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Fear of The Unknown And Not Feeling Known: What Do I Do With All Of My Anxiety?

20 Aug

Frustrated. Sad. Anxious. A clamor, a panging, a feeling that I was forgetting something majorly important. My engagement ring? Well, yes, it was at home in the box, where I’d left it safely the night before, only to be abandoned in my morning haste to beat the traffic that coagulates near Downtown LA on Thursdays mornings after 7:15. But something else? What?

Sometimes pre-wedding anxiety is like that. You just have a constant feeling you’ve left something to chance and that it won’t be okay. Weird, right?  I’ve had too much caffeine. Not enough actual food. In fact, have I eaten at all today, save those two candies in the church office? Hmm. It doesn’t matter. It didn’t matter. What mattered was this: after the rush, after the haste, after the pounding head and spinning wheels and 29.2 miles in 70 minutes, I was here. Here. To breathe. Breathe? Really? Yes, breathe.

I often find myself feeling most at home on beaches. I took this shot on a cold day in South Carolina when I found this deserted beach.

I often find myself feeling most at home on beaches. I took this shot on a cold day in the Carolinas when I found this deserted beach.

I knew what I needed. A trip to the beach. A different beach that I had only been to once before during a Spring Break several years back when visiting my friend in North Carolina.  A North Carolina beach.
And so I sat there in the counselor office, closed my eyes, and we went there. But not just the two of us. I invited a friend along. One it felt like I hadn’t seen in awhile.
He came from a far off place in the distance. We usually meet on tropical shores but today, it was a warm winter afternoon with a slight breeze on that beach in North Carolina. The one where the wispy grass blows calmly, the seagulls congregate in a lazy circle, the water is shocking and colder than you remember, but a comfort all the same. We usually sit on a log together and chat, but I sit all day so I decided we’d walk on the shore. The sky was more clouds than anything. No blues, just soft, muted grays that reminded me that this wasn’t paradise, but it was a place where all slates were wiped clean. Simple. Truth could be revealed here.
He saw me and acted surprised. But not in a “Make you feel guilty” way. More in a “You’re the only person I want to see today and I’m so glad you showed up!” way. He got closer, not a care in the world, dipping his feet in the water, getting his clothes wet like an excitable 5 year old with rain puddles aplenty, too many to resist.  So he jumped in and out of the waves, waving at me? And then his face grew serious. Not in a scary way. In a “Where ya been? I’m so glad to see you!” way. He approached and I exhaled, the first time in weeks.
And we began to walk. I was hesitant. I told him of my fears, still scared that I would say too much. I hemmed and hawwed, skirtted around words, which I never do.
“I’m scared of a new life where I don’t feel known.”
Not just announcing a feeling but the other Unknowns. Feeling alone. I was wondering, wondering if he was going to go to San Diego with me since I had first really met him and grown with him in LA. It felt honest. It was. I was. For the first time with him, my old friend who knew me better than I knew myself. I was saying everything that had been bottled for far too long. Not champagne but feelings bursting forth, a fountain of truth was emerging.
I talked a bunch. He listened. Then I began to listen. I felt him calm my fears. He showed me pictures of when I’d been so scared before.  Brokenhearted. So lonely. He reminded me that he had been there that time. I had been hopeless, I didn’t see a future. He was now showing me now that I have one. That there are plans laid out. Where I will still have choices and friends and where my love with my future husband will grow into that beautiful thing that I believed in when I was a little girl. I will have a place to call home. Not just a physical place, a place where I will be stable and rooted.
A place that will start with Him. Not my husband him, but Him Him. I won’t create it, although I’ll help. I will claim the gift he is giving me. Like the Israelites when they came back to the Promise Land. I will belong. I will be free. I will lead because those gifts don’t go away with a location change. I will look back at this moment. I will remember how deeply I felt and that what I was asking for was courage and faith. I can’t conjure those up on my own. I can’t dream them into being. I had to ask. I had to confess the places where I had forgotten that He is Lord and I am not. I had to let go of me and hold tight instead to Him when the me part ceases to make sense.
p_00044I’ve been wondering how to feel this “joy” people talk about when they are engaged. Mostly I feel stress and like planning a wedding is a full-time job. I’m not a fan of big decisions or “you HAVE to do it this way.” When I left the beach, it didn’t matter. I knew in this way that you know things after an encounter with the Living God that it was ALL. Going. To Be. Fine. I was going to thrive. I was Set Apart. I was Known and better than anything, LOVED.
It was the peace that surpasses understanding. Finally.
It was the easy burden, the light yoke. I get it now! 
It was the flowers of the field ,not worrying, it was the moment when you laugh because Jesus looks down at his wrist where you think the watch will be and it’s not there because he invented time! “Why wear a watch?” he asked. I laughed. A real gut busting laugh….
I’m now back to my quiet couch in South Pasadena, where I will be for three more months before this new unknown, but less scary now adventure begins. The sky is a briliant orange and pink. A tad different from that serene beach calm, but still calm. He’s showing me life and life abundantly. And I’m starting to believe it again because I had forgotten! It is for freedom that we were set free. And so I do what I learned to do and I. Just. Breathe.
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Chance Encounters?

