Last night I had an interesting moment in my living room. Ava went for her sleepover, and spent the day at her best bud's house, and we made spur-of-the-moment plans to have some friends over for dinner. It was fun to do something unexpected, share a few laughs, and William enjoyed having some friends to play with. We put him to bed, and settled in for a relaxing evening.
I felt a low level of anxiety as bedtime approached for Ava at her first friend sleepover. My daughter projects an air of confidence that she doesn't always feel, and I know this because I practice it regularly myself. I had a feeling she wasn't quite ready for this step, but she was genuinely excited and begged to go, so I thought it best to let her try.
When the phone rang at 10:10 pm, I knew it was going to be her. Sure enough, her teary voice, punctuated by breaks for sobbing breaths, came down the line, asking to come home. Without hesitating, I said, "Yes, of course, we'll come and get you", all the while wishing that Ava was able to conquer her fear and stay with her friend. I didn't want her to regret backing away at the last gate of her sleepover, but I know I was a few years older than her when I had my first one, and I was happy she felt comfortable to call us for help.
I was already in my pj's, so Jason jumped in his car and left for the ten minute drive out to the country to get her. About two minutes after his car pulled out of the garage, the wind picked up, the lightning began to flash, and the skies opened up and poured rain and hail. This was not a regular thunderstorm. Water was running so fast down the street it looked like the concrete was moving. I couldn't see the houses across the street.
I grabbed a flashlight, worried that the power might cut out, and sat in the living room praying for Jason to make it safely on the dark country roads. As the storm intensified, my sense of panic rose, and I began to experience a foreboding of danger. Tied into this worry was the anxiety about leaving my kids for four days at the end of next week, when Jason and I go to San Francisco for a few days to celebrate our anniversary. I can tell my mind that my kids will be safe without me in a rational, logical manner, but my emotions are the things that trip me up.
I finally called Jason's cell phone, unable to stand my own fear, and when he answered, relief washed over me. He said he couldn't see where the road ended and the ditch began, so he was crawling along, but he had picked her up and was making the drive home. Suddenly the phone cut out. I told myself it was spotty cell coverage out in the country, but after a few minutes I began to imagine twisted metal, and half of my family in trouble.
Panic. Fear. Anxiety. All debilitating emotions. They paralyze and create a swirling vortex of dread which threatens to drown us completely. Suddenly I remembered to cry out to God, instead of relying on myself to save me. I prayed and I cried, asking God to hold my most precious family in his hands, and to bring them home. In that moment, I felt him like he was sitting next to me, and he brought peace and calm to my worried soul. Slowly, my breathing returned to normal, and I stopped clenching the phone and the flashlight, and I gave up control to someone with much broader shoulders.
I remembered how I felt watching My Sister's Keeper, and I was grateful for the chance to practice this art of letting go, and giving over my fear to God. I am not in control. I never have been and I never will be. But he is a good God, and he loves me, and I can offer my limitations and fears to him, and he will carry me through. It's very easy when things are going well to forget these things, but when I need to feel his comfort the most, he is there if I will turn to him.
Moments later, the garage door went up, and Jason and Ava were home safely. I hugged them both with a new appreciation of how much they mean to me, and I thanked God for their safe return. I think that feeling of calm will help me on Friday night when I say goodbye to my kids for four days. I have to trust that God will keep them in his hand when we are separated. I have to accept that I am not in control, and model this for my kids, and let go of the fears that threaten to hold me in bondage to them. I want to be free; to let go, to hold loosely to what I love but do not own.