Last night, the boys laid out fishing poles and lures across the weathered farm table. Bray bought bobbers and fresh line. Grandpa restrung favorite poles.
We’re at the farm this weekend.
The boys LOVE to fish. Everyone fishes around here, but they’re particularly obsessed. Bray and I had both had a long and draining week. I was looking forward to sleeping in while he was looking forward to waking at 5 am to take the boys out on the boat. Through the bayous in the little metal boat and into Calcaseiu Lake where local tales were that the water had cleared and fishing was getting good.
Little bit and I heard them rustling this morning. Five am alarms. Clothes already laid out. Ice chest filled to spend half a day on the lake. She crawled into bed with me while they headed out in the darkness.
It didn’t make sense to me when I was wrested out of my sleep by boy noise a little later. Morning light was dim. I glanced at my clock. Not even 7:30. Yet there a boy sat on my bed. The motor wouldn’t turn over, he announced. We didn’t get to go.
You could see the disappointment etched into his face. They were all so excited. The first fishing trip in months that held any promise. No motor = no trip.
A second boy filed in. I’m so sorry, buddy, I said into his forlorn face. No you’re not, he bitterly retorted and slouched out of the room while I rolled over to go back to sleep. (I was sad for them, but I was also really tired.)
As I laid there, I started thinking about how most of 2020 our spirits, even if not our faces, have worn that deep disappointment.
I looked at this little blog and saw the last time I wrote was nearly two months ago. Not that things haven’t happened. But it’s like I’ve been trapped in a bog. What do you write when you’re trapped in a bog?
I’m staring at my desk calendar for August with all these back to school photos from last year – posing in front of signs, hugging teachers…
Now, even though we’re going back, we’re among the very few in our city, I still have dear friends steeling to teach their kids (again) with distance learning through mid-October.
We all have friends or family who have been laid off or who are struggling with the effects of the virus (or worse) or who can’t sell their house or who can’t decide whether to check the distance or in-person box for their school district. We’re mourning injustices and losses and simply trying to survive another election year.
Our emotions are taking many different forms: depression, anger, sadness, detachment, frustration, impatience…
Deeply rooted under all of this though: DISAPPOINTED.
We are disappointed life does not look like we hoped it would or think it should.
So, now what?
Well, first let’s be really honest. This next year is not going to look like we hoped. We will not get to go on that gorgeous vacation we planned. We won’t get to eat lunch with our kids at school on their birthday. The big milestone birthday party or wedding will get canceled. Things at work or home or with our friends won’t look how we want (or need).
But then. After acknowledging the reality. We have to look forward. And reconnect to our faith.
Oftentimes in hard times, I lean heavily on God and my faith. But I will be honest with you, I haven’t done that lately. I’ve read a lot of fiction. I’ve watched Hallmark movies. I’ve cooked new recipes and drank too much wine. I haven’t spent much time in prayer or studying scripture or in stillness to see how God might be able to use this pruning season in my life. I can’t explain the reaction, but that truth hit me this morning.
So friend, we’re in this together. Hold on – to your rope and to each other. This is a season. We are all allowed to be disappointed and all the other emotions which flow from that one.
But then we have to look forward. We must hope. Hope even when it seems impossible. This is not Pollyanna, slap a smile on it, find an easy sound bite, hope. This is ugly, painful, crying, not-wanting-to-get-out-of-bed-but-doing-it-anyway, hope. This is mourning while knowing joy WILL come in the morning.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5 – NIV)
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11 – NIV)
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, “God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts.
Those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind. (Isaiah 40 – Msg)
All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. …waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. (Romans 8 – Msg)