We returned from our week-long beach vacation with extended family two days ago. We crammed as much fun as we could in that handful of days: fishing, kayaking, biking, and of course swimming and more swimming. I think Garfield* came home with an ear infection from all that swimming (although he’s never had one in his life, so I’m not sure exactly how it would look on him). I made a doctor’s appointment for him for later today.
In order to have our van so I can drive Garfield to the doctor, I had to drop Mike off at his office this morning. He forgot the lettuce that he needed for a Korean-food lunch he’s serving today to a group of ethnic minority college students working with Cru in Orlando this summer. So Woodrow* and Garfield and I popped over to the grocery story to buy some leaves of Romaine, then back to the office to deliver it to Mike. Then back home, where I am finally getting to eat after 15 hours, which is totally the fault of these Invisalign braces I got less than 2 weeks ago. Braces at age 42. But hopefully these “aligners,” as they’re properly called, will fix my teeth grinding, which will stop the gum recession. Which is a good thing.
It takes time for this melancholy temperament [i.e., me] to re-establish rhythm after our stretch of vacation time, to readjust to having little to no grown-up conversation during my days (after having it continually for an entire week with our family). To root myself in the faith that God will provide me with joy to look forward to, even if I can’t point to an event on a calendar and declare, “I can’t wait to do THIS!” I know myself well enough to understand this is more than post-vacation blues. The truth is, it’s bigger, deeper: Sometimes I simply don’t feel at home in my life. Maybe returning from vacation just brings that into sharper focus.
So after the office drop-off and the grocery store visit and then the lettuce drop-off, the boys and I started home. I turned on the radio but didn’t want to listen to the station that I normally play when my sons are with me; I just couldn’t stomach that syrupy, pop-y, contemporary Christian music this morning. It doesn’t always sound sappy to me, and I don’t always feel that way; sometimes I genuinely enjoy that station. But not today. I skipped over a few more stations until I found one playing an old hymn sung by a choir. I paused there to nourish myself with something substantive and heard these familiar lyrics…
The flame shall not hurt thee/I only design/Thy dross to consume/And thy gold to refine.
I took those as God’s words to me this morning. I imagined His saying to me, “I know you’re hurting, Allison; those things that you feel–they are real. And, yes, I did bring this into your life. I know you feel your soul crushed at times because of this, but trust that it’s My provision. Intentional, not accidental. Purposeful, not capricious. Remember how You asked me to use your hurt to tenderize your heart? That’s what I’m doing, daughter. That is what I’m doing.”
Consuming my dross, refining my gold… I discover a measure of joy in trusting that my Father in heaven does not waste pain.
If you’d like to hear the hymn which I reference in this post, you can find a version of it here. I’ll be listening to it today.
*I’ve always referred to my sons in generic terms on my blog (“big brother” or “my younger son.”) But since both our boys have names of U.S. presidents, I’d thought I’d give them U.S. president code names. They aren’t ACTUALLY Woodrow (older son) or Garfield (younger son). When Garfield was born, friends joked that, now we had 2 sons with presidential names, we needed to have 2 daughters and name them Reagan and Kennedy–to continue the presidential naming trend. Cute idea, but it’s just the boys.