relief

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I’m in the kitchen and can hear the tears. I follow their sounds and find Olive crumpled at the feet of the stairs, folded into her arms sobbing. I sit down beside her knowing these brave tears: they are for her comforting routine, her once paci-turned-thumb-sucking habit that we’re trying to release. By this point, Olive and I have had several conversations about thumb-sucking. I’ve always been more relaxed about this topic, but the pacifier-turned-thumb-sucking has created a tongue thrust and is now affecting her speech. So we’re having to be more assertive, offering prizes for specified days she goes without her thumb. But it’s hard. And she’s grieving. I lean over toward her to comfort her and she stands turning away from me, “I just can’t talk about this right now.” Her hand is outstretched toward me, signing “stop.” And she walks away. Her words are not hostile or angry, just a request to be alone, and I listen.

I recently awoke in the night crying similar tears over the loss of my own comfort objects. Although the crying is occasional, the waking up tends to happen more often when I don’t give my thoughts enough space during the day. I tend to process internally, privately, slowly (whether I like it or not), and honestly, being in a household of ten people (six of them children) is not always conducive to such things. Still these “things”–whatever they are– buried deep within me demand to breathe. They need to be heard. And so there I was, awakened mid-sleep, listening to the questions and hurt and loss and doubt that often get swallowed in the day by bravery and courage and alert thinking–pouring out of me in tears. I do trust the Lord. I do believe. But life has felt so hard, so relentless, so impossible, and I hear myself whisper to Him: “do you really see? Have you forgotten?” Much like the hard, dry earth outdoors, I have forgotten relief. I have forgotten seasons. In all of my own efforts to endure, to have a good attitude, to be courageous, I had lost sight of the promises, of Him. I hear quietly, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

Then, as if the earth itself was crying that same prayer, the rain came. The hard ground flooded over, satisfied. Our streets and yard became rivers, and the kids stopped their school work, “Can we go outside? Can we play and stand in the rain?” And so they romped and jumped and held their hands to the sky, now soaked with miracle.  (The current three-year drought has reminded us, rain is a gift.) When the water stopped pouring from the sky, it left behind the damp, cool air reminding us a new season is coming. We spent the entire weekend eating and playing outdoors. And I remember. I remember my need and His provision. I remember the ways His relentless love and grace drench my life. I remember all I had forgotten in my endurance and tears, He is my relief.
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