Episode 3- Peace Hidden In The Depths
Sarah sat up in bed tired, but not rested as she had hoped. There was so much she had to do. The baby needed feeding the beach bag needed packing. Breakfast needed to be cooked and a few items needed to be picked up on the way to the beach. The sun was bright in the early morning, but there would be rain later that day, there always was.
The tile was cold to the touch as her feet hit the ground from the humidity and the air conditioning that ran all the time. And the sun shone through the windows and gray curtains. They would be heading to the sand bar for the day. It was something she had heard described as a beach in the middle of the bay. She had a hard time picturing it in her mind but felt her curiosity grow as she packed their things.
As soon as she had completed her morning tasks, She carried the beach bag and the baby to the car, the baby's skin looked slightly lighter from the sunscreen, but with his red hair and complexion, it was difficult to tell. They’d waited in the car for a while before john came out. He had a smile on that he hadn't worn around Sarah at home, this is how things had been for a while. She felt like it was because of their fight. They drove and he answered a call. As he talked plans were made to meet at the spot at the Marina that allowed find one another as more people arrived.
Once the boat was rented Sarah had put the redheaded baby in his life verst, and they waited for the other passengers. Sarah Waited with the baby and John excitedly sent texts to his buddies, who would be arriving soon. They all worked with John and were close in rank to him as well.
As Sarah climbed on the boat it felt unstable as it moved with the water and shifted as the weight within the boat changed. She sat and began to feel more and more out of place as Johns's military buddies started to pile in. The confusion also grew as John's usually happy-lucky self came out in the way he laughed when he talked. It was the part of him that made her fall for him in the first place, but he didn't show that part any longer. And she wondered- was it her? Or had it not been genuine from the beginning? Either way, it was only a part that others saw, for anymore their life at home wasn't one of laughter or happiness.
She kept the diaper bag and beach bag close to her but held the redheaded baby, even tighter.
Sitting in the front of the boat Sarah held the baby who kicked his legs to the hum of the engine. As they pulled away from the marina the docked boats grew smaller in the distance. The bay was beautiful and the sun was warm. The shallow water appeared greener than the deep blue water.
The Koolau mountain range can be seen from the water in the Bay and it feels as if they’re reaching their arms out from comfort. Sarah knew that it was the comfort she longed for and was likely the reason.
The sandbar is a small beach that is exposed or slightly submerged away from the land or island it is close to. These often need to be traveled by boat, either motor or paddled. The sand Barr brought in people from all over. Some would anchor their kayaks and snorkel, others would bring their boats and bbq, and some would just play- tossing a ball back and forth and teasing one another. A commonly crowded area with people who want to spend their day in Kaneohe Bay.
They’d passed some kayaks and other boats on their way out.
The sandbar became visible in the distance, the sand peeks through the shallow water and appeared as a light-colored strip.
Once they’d arrived Sarah took the baby off the boat and walked him in the water. As she lowered him into the water his curled toes touch the cool water making him let out a joyful and high-pitched squeal, he pulled his legs up to avoid the water. Deciding he liked it and kicked his legs into the water over and over.
He was too wobbly to walk on his own so Sarah held his chubby fingers that clenched hers in return. He would walk some but eventually fussed to be held, only to lean away from her to be placed back into the water. The baby wanted to be put down, but couldn't be in the water. So she took him back into the boat where he would be able to sit and scoot around as he pleased. He entertained himself by chewing on his fingers and watching the people around him. Though he just couldn't make up his mind if he wanted to be held or not.
After handing John the redheaded baby, Sarah climbed back over a small gate that separated the passenger seats of the pontoon from the back deck. She lowered herself to sit on the step to put on the flippers on her feet and rested the mask and snorkel around her head like a headband with a giant bow. There was a small ladder hanging off the back of the that allowed for an easy way to enter the water. Still sitting on the lower step the water came above her knees. She lifted herself off of the deck and stood in the coolness of the water- not using the ladder to step into the ocean.
As she walked in the shallow water the sand and flippers she wore worked against her as she headed out to deeper water. She didn't want to take them off her feet because of the sea cucumbers that rested on top of the sand just below the surface. So she struggled, and that was the better option than the thought of the surprise it would be had she stepped on one. She imagined it would squish beneath her foot, and the thought sent a shiver down her back. She held the snorkel in one hand and the delicate waves played with her fingertips and crawled up her legs as she slowly got deeper into the water.
The water was clear revealing the light-colored sand tinted by the green-blue hue of the water. The way the sun shone through the water distorted the fragments of light and the lines of sunshine danced with the rhythm of the water.
