Standing in the Storm

When most people think of Canada, they think of cold, ice, and snow. We specialize in winter up here. The province of British Columbia has milder temperatures the further south you go, but Canada is largely a chilly place for a substantial part of the year. I’mblizzard-91898_12802 from Alberta and winter can last close to six months with dumps of snow recorded even in the summertime.

I continue to live here, even though I hate the cold. I often tell people it’s because I don’t like bugs and those little uglies don’t stand a chance against the long, cold blast of winter. I lived in Edmonton, the Gateway to the North, for 26 years where you’d open the door and clouds of icy, frigid air would billow into your home. I once walked to work in -40°C looking like an overdressed snowman, I had so many layers on, and when I arrived my eyelashes were iced over. Where’s a mini scraper when you need one?

A couple of weeks ago, I had a wintery first. I’ve never been keen on winter driving, but, as some of you know, I now work in a small town a half an hour away taking care of disabled people. It’s highway driving and it’s on the way to Calgary, a city of over a million people, so the road itself is mostly kept clear, but there are blustery winter storms that roll in from time to time. The other night, I was heading to work to do a night shift. The morning commute had been treacherous, so I made sure I left while it was still light out with over an hour before my shift started. 20 minutes into my trip, I came upon a lineup of trucks at what looked like the scene of an accident. There was nothingIMG_3126 (2) moving on either side of the highway. A vehicle was resting on its side against an askew power line. Through the blur of blowing snow, I watched the emergency vehicles arrive and the workers with their safety vests scuttling about.

After about 10 minutes of sitting, I parked my car. I contacted my workplace, my husband, and called my daughter long distance to chat, as the clock ticked by and it was evident I wouldn’t be making it to work on time. I had thrown a blanket into the car at the last minute and was glad for it after an hour and a half of waiting. I was one of the last cars to be told to turn around, that I’d have to find another way to proceed, that the road was closed. Now, the old cliché “the middle of nowhere” is apt in this case. I’ve lived most of my life in the city. I failed to bring my GPS and the sky filled with blowing snow was now black, as well. I had no idea where I was in relation to anywhere else. The RCMP mumbled some hurried directions and I slowly, awkwardly turned my car around trying not to back into the trucks that were hemming me in.

I drove tentatively down the shoulder of the road, back the way I came, through the swirling blizzard. I felt electrified with fear. If you’ve been reading my posts, you know that my sense of direction is non-existent. I get lost easily, even when I can see where I’m going. My husband once gave me a compass as a stocking stuffer and I promptly misplaced it. I’d make a great contestant for one of those survival shows if you wanted to watch someone fumbling through a forest, becoming more exhausted, giddy, and delirious with every trip on a twig, and finally rolling up in ball on the damp earth and freezing/starving/crying myself to death. I thought about calling in, but I also thought about my clients waiting for me and how hard it would be on the rest of the staff if they were one person short.

I did arrive at the road I was directed to and had to work hard to follow the signs in the flurry. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if I was driving in the lane or on the shoulder. Thankfully, there was no one else on the road. All the smart people were at home in their pajamas eating chips and watching TV. I called out to Jesus repeatedly, pretty muchwindow-1768850__4802 chanted his name, and wouldn’t you know it, ended up behind a snow plow. As long as I stayed far enough away from him so as not to get sucked into the snow globe he was producing, I was fine. Even though the entire trip took me three and a half hours, it was a good feeling to have successfully gone through it, to walk in the door of my workplace and even have one of my coworkers run toward me and embrace me, going on about how she was worried about me.

Recently, I read Jesus parable about the wise and foolish builder, Matthew 7:24-27, and was impressed anew. I’m a baptist pastor’s daughter, born again at the age of 5, literally raised in the church, and I’ve read that parable many times, but wasn’t ever at the right place to see the truth in it. Jesus was saying that if we give ourselves to him in loving obedience, we will stand in the storm. Stand! What a promise! He doesn’t say we won’t have to brace ourselves. We might get knocked over, even pinned down, but he promises we’ll stand, that we’ll remain intact, that we’ll not be destroyed.

At the hospital setting where I work, there are five pods where the clients live and in between these pods there are courtyards where various shrubs are planted. One day, after a particularly heavy snowfall, I walked by a window and noticed a large shrub snowy-trees-1517246543RZx2bowed low, weighed down with thick, wet mounds of snow. It stopped me. I had to stare at it. The change in the shape of that shrub was so extreme. It normally waved its fronds high and proud in our breezy climate. Seeing it so burdened that it kissed the frozen ground—well, I had to grieve a little. I had the thought that it might be unable to recover. As is the case where I live, the warm Chinook winds blew in and in a little while the icicles, those gleaming daggers adorning our building, began to run like tiny waterfalls. The snow completely disappeared. I walked by my friend the shrub again and it had sprung back into place like a fresh rubber band, even managing to look chipper after its ordeal.

