Tough Spot

Quote: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

This picture is me literally squished in a tight spot between two booster seats in a minivan with four-year-olds who NEED you to sit there to prop up their pillows so they can sleep.   We are less than one hour into an eight-hour drive from our house in Maryland down to Topsail Island, North Carolina.   The travel was a challenge for other families joining the vacation too.  My sister’s family came down from Pittsburgh.  At one point my nephew was repeatedly singing “Popeye the Sailor Man.”  He’s twelve.  Our friends in Virginia travelled by car AND plane with a 22-month old.  They didn’t complain about security.  I don’t know if that was stoicism or a satisfactory experience.

My thoughts wandered, as they do at 3:30 am when the kids finally fall asleep and you and driving husband are too far away to politely converse.  I thought about how it would be worth it when we got through this part.  Then I thought about how authors have to put their characters in tough spots and make it worthwhile when they get to the end.  And how, as the author, I know how and why it will work out (usually).  And I will strive to find the best solution for ALL the cast, not just my favorite characters.  Conflict, in literature and real life, is the catalyst for growth and change…I fell asleep somewhere around there.

And then we did all arrive and it was lovely.  Cabana on the beach, hunting for little clams, putt-putt and a roller skating rink.  Getting yelled at in the roller skating rink.  Board games and night hunting for ghost crabs.  Meeting up with our friends Karen and Jason who live in Wilmington, N.C.  Their younger son (3) inviting Anna (21) to get in the hot tub with him.

 Throughout the trip, we adults told stories.  And discovered that all of us were in the late stages of tough spots, ones that had lasted a LONG time and required a GREAT DEAL of perseverance.  Mine, of course, was remembering how two years ago we came back from Topsail and Evelyn was diagnosed with leukemia.  How at first we thought she’d just picked up an ear infection while we were away. 

Then we heard about the Colorado massacre TOUGH SPOT.   This one is big, full of random, senseless pain.  And tangled with more and more information coming in.  Confusing.  It is going to last a long time and it is going to leave scars.   

 I wondered how God, author of our stories, is going to bring love and healing to this TOUGH SPOT.   As if in answer, Patty’s FB wall echoed my thoughts from the beginning of the week.  “The Bible never once says, ‘Figure it out.  But over and over it says, “Trust God.”’  He’s already got it all figured out.” 

So simple it’s nearly impossible.  Because facing conflict, or even just hanging on by your fingernails, is not a comfortable process.  Not something we’d seek out and choose.  My heart breaks for these families.  And honestly, maybe it wouldn’t if I hadn’t gone through crisis.  Maybe this would just have been a sad headline.