The beach; a place of peace. A picturesque collection of white sands, turquoise waters and crashing waves. A wonderful getaway that will bring peace and relaxation to my tired body, and soul. Warm water, sunshine and the company of my family. A time to make memories, and to breathe in all of the nice experiences we will have within the coming week. Ahhhh…very nice.
Do you see those dark clouds hanging over the water? Those heavy clouds, that are just waiting to dump the ‘rain on a parade?’
My personal dark cloud dumped its misery all over my parade yesterday. I wish that I could say that I enjoyed the nearly twelve-hour drive to the coast yesterday, but I didn’t. From the moment we started out on the road, my anxiety was starting to shoot through the roof! That is something I have battled throughout my whole life, and it is not easily managed at times. Although I said a prayer for safe travels and a sound mind, I believe the adversary was trying his best to keep me nervous. There were a lot of trying moments within the first several hours of traveling; I took a wrong turn, ran into some traffic back-ups, and fought to see through some heavy rains. You know, the typical things that we may encounter when traveling long distances. I don’t know what was so hard about the day, because most of the time I am pretty focused on tasks that are new and challenging, but the day continued to be a huge challenge for me.
We had finally reached our beautiful destination! I haven’t visited a beach in nearly twenty-five years, and it was an exciting moment to see that beautiful beach and water again! My family and I toted all of our luggage and belongings to our room, and set back out to get a few things. We also searched for a place to eat, as well as stopping at an urgent-care facility. I have a terrible case of poison ivy that has been growing and itching like crazy for the last several days, and it had become an even bigger problem within the last day. So, I stopped and received the proper care and meds for it.
Here is where my dark cloud finally dumped what I am calling, “the misery.”
The truth is, the evening before had consisted of only a few hours of sleep. It was difficult along the way of travelling as I found myself trying to stay awake. A few stops to grab coffee, and some music in my headphones helped me to stay awake as I fought off the loud kids, frustration of the traffic and rain, and the unknown twists and turns of the cities and towns we were travelling through. I believe a combination of all of these things was really starting to consume my patience, to the point of losing them. Losing them, and becoming a frustrated dude who could no longer take the pressure. I ended up yelling at my wife and kids over something minute and trivial as we made our way to the restaurant last night.
It set the tone for a short time before we entered the restaurant. Tears, hurtful words, and frustration was flying every which way. I had finally broken after a choice I had made, that was jokingly ridiculed by our kid, that turned me into a guy who was clinching the steering wheel, yelling out some ‘choice words’, and making my family feel terrible. Yep, I broke. Yes, I handled it the wrong way. I made an instant, poor decision, that momentarily ruined everyone’s vacation. There was a lot of silence after we finally collected ourselves and walked into the restaurant. I really started to have trouble holding myself together. It was all that I could do to hold back tears. I was thinking about the frustration of the day, the anxieties of traffic, and the past. The past, that was full of these same patterns that had left my family full of pain. It was a very common thing for me to react with hostility in minor situations of difficulty as I was being introduced to the family life. My wife already had three children, and I had none, and it took a while for me to learn how to adjust to a new life. A life that included others, instead of just my spoiled-self. I would often blow up over new challenges that were introduced along the way. My anger back then was out of control, for a number of reasons. It took me many years of learning how to balance everything, and it is still a challenge at times. The progress is still an ongoing process. I have no excuse for losing it last night. I could have gotten out of the car and walked around. Taking a walk, or getting away to collect my thoughts, has been a very effective way of resetting when reaching a point of breaking. But, that didn’t happen, and all hell broke loose.
After a short, silent beginning to our dining experience, conversation returned to normal. We moved on from the painful moments that had just occurred, and got on with our time together. We enjoyed some conversation, a delicious meal, and returned to our beautiful dwelling. I had apologized to everyone for being a jerk, and quickly went to bed for the evening. My wife came into the room as I was going to bed, and we exchanged a few loving words.
There are a lot of challenges that have filled my life. It is not a real easy thing for me to change the ways that have developed over the years. The harmful learned behaviors of my childhood have bled into the years of manhood, and are still crippling my loving relationship with others, myself and the Lord. But, this is what I am remembering, right now…
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. – James 1:2-4 (NKJV)
Here is what I know…
He calms the storm, so that its waves are still. -Psalm 107:29 (NKJV)
I have, and will make many mistakes along this path of the unknown. All that I can do is learn from my mistake, move on, and quickly return to His love. I must always remember that the merciful God of creation; maker of the peaceful shores, designer of the tranquil waters, and the holder of the crashing waves, walks beside me. The loving God, who will, “have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities,” and will, “cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19 NKJV), will always return me to His place of peace.