I stood unraveling, helplessly losing control, gasping for air, for salvation, for relief, for rescue.

How can this be happening? My mind rushed hurriedly like the rabbit on Alice in Wonderland, scurrying to and fro not knowing exactly where it is going, but knowing it has to go. My heart pounded so loud I was sure the five other people but fifteen feet from me could hear it. I quickly glanced up, looked at their face to make sure they were not looking back at mine and, when seeing they were not, slipped out of the room as the tears came.

As far as I knew no one I loved was dying, in pain, or hurting but when you have fear as the ribbon tying your heart together, a little thing---like someone not answering their phone or a frightening television show---can untie that string with a vengeance that unleashes all sorts of hell and chaos on a soul.

And there I was, with my unraveling heart, unraveling on that rainy day.

Suddenly, like an afterthought, a second goodbye, an okay-I-know-this-is-the-first-date-but-I-am-still-going-to-kiss-you, I heard this phrase: "No speculation until the declaration."

Words of wisdom given to me by a friend who was speaking to a heart that was swooning for a boy who had yet to make known his intention, but nevertheless were useful in this very different circumstance.

No speculation until the declaration. I said aloud. I will not fear what may or may not have happened, I will not dwell on what has not yet become known, I will not worry when for all I know everyone is good and well.

And then, like a second afterthought, a third goodbye, an okay-dinner-was-great-and-that-kiss-was-lovely-so-lets-just-go-grab-some-coffee-and-pretend-tonight-will-never-end, I heard my Maker's words, those words I had spent the past few days memorizing, reciting to myself and mulling over: "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."*

My mind fluttered back to high school English class. To the lessons on diction and how using absolutes (always, everything, never, nothing) was a danger for as soon as you say, "You should always wait twenty minutes after eating to go swimming" someone could counter with an exception.

But apparently God is not afraid of these absolutes for he knows there are no exceptions. Rejoice always. You car just broke down? Rejoice. You lost your job? Rejoice. Your friend and you got in a horrid fight? Rejoice. You and your wife are going through a rough patch? Rejoice.

Rejoice. Always.

In everything give thanks, he commands. You got a bad grade on the term paper? Be thankful. You were late to work? Be thankful. Stuck in traffic? Be thankful.

In everything give thanks. Rejoice always.

No exceptions, no ifs, ands, or buts, no rejoice unless your date goes sour, no give thanks unless you have had a rotten day. Rejoice. Be thankful.

But how can I, God? I asked. Something terrible, awful, could have happened to this person I care so deeply for and you want me to rejoice and give thanks? What if something truly is wrong? What if they are hurt, in an ambulance to the hospital, what if... I could barely say the words. What if... they die?

"Rejoice always." I heard. "In everything give thanks for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

In light of pain and brokenness and death and abandonment and poverty and rejection and hurt and loneliness I can not grasp this God-command, this unfathomable direction to be grateful in such dire circumstances. And then I think of what my life, your life, humanity, this universe revolves around: giving Jesus the glory. Yes, even if someone doesn't realize, accept or come to terms with the fact that all of life is about Jesus, it still is all about Jesus. And I must trust unreservedly his ways and his power and his doings. For I want his name known and if his name is known in a happy, everyone is healthy life I praise him. And if his name is known in a painful, world turned upside down trial of a life I praise him.

So I rejoiced; for all I have been given so far in this beautiful, fragile life of mine. All of this life I do not deserve. This grace of salvation I in no way deserve. My family, this specific loved one, I do not deserve. I do not deserve to have experienced their love and affection for so long (at all, truly). So I thanked him for my time with this person, all the while praying "without ceasing" that my assumptions were inaccurate and this person was well.

Of course, even in my feeble attempts to be grateful, panic was still stuck in my throat.

I remembered the old parable of the priest who had fallen off a cliff and somehow managed to grab a rope before landing on a mass of rocks below him. To his horror, though, the rope above was beginning to split and soon would be no good at all. In this moment before death he saw a strawberry growing on a ledge of this mountain. He picked it and ate claiming it to be the best strawberry of his life.

This man, though facing his eminent death, let himself live in the moment and savor the present. I had to do that too in this stricken filled moment.

So I picked up the small baby at my feet who was staring quizzically at my sobbing face and began to slow dance with her in my arms. I hugged her tight, thanking God for her life and her wonder and her curiosity. I went into the room I had just left and turned on some old eighties music and sung sappy love songs with everyone.

And then I got the call. The call that my worrisome heart was being silly. That my loved one was safe and happy and wonderful and had just misplaced her phone. I called the others who had also been worrying over her and we sighed in relief.

And as I hung up the phone, thanking God, I was at rest in this truth of becoming: I am learning to be content whatever the circumstances... I can do all things through him who gives me strength.**

*1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
** Philippians 4:11-13

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