Photo Credit: Sandy Normand
One of my favourite things about being a kid was being held. Children have the advantage in being held because they are small enough to fit into their parents’ arms, into window sills and closets, and into all the best hiding spots. Most of us outgrow the places that hold us in childhood, but none of us outgrow the need to be held.
Without noticing the day passing, I grew too big for the bottom of the linen closet, too tall for fitting in Mom’s lap, and too heavy for Dad to toss me in the air and catch me. Along the road to growing into adulthood, I picked up a resistance to being small and a fear of being in need. I would far rather have the answers than say I do not know; I am more comfortable helping others than being helped. In all my boldness, I have become shy about taking the time to be held.
There is something about the invitation at the end of a dock to dive, breathless, into the hold of water, cold and clean, completely encompassing. The active push of my feet off the dock met equally by total reception. To be held up by water, buoyant, rather than annoyed.
Change has been my constant companion for almost a year now, and several times I have been faced with a simple and sincere question in the midst of it: “Are you okay?” (Denial is one of my favourite ways to avoid being held, so I reserve the possibility that I will tell this story differently in several years, with more clarity.) Each whisper of those words has propelled me inward, to sit deeply with God, to ask the question to the source, the One who knows me better than I know myself.
Strangely, I am well. I am full to the brim with life and all its many possibilities, blessings, and challenges. I am tired and waking rested for the first time in years. I am walking the dog and visiting with my biggest little in the mornings. My days are spent pouring everything I have into my people and my longings and my passion. And I am being held.
I think maybe the miracle of the last year is that I have learned, at least a little, to seek out being held precisely in the spaces where it is most difficult to do so. It feels a bit awkward sometimes, like climbing into an unfamiliar hammock which may not be tied to the same tree when I awake from a nap. It has been unsettling and comforting at the same time.
For maybe the first time in fifteen years in the arms of the same man, I am letting go into him. He is holding me, not just to communicate love, but also in a way that makes it possible for me to do life. His hold gives me rest and possibility.
When the sun is shining, I am ignoring my allergies and going out to lay in the sun right down on the grass or the sand. Creation is a miraculous healer, and letting the earth bear the weight of my world is a sweet relief. Minutes with my fingers clinging to an aging young mother and my hair tangled in the grass does more for me than days with my lists and strategies for efficiency.
Depression awakened me to just how easy it is for me to isolate myself, to withdraw from the circles of support I have when I need them most. I have been setting phone dates and squeezing in visits, even if they must be short. I am calling when I need to be held by the sound of their voices, to hear them say the things I already know and the things I had forgotten. I have been grounded in my chaos by the way that their friendship and love transcends this season of my life, that their voice and presence has been constant when other things fall away.
Our big littles are swimmers, and every week I watch the two of them jump fearless into the pool to learn to swim, totally unaware of the ways that they are holding me. The keep me tethered to what really matters in this world when I would so easily go off wandering in search of something I already have: the deep love of being with and for each other. Three little people’s hunger brings me back to the kitchen, to eat and drink and share. Their waking in the night ties me to bedtime. Their need for play holds me back from working too much and too long.
I think I am well enough, if only because I am letting myself be held enough. To be held is to know just how small and insignificant I am at the same time that I am reminded how I can be someone else’s whole world. In this season of change, I have felt lost but always led. I have been held by a God whose arms and heart and mercy I cannot outgrow. His hands and chest have beating hearts and UV rays. I am being held by a God whose love can handle the headlong way I seem to need to dive into being held, as if off the dock-end of my own strength.
So, who (or what) holds you?