Yes, there are times when the storm overtakes us. Maybe you’re watching the ominous clouds roll in with just enough time to run for cover. Maybe you’re cowering in a blinding, body-battering, heart-quaking hurricane. Some of you may be in a position not unlike my shrub friend. You’ve got dirt up your nose, you’ve been so forcibly intimate with the cold, unforgiving earth. You may feel so overwhelmed with grief, depression, stress, anxiety, or chronic ill health, that you’re laid flat, exhausted, despairing, wondering if you can go on. Maybe you’re agonizing over a broken relationship, or struggling with a difficult work environment, or barely paying your bills at month end.

I wish I could tell you how to fix things in 5 easy steps. I wish I could tell you that if you just trust God and have enough faith, all will be righted from your health to your relationships to your finances. What I can tell you is that I’ve been there and so have others. Your experience may be unique as far as the details, but your suffering is common to us all. I’ve struggled through many bouts of depression since I was a teenager. I’ve had moments where I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I used to wonder where God’s strength was in those moments. One day, in a season of health, I had the realization that I was alive, that God’s strength had been with me all along.self-care-2904778__4802

Whatever you do, take gentle, patient care of yourself and seek help whether from a family member or trusted friend, a pastor or your small group at church, a doctor, counselor, or social worker. Let go of going it alone. God made us to be in community. Jesus modeled it by choosing a band of disciples. We were meant to live, grow, and thrive together and yes, struggle, sweat, and cry together.

Be nourished by God’s word and call on Him regularly, fervently, and ask others to pray, too. I’m a firm believer in the power of prayer and lots of it. In 2 Chronicles 20, when Jehosaphat, King of Judah, heard that there were three separate people groups set to make war against him at the same time, he called on his subjects for a public time of prayer and fasting. On the morning of the battle, he even put together a worship team to march out before the rest of the soldiers, praising God and this bears repeating. They worshiped God as they hands-220163_12802marched into war. It seems counter-intuitive to sing love songs to God while moving intentionally toward your possible doom, but this is what they did and the Lord delivered them from the hand of their enemies. Remarkably, not one of them lost their lives. They arrived to find the battle field strewn with the dead, the three armies having turned on each other. The men of Judah did a little cardio, sang their hearts out in worship, and returned home with the spoils of war, because they were brave enough to trust God and move forward in praise. I encourage you to lift your voice above the din, the pain, and watch for God to move on your behalf.

Now, King Jehosaphat did have a word from the Lord, that God would fight the battle for them, before sending his men into war. That assurance must have bolstered their courage enabling them to stand, but how often does this happen for us today? For the clan of Judah, there was the ominous possibility of suffering, but for Paul in 2 Corinthians 12, the suffering was already present and chronic. Paul speaks of a thorn in his flesh, something that was causing him enough pain that he begged for relief, but he admits that relief never came, only the words, “My grace is sufficient for you”. Paul wanted his well-being, his comfort restored and God said, in effect, I know what you want, but you need me. I’m enough for you right now and always. I remember being in a particularly difficult situation where everyday the first prayer on my lips would be that IMG_68222God would dump a truckload of grace on me. I actually imagined one of those humongous trucks backing up and dumping it’s load on me, burying me in the soothing, sustaining grace of my Lord. I’ve been experiencing unprecedented health in the last six years and I believe, without a doubt, that I’m standing tall today by the grace of God.

You may not be standing now and I’m not even sure what standing looks like in your situation. Don’t let the swirling circumstances or the crushing pressure rob you of the ability to trust His love for you and rest in it. Seek help, feed on His word, pray to Him and praise Him, and you’ll spring back up, physically or otherwise. Isaiah 40:31 says “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Soaring on eagle’s wings. How’s that for standing?! It’s His will for you to stand in the storm. Take Him at his word.

Complete the experience. Listen to Lauren Daigle’s Trust in You and Casting Crown’s Praise You in this Storm.

