I walk into the house and smell gas.
I imagine it wafting blue through the air and irrationally fear a flame flickers somewhere within these walls.
A scene from an action movie flashes. It’s the one where a peripheral character doesn’t know the danger lurking and enters a gas-soaked room while smoking a cigarette, and he is thrown across the room by roaring flames, through a door and a parking lot and against the side of a car.
I look around the room and turn off the stove knob knocked into the simmer position. I open up the windows and doors. The wind blows hard outside.
I think how good it is that the natural gas company adds drops of scent that make the odorless gas smell bad and wonder how many parts per million they add so we can detect it.
I’m sure I could google it, but I just want to wonder.
Lala hops down from the swing in the backyard and asks me if the rain is coming.
Looks like it is, love.
We decide to swing for a few more minutes before water drips heavy through branches.
While I push her, my mind drifts in and out of uncertain and misty while I go about hands-on-stuff living.
These past days, I fold underwear and sort papers, and I try to make order and still the swirling. I hope for solid done to make its way inside — to a sense of competence, confidence, ability. Instead doing only seems to stir the pot, and vapor voices keep swirling.
Why can’t I stay organized? What a disaster. I have got to get it together.
I need to find time to sort these photos, make baby books, create a better system for our office. I’ve got to stop piling my clothes all over the bedroom.
Why can’t I just do it right? Why can’t I seem to complete anything I start?
I know the answers, and I know grace lives there, but it doesn’t stop the questions coming, and they seem to have a life of their own.
Yesterday morning, I awake early, and I want to write, but my words aren’t ready. So I read longer. I journal, and I pray. I sit with Love, and it is good.
But amidst all that love, fear still swirls.
When will I find time to write, if not now? Do my girls feel my absence when I write? What if the words just won’t come? What if I’m never able to write again?
Now that I’ve begun to open up my hands to release experiences and thoughts and my heart like onion layers, fear of dried-up words swirls about me like brown leaves in wind.
I am insecure. I am afraid. I feel weak.
And it is good.
Oh, it doesn’t feel good, and these are not the words I wanted to share today. But they are the words I have to write.
I need to remember I am weak, and that you are, and that we are together.
I need to remember that each of us is crafted — imperfections and weakness included — by One who is infinitely strong and shines through imperfect places. One who invites weary ones, who blesses hurting ones, who loves each one.
I need to remember that underneath the swirling vapors of failure voices and not-enough voices and fallen-short voices, and I-should-have-done and why-didn’t-I and why-did-I voices, is the One who reminds us of what is true.
The One who enables us to know that the vapors live there at all, that those voices of fear and worry and despair feel true, but they are not truth.
Knowing means that the struggle and the truth hold a shape and a scent we recognize.
Knowing certainly does not pluck the struggle from us.
Instead, knowing reminds us the vapors are just that — vapors.
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How brave you are! What a faithful commitment to truth-telling, even when it strips you of the pretty and delightful package you are in, down to bare. I so identified with this piece Ashley! Will read again in the quiet. :)
Thank you, Mama. Taking baby steps of bravery…
Thank you for such a beautiful reminder! You have very accurately described my home and thoughts! Thank you for the encouragement today!
Thank you, Cori. So good for me to know I’m not alone either. :) I think so many of us moms — and humans — struggle in these same battles. Be encouraged today, Cori!
You amaze me every time I read your blog. Your devotion and writing to our Lord are what we all strive for in life. Such devotion to writing can only mean that you love writing and with Gods love will succeed and have the courage to continue. Will pray that your piece is well accepted and responses are outstanding. Love Mom
Thank you so much, Mom, for your prayers and encouragement. Yes, I will continue to write — I do love it — and trust that God will continue to meet me there. :)
I hear those why-didn’t I and why-did-I voices, too. It’s a good reminder that those familiar unnatural vapors are a call to open the windows and let some healthy breath enter in. God have mercy! (So glad He does.)
Amen to that, sister!
Afraid. Weak. Failed again. I have it too. And, yes, these are my expectations, not His. Thank you, God, for grace, mercy and Your strength.
Love you and miss you, dear Ash! xoxo
Yes, Rebs! Our expectations and His are so often worlds apart. Utterly grateful for grace! I love you, friend.
I completely identify with your post today as I feel ever-weighted-down by the “never ending, always growing” To Do List and must choosr to realize that my fulfillment doesn’t come from “completion”, but rather from the “process” and in living for Christ! Love you and believe God will continue to grant you the time and words to write!
Yes, my friend, I love what you say — our fulfillment cannot be found in completion. So true, because we are never completed this side of heaven. Let us rejoice in the beautiful, messy journey!
Thank you sweet friend.
Always a good reminder to remember the Truth of who we are in the midst of our swirling thoughts.
I love you.
Thank you, Aim. We’ve GOT to keep reminding ourselves — and each other, don’t we? I love you, my friend.
You, alone with your thoughts, look deep within and self-examine. Socrates said ” The unexamined live is not worth living.” You live this credo. Unvarnished, fearless, you tell the truth boldly…seeking your own acceptance.Your faith will get you there!
Thank you, Pops. :) I do believe that examination for examination sake can lead to major despair, but examination under God’s light brings hope. I love you.
Oh, don’t we all identify with this?! I admire your transparency and the wisdom that follows it. I too am praying for your (in)courage writing debut tomorrow. I can’t wait to see it!!! Xoxoxo
Thank you for your prayers and your comment, Sissy. I am so glad to know I’m not alone in any of this. I love you.
i LOVE honesty. maybe that is why i love our friendship so much. we are two moms with three girls each and lots of paper piles and pink laundry piles. i made a list yesterday of my “to do’s”. somthing i learned from you, my little list writer. but i made it a short list :) and today i crossed a few things off. oh how liberated i feel! let’s rejoice together in the smallest things…like you sitting with LOVE yesterday morning. that is beautiful….and so is the writing he gives you, my buddy. xoxo kindy
I love our honesty together, and I love all we share! One of my greatest joys. Yes to small victories, Kinny! And thank you for the ways you push me on.
What a beautifully written description of the vapors we all feel at times.. I’m so glad you are writing.. some day your children will read your words and they will resonate for them too, what a precious gift.. xo Smidge
Thank you, Smidge. How I appreciate your perspective! Its good to keep before me the legacy to my girls. :) xoxo