For our first 4 years of home-schooling, my boys and I attended Tuesday afternoon classes with other families at our home-school co-op. We did all our academics at home, but these classes gave us time with other people for fun. Woodrow took a class called American Folk Dancing when he was 5; he learned about music and pioneers and loved it. I even coached P.E. classes for several semesters at our co-op.
Each year, we also had a Christmas party (it’s a Christian group, after all). We decorated cookies, made ornaments, sang songs. A few years ago, the boys and I arrived at the Christmas party and sat down cross-legged on the floor of the church annex building where we met. We were just in time for singing. Somebody struck up “Frosty the Snowman.”
You know the story behind that song, right? In the end, Frosty melts, kind of synonymous with dying, I always thought. By the time we got to the “I’ll be back again some day” part, I had to suck down deep breaths from trying so hard not to cry.
I can’t really explain why, except that the lyrics of that holiday song brought to the surface the emotions I already felt. It wasn’t that I was having a hard day, or that I was overly tired. It just was.
Sometimes life just feels that way–or at least it does for me. Like the time I had saved up coins in my pink plastic wallet with the snap pouch and took it to my dance class. We got a break during class, or maybe it was after class, and some of the girls would walk to a Coke machine just down the sidewalk from our studio. So that day, in my tap shoes (I’d just gotten high-heeled ones), I walked to the machine and poured my coins into the slot. I had counted correctly–exactly 50 cents–and pressed the selection I wanted. Only nothing came out. I pressed the button again–and again and again. I don’t remember trying to retrieve the coins, but I do remember that I didn’t have them with me when I returned to class. In confusion, I tapped my way back to the dance studio empty handed.
Later I realized where I’d gone wrong: I’d used pennies. Some nickels, too, I think. But I’d used quite a few pennies–those were easier to collect for a little girl. And that Coke machine, like all vending machines, I presume, didn’t accept pennies. Well, it certainly sucked them down, but it gave me nothing in return.
I wrote a few weeks ago about feeling a sad heaviness, feeling that I wasn’t at home in my life. That feeling is kind of an off and on companion, albeit an unwelcome one. And it has been for a while. Most of the time I make my peace with it; I accept it, because I can’t really control it.
And because of it, sometimes the moments of joy and goodness and beauty shine brighter. It’s worth it, it really is, to exercise the faith to look for God’s gifts in the midst of the heaviness. I don’t mean “stay positive” or “look on the bright side.” I mean holding the perspective that there IS reason–always reason–to give thanks. Give thanks in all things, God commands His people in the New Testament. I do believe joy and pain can co-exist in Jesus.
And God tells His people in the Old Testament: Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19) So that heaviness that sometimes follows me around, that sometimes wraps itself around me…I don’t have to bear it alone.
And if you feel that heaviness, too? You don’t have to bear it alone, either.