.) Or because I am getting to reconnect with my friends and family, with whom I have spent precious little time over the past year. I am having the best summer because I am me again.
Michael looked at me with all the intensity that there is a few weeks ago and said, “I’m so glad I have my wife back.”
I am having this best season because I had one helluva spring.
I had been gone. Not physically, but in every other way possible. I had been distracted, stressed, consumed, anxious, and elsewhere for far too long. It was during one of our checkpoint conversations that I had to face the grim reality that my actions were not consistent with my priorities, and I got scared about that. Not the kind of fear that brings about a good fight, the kind of fear that paralyzes. That renders its inhabitant useless. I didn’t know how to escape. I just kept existing and my dearest ones around me just kept suffering.
It was a hard, dark time.
I wish I could say that I came to my senses and escaped on my own. I wish I could say that I willed myself back to the important and back to the present and back to myself. But I didn’t. I had been utterly and completely swallowed up, and the darkness in that pit kept me from finding my way out. The darkness just kept me there…deep in the recesses of its all-consuming command.
Until a checkpoint came.
And my people told me I wasn’t me. And then my people got me out. They rescued me. They got down in that pit with me, hoisted me on their shoulders – they have such broad shoulders – and carried me up, speaking Life and Truth to me all along the way up. Gently and caringly they strengthened me. Strengthened me enough so that when we got to the top, the only thing left for me to do was stand up and walk away from the pit.
And I did.
And it was the bravest, hardest, bestest thing I’ve ever done. That last little bit, where I stood up, required absolute surrender to the Holy Spirit. The End. It was not an action I could have executed without His power. Those standing muscles had been so weak, having been crouched down in that pit and all.
Some seasons are so very light, and airy, and whimsical, and holy, and sacred. Those are the best seasons. Some seasons are so very hard. Some seasons are marked by tragedy, grief, monotony, solitude, despair, fear, or consequences of your very own actions, to be just an absolute truth-teller. Should you find your season a difficult one, can I give you this little blesson I have just learned five minutes ago and find very worthy to divulge? Let your people in. They don’t want to see you this way. It is sucking the life out of them and it is changing who they are, and that is not fair. And that is not the holy heritage you are to embrace, nor the legacy you wish to leave. (Side Note: Your people are not your Facebook Friends List) Your people are very few. Those who know why you’re in the pit. Those who are willing to get in there with you when you finally admit you need their shoulders. These are your people. They are safe, and that is an incredibly important part of this. They are offering their strong shoulders. Take hold. As you ascend, your strength will return. You will feel the blood course back through your life-giving veins. And you will stand back up on your feet and will walk away from that damnable pit. You will call on the Holy Spirit to help you, and by God’s sweet grace, He will stand you up. But you, my friend, have to do the walking.
I dare you to have a checkpoint conversation. Ask yourself, ask your spouse, best friend, or sister, how you are doing. Ask the person who will tell you the truth. And let him tell you the truth. Let her. Are you going where you want to go? And how are you doing along the way? Be prepared for the truth. The truth may be that you are doing swell! Bravo! Keep up God’s good work! You may be slightly off your intended trajectory – that’s no big deal! Just veer back on the rightful path!
But if you are in a pit (fill in whatever your pit is: unhealthy relationship, job, unholy habit, bitterness, unforgiveness, greed, you get the basic idea) – let your people help you up. Let our God stand you up. And walk the swearword away from that stupid pit.