Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Peace Surpassing All Understanding

Have you ever felt that peace?

You know...when everything in your life is anything but peaceful. Things are out of your control. So much is going wrong around you. You think you're going to go mad, or scream or cry, and maybe you do...and then there's this peace. And you're absolutely blown away.

When I was in the seventh grade, my grandfather had a stroke. I remember my older sister and I were sitting in the backyard, waiting for a storm to come in, and my mother came out of the house, screaming that our aunt Gina had just called and that her dad, my grandfather, just suffered a stroke. We all cried. We all screamed. We were thousands of miles away, an ocean apart, from my grandparents. That night, we all gathered together to pray for grandpa's well-being. Somewhere during that prayer, my tears just dried up. This wonderful amazing sense of peace came over me. Grandpa made it through the night. He lived another year.

The winter before Ella turned two, I was having a hard time with my grief. Missing Riley so much I thought my heart would explode. I had spent much of one particular day crying. Like, lock  my office door, stay away from me, swollen eyes crying. I got home and felt no better. Ella was fussy so I put her to bed in our bedroom, and she quickly fell asleep. I was alone with my thoughts and the winter wind. I can remember the sounds of the TV from the living room, where Gabe was. And then, there it was. Peace. The feeling like someone (because I wasn't saved then) was in the room with me. I went to sleep, peaceful and feeling loved.

Sometime that summer, Ella wanted to go to the cemetery. I didn't. It was late, and honestly, I hadn't been there near dusk since after I lost Riley. I didn't want to go. SOMETHING scared me. Something kept me from bringing flowers past dark. But Ella insisted. "After work, we will go! We will buy a balloon!" she told me in her sternest two-year-old voice. And so I went, rationalizing that we would leave it at the front monument if it got "too dark." I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we arrived at the cemetery while it was still light. When we got to the cemetery, Ella pointed out a pinwheel that had fallen over. When I went to right it, I noticed the last name on the gravestone. Riley. No, really. I stood there for a good while. Ella, quite the little Miss Independent, unstrapped herself from her stroller and walked the few feet over to me. Together, we stood there for I don't know how long. When I looked up, it was dark. The moon was overhead...and instead of fear, I felt peace. Sweet, beautiful peace.

About a year later, in the spring, I was headed to the store with Ella, with a full mind and a heavy heart. My marriage was pretty well a mess. I knew it, and I was pretty sure everyone else did too. Nothing made me happy. And worst of all, just as we headed into the store, it started to rain. I wanted to cry. I grumbled my way through the aisles, ignoring the chatter of my almost-three year old. When we got outside, Ella shouted, "Mommy, LOOK!" loud enough to get me out of my head. The rain was gone. The sky was the color of raspberries. Together, Ella and I walked home, swinging our shopping bags between us. My feeling of dread was gone, replaced with peace. I could be a young Mom again, enjoying time out with my daughter.

A few months after that, after I had begun reading the Bible, tentatively, slowly, because I had been raised Catholic and was unsure of anything new, my life pretty much fell apart. Without going into detail, it was a really and truly scary situation. I prayed for the first time in a long time on my way to work. I was alone on the street when I heard a voice (and yes, you can think I'm crazy all you want, I sure did) say "I will take care of you. You are my daughter and I will take care of you." I stopped and looked around, because surely someone was there, right? My Dad? Nope, nobody. Just that feeling of being loved.

When my Dad was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, I felt anything but peace. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep. Being 700-something miles away from Dad sure doesn't help. One night, I couldn't sleep. Not for the life of me. I put my headphones in and went for a run. It was 3 in the morning. Somewhere between mile 1 and 2, I think, I started crying. And couldn't stop. I don't know how long it took me to calm down, but I came home calm. And I slept better than I had in weeks. At that point, I knew where that peace had come from. God. At that point, I was reading my Bible daily, and trying to understand His plan.

The past few weeks/months/two years have been hard. Probably the hardest ever. And while I do have His joy in my heart, things can get hard. The last few days, partly due to Sparrow's latest disappearance, and partly due to just feeling like things are out of my control (I hate that. I give it to God and take it right back.) I've begged God during prayer time "Show me something, please." I walked out my door today onto a quiet and still, snow-filled street. And that peace came. He's got this. He's got everything. Even when I was far from Him, angry with Him, He still sought me out and gave me peace. At times like this, when I feel alone and isolated, I know I'm not. He is there. Always. That wonderful peace is there. Always.

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