The illusion bobs and bounces in a swirl of watercolor hues.
Amidst teenage angst and insecurities and awkwardness, I believe middle-aged people have it all figured out.
Life looks simple and easy.
Effortless. Successful. Settled.
I’m not sure why this illusion beckoned me. Seemed believable.
Goodness. I’d seen my mother burst into tears when the news about my cousin’s stillborn baby boy came through the corded harvest gold phone receiver.
My friend’s parents couldn’t make it work out, couldn’t find the abiding love we all desire.
Differences brewed inside our private Christian school and Anabaptist church alike.
For no matter what denomination is named, what brand of institution established, human error, pride, and selfishness come right along with them.
There’d been the entitled uncle and the opinionated elder and the overbearing employer.
Betrayal of trust. Words intended to hurt.
Takers and manipulators.
Maybe the illusion felt hopeful.
Maybe it offered a sense of control.
Maybe cast the idea no one would ever let me down.
Perhaps the promise of peace and pleasant days.
Yet, there it was motioning me in.
All those mature adults.
Life decisions made.
Spouses. Careers. Children.
The Dream Life.
It appears as if confidence becomes yours and insecurity vanishes away.
Happily ever after guaranteed.
Troubled not by decisions and doubts.
Wouldn’t life simply happen in happiness if you could become paired with your dream passion, whether that be person or career path?
Wouldn’t it become certainty if you could center yourself in control?
Wouldn’t the guarantee be grounded, if balance sheet, budget, and bottom line would exponentially grow by leaps, by bounds?
Turns out, I was wrong about my watercolor bubbly illusion.
My middle age finds multiplied questions, few answers.
Insecurities haven’t vanished.
It’s not all that easy.
Life lets you down.
Wisdom and discernment are long, disciplined practices.
Illusions leak and iridescent colors drain into drab.
But the solutions, the balm, the ten-year plan were never found in a picture perfect life.
Instead, they look a whole lot more like hope and trust and clinging fiercely when life detours wildly.
Opening the unexpected text.
Passed over again by the longed for promotion.
A teen arriving home in tears, amping up your old teen angst, as you sit with her in her pain.
Unforeseen bills. Diagnosis out of the blue. Eating disorder. Borderline personality disorder.
False accusations. False narratives on repeat in your head.
Rains that won’t come. Floods that do come.
Friends who turn out not so friendly.
Relationships rended, upended.
Burying a husband instead of holding hands for the next twenty years.
Running out of the house on fire.
Watching a longed-for dream disappear up in smoke.
It’s heartrending when dreams die.
Grieve, yes, yet keep engaging in the living.
For it is through the Passion of our Christ we find the door swinging open to all we could ever dream. The power of Christ pairs us to the path of peace.
Centering finds certainty in surrender.
True control is only ever embodied in compassion, kindness, and open palms.
Groundedness grows in the waterfall of grace realized. It sparkle shines in a way hoarded gold never will.
All illusions are replaced by the stories God is writing and illustrating in and through us.
Elohim breathing life and love into us the Imago-Dei.
Watercoloring beauty and art over the imperfections of His image bearers.
There are so many things I’ve had wrong, get wrong, am wrong about. So many illusions to let loose of, let melt away. Continuing to reach out, rest in His never-ending redemption.
His lifeline remains steady and steadfast.
Jesus. He is the welcome.
The heart safe place.
The Shelterer of souls.
He wraps arms around shoulders, holds space for the questions, bears witness to our brokenness.
He leans in. Smiles.
“My friend, there’s something you are never wrong about. Believing in how deeply loved and seen and known you are by me.”