I live in a pretty incredible place.
Who am I kidding?
Alaska is STUNNING. No day is identical, and every day has the potential to be an adventure. The wildlife is crazy impressive. (Round of applause for no snakes or roaches!) Our summer sun never sets, and we’ve got mountains and glaciers and islands and rivers and ocean and volcanoes. And did I mention our lovely June and July temps? Who doesn’t crave sunny and seventy?
One of my top Anchorage faves is the beach at Kincaid Park, even though you typically find yourself dodging moose and the occasional bear to get down there. Recently, my man and I took advantage of a childless Friday night and hiked down to the water to soak up some nine p.m. sun. We relish our times alone. The crash of the waves, the swimming moose (crazy, I know!), a rainbow, snow-capped mountain views, the warmth of the Alaskan sun. Y’all, it was fantabulous. Fantabulous.
Do you remember the phrase do hard things? Man. There are days I feel stuck in a perpetual state of recovery because of the hard stuff. You too? So you’ve experienced this doing of hard things? Is it that nagging, itchy struggle with deep disappointment? Or betrayal. Ugh. Or bad news. Don’t forget all the times you’ve had to walk away or cancel or call out or confront or speak up or shut up or break up or take on or throw away or stand alone? Maybe it’s injustice. Perhaps you’ve lost someone. Or you’re so incredibly angry or hurt because of that person; you can hardly stand it. Breathing is just about all you can accomplish at the moment.
Hard things stink, don’t they? Disappointment is not straightforward and easy. Heartache is always painful, no matter how you twist it. Dealing with misunderstandings, bad moods, sharp words, unwanted news or ugly characters are never, ever fun. I’d like to wring the neck of whoever coined the phrase “sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” WHATEVER. Must have been someone living on a deserted island with only chickens and pigs as friends. OF COURSE, words don’t hurt when you can just BBQ the thing that ticked you off! But if you’ve got people in your life, you’re gonna get it. And actions and words will draw blood, my friends. Blood, sweat, and tears.
So what do hard things and disappointments and raw pain have to do with my beach trip?
Do you see the rocks in the photo?
Do you know how many I
hurled with all my might as tears streamed down my cheeks tossed into the Inlet that night?
All I know is that I was sore on the hike back to the truck.
It was time to let go, friends. Time to let it all go. (And yes, I am humming the Frozen theme song.) Y’all, I was so worked up and tired that night. Bone-tired. I was carrying a load of manure and garbage I wasn’t meant to move, and it was sucking the life out of me. I had every single bitter, confused thought and wrong done whirling around in my heart and head. I was DONE. But I was also shocked. Honestly, I didn’t think I was still harboring that much hurt. And I was completely unaware of just how stinkin’ FURIOUS I still was with God. Ready for it?
How dare You? I did what You asked. I chose obedience when I wanted to do something else. And for what? FOR WHAT!
Throwing stone after stone after stone in the water, I silently cried out, “Why, Jesus? Why? Why do You continue to let this happen? Why do You allow stuff like this? Do you not SEE what’s going on? Why won’t you just MAKE IT RIGHT? Jesus, please. It’s just too much for me.”
On and on it went. I’d pick up a rock, give it a name, and hurl it. But as I reached down to choose one of my final stones, I heard Him loud and clear. Two things, y’all. He said two things. And since that night, He’s added two more lessons for my journal.
First, He stopped me in my tracks with John 8:7. Here you find the Pharisees busy getting ready to stone a woman for adultery; they are completely pestering Jesus for His opinion on the matter, looking to trap Him.
And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Well. I glanced down the span of beach where thousands upon thousands of rocks were resting upon the shore. In my mind’s eye, the mass sum of them wasn’t enough to cover my screw-ups and sin. Ouch. Choose grace, Dana. Pick mercy. Let it go. Let Me deal with this.
But I needed to throw one more rock – just one more, right? It was time for the BIG ONE. I found the largest stone I could lift and asked my husband for assistance. “No baby, you need to do this yourself.” Thanks, babe. Friends, I held this one for a while; I wasn’t quite ready to let it go. But you know what? The longer I stood there, the heavier the rock became and the more I began to question my ability actually to throw it. I didn’t want just to drop it. I wanted to HURL IT. But I also wanted to HOLD ON. Do you get me? Control is good, right? At this point, my cries to Jesus had grown less emotional and angry and more calm and weary and sad. And then I sensed His presence as He reminded me. Dana:
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest; Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light. Matthew 11: 28-30
Rest. Yes, Lord. I let go, but my rock didn’t go very far. “Do you feel better?” I did. My poor man. (We did have a fabulous time together. I promise I didn’t stay in emotional freakout mode for too long. The hot fudge sundae helped.)
That beach experience and my close encounter with God Almighty and Truth, coupled with another lesson on betrayal on Thursday as well as a Sunday sermon on choosing forgiveness and love and moving forward unchained, challenged me to walk in obedience. So I’m letting go of disappointment. I’m giving over my anger and bitterness and confusion and exchanging it for forgiveness and grace and LOVE. And I’m choosing just to trust Jesus. Y’all, I’m picking joy over playing with pain. Even in my occasional bouts of frustration and moments of remembrance, I’m laying it all down at the foot of the cross. God’s big enough and wise enough to handle all of my hard things. Yours, too, my friend. Yours, too.
My photo of Kincaid beach and all its glory isn’t just a pretty picture. It’s my reminder. Something happened in me that night. Healing began. Do I still have occasional moments where I’d give anything for a blow-out BBQ and old-fashioned Cajun cochon de lait? Let’s be real. Sure. But choosing to let go and trust God brings me greater freedom and deeper peace than any pig roast could.
What about you? Have you been wounded? Are you harboring hurt and bitterness that’s only serving to suck the life out of you? Let’s nix the BBQs, girls, and try this letting go and trusting Him. Trust me. The clean up is way easier, and there are fewer dishes to wash.