• Cheryl Chenault-Shumake

Riding the Wave: Finding Peace When Life See-Saws

Sharing the heart alert! … I have been under personal stress for the past few weeks. Nothing unmanageable if the causes were coming at me one at a time. But Life isn’t polite. Without apology, consideration for your plans, or a glance at your schedule, Life punches its way through, sits where it pleases, and does what it wants, landing the great and not so great in your lap to deal with.

When you’re a person a lot of people turn to, you can sometimes feel like you have no place to go. Not true of course but we’re talking emotions, not reality.

I felt like I was riding a wave of emotion. I couldn’t even describe, much less deposit all of the goings on inside my heart. My supportive, attentive, husband, usually the one God uses to help me keep my bearings, offered everything he had, but still I rode. My mom, another gift, said, “I’m in the same place. Let’s pray!”  Due to my schedule, I had been unable to connect with my bible study sisters.  The other women in my sister circle are busy dealing with life themselves and I didn’t want to interrupt them. On top of all that, it seemed as if I was sitting under a very silent Heaven. As I write, this sounds embarrassingly first world “woe is me-ish”.

This past weekend accurately paints a picture of how up and down life has been lately. On Friday, I buried a beloved cousin, who died unexpectedly one month before her 26th birthday. Saturday morning, we left our home at 7 AM to drive to the neighboring state for one of our daughters’ college graduation. That evening we celebrated the successful launch of my sister’s business directory website. Worship was phenomenal Sunday morning. After church, we watched Detroit, a movie about the 1967 riots that occurred in my hometown which completely devastated the city and from which it has yet to recover. I had a visceral, not so phenomenal, reaction to it. After that we went to my great niece’s 2nd birthday party. Today, my husband is travelling.

Up one moment. Down the next. It felt like surfing. Being carried along, trying to remain upright atop an uncontrollable wave of water that takes you wherever it wants to go.  I am not a surfer. I have never even stood on a surf board. I don’t want to ever stand on a surf board. I felt like a surfer must; an uncontrollable power is carrying me along and I either learn how to stabilize or wipe out. You can imagine how unsteady it would have felt had the Lord left me there to wobble. In His faithfulness, He did not.

This weekend was also framed by gentle reminders of His nearness and steadfast love. On Thursday, I received an unexpected call from a friend. Their first words were, “Why is it the Lord has had you on my mind these last few days?” It was like the Lord reached down, placed a bowl of manna on the table and said, “Eat your fill!” I poured out my heart and was encouraged with an admonition that we have been invited to run to, rely on, lean on the Rock of our Salvation with all of our feelings. I know this. I teach this. Every now and then I forget to do this. My Heavenly Father wanted me to remember He was near, waiting, listening, and wanting to hold me steady through the vicissitudes of life.

This morning, right after I spent some time in His presence, I received a text message from another beloved family member. I’m going to paraphrase the text somewhat, “Got the report back. No cancer. This is what happens when you put it in the Lord’s hands!” Now let me say this particular family member has had an extended bout with cancer and was prepared for whatever God would allow. Honestly prepared to live trusting and praising His name for however long they would be in this Earth. For me, it was a timely nudge that God remains aware and sovereign in all things.

In all likelihood I will have more opportunities for stress to crash through the door. Good things and bad things alike will bring extra pressure.

I believe I’ll buy that surfboard after all.

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