She continued walking. The hue of the water changed as she moved further away from the sandbar, it became darker and the water felt cooler. It didn't take much to stay on top and move in the water, but the quicker her movements the more the water grabbed her flippers and worked against her every move. She reached the edge of the sand bar where the deeper water met the shallow water. This was the area, opposite the pontoon she’d arrived in, where fewer boats were docked.
The different colors of the water reminded her of the way her emotions felt within her. Love and fear contradicted each other but resided in the same place in her mind and in her heart. The dark water felt like the fear within her and the love felt like the soft and squishy sand. But as the water got deeper the sand became less visible, swallowing up all tenderness- just as the fear had.
Pulling her goggles over her eyes and the snorkel in her mouth she braced herself to feel the cool ocean over the rest of her body. She lept into an awkward forward lunge and floated on top.
As she swam she had to get used to breathing through her mouth through a giant straw, as she was facedown in the water she could also taste the water at the corner of her mouth.
The edge of the reef came into view, and the deep water beneath became black with depth. The more fish and coral that came into view the less the sand below could be seen with the deepening of the water. Sarah could not see very far and it made her uneasy.
The reef appeared in the depth of the water the same way a foggy mountain would appear in the fog. The difference was she was suspended over the reef and not fixed at the base of the Rocky Mountains back home.
It was an odd sensation to be on top of the reef, and the mountain-like feel it gave off. Feet planted firmly on the ground had comfort and security to offer a broken and hurt soul. But floating above made the void of safety feel bigger than she would have felt had she been below in another place.
The vastness of the ocean made her feel so small and a little insecure in her ability to be out in the open water alone, but the temperature of the water extinguished the searing heat the pain in her life caused. She could only manage to swim over the blackness a short distance before she headed back to the shallower water where she could see the sand beneath her.
Snorkeling on the sand bar felt like a safe option but with the water so shallow she found herself kicking into the sand as she tried to move about. Close enough to get back to the sand bar if she needed to, but far enough out to enjoy swimming in deeper water.
As Sarah saw the beauty of the reef, and the few fish she was reminded of the beauty of the bible verses she had heard long ago. It was about God clothing the fields in flowers, and even King Solomon wasn’t clothed as wonderfully as the fields. He had clothed the ocean floors in sand and coral too and studded them with sea life and colorful fish, and it wore a crown of water that glistened back the sunlight by day and the moonlight by night.
Fish swam with ease and awareness, they had been made for this. The blue fish had yellow stripes along their sides. There were fewer orange and red fish, they all seemed to know she was there but didn't seem to care.
She had never taken swimming lessons as a child and was not confident in her ability. The awkward way the flippers made her move slowly did not match the current of sorrow that raged within her heart. The fluid movement the flippers had demanded caused her to move awkwardly still and seemingly disconnected from the flipper in her own natural movement.
Sarah knew there were hammerhead sharks here, though she hadn't seen any yet. John had caught several when fishing off of the pier in the same bay. They were described as practically harmless to humans, but they didn't look harmless and she was perfectly fine with not meeting one in the water.
She thought about what was worse. Something that was assumed to be dangerous but wasn't, or something that was assumed to be safe but was dangerous.
Kaneohe Bay is the largest breeding ground for hammerhead sharks in the world.
She had learned that coral is in danger of reef kill. This can be caused by excess dirt or algae that blocks the sunlight, destructive fishing practices and because the bay gets a lot of freshwater drainages there is also a freshwater component.
Kaneohe Bay’s corral reef is in danger. In a video the base had all families watch upon arrival on the island stating that reef kill was happening and the steps that needed to be taken to keep the coral and sea life safe.
The reef provided sea life with a home and protection from the waves. But it was in danger, and there wasn't a lot of fish to be seen. It reminded her of the way a heart needs good conditions to grow as well. Anger, harsh words, and neglect are poison to marriage and cause death the same way fresh water and lack of sunlight can kill the heart the way freshwater kills the reed. Both block light from something that once thrived.
Her anxiousness calmed as she got the hang of breathing and kicking. At first, it was foreign, but it became easier- like riding a bike. Along with the ease in anxiousness, she also felt warmth and comfort like a familiar friend.
God had felt nearer in the water as she dangled barely beneath the surface. It was a strange feeling since most of the time there seemed to be a disconnection between her and the One who created her. It felt as if he called to her. Maybe the water provided a distance from her life and allowed her to listen to His voice. Or maybe the water quieted John and quieted the pain. Either way, he kept calling to her.
Was it her that had moved away? She had wondered why the awareness had come now. Had she just now been quiet long enough to listen to the voice of God that tenderly called out to her heart? This was a normal encounter that she had experienced throughout her own life- but He had seemed silent for so long. But His voice had been silenced by the pain and confusion.
