how to live through the breaking waves of stress, life, and grief

When I feel like we’re drowning in it all a bit, our daughter, Hope and I, we go up to the lake and feel the waves pound,  feel the serene fury of water.

Feel the waves breaking against the earth and it quakes the inner cochlear and there’s nothing else to hear but the breaking.

Hope stands there with wind blowing strands of hair across her face, the electrical energy of each breath of wet, briny air sparking something in her.

“Is there anything lovelier, really, than the way waves keep touching the shore no matter what tries to keep pulling it away?”  I lean into her, point down the  foaming shoreline. Say it over the sound of the wind, of the crashing surf.

Hope tucks her hair behind her ear, “Love’s like waves — keeps reaching out no matter what tries to keep pulling it away.”

Her and I stand there in the battering of the elements, watching waves, watching how the light catches in water, how the waves move like the earth’s own pulse — like our own heartbeat.

“You know — a pool isn’t like this.” I say it slow, watching the waves, seeing it for the first time:  “It has no power, no life — because it has no breaking of waves Strange how that is: It’s in the breaking, there is life.”

What did my husband say again and again? “Never be afraid of being a broken thing… Unless a seed breaks, there is no life.”

All down the shoreline, right at our feet, the waves keep crashing and breaking… and living.

Hope slips her arm through mine. Her hair’s blowing into mine.

All life losses break us, break through us, scar us. I want them not to.

Frankly, there are days I’d like to hide my scars and the jagged edges of my brokenness, days when I wish there were no marks to bear. But if losses don’t leave their mark — how can we say we were ever marked or shaped by love?  Scars can be signs that show the way we loved.

Sometimes… If your scars are deep  — so was your love.

And, it’s true — Scar tissue is stronger than original skin ever is. Scars are where the strength gets in — our breaking is where our strength gets in.

And scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

Hope’s hand rests on mine.

“Maybe I just gotta make my heart get tougher?” She turns toward me.

And I get it, I hear her heart, the way the girl beats. When tough things keep coming at you — you think you have to get tougher. 

I say it quietly, not sure she hears me over the waves? “Hearts that get tougher — leave you with nothing of value to give.”

Love is what we have to give —- and love comes from places that are vulnerable and soft and tender enough to feel — to break.

Only those who are really vulnerable enough to be broken —  get to be the ones who really love.

It can be that when you feel broken — it’s proof that you’ve given.

Is there anything greater than living heart broken wide open and given?

Hope pulls my hand high, and we both stand there with our hands flung up into the winds, beckoning the crashing waves.

Who understands the language of waves?

Life, fears, losses, grief, stresses — it all keeps coming like waves.

You can feel like you’re drowning — everything you need to hold on to, breaking up all around you.

And I don’t even realize I’m saying it out loud.

When you’re hit by the breaking waves, break deep.”

You’ve got three options when the breaking waves of life, fears, grief, stresses, hit — when you feel like you’re drowning.

You can either let fear make you fight hard — but fear never makes you safe, fear just makes you fall — and fall hard.

Fear always makes you fall and no one can outrun a breaking wave.

Or, secondly, you can fall back on your pride and try to brace against that wave breaking over you — and it will break you.

Pride goes before the breaking. 

When you’re driven hard by the waves of life, it’s tempting to be driven by either pride or fear.

But this could happen — and there could be a breaking free of fears, breaking free of pride.

When you’re hit with a breaking wave —- you can break deep.

You can break deep into that breaking wave and let yourself be moved by Living Water and transformed and formed by Christ and remade by the rising current of His Love.

The only way through the breaking waves — is to break deep into the wave.

Open your arms wide and give yourself to the wave. 

Forget fighting the waves, forget bracing against the waves — give yourself to the waves, surrender and breathe and break deep into the waves.

The only way through a wave breaking over you is to break deep into the roiling water and and dive down into the depths and stretch out both arms through the fathoms and and let yourself be made into the shape of a Cross.

This is how you float, this is how you stay alive. Stretch out both arms, live formed like a cross, and break into the waves.

That’s all there is: You can either be broken by fear or broken by pride — or you can break into the surrendered, cruciform shape of Christ.

When you break deep into the breaking waves, arms stretched out like a cross — you find yourself in what they call the “cushion of the sea.”

Far beneath the breaking waves, beneath the crashing storm of things, there is a space, a stillness of the sea that doesn’t ever stir. That’s never disturbed. 

Break into a shape of a cross, arms out-stretched and surrendered, and break deep into the breaking waves — and you break into the deep, deep peace of God. In the midst of the storms — live shaped like a cross, arms broken wide open, and you can break into the the still cushion of the sea. 

Break deep. Break deep and roll.

I turn to Hope — there can be this feeling of being  baptized. You can live through the breaking waves.  You can break deep, break open wide and roll. What feels like surrender –  this can feel like freedom.

When you’re in over your head, you touch the depths of God.

Break deep. Break deep and roll.



People? So this is really happening. Tonight. And I need you.

Need you to be there, you & all your people.
Need us to do this together. Need you to write it down, set an alarm right now?
Counting on you for tonight on my Facebook? Because tomorrow morning? Fox & Friends?
And all these things in NYC that a farm girl needs her people for? Stay close — please? Be on Facebook tonight at 8pm?
And tell me, tell us all, how you’re being brave right now? We really need each other… share your courage — please?
P.S. So counting on you tonight over on Facebook. Bring your people too — we all need to right now take the dare to the abundant life together.

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