I hate roller coasters.
When I was young, I pretended to like them- roller coasters are exciting and young people are supposed to love them. So I kept my real opinion to myself and got into the seat, bolstered my courage and tried to hold my stomach from regurgitating all the junk food I had eaten just before. It was a sham. I hated the whole experience- what should have been anticipation was dread, what could have been a thrill was unmitigated fear, and I tried to pull it off with a nonchalance that I was simply not capable of at that time of my life.
Holidays are an emotional roller coaster for me. There is the preparation and anticipation and then the celebration and then the down time afterward when everyone is recovering from the indulgences and overspending that it takes to pull off a “perfect” holiday.
I have scaled way back in my celebrating style. This is the first year I haven’t sent out cards in 20 years. I only spent what I could afford, and I didn’t go overboard cooking and baking. And yet, I am still experiencing that down time.
I have been alone here in Chincoteague for the last couple of days. Alone and without a car, in a neighborhood that I don’t know, among people I haven’t even met. I am cleaning and readying the house for more family and friends and it is good that I am here, but the silence is becoming thick and the memories faint.
Contemplation is a good thing at the end of the year. Looking back and evaluating, judging the decisions and paths of the last 12 months makes sense and helps one to be wiser in the coming year. But- it is definitely a down time.
Down, down, down the hill, flashing past regrets and disappointments, careening around failures, seeing pictures whisk away before you can really focus, feeling your heart and tummy drop as you head towards the bottom and then slowly starting up the next hill ahead. Making plans, meeting small goals, heading upward with the sure knowledge that as soon as you crest this hill, you will be speeding downwards again.
The joy is that I am not alone. I am in God’s hands, He is in control, and all of my life is of value in His evaluation. He uses me and my circumstances to further His kingdom. And He teaches me to trust, to obey, to keep on walking and to continue on the journey. It is a relationship that I can depend on forever.
The only redeeming thing about roller coaster rides is that they are soon over.
Unlike this journey that I am on that lasts throughout eternity. I am thankful for the road map of the Scripture, the companionship of believers and the Holy Spirit, and the certainty of welcome at the end by my Father. I am thankful that I am in His care and not without hope.
Which is why I am a Christian- I need hope to survive.
“Those whom heaven helps we call the sons of heaven. They do not learn this by learning. They do not work it by working. They do not reason it by using reason. To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven.” – Chuang Tse