She would have recognized it anywhere. She remembered the first time she heard it. She sat journaling in her room after a rough day of school. She’d had a hard time making friends, and she had a hard time in math. So, she journaled. Some were thoughts and ideas- or dreams. Others were prayers of desperation that she would feel some sort of comfort- that she wouldn’t feel so alone. And then she heard it- except for it came from within her as an idea would- but it wasn't her at all. It was Him- and He told her He loved her and she was not alone. Reading and writing were her strengths. The things she enjoyed hadn’t come as easily as the things she hadn't.
Beneath the water, out in the open ocean, though still visible to the boat, she kicked one leg and then the other. Her inadequacy gripped a small part of her and made her doubt her ability. But the peace she felt was in direct defiance and was overwhelming.
It was true that sometimes emotions did conflict with each other. And it didn't make one or the other less or more important, they just were. The peace she felt was what her heart desired and she wished she could take it with her.
She couldn't stay in the water though. The redheaded baby was on the boat and she needed to get back.
Heading back to the boat she swam as close to the sandbar as she could before the water got too shallow to float. Changing back from floating to walking again was an awkward transition. She had to walk again and the flippers worked against her the same way as they had on her way out. The sand caught the end of the flipper causing it to fold underneath her foot as she stepped down, and she fell. The water and sand caught her- at the same time splashing her in the face.
The closer she got to the boat the baby leaned over the side as he noticed her. Martinez was holding him, she should have known John wouldn't have him for long. Feelings of anger flooded her. She’d been skeptical that John would have watched him for her but thought he shouldn't be handing the baby off to his buddies. She felt as if it were all her fault and she had been selfish to have left, even for a short time.
She wrapped the baby in a small blanket, he was clearly ready for a nap.
Sitting on the boat now, and as the baby nursed, she watched out to where she had been in the water just moments before. She had thought about feeling God close, but with John here she couldn't. She had to be guarded and she needed to shut down the tender parts within her. Knowing He had always been with her, she knew it wasn't accurate to feel as if she left God behind in the water- it had felt like his presence ebbed as soon as she had gotten back to the boat. Maybe what she longed for was the feeling of His closeness to follow her out of the water.
John and the other service members messed around like schoolboys teasing and roughhousing, but she was ready to go home. The end of the day had come and she was as tired as the redheaded baby.
The sky was peppered with clouds that rarely shaded them from the sun. They slowly moved and their reflection could be seen in the water. One cloud billowed as it drifted toward the pontoon. It let out its droplets in an isolated trail of ripples over the water. It showered the pontoon and Sarah Covered her and the redhead baby with towels since John and the others escaped the cool shower under the bimini top. The baby hadn't gotten wet, he wasn't even roused from his nap that was all that had mattered to her.
Colorado rain sometimes smelled strong because of the lack of moisture and left a strong earthy aroma. Puddles sometimes didn't last long as the dry ground gulped every drop in desperation, unsure of when another fall would come.
Rain smelled different in Hawaii and the island was sure other storms would come and each passing cloud assured another would come by with more water, and it always did. On the water, the droplets sounded differently as they collided with the ocean than they had on land. A higher pitch almost sang its song as more fresh water was mixed into the ocean. It was somewhat warm and comforting but there was frustration that Sarrah had felt. Maybe it was from the fight she and John had the night before, the way he acted as if everything was fine now, made her forced to feel the pain alone.
John had gotten home from work late and didn't want to make his trip to the PX to get beer for the boys. So he’d sent Sarah, it wasn't the beer that was the problem, it was the late night and having to take the redheaded babu out when he was sleepy. It was the way he demanded she go back to correct her mistake when she had brought home the wrong brand. The way he yelled and cut her down for not completing a simple task. When she had mentioned he could have gotten the beer on his way home from work his anger grew like a fire that quickly exploded when gasoline was poured on it. That's how he always was. Explosive. She had tried to minimize the times he exploded by keeping the house spotless and doing the best she could, not allowing him to know when she was struggling. She hid her emotions and kept the house spotless.
She wanted to be out on the water again, but she couldn't, or wouldn't, leave the redheaded baby.
Safety as Comfort
Many aspects of our lives revolve around safety. We wear seat belts. We take vitamins and schedule checkups. We teach our children from a young age to look for cars... and then look again before crossing the road.
We screen our lives for threats and prepare for the worst thing that could happen. We do not want to feel more pain than we must.
There is wisdom in awareness. Carelessness is not the goal.
Difficulties do come. Wisdom is too valuable to throw out, and it would be foolish to do so. But I wonder if God is treated like a traffic light. As if he’s only there to tell us when to stop and when to go. We expect the warning of a yellow light, so we know to slow down, and we can prepare.
And when we don’t get the warning we become frustrated and feel like He is holding out on us. Thoughts like “if I had only known, I would have stopped. If I had only been told then I could have done something differently.” And feelings of betrayal start to grip your heart.
