Faith. Joy. Optimism. Jesus being real and Him caring about me.

These are the things I have built a life on.

I built a life.

And I find myself in a season of fog, big waves, cold wind.

Where did that life go? Have you seen it?

Waiting for the water to bring back the Faith and Life.

Waiting for the water to bring back the Faith and Life.

I am a California girl. For most of my life, I have lived within three miles of the ocean. Had a hard day? Drive to the beach. Feel like life is too much? Drive to the beach. Bills, yells, disappointments, disapprovals pulling you down? Drive to the beach. … Park. Take off shoes. Feel sand rub your feet. Exfoliate the dead life away. Then touch the water and feel new living life seep in through your toes.

.RESET.

Feel better. Move on and Back to Faith + Joy + Optimism + Jesus being real

And, when I was younger, much younger… when I was still only 5′ tall but my insides were more elastic, I would swim away any tears. Underwater no one can tell if you are crying. Underwater, even if people surround you, they can barely hear you scream out your sadness. Tears can flow. Face can be red. Muscles can strain. And it all blends into a beautiful camouflage. Water pushing and moving, hugging back the way air just doesn’t care to.

Water pushing and moving, hugging back the way air just doesn’t care to.

All the sadness and frustration could leave my body and soul.  All flowed out of me and into the healing water.  I would feel empty and ready to be refilled by the Faith + Joy + Optimism + Jesus I’d come to trust would always come back. Hurray!

Recently, though… recently, I cannot find the healing water. I still live near the beach and pools in my California neighborhood. I touch the water both literally and figuratively in my prayers but nothing happens. My touchstone, my constant, my compass is no longer working. Up and down, north and south – they are meaningless.

I read other people’s beautiful blogs about how Jesus is finding them no matter how lost they feel – even in the trash. And intellectually, I trust it MUST still be real.  I’m just lost, God’s not, right? I believe Jesus believes in me even when I don’t believe in him – or however the saying goes.

In my bones, though, my bones tell the truth my intellect cannot.

In my bones, there is pain not trust.

 A burning.

Have you ever swam in the ocean? Swimming at the beach was a huge part of my childhood.  We swam in the ocean, played in the waves. In the infinite water up to my chest, swells came by and picked me up, lifting me off the cool sand under it all. One small body bouncing in anticipation, watching the swells come up from their source. The Pacific Ocean, my own beautiful mosh pit. Waves form and if you catch them just right, they lift you up – without any more than a tiptoe of energy from your own body. Lifted and weightless. Light and free.

But, the ocean is not just lightness and freedom and happy happy zen. It’s no joke. All that infinite water has a power and weight. The same power that lifts a little girl up to the sky, can suck her into a dark whirlpool. Vivid memories still sit at the front of my brain. A big set of waves could come in without warning. When you are out that far, the best thing to do when a BIG set of waves begins is to go under each one. Under the white wash. Under the sucking, thunderous breaks. But, once or twice, I didn’t get under in time.

Little head pops up to grasp a gasp of air but can’t get down deep again in time… and I’d get pulled into the swirling, spinning water.  The terror. The confusion. The fog. Especially in deep water, you cannot even find the sand.

It is a complete loss of direction – Up and down, north and south – they are meaningless.

I couldn’t find the sand or the air. I’d have taken either one. I’d pray, “Let me hit the bottom so I have some direction. Give me the sand so I can push up to the surface.”

Lungs burn hot; burning a hole in my chest so they can get to the surface, even if the rest of me never makes it.

I remember it so clearly.

 

This is how I feel now as I swim through life. The water I move and swim in everyday does not soothe me. I am not reset, home, camouflaged, soothed or free. Instead I burn.  I was out deep and a big set of waves rolled in.

I try actual, physical water on my burns but it has lost its touchstone connection to God.

I find myself giving up God for Lent without any choice in the matter. And it burns. It feels like drowning in the very place I found my life. Where I was once lifted up by a very present, big, loving  God  – without any more than a tiptoe of energy from my own soul – Now, I find pain and confusion in that same spot.

Death where there was life.

All I can do now is wait and swim. Jesus, who is real and cares about me – my intellect says, is still here. And my brain reminds my bones that this is how it works. Life to Death to Greater Life.

Resurrection.     

Life where there was death.

Everything must die so that new life can spring up. Even Faith. Maybe I can believe that even faith, like other things, must die to be reborn. My faith must doubt & die.

Faith like a mustard seed, right? Seeds die before they grow giant trees and climbing vines. Death is the beginning of a much bigger life for the seed. Maybe, just maybe, this is part of what Jesus meant…

Luke 17:6 “If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed…”

+

John 12:24–25, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

What if I put the two together? I have faith like a mustard seed and it’s time to let it fall into the earth and die so that it can bear much fruit.

A tiny seed falls to the ground. Once the seed coat breaks, the seed begins to grow roots. Inside the seed is new life: Roots. Height. Depth. Reach. More seeds. More Fruit.

Death is the beginning of new life for a seed. Maybe it will be for me too. Maybe in a year from now, maybe in three days, I will be reborn with a bigger and more expansive faith.

Until then (and believe me I do not take lightly saying “Until”) I will just keep swimming.

…For anyone struggling with faith today. An offering, poured out.

-Nicole

  Just Keep Swimming

 

Hey Mr Grump Gills
You know what you gotta do when life gets you down?
Just keep swimming
Just keep swimming
Just keep swimming swimming swimming
What do we do we swim, swim, swim