This morning I had no obligations, so I woke up reluctantly, and watched three episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. Three. And then I did some laundry and cleaned out a filing cabinet and tried to write something of substance but couldn’t so I felt defeated and laid down on the couch and cried. I think I was dehydrated and a little hormonal, but I let it rain anyway. And you know what they say: When it rains, it pours.
When my husband, Pablo, got home from a morning of shooting guns with a friend at the range, he found me hiding under the covers. Hiding from all the feels—from the guilt of binge watching a sub-par TV show, from the voices that tell me that I’m too hard on myself and then in the same breath, that I am wasting precious time. From the fear I have of putting words on paper that may amount to absolutely nothing, and then from the pride that keeps me from caring enough about the process, the journey, the getting-there. From the tension of living somewhere between my current reality and my spiritual convictions and from the confusion that all too often follows being inundated with knowledge, albeit good and holy, that seems to come at me faster than I can absorb it.
I told him that I was going to go back to sleep after he woke me before leaving that morning. I didn’t and all the TV watching and clothes folding and bad writing and crying had made me tired again, so instead of telling him that I was hiding, I told him that I needed a nap.
He shut all the blinds and turned out the lights and crawled onto the couch next to me—smelling like sweat and a good friend—and I held on to the back of his shirt and we closed our eyes. He couldn’t sleep and neither could I. I wasn’t resting after all; I was hiding. And he was empathizing, or rather, finding me here. But his presence, his patience, his pretend nap, did something to all the feels. It was like the ammonia under my nose or the ice water splashed in my face. It felt like grace.
I’ve had days like this before, and I’ve called it “being in a funk.” And I’ve said that the best way to remedy a funk is to watch a Nora Ephron movie and drink a tall glass of water, but there’s a better way. I think my funks, my hiding, my ruts come from a discontentment I feel due to what Martin Lloyd Jones has said, is because I’m “listening to myself, instead of talking to myself.” So I thought about what I would say to me if I were on the other side of this couch. What I would say to a friend sitting tired at the bottom of a downward spiral of fears: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to end. Or my momma’s paraphrase of this verse in Lamentations, “His mercies are new every second of the day—you don’t have to wait until morning.”
Pablo got up quietly and whispered, “I am going to go mow the lawn.”
I nodded and smiled and silently thanked God for how gentle love and forbearance can dispel paralyzing fear and unveil new mercies much better than Sleepless in Seattle ever could. Maybe this is why Anne Lamott says that she calls a friend when the dominant voices in her head make the truth seem almost unrecognizable. It’s just like salvation all over—Jesus’ love pulls you out and his mercy makes it harder to go back down again.
When I was teenager, my mom used to tell me that God would not love me less if I sat on the couch my whole life and did nothing but eat Bonbons. I would always find the visual amusing, and then I would think, well sure, but after knowing the love of Christ, who would want to?
So I got up, changed out of my PJs, and put on my gardening gloves.