By Dawn Graczyk, Sunshine Mom
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:7
I am broken. I am shattered. The walls around the life I thought I knew, the one I was building, have not only cracked, but crumbled all around me.
When Old Dreams Die
Light has come in, but I often do not see it because I am too busy looking at the ruins, scavenging for any piece of my old life that I can hang onto. It is hard to leave the place you thought was home; it feels impossible to let old dreams die.
I am a jar of clay. I am an ordinary and fragile vessel. If you saw me on a shelf, you would pass by my plainess, looking for something glazed, beautiful, and display worthy. I am not stronger than these other vessels. I am simply the Potter’s clay, but the Potter delights in using the ordinary to reveal the extraordinary.
I walked on the beach with my daughter, who begged me to accompany her. Marissa was not eager to visit the beach again. Her wheelchair had got stuck in the sand, and we needed to ask for help leaving the beach. People stared. She was embarrassed. The beach no longer held charm for her. But my 12 year old and I adore the ocean. We share an indescribable love for the crash of the waves and the hunt for shells.
My 16 year old assured me I could go and she preferred to rest on this day, so I went. At first I refused to enter the water. The day was windy and there was a chill in the air. Eventually, with enough cajoling from my daughter and the irresistible call of the salty water, I joined her.
Going into the Bigger Waves
For a time, we remained in the shallows of the water. It wasn’t actually calm, but the waves were gentle enough for us to stand upright and enjoy the feeling of foam on our knees. We didn’t stay here long.
“Please mom, let’s go to the bigger waves. It will be so much fun!” she said.
Oh, this child is so much like me. This child terrifies me. She is fearless and bold. She seeks adventure and refuses to be still. She wants to feel the crash of the waves. So I took her hand and we moved as quickly as we could, fighting the current, toward the curl of the big waves and the spray of the foam.
I had never seen such a curl in waves. One after another they built, folded, and crashed. There was a thrill in watching and waiting. We were transfixed. We felt pulled and we moved farther out. The waves slapped our back enough to sting, and yet it was exhilarating to be surrounded by it’s roar and marvel that it stopped at the beach. Because God said it could go no farther.
“Let’s get out farther, mom. There are bigger waves.”
I still look around and wonder, where is the adult? Surely it can’t be me, with my free spirit and desire for adventure. I made her promise to hold my hand and we went farther. The waves swelled and slammed us, knocking us down, pulling us under. We rose from the foam with childish squeals and cacophonous laughter, which was a secret between us as the ocean swallowed it up and carried it away.
Meeting the Challenge
We were facing down a powerful and terrifying force. We were running directly into it and seemingly being defeated by it. Yet we stood. We continued to stand up and laugh in the face of the waves. We met their challenge, dug our feet in the sand more firmly, and on occasion, we were not moved.
The victory, however, was not to be found in our ability to remain standing. True, it felt like strength to not be knocked down. The greatest moment of joy came after being knocked down and sucked into a foamy wave much more intense than yourself. The feeling of accomplishment came after slight panic and disorientation as the wave pulled and pushed and we wondered which way to swim.
And still we got back up. We got back up hundreds of times, laughing, radiant.
Embracing Hard Times
I have not been alone with my daughter for this long, perhaps in her life. She is more like me than I imagined. God gave me this time, reminded me of how beautiful and brave she was and invited me to join her.
“Anneliese, I want to stop and tell you something. Those waves are huge. We are tiny. The waves can be terrifying, but we are RUNNING AT THEM and after they knock us down, we get up and LAUGH. Hon, hard times are like that and hard times are coming for us. It feels like they will destroy us sometimes. RUN AT THEM. EMBRACE THEM. After they’ve rolled over and scared you, get back up and laugh. That is how life is lived.”
My children often don’t understand figurative language, but she understood today. It was getting colder and windier and I told her we had to go in. The current was starting to become dangerous.
“One more time, Mom,” she said. “One more giant wave, please. Let me feel one more wave.”
The Light Shines Through
We walked back out. We withstood a couple waves, waiting for something greater. The ocean roared and swelled, telling us it would knock us down. Our ordinary clay vessels could emerge cracked and broken, but the cracks are worth it. Cracks allow light to shine through.
We ran straight for the waves, holding hands, with utter abandon and laughter.