“Calm down, Mommy. Calm down. . . .” Our two-year-old has started saying this to me lately. I’m not sure where she learned it—school maybe—but I love it. She’ll then take her tiny little hand and rest it on her tiny little diaphragm and demonstrate how to take deep, calming breaths. And she’ll say it again, with the utmost sincerity and the biggest eyes, as if she were a grown-up life coach or therapist or yoga instructor: “Mommy, calm downnnnnn. . . .”
I need to hear that. I need to hear it often. And to hear those words in the precious voice of our child makes that message even sweeter . . . Makes it take even deeper root down in my soul.
I’ve spent the weekend with a bunch of middle schoolers and high schoolers at a camp in the East Texas woods learning about calming down . . . rest . . . or, in religious terms, “sabbath.” Or . . . as our youth conference theme describes it: a “Kick Back with Jesus.” A youth conference and rest—an oxymoron? Amazingly, no.
Calm, peace, and wholeness washed over me several times throughout the weekend. I can’t remember every detail and everything that was said, but I do remember hearing in our keynotes, in our worship times, and in our conversations that we are loved just as we are . . . that God makes beautiful things out of our mess and pain . . . that taking time to rest and unplug is good for us . . . and that all of us are welcome at God’s table. I remember water poured in plunging splashes . . . the flame and rising smoke of candles . . . clay squished and molded in my fingers . . . prayers doodled with colorful markers on newsprint and unexpected teardrops speckling the paper . . . and threads, lots of threads. Threads to make friendship bracelets to give away. Extra threads everywhere to unravel and organize after said friendship bracelet making. Threads used to make knots for all of the “nots” in our lives and to untangle those knots as part of a prayer. And, most of all, good friends who remind us that we’re not alone. That there are people who “get it”—who understand and do the real work of ministry, worship, mission, love. People who “get me.” Friends who share a history with me and share a few of the same battle scars. People who remind me that God is real and God loves me, too, and that what I bring to this world matters and is very much needed. I don’t have to be anyone else . . . but uniquely me. Just as they are uniquely them . . . and are needed . . . and are loved.
So I bring that treasure I found over the weekend into this new week back at home, doing all of the normal things I do. I feel raw. I feel fresh. I have a surprising sense of calm in my soul. I’m still stuck in the “in-between.” No change there. But I am resolute that “in-between” is not all there is in this life.
And, meanwhile, as I wait, I’m still humming the tune of “Beautiful Things” (written by Michael and Lisa Gungor, 2009) that I learned at camp. I’ll be carrying these words into the week that stretches before me: “You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of us. . . . You are making me new.” https://youtu.be/oyPBtExE4W0