The moment you hang suspended in midair just after being pushed into a pool of water there is this sense of reckless abandon. What’s done is done. In less than a second you know, your entire body will become enveloped in a rush of water that is much colder than expected. It will invade craters in your head shocked by the submersion, muffling your senses toward an oblivion you had only imagined in dreams before. Or were those nightmares. Everything feels different. Everything sounds different. Hollow, echoing, bubbly. Alone. Sinking.
That was how I felt when I realized my 18-year marriage was over. I knew everything was going to be different and when the first wave hit me, it was too much to take in. I tumbled and tossed in the water not knowing which way was up. I gasped for air but instead took in something that made my lungs ache. There was no escape. I was drowning. I knew it. I KNEW IT. This was the end. Nothing was the same. It never would be ever again.
That first gasp of air at the surface after the long descent was frantic. I was in utter panic that I would literally die. Somewhere I knew that God was in control and I would not in fact perish, but practically speaking my faith was simply not strong enough to stop my body from trying to survive. I grabbed whatever and whoever was near. Anyone and everyone. It didn’t matter who, if they were close, I’d grab a hold and hope for the best. First friends who I found more willing to cheer me from the shore than get in the water and try to save me. “Keep it up, you can do it.” they’d say. The ones that were brave enough to try to wade in, got sucked in a while themselves, until I watched in numb disbelief as people drifted in my life and then right back out. Desperate? Absolutely. But I wasn’t so egotistical to assume they should give up their lives to save mine. I knew this fight was my own and not theirs. I watched many drift away.
My faith grew stronger as I realized I was not dying and the one constant in my life was the One I prayed to and I started to cling to Him instead.
Just as I was finding peace with the ebb and flow of the tide and as I felt my body rest instead of fight it…I got sucked in again. Back into the tumult. Into the frothy white foam of a giant wave that nearly destroyed me again because I ended up tethered to someone who needed rescue himself…I ended up trying to save him but I couldn’t. He was a heavy anchor. I had to let that go. It wasn’t good for me. It was very bad. And just like no one else could save me…I had to let myself drift out of his life and hope he could figure out how to save himself.
This time I tried to survive on my own. I tried to acclimate myself to the water, to the tide, to the extra strength I’d need to make it to shore on my own. Only I never saw the shore again. There was no shore. Just water. And waves that rippled by in timely, never-ending succession. I was doing ok for a while but I kept getting knocked down and thrown around by fear and nightmares from my past. It was as if I was caught in a rip tide and the more I tried to swim out of it the deeper I got sucked in. So I stopped, and I just kind of made my peace with being in the water. I made peace with the bobbing up and down as the ripples came and went.
I started to float. And eventually, I noticed someone floating along beside me. We weren’t clinging to each other for survival. We just saw that we were both out there floating along and thought we could use some company and some help along the way. We’ve managed to ride a few waves together. Some great ones. Some not so great. We ate it a few times. But keep finding our way back to each other learning from our mistakes. As it stands now, I don’t want to face another wave without him. I don’t. We work. And it’s fun. And it makes us both stronger. It’s almost as if we have forgotten how hard it was alone. It almost seems effortless now.
Unbelievably, we’ve spotted the shore. THE SHORE! We both see it. There are days when I freak out and just want to paddle like crazy as fast as I can toward it. But I really don’t want to get caught up in another rip tide. We both want to make it. I know he’s really good at steering and I’m good at reading maps. I know he trusts me to give him good advice. I trust him to make good decisions. But if I lose him along the way it will not be worth it.
I’ve been in this water for 7 long years. Since September 2007. I’ve had my training. I’m stronger and my faith is sure. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. But there are rocks just before the shore. Those rocks could rip us apart. So we have to wait for a big good wave to ride in the rest of the way. God’s timing will be perfect. It will be a wave that will send us high enough that we can see clearly where we are headed. Far above the rocks ahead, and safely skimming us onto the shore.
And when that day comes, I will do the happy dance, and I will kneel before God and thank Him for His deliverance,. Thank Him for never leaving me, and for giving me eyes to see the good that has come from such tragedy. Because those eyes allowed me to see the possibilities. Those eyes allowed me to keep believing when all hope was lost. Those eyes sustained me and gave me peace in my circumstances. They gave me wisdom, direction and influence to know who to let go of and who to hang onto.
Those eyes will bring me to the ripples end – to a new adventure back on solid ground with a sure and steady foundation bringing new challenges and new tests of my faith that I welcome with unmeasurable thanks.
Working together so well is new for both Harry and me. But wow, it feels so good. Life hasn’t been easy, but he and I make the best team I’ve ever seen. I’m so hopeful and so excited. And mostly I feel honored to have found someone so special to share it with. I love Harry. I’m so very glad he was drifting along like me at the very right time. I’m glad we built a friendship from mutual respect and love instead of clinging for dear life.
Just a little longer and we’ll be there.