I heard the lady curse as she reached the bathroom door. F*@#!, she said. She had only just realized, as I had a brief moment before, that the public beach bathroom was now closed for a quick cleaning and that she would have to wait.
I was standing nearby in the sand. My eyes were closed and I was listening to the roar of the waves and the children laughing in the nearby distance. I wiggled my toes in the cool, silky sand. I was KEENLY aware of the pressure in my bladder—but I was even more aware of something much more important:
I was present in this waiting moment for the first time in forever and I felt SO thankful.
It was the day before Mother’s Day and I was already exhausted by the time I finally stumbled up to the bathroom. The usual 1-hour drive to the beach had taken 4 hours. We hit major stop-and-go traffic. And that combined with the 5 food/ bathroom stops along the way, plus the kids’ endless chorus of whining and my now lingering carsickness had left me pretty well spent. It was after we finally crash-landed onto the beach at 6 pm that I realized my need for a bathroom trip.
The day had not gone as I had expected.
So here I was: tired, nauseated, headachy, and waiting near the bathroom with my toes dug deep into the sand. I felt uncomfortable, but I also felt luxuriously happy. I could feel God’s presence as the wind whipped through my hair and caressed my shoulders. A wave of joyful emotion rushed over me that almost brought me to tears. This is real life. The crazy and the sacred all mixed together. I’m so grateful.
I thought back to the earlier morning. My husband and I had such high hopes for a fun early mother’s-day celebration. But then the dog pooped blood all over our carpet and we had to make an emergency trip to the vet. Thankfully, the news from the vet was promising and we ended up back at home with an exhausted dog and an antibiotic. It could have been worse.
We decided to still pursue our earlier beach plans.
But then my favorite coffee shop messed up my latte and as we were driving away with my gross drink—I got some disappointing news on my phone. My happy mood was shot. The bad news plus my marginal coffee seemed to be the cherry on top to an already crappy day that finally pushed me over into the grumped-out zone.
Come on, get it together. You’re bigger than this. Don’t let this steal your joy.
I tried to self-encourage but it wasn’t working. I knew I had to get myself out of this funky mood before it spiraled down even more. I started having second thoughts about our destination and thought maybe we should just go home.
“What are we going to do if we just go home? Work around the house?” my husband asked.
He was right. I knew the potential for family fun was still there if we could just push through a little bit more and make it to our destination. So we did. Four hours later we arrived on the beach, suits on and towels in hand. It was FREEZING. The fact that it was now evening and the lifeguards had already gone off-duty plus the local shark sightings meant we were pretty much beached. We only lasted an hour.
The kids had fun anyway. The Olders made meatballs out of sand and sang goofy songs. The Littles played on the playground adjacent to the beach (because we apparently have NO playgrounds back home). I watched the water and the seagulls. I closed my eyes and listened to the waves. I tasted the salty-sea spray on my lips. And it was enough.
And that epiphanous moment at the bathroom ended up becoming my mother’s day gift. Because as I heard the lady curse, I realized just how far I’d come in my own life and healing. I remembered how conditioned I used to be to the busy maze and pace of life, where the waiting had become more inopportune than the rushing. Life had gotten flipped somewhere along the way. I knew that I too used to be a reactive person that missed out on the joy of the moment.
But not anymore.
I was back.
And this moment was a gift that I savored. It was a time when I could just BE rather than DO. And I purposefully chose to engage in that moment with God.
My Mother’s Day gift:
Being with Him.