17 Nov

Random meeting #1 – The Starbucks inside of the Jensens Grocery Store in Lake Arrowhead, CA last weekend.

Two small, dark haired kids maybe 8 and 9 sit at a round table eating their lunch. Their mom sits nearby. Clearly this family is just hanging out at Starbucks on an afternoon, hoping something interesting will happen.

My roommate Jill, myself, my friend Jonathan, and my friend Lucas all sit sipping our chai lattes and hot chocolates together. It’s been a very intense weekend up until this point. I’ve cried a lot, I laughed some, and frankly I was sick of experiencing so many heavy emotions. As soon as I saw Jonathan, I recruited him to come to coffee with us. After seeing Lucas, we grabbed him, too.

Sitting there in the faux Starbucks in the middle of the grocery store, all of the energy was zapped out of me. I couldn’t talk about consecrating my coffee much less my spirit at that point. So I did the only thing I knew how to do. I told a joke. IT was a lame joke about a kid taking a bath. I admit it now. But that joke paved the way for us to start laughing together and joking. Soon, the kids next to us joined in and we made an unlikely connection. Suddenly the kids were telling us riddles and we were having a joke war. Who could tell the most clever riddle? Who could answer the most randomly? (I think I won that contest). It seems rather silly now. But at the time it was proof to me that God cares about the little things. Making that little girl and boy smile just because they could and because we were all there in that moment seemed really important. My problems didn’t vanish but for a few minutes they were put on hold and I was able to feel that connection that strangers feel when they aren’t strangers for a few moments. It was fantastic.

Random meeting #2 – La Canada Post Office. Eccentric guy in running shorts with a box. He’s waiting in line to talk to the postal worker about whether this box would work for him.

I’m standing there, minding my own business, when this guy starts making a big deal about how the plain looking boxes are free and the pretty ones cost money. I ignore him at first but then he is behind me in line and I don’t want to be rude.

“Where were you born?” he asks. I hesitate. It makes me sad in retrospect that someone striking up a conversation at the post office seemed weird. That’s where conversations SHOULD happen. So I answered and told him, “Colorado.” He wanted to know what part, so I continued to engage him. And then he asked the question.

“If you could be anywhere you wanted in the whole world right now, where would it be?”

“Hmmm…a beach.” I said, rather non-chalantly.

“Which one?” he asked.

“Probably one in Mexico,” I said, thinking back to this beach in Cabo that I really enjoyed.

“Mexico? Have you ever been to Hawaii?” he asked.

“Nope, I’ve always wanted to go there.” I answered.

“You need to go to Kauai. That’s where the most beautiful beach in the world is,” he remarked.

“Really?” I said.

I knew Hawaii was supposed to be really nice, but nicer than Tahiti? I was thinking about beaches after my weekend retreat. On the retreat I had visions of a beach that were so beautiful that they took my breath away. They were only in my imagination, but the visions brought such peace to me that I knew I wanted to go to that place some day and experience it for real.

“I’ve been all over and I’m telling you, this is the best beach in the world. Better than Fiji or any place in Mexico. If there was a scale, Mexico would be negative 15 compared to this beach in Kauai.”

“Okay, I’ll go there.” I determined.
And so I decided. I’m going to this beach. Hawaii couldn’t be THAT expensive to save up for. I googled the beach today. I don’t want to tell anyone the exact beach he told me because I’d rather save that for myself. But I will get there someday. Hopefully soon!

As soon as I decided this, the eccentric guy disappered. He was done with the post office and went outside, walking away from me down the street. Sometimes I wonder if we humans just bump into each other for moments of revelation. This seemed like one of those to me. It’s so easy for me to walk around in my own bubble, in my own space, hoping for someone to notice. But Post Office guy made me think, “I need to be more bold. I need to strike up a conversation with someone random.” Aren’t we all hoping deep down someone will notice us? I was noticed. It felt good. And now something tells me I should go to that beach.

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