Strength Will Rise

On Wednesday, my fifth child graduated from high school. The ceremony was living, breathing evidence of perseverance through adversity. Everyone on stage clothed in a black graduation gown with a cap and tassel has lived more of life than they should have in their short years. And we celebrated. Big time.

With this graduation I ended over 22 years and approximately 4025 days of school; of school functions and lunches; of good teachers and bad teachers and mediocre teachers; of interacting with parents I love and showing grace to parents I don’t love; of fundraisers and so much more. And it was Bittersweet. And it was time.

And my strength was gone. Gone like the chewed bones of the ribs that were eaten at the graduation party. Gone like the cups, plates and silverware tossed in the trash for tomorrow’s recycling. Gone like the people who had come, celebrated and left. I wanted to curl up in the fetal position and cry until there were no more tears to cry and my tears had watered every flower, bush and plant in the Boston Public Gardens. Instead I called a friend and sobbed, talking through all the emotions I was feeling.

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord

Sometimes all of life builds up like a house of cards and one little movement sends it crashing down, lying in a jumble of aces, spades, hearts and diamonds.

And that is what happened. My house of cards fell. I have gone on my own strength for so long that it took the tiniest of motions to cause the collapse and demise of my carefully constructed but pitifully weak house.

Our God, you reign forever. Our hope, our strong deliverer

After a heavy dose of tears and wise words of a friend swallowed with a big bottle of self-reflection I found myself in a place of humility and exhaustion. It was so good. It was so hard. 

You are the everlasting God, the everlasting God. You do not faint, you won’t grow weary 

I have tried to fix and rescue, protect and provide. Only. There are times when it is impossible. When the broken cannot be fixed and the drowning cannot be saved; when those who need protecting need more than our feeble efforts and provisions have run out. And that is where I was. I was weak. I was needy. My strength was gone.

You’re the defender of the weak, you comfort those in need

In the post-tears exhaustion that followed, I surrendered  with smudged mascara, tear coated contact lenses and weary willingness to lean on the One who gives life and the bread of life, the one who lifts us up on wings like eagles.

Strength will rise. 

17 thoughts on “Strength Will Rise

  1. Hi. You know about our “crash” last Tuesday. It has been a challenging week. I ran across this quote, “Take away my capacity for pain and you rob me of the possibilty for joy.” Ross W. Marrs

    Our computers also crashed and I’m behind in reading your blogs but will catch up soon.


  2. Dear Marilyn, I echo your friend’s reply “crashing down seems to be going around to different hearts this week”. May we and our family members find comfort in “you’re the defender of the weak, you comfort those in need”. Thanks for your honesty and the comfort you provide to others, Petra


    1. I want to cry with happiness and shout to the world “Petra is back!!” I’ve missed your comments and insight so much! Thinking of you this day!

      Marilyn Gardner Sent from my iPhone


  3. This crashing down seems to be going around to different hearts this week However, I’m so heartened to hear that you found comfort in the arms of the Only One who can truly provide it. That and perspective are often brought to my by praise and worship songs. This one was sorely needed in my head today. Thank you! Again. (You are fast becoming a favorite read.)


    1. Interesting and a good reminder to me that we’re all walking a hard journey. The saying, attributed to Plato but actually by someone else “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle ” is a good one for me to remember. Thank you…. For both reading and for the great comfort of the comment.

      Marilyn Gardner Sent from my iPhone


  4. Wow – powerful post! I understand the transition, and the need to cry out to God and friend. Well done “Mom” – now you can rest in knowledge that you have done all you can. Be blessed! ~ Barb


  5. We had two daughters get married last year. One married and moved to Austria. My husband I have been going through a deep trial that has stretched over a few years. The weddings were a happy distraction. When my second daughter got married, she was the last to leave home. Suddenly the house was empty and my career as a mom and short term wedding planner was over. My husband and I looked at each other in our quiet empty house and it seemed as if all we had left was the trial we were still dealing with. There were a lot of tears and empty feelings and thoughts of what now? Then God showed me that trials and circumstances can drive us away from Him and each other, or straight into His arms to let Him hold us while we cry our tears and let Him comfort us and strengthen us. It is in the darkest days when you raise empty hands and give what seems to be meager praise and worship that He comes the closest. He truly does empty us so He can fill us and get us to a place of trusting Him even when we can’t see what’s ahead. As my husband and I love to say to each other, it is the best of times and the worst of times, but with God there in the middle of it, I wouldn’t have it any other way.


    1. Debbie- thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s in those empty spaces and places where I realize most my need. I’m encouraged as I read your journey.


  6. Thank you for sharing your heart, your pain and your grief over a significant chapter of your life ending … I remember when my youngest graduated school and shortly after that becoming a single parent empty nester … I wept , grieved, reflected and prayed and all those things are so normal. My job for 20 years had been to be a mom, dad and provider for my sons and I wondered Oh Lord now what do I do? Who am I? It was then slowly and surely God led me into a new chapter of life … A time of deeper transformation, a time of going deeper with Him to understand more about who He created me to be. It is not the end, but only the beginning of a new chapter. Empty pages waiting to be filled with new and different adventures with the Lord and our loved ones. It’s an exciting adventure and the BEST time of life. I would never have imagined it in the days of grief that followed my son’s graduation, but He has a beautiful plan waiting for you as well, dear sister! I am praying for you and sending love and hugs!!!


    1. Lisa you and I need to have coffee! This was encouraging and affirming. It’s having faith that slowly by slowly the next step will be revealed.


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