I am awestruck by romanticism. The earth, powers, and governments empathize with my personal dramas. Grand newsworthy events reflect the storyline of my private life. Romantic devices are meant as literary tools for any given writer, not for my own tiny reality. I know it’s not about me. Yet Almighty moves in the magnitude of mountains to speak to each of us His personal Beloveds, to each who long to hear from Him. Speaking to each who invite the tremulous quaking brought on by His power.
For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Isaiah 64:3.
My own tether to life embeds inside Almighty. Thus it will stand in the face and foundation of a land shaking, spewing fury, and exploding from its very core. So a volcano erupting at this moment in time, I admit it’s not about me and mine. Or is it?
Son is intrigued with volcanoes. His fascination spans his young years and has, over time, grown into a healthy, or exaggerated, fear. Nevertheless, we nurture his natural bent by planning a visit to the active wonder of the Kilauea volcano. Little did we know the volcano would in perfect irony, become a little TOO active for the motives of our holiday. In all likelihood we won’t be able to view the volcano at all. Our fateful plans to witness lava, at this particular moment, pique a special family interest in the proceeding eruption.
Same son is showing signs of distress. A volcano is a well-fit comparison for this chapter in our family. A simmering rage smolders heat to the surface and feeds the occasional explosive outburst. It’s all my fault. But not in the way you think. I fall into a terrible pitfall. I must be consistent. And he is lashing out. Then I’m not being consistent enough. I need to be more consistent. So repercussions become more severe. So he becomes more extreme. I am trying so hard to do the right thing. Also I am furious.
I walk circles round the problem again and again. Until one day rounding a corner, I recognize the back of my own shoulders. I meet me walking forward, in front of myself. Thus I come full circle to the source. A violent realization jolts me to the spine – he is crying out for help. Help to overcome troubles among family and friends. Crying out because of the survival atmosphere of our day-to-day routine. Crying out because of the downward spiral, my pitfall. The lack of time to bond. The load of expectation placed on his firstborn head, expectation without the benefits of being heard and understood. What do I do when I realize it is all my fault? How did I end up here?
Mere months ago my soul was the picture of health, animated around the vein of Almighty power. Releasing everything else because Almighty is that enthralling. No love deeper, no romance headier, no purpose so satisfying, no peace as overcoming, no identity like that unwavering. Now numbness sets in from a faltering connection to the heart of God. Loaded onto me now is the image of shame and failure, of humiliation and disqualification. I am piled under stronghold after stronghold. Muted from my most important relationships. Mired in thoughts and images that turn my face away from the pursuit of God.
I begin to see the strands of life that bring us to this desolate place. I made myself the habit to say I am not a nurturing mother. I’m just very independent. Because all I can seem to think about is to carve out a little space away from my beloved children. My unanswered need for space weeps, oozes, lethargically over every person and moment, vaporizing joy. I am not ok.
Lava fields burn every escape, cornering me into isolation. I walk through daily schedules cowering and groping for release near the edge of the lava flow. Hiding my head low so as to protect my breath and eyes from vapor glass and acid. Arms attempt a useless shield from smoldering debris as the smoke and the fury whip about my face, warning me not to look up, to keep my distance. Embattled to the point of confusion, overwhelmed, unsure of my steps and even the mundane tasks ahead of me this day.
Good friends speak beautiful truth to me. “God does not wish you to live in brokenness. You are a good Mother.” Even when I cannot absorb it, I carry their words of truth with me. God bless the women, misty vespers of truth and encouragement, He has given to me. They who give me words of truth on which to cling; I survive upon such as these. I am still His, and He longs for my return.
Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Not a nurturing mother? I openly regret low habits and attitudes, but that motto is not exactly true. Yet I cannot nurture my family when I cannot find nourishment for my own soul. I find it’s not merely the introvert’s need for solitude I lack – but the lack of connection to Almighty that blasts me away from the protection and image God has set aside for me. His purpose remains even in a deeply flawed mother. The image of an un-nurturing Mother is not His view of me. I see that I have been waylaid and isolated, hustled and herded from the power of Almighty. No. Though suffering and difficulty come, God intends my life for an outpouring of goodness.
I see myself grip a self-righteousness of motherhood. I know well enough to deny the image of perfect-mother. Honestly I deny it even while knowing I can’t let it go completely. Now, the cries of my children expose me to notice. Is that what it takes to break me out of a brittle habit? To recognize this striving toward perfectionism, too often left unchecked? If that’s what it takes then take it. The power that can melt stone is ample to soften me into new form. I surrender my reputation to demise; make me something better. I alone am not the example Mother I wish to be.
I am ashes indeed. Yet blessed am I to be grieved by my errors. Ashes can be beautiful. My quaking posture, battling fumes, is a deception. This atmosphere is not true between myself and God. Power is dangerous but God’s power is at hand. He, of a nature to
Comfort all who mourn, provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
I call for my Nurturer, He that strokes my cheek, He that tilts my chin, and He will lift me, even from this. In fact he already knows where I am. -is already holding me. -has already placed me in the fort of safety, outfitted in the trappings of beauty. I had forgotten. Ashes though I am, I am ashes of His. A carbon-pencil sketch yielding unexpected depth, complexity, and dimension. Consume my every wisp of ash upon the canvas. Complete a profound work in spite of my makings of soot and despair.
Let love and faithfulness never leave you: bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
The rage subsides, leaving a smooth, cool lava sheet to produce abundance beyond reckoning. Devastation clears a path for flourishing, mother to son. A shifting of earth that will chase me and mine toward meaningful things. Therefore I am here, send me. Send me to chase Almighty first. Send me to mother my children. I fight for connection with my source of nurturing and I love to overflow into my family. I take heart, for He has given me a purpose He will not revoke. He will give me all I need for today– volcanoes, ash and enrichment. He prepares everything fit for destruction and paves the way for goodness outpouring.