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

 

Advertisements

Burn Away the Dross

Sometimes I wish I could pack up my feelings

Especially the ugly, hurtful ones

That scour my soul and leave me winded, raw, and wounded

I’d thrust them into the deepest trunkchest

And grunt and sweat to force their bulk

Into a forgotten place

I’d bury them under every meaningless piece of trash

I can’t bring myself to get rid of

 

headache-2058476_1280Sometimes I wish I could pinpoint those moments

The person, the voice, the scent that lingers

The triggers that slap my face and send me reeling

Pummeling me with those awful feelings

Those ugly, hurtful, persistent feelings

That scour my soul and leave me winded, raw, and wounded

I’d stay run away, move away, stay away if I had to

 

Sometimes I wish I could close up my being

And throw up a wall around my heart

To block the triggers, those stupid signals

That bring up the pain of those ugly, hurtful, persistent feelingsheart-1463424_1280

That scour my soul and leave me winded, raw, and wounded

But I simply cannot do it

Cannot lay down in the bitter cold

Cannot close up and get hard and old inside

So I writhe

In the flames

Alive and open

Complete the experience. Listen to for King & Country’s It’s not Over Yet.

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

Pieces

I’m starting to piece my past together

                And at this point

I’m wondering

If my past should have been left in pieces

                                                   When I open up the wounds of my past

I suffer again

Having gained an understanding of why I suffered

It’s painful

But worth the pain

I think

    Understanding leads to forgiveness and healing

Healing is about wholeness

                                                                                      It’s about picking up the pieces

And putting them back together

One shard at a time

Fashioning something new

                     That glitters

When the light hits the jagged edges

 

Complete the experience. Listen to Gungor’s You Make Beautiful Things.

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

 

Keep on Dancing

I see you there

Your glossy, pale hair swaying to the music

You pose and leap and glide

With every movement comes the sweetest smile

Such visible enjoyment

You are graceful for your four young years

So new and innocent and free

Oh, little ballerina

Let me offer you a small piece of advice

Keep on dancing

As the years beat on in time

Be flexible, be fluid

When the spotlight shines

Take joy

Stretch out

Reach up from where you are

Become the shooting star that you were meant to be

But never soar so far that you will not be ready

For when the floodlights shut their eyes

And sure as death they will

And suffering strikes an errant chord

You must not fall

Do not give up, do not lay low

By all means, wrestle with your grief and take your rest

Then go

For life is in the movement

A waltz with pain produces beauty

Only if you

Keep

On

Dancing

Complete the experience. Listen to Mandisa’s Overcomer.

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

 

 

A Birthday Grief

So far the days have strayed since when we were together
Oh, how the hours have flown since I last held your hand
I long to hear your voice and trace your face and hold you nearer
And wish to never lose you again
Now time is marking days we spent in celebration
But in your absence, I am at a loss for joy
The day that you first graced this place, now a reminder
That you will tarry elsewhere evermore
Oh, God, who watched his closest friends desert, betray him
Oh, God, who died alone in agony
Oh, God, I clasp your promises in weakness and hang my head in heart-sick misery
I plead, though feebly, with the psalmist
Come satisfy as only you can do
I stumble onward, tearful, faithful, and in earnest
And trust that you will see me through

 

Author’s Note: This poem was written for a friend who lost his spouse.

Complete the experience. Listen to Danny Gokey’s Tell your Heart to Beat Again.

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

A Reflection on Flab

Can fat people go skinny dipping?

What is flab? According to the Websters Dictionary, flab is defined as, excessive, loose, or flaccid body tissue. How boring. I can do better than that. What is flab according to Polly? How about jiggly jelly rolls, great gelatinous mounds of flesh, or excessive excess?
Continue reading “A Reflection on Flab”

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

I had a moment this past Saturday; a remarkable moment. We inhabit our moments, or minutes, and many of them whiz by us without too much notice. This reminds me of something that happened to my husband recently.
Continue reading “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”

Coming Back from the Dread

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

Years ago, I worked as dental assistant. I handed instruments and materials to the dentist while he worked, took x-rays and impressions, and suctioned a lifetime of other people’s dentistry-316945_640spit, but the bulk of my work was cleaning; scrubbing blood and saliva off of instruments, bagging and sterilizing them and disinfecting all surfaces in the dental operatory between patients. I find cleaning grueling and so avoid it, certain that I don’t want to spend my diddly allotment of time here elbows deep in a pail of bubbles and that regret over a spattered mirror won’t haunt me on my deathbed. Consequently, this job was not a good fit for me. Over time, and I lasted almost six years before taking maternity leave, I descended into dread. Every day I had to work, I woke up with it sticking to me like sweaty sheets. There was a brief reprieve on the weekend, but its sour stench returned promptly on Sunday evening whenever I had to work Monday morning.

Continue reading “Coming Back from the Dread”