shake and squeeze

This morning when my friend, Margie, asked me how I was on this Tuesday before Friday, when my two teenage daughters will get on a plane and fly to Mexico City to begin a month long trip with their grandparents, taking them to France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, back to France, then back to Mexico, before returning home in July, my answer was a word picture.

“I feel like an almost-empty bottle of shampoo that you turn upside down, 
shake violently, and then squeeze and shake, squeeze and shake, 
until every last drop spatters out.”

Getting the girls ready to travel AND helping them finish up their last couple weeks of school has been crazy, and has included trips to over a dozen stores, last minute searches for iPhone charger adapters and prepaid Visa cards that can be used outside the U.S.  (Where do they sell these???) It has involved lots of laundry, folding, packing, re-folding, and my dining room table has been taken over by bottles of sunscreen, toiletries and receipts.  My oldest is cramming for final exams and finishing last minute projects, like baking Irish Soda Bread for thirty people. We squeezed in a doctor’s visit and new prescriptions that caused allergic reactions and more trips to the pharmacy.  And because end-of-the-year friend stuff is HUGELY important to teens, we will be going to see the premiere of The Fault in our Stars on Thursday evening.

Shake and squeeze. 

Shake and squeeze. 

My mind and body are feeling the stretching, and my back is threatening to go out on me.  So today I am resting it and putting ice on it.  And as I slow the pace just a little I’m aware that something else is being stretched.  My heart is swelling with love for my daughters, with excitement over their adventure of a lifetime, but at times it’s also racing with the anxiety of letting them go, with the challenge to accept that they are growing up and, like thriving branches, they are growing out, away from the trunk. My heart is stretching as far as it can to trust.  To trust that God goes before them.  That He watches over their coming and going and is intimately in tune with their needs and longings.  That He is shaping all of us.

Even though it doesn’t make any sense and is a huge waste of time, my pattern for a long time has been to worry, pray, and then worry some more.  I find that praying relieves some of my anxiety, but then I usually go back to worrying because, well – I don’t know why.  Like I said, it doesn’t make sense.  What good does it do to trust God for 70 % and worry about the other 30%?  What would it be like to live a life of such surrender that 100% trust becomes a way of living?

I love the way The Message paraphrases the following passages:

Proverbs 3:5

The Message (MSG)
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.


Philippians 4:6
The Message (MSG)
6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

I’ve had it all wrong – those two little words are changing my life.  
Instead of worrying, pray. Not, in addition to, or along with.  
But rather, Instead of.

I am seeing my daughters blossom before my eyes.  I am seeing them overcome their own anxieties, and problem solve solutions.  I am watching their beautiful branches extend further than I thought they would.  I am hearing their honest prayers as they give thanks and ask God for His help and blessing on our summer.  But as is so often the case, as the parent, I may be the one that is growing up the most.