Note: I wrote this piece four years ago, right after my fifth child graduated from high school. Before this past weekend, I felt exactly like this post. Then came the weekend and the gift of rest, the gift of peace. So I’m not in the same place right now. But perhaps some of you are – because all of us have houses of cards in some way or another.
My house of cards has fallen. I build it up so carefully, all the while realizing that something has to give. We are not created to sustain long periods of stress and yet, stress has been building in my world for months.
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. Indeed.