I’m hiding in the bathroom. Everything is too hard. Again.
My child’s big doctor appointment was a disaster. Again. The note from school was embarrassing. Again. Big changes at my husband’s work. Again. Texts about a long death, a baby in the hospital, and a broken deal all dinging on my phone. Again.
Wrinkled receipts, unopened mail, sticky cold medicine, half-filled lunch bags, and late library books cover the counters. Again. Off-key piano and bass practice take up all the air. Again. No bread or milk in the fridge. Again.
I rushed into the green guest bathroom to try to hide from the tidal wave of anxiety. I heard its distant roar when I was clearing the table. Again.
“God? I can’t. I’m not going to make it.”
I don’t know how things got this way. So many people depend on me. They follow me and cling to me. They hang there. That’s like my job now. I give long hugs. I lay silently with my kids while they fall asleep. I listen a lot. I hold a lot of people’s secrets.
My girls are yelling at each other. Again. I hear it through the door. I squeeze my eyes shut.
Then I hear in my heart, “I will sustain you.”
I look in the mirror and let out a sigh with big cheeks. I didn’t sign up to be a life raft, God. I don’t lead search and rescue missions. I just want to be a buoy. I like to stay right here, close to home, locked into the sea floor, bobbing by myself. Silently warning people that you might get hurt if you come this way.
“I will sustain you.”
I think about all the buoys I’ve seen in person. They actually weren’t peaceful. Buoys are busy places. Birds are yelling from them, feathers ruffled. Seals heave onto them all smelly, rocking their balance. Tides tug at them. Waves jerk them around.
I feel like crying. I’m anchored here, close to home, but I’m stuck. I can’t shake off these birds and seals. I can’t shelter myself from the waves. God, this is a bad plan. I can’t do this anymore.
It’s really quiet in the bathroom. No one has even knocked yet.
The Lord plays a montage on the back of the bathroom door for me. He makes me hundreds of promises about his love. He says he’s everything I need – my daily bread, my living water, my shelter and shield, my rock and my light. I remember how many times he’s saved me. Sustained me.
In all those memories God was doing all the work. I was the squawking, ruffled gull – maybe I wasn’t yelling, maybe I was even singing, but the wind was too strong for me to glide in. So God let me perch on him. I was that seal, too – swimming against the waves, diving, jockeying for position all day. So he let me lay on him in the sun until I smiled under my whiskers. God stayed tall in the waves. Even the tidal waves. He didn’t tip. He didn’t sink.
“I will sustain you.”
I’m not the buoy.
God is the buoy.
My kids’ futures do not hang on me. Or my husband’s happiness. Or my friends’ recoveries. I want them all to be safe, known, and loved. Especially by me, because I really do love them. But I’m no hero. I’m not even a buoy. I can’t offer much help. But God can. He will sustain us.
I open the bathroom door and peek into the hallway. It’s empty. I hear the footsteps of the bedtime routine upstairs. I think there’s fighting about Legos. Unfinished homework lays on the floor. My abandoned phone flashes a list of new texts.
I actually smile to myself. I’m not the buoy. Neither is my hard working husband upstairs. Soon we will hold hands, and like tired seals, flop ourselves onto the buoy for a solid night’s rest. Tomorrow, when the needs are too much, I will perch on the top and squawk to everyone who needs help, “This is all so rough! I know! Come sit up here with me! It’s safe!” And God will sustain us.
“Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.” – Psalm 54:4
More Thoughts about the Buoy:
- Read Psalm 136 – This is a highlight reel of the ways God sustained Israel throughout history. It is also a template for remembering God’s goodness to you. At rock bottom I have used this to pick up my trampled faith, dust it off, and put it back in my heart. My highlight reel:
- You gave us our first apartment when we had no jobs. Your steadfast love endures forever.
- You provided for my husband’s MBA when we had no money. Your steadfast love endures forever.
- You saved me when I was hit by a drunk driver. Your steadfast love endures forever.
- You saved my husband when he was mugged by a gang in Kazakhstan. Your steadfast love endures forever.
- Our infertility finally ended. Your steadfast love endures forever.
- I am done with diapers. Your steadfast love endures forever.
What’s on your reel? What are your Red Sea moments? Set a timer for 15 minutes and see what you remember. You are loved.
- Have you read the Lord’s Prayer lately? It’s about asking God to sustain us, and believing He will. Maybe put it on a post it or paste it onto your phone. God is going to give us daily bread. Think about what that means.
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
Luke 11:2-4 (also Matthew 6:9-13)
- Have you, like me, forgotten that you are not the buoy? Your boyfriend/girlfriend, roommate, parents, or counselor aren’t the buoy either. God’s the only one that can sustain you. Here are the solid reminders I’m thinking about:
- Feel like it’s taking too long? “For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.” Nehemiah 9:21
- Think you can still do it on your own? “Would your wealth or even all your mighty efforts sustain you so you would not be in distress?” Job 36:19
- Feel like you can’t do this again tomorrow? “I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” Psalm 3:5
- Feeling old and sick (like me)? “The Lord sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.” Psalm 41:3 and “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4
- A little depressed (like me)? “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:12 and “Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.” Psalm 119:116
- Stressed about the world? “The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.” Psalm 146:9