At the prow of my ship, I bask in the warmth of the sun, smell the thick salty air, and feel the cool spray of the sea on my face. I gaze at the gleam of sunlight reflected on the waves rippling in shimmering splendor.
My two-year-old, Liana, and my 10-month-old, Chloe both had their naps and snacks. They giggle as they play hide-and-seek under the table.
With the girls happy, it’s a good time to start dinner. Ooh, and I actually remembered earlier to take the meat from the freezer and it’s all thawed out. Dinner should be quick and easy.
Ah, life is good.
But then, a shadow looms over the sun and in seconds dark heavy clouds gather overhead. I find myself in the midst of a tempest and a torrential downpour.
In the middle of cooking dinner, I realize I need another pot. Not only is the pot dirty, but there’s rice caked on it.
Just as I’m scrubbing, the phone rings. I dry my hands, grab the phone, and go back to washing the pot while I chat.
I begin to sense the sea around me swirling.
A wail comes from Chloe. With the phone still in hand, I run to check on her, but nothing appears to be wrong. Liana offers no explanation. I instruct her to be nice to her sister, pick up Chloe to calm her down, and apologize to my long-distance friend, asking to talk later.
Suddenly, I notice that the pot on the stove boiling over. I put Chloe down to rescue the veggies and she starts to cry again. Dinner is almost done except for the other quarter of it that needs the rice-caked pot I still haven’t finished washing.
In the midst of Chloe’s crying and the unscrubbed pot, I realize my husband’s work clothes have been sitting in the dryer for hours, accumulating wrinkles by the minute.
At that moment, I feel the full force of the storm attacking my ship. The gales are out of control and I’ve lost all sense of direction.
In the intensity of the storm, I start to lose hope and give way to the raging waves of discouragement and accusations from myself and comments of others in the past.
“You’re not doing good enough!” they thrash onto the ship, soaking my feet.
“You’re not disciplining enough!” They knock me over and I’m wet through.
“You’re not feeding them enough!” They slap me in the face.
“You don’t clean the house enough!” They wash away my belongings.
“You’re a terrible wife and a horrible mother!” I feel like throwing up.
“You don’t even deserve this ship!” Together the waves almost capsize my ship. Almost.
Then a small whisper in the wind gently drifts to my ear, saying, “Be still, and know that I AM. I am enough for you. You don’t have to be enough for anyone else but Me. My love covers all ‘not enough’s.’ I don’t give you this ship because you deserve it; I give it to you because it is a gift of My love to you.”
Slowly it dawns on me — Jesus has already shown me what to do in a storm. I stagger to my feet and face another wave about to hit. “NO!” I shout at it. Immediately, it stops in place. “You can’t have my ship! This is MY God-given domain — my family, my household, my career as a stay-at-home mom. I am good enough to own this ship because God placed me here.”
I refocus. Ignoring the things that are less-than-perfect around me, I turn my attention to what’s most important at the moment.
Chloe’s howls pierce through my thoughts. I turn all the red burners down to low, hand Liana her favorite books, and carry Chloe to a quiet room to nurse. She falls asleep within minutes. I put her down in her crib and watch her sweet sleeping face.
In the living room, Liana is quietly looking at her books on the couch. I give her a hug and kiss, reminding her of my love.
Then I tackle the rest of dinner, in no rush.
The waves descend back into the sea as quickly as they sprang up. The dark clouds scatter, the winds calm, and I can feel the warmth of the sun again.
I don’t worry about the mess of toys scattered everywhere, the laundry continuing to wrinkle in the dryer, the pile of dishes, or getting dinner done by 5:30. Everything will get done eventually.
As relieved as I am that the storm is past, I know this journey is far from over. There are many more storms to overcome. But it is exactly that — a journey; a process through which I grow and learn in both smooth sailing and in the rough, untamed waters.
With each passing storm, I’m taught to look to God for help and to listen for His voice. And though my ship and I are slightly battered, I’m beginning to appreciate the scuffs and bruises. These battle scars remind me that I’m vulnerable and am in need of His Greater Power to rely on.
As the sky opens, it is clear which direction I must go — toward the Sun. Always toward the Sun.