I’ve been pondering “dry” lately.
If you ask me on any given day “how I am” I might give you statements laced with sarcasm (my personality trait of choice when tired and busy). I might say something about how my kids are probably having conversations with each other about which type of drug or alcohol to try first.
Or I might joke that my husband has decided the sheets are more likely to dissolve than to be changed and I might even lay it down that my parents need time and energy and love and care that I don’t seem to have in a generous supply.
In a more vulnerable moment, I might even tell you….
…I am disillusioned with myself, a person who used to be able to access joy readily, be perpetually optimistic and never dread a single day.
Who’s responsible for the drought seasons in our lives, anyway?
Who forgot to water this life-weary heart?
How’d it get this way and why is it so hard to find the way to growth, life, health?
So the question in my heart transitions from
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN to WHAT NOW? (Yes, maybe I am saying this loudly)
What happens when we sense drought?
What is the source of the drought? Disappointment? Sure. Weariness? Youbetcha.
But there is something more to drought – from what I can understand about my cracks.
In dry seasons, do you think it’s possible that somewhere along the way, we decided we knew how something should turn out? Is that part of it?
Were we overconfident that we could count on a circumstance to continue being smooth?
And how do we find the river?
Where is that delta of relief?
I cannot even hear the stream running sometimes. I know it exists but the riverbed seems pretty parched.
There’s a place in the Psalms that paints a picture of a deer that is literally panting for water. This is a beyond-dehydration situation. No water in site. This is how my soul feels.
I’m not saying that hoping in certain milestones doesn’t bring a little brightness. Heck, if I have a clean microwave, there could be mushrooms growing in my messy closet, I could not care less – life just feels a little more under control with a clean microwave. Cray-cray, I know.
Perhaps I decided that if my kids turned out okay, I’d feel well-watered – well, that’s putting my hope in my progeny. Really, put my hope in them? (Exhibit A: One child has outlawed the other from ever whistling ever again in their presence – yep, pretty pleasant all the time in the Harrell household).
I love them to the core of who I am but should I base my soul’s condition on a given day of happy-happy-joy-joy with that crew?
Maybe I should kick the summer of togetherness off with a family viewing of the World Whistling Championships?:
Maybe (I thought), if my husband doesn’t get sick or lose his job, I will feel refreshed or content. Well those awful circumstances haven’t occurred in our house (I’m grateful for that) but being spared hasn’t filled me with the waters of life, has it? (Exhibit B: He often dreams of owning a ranch or moving us all to Mongolia – In both scenarios I can literally feel the dirt in my teeth and the lack of access to a hot shower. HELP!)
Seriously, though, I think really there is a genuine redefining that happens when I relocate my hope….when I put it where it needs to be.
What if I took a little thing like a clean microwave and a big thing like relocating my hope and let it shift the tide of my soul?
Little by little, I have come to know that the dry season actually has a really important place in my strides forward in time. I am a slow learner, for sure. I think the last couple of years have seen the waters recede so that’s been tough but, because of that, I have found a new level of understanding about my heart. It ebbs and flows like a tide only less predictably so. Death, illness, loss, grief – all of these have been my companions in a sometimes powerful and surging swell of hope and more often a weak trickle of a stream. Have you felt that way?
I recently came across this word as I was digging through the dirt of my drought. In my thirst, in my confusion, I read this word:
It’s a Hebrew word.
It means “Here I am.”
It’s often used as part of a prayer. It’s in the first person.
It’s very complete and emotionally charged, and implies, “Here I am: ready, willing and able.” “Here I am” is a powerful and layered statement, but there’s another meaning to Hineni, even deeper and more resonant:
Here I stand.
It’s not just a thought; it’s a bottom line. Here I stand. Here I will make my stand. I will not be moving. This is where I am going to make my stand.
Resolute. Determined. Brave, even.
That is how I have decided to approach this season of drought, dryness, thirst.
Hineni. Here I stand.
Resolute. Determined. Brave, and my knees are shaking just a bit.
What does it mean to say, “hineni – here I am” in fact “here I stand” not out of fear of being tested but out of trust being guided?
In fact, I’m thinking of developing a Hineni type of faith. A faith even in the questions that says, I don’t understand but here I stand.
I am declaring trust. I will plant my feet on this dry and dusty path and I will stand firm. I will trust.
And it’s wild because the secret is in that dry place. Without these seasons of drought, we cannot take delight in the true, new, fresh, source of waters. Maybe the dry places are important. Maybe they’re even essential…
Altogether, bit by bit, digging deep – the drought recedes, the waters come. This isn’t a fancy process and it’s not a quick one. Grab a shovel, stand there, Hineni. I think I can hear the stream up ahead….