A few weeks back, I’d hit a rough patch in my summer. On several fronts, things seemed to be fragile and the way through it all seemed uncharacteristically bleak. Like anyone, I have my moments of doubt and despair, but I’ve been fairly successful in avoiding settling in that place for too long a duration. On this day, however, the black cloud I can typically wave away soon after it’s over-warmed its welcome was proving stubborn.The elusive peace garden was seeming more fantasy and less anything that could ever be truly within reach. Even the hope to which I was clinging was borrowed from the past, from memories of other times when I’d been guided out of the muck. Borrowed hope — now that’s sad. But it’s all I had that day. I wanted to run, but to where?
There were several things that saved me. The first was the smile of my youngest son, bright as a field of freshly-sprung dandelions. It was wide, spontaneous, completely sincere. It came at me like a blast of air-conditioning in the middle of the Sahara. That was the beginning of my climb back into hope. It was enough to get me through to the next day. And midday following that one, after several hours of travel and settling, I found myself floating in the middle of the swimming pool of my dear friend, someone I see once a year when I’m lucky. She and her husband had created a haven of sorts for their family in their back yard the year prior, and on that day, I became the main beneficiary of that well-thought-out plan that, originally, had nothing to do with me.
As I floated in the middle of that pool, I could feel my concerns melting into the blue waters all around me. Listening to the laughter of my children, more of the heaviness began to dissipate into the air above. And all at once, I was keenly aware of exactly what I was feeling, as well as its source. It was no accident, no coincidence. It was the presence of God. This trip had been planned well before I knew of the miserable day that would come several days before, and yet, God had offered me a safe landing place. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” I couldn’t say it enough as I continued to float, swirling around while sunshine tapped my skin. That wonderfully refreshing feeling became more vibrant with each splash of water, each giggle, each shout of fun that rushed past me on the sidelines.
Once again, as so many times before, God had not shielded me from suffering. He had not stepped into my life to reorder things so that I could glide through effortlessly. But He knew how close I was to falling on one particular afternoon of my life as a mother in the summertime, and knowing this, He heaped a generous serving of grace onto my life.
It is there. It is. Even before you are aware of it, grace is on its way. Just hold tight and be open to its possibility, and then, once you recognize it, inhale and let it permeate your body and soul. And then, when you’re filled up amply once again, look for the opportunities, as my friend did, to be a vessel of grace to others.