Maxim of The Year: The Fog Always Rises

Kara Lawler is a mother, wife, teacher who grew up in and lives again in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania, part of the Appalachian Mountain Range.  After struggling with depression and anxiety, Kara remembered and accepted her identity—the person God made her.  Kara loves children, animals, and drinks her coffee on her porch every morning, no matter the weather, so she can admire the mountain view and listen to her rooster, Henry, greet the dawn. It’s a grace to welcome Kara to the farm’s front porch today…

guest post by Kara Lawler

Memory’s fog is rising.

~Emily Dickinson

When life feels heavy, sometimes it’s hard to remember that eventually the fog rises and lifts over the mountains.

I never paid much attention to the patterns of the fog until I embarked on what would become a life-changing and horrible bout with anxiety and depression that ultimately became a true reckoning in a coming-to-Jesus moment.

It was a bending of the knee, a breaking of will that finally resulted in various forms of help, yet as hard as it was, in it I found the power of pain, recovery, and the promise of the sun peeking through the fog.

One day, when I was practicing one of my very favorite stilling practices to escape my own mind—walking through the fields across from our house—I prayed as I walked and begged for help, the fog only just lifting away from the grass.

At one point, I felt a brief peace wash over me and a thought crossed my mind: the fog always rises.

With those words, I have embraced how to live, despite the fact that I can’t control everything, especially the lifting of the fog and the eventual revelation of the sun.

It seems simple, but so many of us try to control things that are simply beyond our control.

Struggles actually can advance us on the path of seeing beauty again and finding God and, for me, discovering who I really am.

Like the birds I listen to every morning, I have learned to sing, even during the difficult times.

Sometimes, it’s by walking into that very mist that we grow in ways we never would have otherwise.

Sometimes, it’s through what becomes the fog’s reprieve that we can appreciate the blaze of the sun.

A few years ago, in the depths of this struggle, there was only one place I wanted to go: to my childhood home and to the clearing behind it, wondering if the clearing was still the way I remembered it.

My parents sold the house in 1996, but that didn’t stop me from driving the forty-five minutes from where I live with my own family now to the dirt road that house sits on and walking on the road in front of the house.

My dream was to get to the clearing tucked back behind the house. I wondered what the clearing would look like to me, at that time, a woman in her late thirties.

I went to the back road by my old house whenever the opportunity presented itself, often even unexpected to me, and I walked up and down the road, stopping to pick up decaying black walnuts in green casings—“stink bombs” we used to call them.

I marveled at the total silence, the memory of what it was to be a kid enshrouded by trees, and as I walked, I questioned if this was the place I could find myself:

What is missing from my life? Maybe I can find God on this road, by this small creek, meeting me on these walks if I only allow Him?

Maybe I can get to the clearing again, if I could only gain the courage to?

Maybe I can find myself? Maybe I can remember who I once was?

And that’s what my walks became on those late summer days that turned into the frigid days of November—a place to meet God, a place I felt just a little bit okay, a place I could catch my breath, a place I could remember who I once was, a place that seemed to whisper, “Yes, this is holy enough. I’ll meet you here.”

And God did meet me there, amid the dusty air of the breeze.

After these visits to the road by my old house, I would return, saying a prayer that I could be the mother my children deserved and would be able to get it together enough until they were fast asleep.

Intermittently, I’d get relief.

One day, after a horrible three weeks, I found myself singing, something I love to do and something my children have come to expect from me. I was singing and Matt smiled at me, surprised to hear it.

When I saw his surprise and realized the sound was coming from my own mouth, I smiled back. And I knew, despite what happened, that I’d be okay.

The song, coupled with the smile, was a brief reprieve from heartbreaking worry and soul-crushing fear. It was the confirmation that I could carry on—just like you, no matter what you are facing.

One day, I was walking outside with my daughter, Maggie, by then two, and realized I was able to focus on her for the first time in over a month.

At first, I was sad and started to berate myself with thoughts of all I hadn’t done, hadn’t noticed, hadn’t been able to be, but then I just stood and stared at her, committed to notice now.

Her ringlets had gotten longer and now fell past her shoulders. How? When? How hadn’t I noticed?

When she held up a purple flower, the lavender of the flower complemented the hint of lavender in her blue eyes. She looks so pretty in purple, one of my most favorite colors to see.

I knew it was confirmation of my calling to be her mother — to notice color, to breathe in the faces of my children like air.

I tucked the flower in her hair, and she smiled at me and said, “Mommy, do you want to run?”

She took off, her suddenly long curls bouncing as she ran.

I chased her up the mountain, watching her curls against the backdrop of all the lush green of a fall not yet upon us.

 

Kara Lawler is a writer and teacher whose work has been featured in various publications and her website where some of her essays have been read millions of times. 

In Everywhere Holy:  Seeing Beauty, Remembering Your Identity, and Finding God Right Where You Are, Kara shows women how to embrace the sacred in the everyday so that they can see the holy and the beautiful — and in the process, discover themselves.

In beautiful prose, she describes the unique sacredness found in God’s creation and offers 15 inspiring insights for cultivating it day-to-day. She encourages you to make this lifestyle change through the observance of small acts. In so doing, you will discover a holy space that honors God and the life you’ve been given–and will discover yourself and your unique place in the holy that is everywhere, whether it’s in the woods behind your house or in the face of a stranger on a bus in a busy city. No matter where you are, there is holy free for the taking.  

[ Our humble thanks to Thomas Nelson for their partnership in today’s devotion ]