I am radiant with joy because of your mercy, for you have listened to my troubles and have seen the crisis in my soul. (Psalm 31:7 TLB)
Little did I know that when I woke up Sunday morning, I would be facing a crisis in my soul. I was enjoying a quiet morning on our porch swing; reading and writing thoughts and intentions in my journal. Thinking about all the fun travels ahead that we’ve planned to enjoy the end of the summer season. My husband was doing yard work, and came up to the porch to see if I could help him with moving our boat into the spot we prepared to store it next to our house. I agreed to help.
As the humidity rose, so did our frustration because the truck wheels kept spinning out and we couldn’t move the boat as far into the yard, as we had hoped.
Finally, we came to the conclusion that we had done all we could, and were satisfied that the boat was where it was going to stay for the time being. While we were going in for lunch, my intuition (also the name of our boat) kicked into gear, and I started inquiring of my husband if he thought there might be water inside the boat cabin, since we really hadn’t checked in awhile, and we’ve had a LOT of rain this summer. He was hot and tired, and the timing and approach of my questions were falling short. I tried to hear him, and he tried to hear me, but our words and intentions were getting their wires crossed. Finally, he understood me to mean that I wanted to see if there was water in the boat. But by then for some reason my soul was hurt, and I was on the verge of tears. But my intuition prodded me to climb into the boat and investigate, even though logic and humidity argued against my desire.
I unlocked the cabin door, and stepped into a puddle of water. And to our dismay, and with a weight of sorrow beyond explanation, I cried out to him that the cabin was covered in mildew. Mold on the seat cushions, mildew all over the wood trim, and one of our baskets was no longer brown, but fuzzy and gray. Ugh!
I wish I could say that I valiantly ran into the house to get cleaning supplies or to research how to eradicate mildew from a boat, instead I ran to my bed and sobbed. I wanted to sell the boat, and discard ten years of happy memories. Once during my tirade, I even shouted, I know you think I’m being irrational! And my sweet, patient husband who was investigating the solution to our troubles, answered, “Ok.”
After a LOT of blubbering, I pulled myself together enough to listen to what needed to be done. Everything was to be pulled out of the boat. We would need to clean off the mildew on the cushions and other items with a vinegar and water solution or a bleach product for the tough stains. Then we’d have to clean the boat. Let it air out and put the cushions and fabric life vests in the sun. (Of course the forecast called for rain, which mercifully skirted us, AND it was hot and humid.) We’d do one thing, like unload the boat, then I’d cry again. Then we cleaned the stuff, which didn’t seem as hard as I imagined it would be. We decided to save the boat cleaning for the next couple days. We finished, showered, went out to eat and pick up more cleaning supplies and a fan to air out the boat.
I wish I knew exactly what was going on with my soul. Partly, I have prided ourselves on keeping the boat mildew free these many years. Partly, the mildew freaked me out, and reminded me of ruin and neglect. And partly, the boat is my haven, my retreat, my happy place and it FELT like it was being ruined by the mildew attack. And partly, it just seemed like an unnecessary disruption of life.
However in the midst of the distress, I found a strange joy in working through it, and in rational moments realized what a mercy it was that my intuition prompted me to even think about checking on the boat. In a couple weeks we are heading to a boat rally, and we may not have opened up the boat until the weekend before, leaving us little to no time to clean it up, and most likely the damage may have been worse. Thankfully, the interior of our boat is fiberglass, with no carpeting or fabric on the walls, making it much easier to wipe down the surfaces with mildew cleaner.
Joy comes in the mourning, and in the morning. Today, I feel better and relieved that the clean-up is progressing. And our Intuition will not be on the market anytime soon. That was an irrational moment. But how distress can distort our true source of joy and happiness! The boat isn’t my only happiness. My joy comes from knowing that God delights in me, and can handle all my intuitive and impulsive reactions to life. And I’m grateful for a husband who sees through my irrational tears and just says, “Ok,” because really it IS all okay, even when mildew happens.
How do you handle distress? Can you see mercy in the midst of troubling times? Where do you find joy?