My grandfather learned to swim in the Mississippi River. I say “learned,” but what I mean by that is two of his older brothers threw him off of a bridge. He didn’t have a choice. It was sink or swim. Literally do or die.
I believe that God is a good God. He is a perfect Daddy. And from my experience with earthly fathers, the good ones typically don’t throw their children off of bridges into raging waters just to see what happens. Good dads do like my husband, teaching patiently, building trust, not letting go until the child knows what they’re doing.
So often I feel like my grandfather, thrown into dangerous waters without a life vest, without a clue what I am doing, having to rely on gut instinct and hope that I make it out alive. While I’m fighting for my life, God is on the bridge, looking on with mild curiosity. Even now as I sit in my living room typing, I can feel the panic creeping up on me. My husband is gone, he’ll be gone for the next five days. Five days! All the respect to single parents and military spouses because guys….five days alone with two little kids feels like a million and seven years, doesn’t it? My thoughts keep going back over the last time my husband was out of town…I was on medication then. I had some chemicals in my brain to help me deal, I had made plans with my family to occupy much of our time, and the days flew by.
But I look around my house and I see waves, taller than I am. I see messes and animals and children and meals and the list goes on. And it’s all on me. No one is going to walk through the door at the end of the day to offer me momentary deliverance. No one is going to help me bear the emotional burden of trying to parent and run a household. There will be no one to send into the darkness to investigate if something goes “bump” in the night.
When I look at the next few days through the eyes of my flesh, through the eyes of my strength, through the lens crafted over a two year period buried under the waters of postpartum depression, if it is sink or swim, I am sunk.
But the thing is, there is something wrong with my eyes. I have the eyes of my mother, and her mother, and her mother, and all the mothers all the way back to our first mother. Her ear inclined to a hissing whisper and she began to doubt the goodness of God. She began to wonder if He really was holding her up, or if He had thrown her helpless to the mercy of crushing waves. She trusted in her own strength and ever after we have tasted the lingering flavors of fear, sin, and uncertainty on our tongues.
What God is saying to me, in this season of my life and in the coming few days in particular, is to look with a different set of eyes. If I choose to allow my mind to be transformed by the Spirit, I can see that my spiritual reality is that of a child in the hands of a good Father. Not one tossed to sink or swim, but one being held. And God has his hands on all the parts of me most likely to sink. The waves and the water and the dangers are the same no matter how I choose to look at them, but when I see that God is holding me up, that His heart is inclined towards me, not out of morbid curiosity, but out of unfathomable love, well… that is the difference between being buried under the waves and walking on top of them.
I have spent enough time under crashing waves. It’s time for me to walk on top of them.
“The voice of the Lord is upon the waters;
The God of glory thunders,
The Lord is over many waters…
The Lord sat as King at the flood;
Yes, the Lord sits as King forever.
The Lord will give strength to His people;
The Lord will bless His people with peace.”