August was the longest month ever it seems.
Last two weeks of August were dark and deep. Like this heavy cloud was above our home and the thickness just couldn’t seem to let up. Looking back, I don’t even really remember what the month consisted of except that it was really sad.
The fog started to clear a bit for me, and it began with a fun day. I had a lovely respite sharing one of my very favorite places (Symphony!) with a dear mentor & friend. She and I sang along to a well-beloved musical’s score and shared laughs and turkey wraps from her favorite sandwich joint.
We talked about our week, about how the kids were back at school and swapped chicken marinade recipes. I say “swapping” nonchalantly, but there was actually no swapping (hah, in my food network dreams) more like just her telling me that there’s no way a naïve cook like me can mess up a simple chicken marinade.
Oh, my little tank running on empty was filled, not only by the music but by the sweet company and conversation. I had a feeling that my people back home needed a similar change of environment and needed to share laughs and everyday conversations and time with their some of our loved ones, who were just a state-line crossing away.
Sometimes it’s not the deep or moving words that help the most, many times it’s just a hug from others who say “hey, this is messy and sticky- but we’re with you.”
That’s exactly what God did, when you think about it. He sent Jesus, and in some places in the Bible, He’s called Immanuel, which translates to “God with us.” Jesus came to be with us, in our mess, in our trenches and we He plants Himself and says He’s never leaving.
So soon after, my little clan of three plus one (mom, dad, me and our ever loyal and sweet-looking but fierce bichon-poodle mix, Henry) packed our bags for a last-minute escape to Arizona, where the 2/3 of the Enverga daughters and their people do life. It used to be where I did life at GCU too.
One of my favorite memories of the trip was when us three sisters gathered together in the living room and recounted stories of how mom worked to bring the best out in us—some things we couldn’t quite understand, but at least we were all laughing about it now. Mom provided commentary, and answered our dying questions like—“Why did you make us all eat oatmeal every day?!” “Did you really send 10-year-old Maui to the supermarket?” “What were you thinking letting me wear those ugly shoes?”
To which she responded:
Yes, because my parents did that with me and it [oatmeal] helps with constipation.
Yes, she was so shy- it brought her out of her bubble.
Yes, Deb- you were so hyper and those shoes protected your toes.
Mom, what were you thinking?
I was trying to hone your character.
What about my feelings?!
Your feelings don’t hone your character.
… said like a true Asian mom.
Later in the week, I made a quick visit to my old stomping grounds, GCU. It was the place I called home for a single semester before our world turned upside down.
I found my friends moving into new apartments, entering nursing programs, hanging new pictures, unpacking their boxes… I thought being back would make me sad, but as much as I missed campus and everything it stood for–I just knew I didn’t belong there anymore.
My forever school bestie, Ruthie and I got to catch up as she started her very first week of nursing school! She and I tackled the first semester at a new university together, both as pre-nursing students. We were the friends each of our moms back home were praying we would find. We had so much fun being together (we even have a whole video of our very fun semester), we had even planned to coordinate our future RN work schedule and get our future kids into the same homeschool co-op (naturally, since we were both homeschooled).
This was so us. We dreamed about our future like it was as easy as planning our weekly movie nights and downtown outings or organizing our shared Spotify playlist.
Oh if only things could be always as easy as that! Even though I entered September wishing for no more cloudy days, I realized that the cloudy days only make the sunny ones much brighter. That sounds like a line, and it probably is, but it has truth behind it.
As Christians, we realize this: Jesus didn’t promise us a trial-free life, or blissful days on earth with no trouble. In fact, he guarantees trouble, because of the fallen state of this world. But He says that we don’t have to go through it alone because He’s right there with us. He’s overcome it all, and we can overcome through His working in us. Oh, for grace to trust Him to be enough!
My clan has been back home in our breezy San Diego for awhile now, and there have absolutely been cloudy days- some days of uncertainty, fear and sadness and pain. Though, there have been moments of great joy and growth all the same. I can’t fathom or seem to explain it, but God uses the hard things- the hurt- to get to a place in my own heart, that only He can work on and get to. Fears and insecurities are exposed in times of crisis, and trying to plunge the hurt on my own can be maddening because it never seems to stop. We weren’t meant to fill that void- Only Jesus can.
And he so willingly jumps in my trenches, the hard places where the real work is done and says- “Hey I’m with you.”