Nothing beats 4pm windows-down road trips home. Where I exhale and drive onward to what seems like infinite horizons, and leave behind tomorrow’s lesson plans and a school system’s expectations and grownupness. Wind in my let-down hair and “well done” etched in bright colors on my heart. Set free from the repeated kid-questions and thepretend-authority, the scrambled subject transitions and the pressure to keep on performing. But all trials he rolls out as a trail. Red-carpet trails, winding rocky ones, trails unfamiliar and aimless or those breath-sucking and crumbly. Every trial is but a trail. Even the ones keeping me indoors on sunny, my-kinda-days. Even weeks without my-size people, or brake pedals, or reckless abandon adventures.
I know just what what these bones of mine miss. Spontaneity. Greenbelt adventures on sunniest days, with whatever combination the Creator of life abundant gets there. Road trips home for a few hours, or lazy laundry, or 9 fluffy puppies, or dad’s iced coffee, or mama playing with my hair. Dropping obligations, projects, plans for a sister. Freely talking about Jesus. Showing up, whatever the cost. Rooftop stargazing. Pretty-weather running, not on a time crunch. Staying up past 11pm. Waking up whenever my body wakes up. Skipping class for boat rides and pretty weather and people. Sonic dates and playground playdates and car rides with an invisible yet there Jesus always calling shotgun. Never questioning professionalism, or purpose, or that I matter. Waking up joyful. Young Life Fridays. Believing that I’m not known of, but way-deep known. All things rich and right and really, all things Layne loved and lived according to.
I expect these things. I’m selfish and so entitled. I thought I could balance it all and love you all and soak in the glory of the audience’s, “She can do it all.” So I cross my arms to this season, and hang up a white flag to say no to positivity and promise and His so-called plan. And these eyes once hunting for His surprises are stuck puppy-dog pouting at my season. All complainy, burnt-out, selfish, achy. Thinking I must be alone in this fight against maturity and resumes and communication strictly via email and big girl clothes. Feeling spent and set aside, craving the adventures of my seasons before.
yet all this while:
it is well with my soul.
Because in the midst of a mighty storm, in a somehow-steady shabby old boat sit my Jesus and His Layne—and my soul is still, my spirit expectant, my heart beating fast knowing this season matters much. And while I can’t depend on my usual fuel—coffeeshop conversation or high school ministry mini-victories or a few hours on a Wednesday playing in the sunshine—I’ve got Him, and He’s surely got me. And it is radically well with my soul. Over-well with my soul.
Knee-deep in the mire, still He is sweet. Still He throws pretty packages at a heart all thankless and unreceptive. Still He paints skies just for me and sends sun rays through window blinds and surrounds me with 10-year-olds who refuse to censor their authentic adoration, for me. Still He is sweet. Still He sends Tennessee firefly friends to my rooftop and my secret dock spot and my escape place because He sees my thirst for company and quenches it. Still Hewakes me up early to surrender what I’m carrying. Still He schedules standardized testing I can’t legally help out with, just when I’m needing a slow-down the most. So still, He sits me down all alone in a quiet teacher’s lounge, because this blog thing matters and doesn’t belong in eighth place.
I’m done standing stuck in this stuff. Mire doesn’t steal movement, it just slows it. So I’ll hobble, I’ll limp victoriously. And I’ll stop labeling this ground as the mire, the muck, the winding, the worst. This trail’s not just of desperation. It’s matched by determination–because I can see the diploma prize finish just ahead. I’ll savor His surprises in mundane Mondays and kids hugging all over me all semester long. He’s handed the richest conversations in the most random of places and the cookie dough has never eve run out. I see Him letters with my name doodled all pretty, in picture-taking and playing and tree-climbing and backflipping, in realizing that this life is not mine. That He’s got me, no—wait—that He’s always had me.
I want this Life to scream that it’s not mine, and to reject cyclicality because my next day is bound to be my best day. Even in uphill-climb semesters, I want the hills to be mere exhileration—to add to my joy and my adrenaline, to force my weary eyeballs Up There when I’ve been too busy staring at shaky hands covered in crumbs and exploded markers and recess dirt. And my Abba’s a completer. He doesn’t leave us limp at the climax—He writes to completion. He drags me halfway-obedient to seasons He promises we will finish. This limp is of victory, of revelation, of let-go. And I can’t wind down, or complain, or quit just yet because a spirit-tunnel triumph is already cheering my name.
thanks for proving me wrong and loving a thankless heart, and throwing surprises my way still. thanks for pinky-promises that prove this season matters much, that I’m sharper and better off and more alive because of it. thanks for Psalm 40, its truth and its right-now relevance. You get me.