And so you wonder…
Where is God? Because He feels so far away.
Why isn’t he helping me? Because things are not getting better.
Why haven't my prayers been answered? Because you feel ignored.
And so the places your thoughts go because you're trying to make sense of it all leads you to believe that you are alone.
And the thoughts continue…
If God loved you then He would save you. If God saw you then He would comfort you because He would know the pain you are in. If God knew all things then He would provide for you because He would know all that you need. Maybe you don’t have enough faith, or maybe God isn't real. And the thoughts you have to continue to spiral. And all you’re left with is feeling more out of control and more powerless than before.
So, life is lived with what seems to be true about God but really isn't. We let the hurtful words, the lack of resources, and the pain tell us who God is.
But He is not those things. God is not to blame for illness. God is not to blame for loneliness and broken hearts. He's not to blame for the pain that is felt through abandoned or neglected.
If we look for our questions about God to be answered in the pain then we won't get an honest answer. There is a song by Zac Williams that says “Fear is a liar. It will rob you of your rest and steal your happiness.” I agree with this wholeheartedly.
Fear is a liar, so is pain, so is confusion, and so is loss.
And it becomes familiar to look for God and try to learn who he is based on the circumstances of life. Instead of trusting who He is despite the circumstances.
How do we have to courage to embrace Good and allow Him to teach us who He is? There has to be a recognition of the things you may have been believing are wrong. And then you can allow God to tell you who He really is. Ask Him to help you to let go of all the things you thought He was, and for help to believe the things He shows you about Himself.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
What water do you long for him to draw you out of? Do you believe that he is strong enough? He is comfort and He will be your support if you allow him to.
Guided Imagery- A Girl In The Flowers
Will you imagine this with me?
The little girl wakes up not remembering all the things today would hold. But as she gets out of bed and the sleepiness washes away her anticipation grows. The excitement she had felt the night before had come back to her remindingg her all the wonders the day would hold. All she had to do was fall asleep. And that was the trouble, she just couldn’t. She knew sleep would help the morning to come quicker seemingly, but she laid there for what felt like hours. She sang songs and couldn’t keep still, but sleep would not come, no matter how hard she tried.
Sleep felt like such an inconvenience, and kept her from all the wonderful things she wanted to do and quieted all the things she had to say. But the morning was finally here and as she woke for the day she remembered all that kept her awake.
She picked out the perfect dress for picking flowers with her father. He was making breakfast downstairs and she joined him in the kitchen with a pretty yellow dress on and messy unbrushed hair. They ate pancakes and he even let her have whipped cream and strawberries.
They had driven a short while but the excitement made the car ride almost as unbearable as going to sleep the night before. But soon they were there, and she had the small brown basket she was ready to go.
There was a small trail they stayed on that was worn down to dirt from so many that had walked those same steps. There were flowers everywhere, on both sides, but it was quiet, except for a few birds chirping every now and then and the buzz of bumblebee bees.
Large clusters and small clusters of flowers could be found, but the single blooms on a stem were what the little girl loved the most. There were so many colors and sizes and the white flowers stood out within the sea of color.
The little girl's father reminded her to stay on the path and to stay close. But she lost all track of where she was as she picked the most beautiful flowers that she would take home today.
The little girl's sundress shaded her legs but her arms were bare and she felt the warmth of the sun that was shining down through the patches of clouds in the sky.
By now her basket was full of mostly pink and orange flowers and a couple of small red and blue ones. She saw some big purple flowers and she decided to leave the path to add them to her basket. She knew she wasn't supposed to leave the path but there were no purple flowers she could reach without leaving, and she needed to get some flowers of every color. As she turned around to find the path again she realized she couldn't see much- she couldn't even find her father.
She walked a few steps and realized she didn't know where she was. Dropping her flower basket they all spilled out as tears welled up in her eyes. She called out for her dad and he was there in a moment.
He held her as she cried and the tears and a runny nose moistened her face. “I was here all along.” He reminded her. She was not alone even when she felt as if she was. And he squeezed the little girl in a tighter hug and said “I saw you when you were on the path, I saw you when you left the path and I saw you go after those purple flowers. As soon as you called me I was here. And he helped her pick up her flowers and place them back into her basket.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I ask you to make your presence known to the woman listening to this right now. As the father in the story goes and finds his daughter when she stepped off of the path, I pray you will help her to see that you already know where she is. There is no path she could take that you could not find her. There is no path she could veer from that could keep her from your presence.
I pray that you would awaken the parts of her heart that feel forgotten or numb. And remind her of who she belongs to.
I love that you offer reminders of your love and reveal who you are to those who seek you.
In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen