Fog rolled in off the ocean, curling over the rooftops and down into the garden where I sat watching the stars begin to dot the heavens. I pulled my scarf tightly around my neck— the temperature quickly dropping. Soon, the stars were obscurbed.
I looked out over the garden, the little twinkle lights in the trees glowing in the mist. I buttoned my coat and sat and watched it dance, turning and swirling on the breeze— appreciating its delicate beauty— God’s breath made visible.
I plodded along, step by step, carefully constructing my newest project. For months I had planned its every facet, every outcome—I could hardly think about anything else. The day arrived to offer it to my clients, and I waited with excited anticipation. But nothing happened. And nothing happened in the weeks that followed. No one was interested in my hard work. Feeling like a failure, I sat in the garden and cried.
“What’s hurting?” God asked tenderly.
“If I’m honest I’d have to say my ego,” I answered. “I created and expected my project to be a hit, but it’s a flop.”
“Expectations create a lot of grief. When the outcome isn’t what you wanted, disappointment and depression sets in,” God explained.
I nodded. “That’s exactly how I feel.”
“Happiness grows from acceptance. Resentment grows from expectations.”
I wiped my tears on my sleeve. “God, grant me the serenity, to accept things as they are—to do away with my expectations.” A butterfly flew into the garden, flitting from flower to flower. She seemed content with what was right before her. “I’ll be content with this present moment, accepting life on life’s terms.” Disappointment released its grip on my heart. I rose and went back inside, back to work.
Out beyond my bedroom, the murmur of voices pulled me from the sweetness of sleep. I cocked my head to one side to better listen—newscasters discussing the ever-growing pandemic. It was the same grim news that we’d heard for days. I wanted to pull the blankets up over my head to drown out the gloom, but I kicked them off and walked to the window instead.
I looked out over the trees growing in a hodgepodge line up the hill. They stood quiet and still in the cold of the waking day. “They aren’t scared of the virus, are they, God?” I asked, my breath fogging up the chilly pane.
“No, they aren’t, Sparrow,” God replied. He put His hands on my shoulders, then pursed His lips and blew through the trees, softly swaying their branches to and fro.
“They look so strong and wise,” I said, “as if they know something I should know.”
God gave me a gentle hug. “They know to grow where I planted them,” He said. “They don’t fight what comes their way. They accept the sun and the wind and the rain, growing deeper roots every day.
“Is that what I need to do?
“Yes. Accept life on life’s terms,” God said gently. “Grow your roots deeper and deeper into me.”
I reached up and squeezed God’s hand resting on my shoulder. “I’ll do that,” I said, then turned and went to join my son and his girlfriend as we wait out the virus here in the seclusion of these majestic hills and God’s glorious creatures.
“Do not be discouraged.”
Needing some down time to process my bad mood, I shuffled over to Starbucks and ordered a decaf latte. I savored the warm cup in my hands as I slowly sipped the coffee. I’ve felt these feeling before. They are the fingerprints from past hurts—the pain of not being seen or heard, or respected. “What do I do God?” I prayed.
“Just breathe,” He answered.
“But my heart is aching,” I said. “Don’t I need to do something?”
“Close your eyes. Just breathe,” He said gently.
Amid the hustle and bustle of a busy Starbucks, I closed my eyes. I took in a slow breath. I exhaled. I took in another, and another until my shoulders relaxed.
“Feel better?” God asked.
I opened my eyes. “I’m more relaxed, but what about this sorrow?”
“You can give that to me,” God answered gently.
“What does that even mean?” I said, somewhat defensively. “It’s not like I can put it in a box and hand it over to you.”
God replied with a great deal of patience in His voice, “You give me your hurt by letting go of the past. You let go of expectations and practice acceptance. You let my love for you be enough.”
“I’ll try,” I said.
“One more thing, Sparrow. Forgive,” God reminded me.
I swallowed the last of my coffee and left the table. I pushed open the door and walked back home holding God’s hand. It was enough.