I’ve been keeping my thoughts at surface level lately, finding ways to distract myself from the “deep thoughts” I don’t want to face.

It’s been going on for months, but it got to the point of fully crawling into a psychological  hole of denial around the time my aunt died in the end of December. When those thoughts would come to mind – the ones that reminded me everyone dies and others will follow my aunt soon – I grabbed my phone and flipped through photos on Instagram, or watched clips on Youtube. Anything to keep my mind from going there – the dark part of my mind where thoughts grab me and pull me down and hold me in the darkness while my soul spins around and around in a panic.

“I don’t want to grow up. I hate that daddy can’t carry me anymore and I’m too big for us to cuddle at night,” my almost 12-year old told me one night as we turned off the lights for bed.

My stomach tightened and I mumbled something about knowing it was hard but that it was natural to feel worried about the future and growing up. Then I hugged him and rushed off into the darkness of my room and tried to hold it together. I searched for comedians on YouTube and watched them until I didn’t have to think about it anymore. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I knew if I cried it was all over. I’d fall apart and it would take me days, if not weeks, to recover because if one rock slipped out of place they would all crumble down.

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The rock that said my little boy is growing so fast and I can’t slow it down.

The rock that said my daughter doesn’t fit snuggly in my lap anymore either and it’s leaving me feeling out of control.
The rock that said I thought about calling my aunt the other day to tell her a funny story and then remembered she wasn’t there to tell.

The rock that says my mom’s health isn’t good and someday I won’t have her to call and seek comfort from.

The rock that says my dad is so tired from Lyme and taking care of two properties and I’m worried he’s going to end up in the hospital, but I can’t make him slow down because he’s an adult.

The rock that says our finances are often not great and it scares me. The rock that tells me I’ve failed at making a career and helping support my family.

The rock that says I don’t pray enough and I know it.

The rock that says I don’t trust God the way I should.

And when all those rocks come down – what will happen?

I have to keep the rocks in place because with them in place I am less of a spazz, less of a person people shake their heads at sadly, less of a jumbled mess of anxiety and more of what a good Christian is supposed to be.

At least, this is what I have told myself as I hold myself hard against the rocks, holding them back, putting them where they belong if they threaten to fall, while the tears try to leak through and push my feelings out into the open, where anyone could see them and know I don’t have it together at all.

I know I’ve said I’m not a person who says “I had a vision” and I wouldn’t call it a vision when I was thinking about all this late one night and I saw Jesus in my mind’s eye, standing by me, looking at me with a small, gentle smile, as I held the rocks in place and then watched as he took each rock in his hands and they faded into nothingness, one by one.

“Don’t worry about these,” he said. “I’ll hold them for you. You can let them go.”

I don’t let go well, Lord, you know that, but I’m trying.

I’m trying.

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Written by Lisa R. Howeler

As a writer, photographer and former journalist, Lisa R. Howeler writes a little bit about everything on her blog Boondock Ramblings. She's a wife and a mother and enjoys a good John Wayne movie and a cozy Jan Karon book. She's also a freelance writer and photographer who is a contributor to various stock agencies, including Lightstock and Alamy. Her photography work focuses on documentary and photojournalism.

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