When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil…
I’ve sung this song a million times. Maybe not, but growing up in church, you get the gist.
We were in the pews for Sunday morning, the tiniest of seats for Sunday School before that, there for Sunday night prayer meetings, and back again for kids club on Wednesday nights.
I knew the church like the back of my hand. The people in it were my family (and many many many still are, though many of us are spread around the country and around the world). We vacationed together. We spent summer days outside together. Many of us went on missions trips together and spent weekends as teens together.
The Bible quizzing, the Sunday School lessons, the sermons, the pews, the Bible verse sword drills… they sunk in deep.
The foundation was secure.
It’s the sort of foundation we’re hoping against hope to build with our own children, even though this past year a lot more of it came in home due to the pandemic. But the reason we’re hoping it sticks for them like it did for us is this: it all holds true. It all stays firm when nothing else feels like it is at all.
While many of the lessons felt repetitive, and sometimes it felt like we were reciting “church answers,” now that we’ve moved into the realm of real life… it holds like nothing else ever could.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that the end of 2020 and into the start of 2021, our lives have been whirlwind-like… and the more we reconnect with friends, we’re finding it’s not unique to us.
We felt God pushing us to DC in tangible ways, but didn’t feel like selling our house was right for some reason, then the pandemic hit and we had two lives to bring back together to one (merging our new DC world back into our PA world).
We brought our kids home from school on March 13, 2020, and returned them this March after a rough attempt at home-schooling/cyber-schooling. There were more tears and anxiety attacks than any of us would like to admit.
We lost family and close friends, some due to the virus, some due to other conditions and tragic events. We’ve watched friends struggle with health, with unknowns, with relationships, with finances, and with struggles that are so deep that we can feel them ourselves.
We’ve fought more than maybe at any other point in our marriage – only now we have the years of experience and relationship to handle it differently in the past. Learning how to work remotely yet together and shoulder parenting and schooling has been hard after the excitement of all the “newness” of being together 24/7 wore off.
Sometimes it’s so much that it feels hard to breathe… and yet, we do… and then, we do it again.
But, here’s the thing: We aren’t doing it alone.
In fact, we aren’t doing it on our own strength at all, and I know that as a fact because it would – with 100% honesty – be impossible.
Yes, life would go on. But, our ability to face situations with any sort of confidence or strength would be greatly diminished, if it was there at all.
Through all of it – even the most emotional highs and lows – we’ve learned something: the things that became so much of a habit as children, the lessons our parents and Sunday School teachers and pastors instilled in our hearts to the point that we could recite them back at the drop of a dime – our anchor holds within the veil.
Our Lord remains seated on his throne with a plan that is greater than anything we could imagine – even through the pain, and even through the hurts that feel so personal. He promises peace in the storms and when we ask for it, he provides it in abundance: we’ve seen it personally.
This knowledge, and these experiences, they make the parts that are so deep, and raw, and painful bearable because we know that we are not the ones bearing it alone. It makes loving others and crossing divisions and moving forward without the 5-year-plan we used to live and breathe by, doable… sometimes even peaceful.
And that’s something that looks crazy to some. Sometimes it even feels crazy to us.
I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt. I’m not saying there aren’t tears, and anger, and frustration, and yelling, and gnashing of teeth (okay – perhaps we haven’t experienced that one yet), but, I’m saying that through them all, there’s a sense of stability that is beyond our comprehension. And with that, we march forward.
I have no great takeaways for all this, but I know we aren’t alone in the things we face, and if it provides any encouragement whatsoever, I’m here to beg you to jump into scripture – even if you’ve never opened a Bible before, to pray – even if you feel like you’re talking to a wall, if you even have the slightest tug at your heart, to lean in – even if nothing about what you’re leaning into feels tangible or even logical, and to ask the hard questions to someone you trust – even if you feel like your questions are crazy.
And if you’re one of those precious teachers sharing lessons week after week with little ones who seem completely indifferent: press on. They hear you. They’ll remember your words and your love, even if they go their own way for a little while. Parents, when you feel like your kids would rather run outside or around the house, or fight with each other, instead of sitting down for another Bible story – read it anyway. When they least expect it, it will come to mind and might just be the thing that keeps them pressing forward with a strength they didn’t think they had.
Let’s be persistent, friends, in continuing to lean in to those truths that we learned as children, in teaching those lessons to our own kids, and to loving in a way that feels too big for us: there’s hope. The. Anchor. Holds.