Those Elusive Hard-to-Hold-Ontos


As defined by Google Search, when Blah is used as an exclamation it is: Used to substitute for actual words in contexts where they are felt to be too tedious or lengthy to give in full.

Yep, that pretty much sums up my response to the question, “How are you?”

How am I?

Truthfully? Much like Toad from the beloved children’s book series of Frog and Toad, I want to sit on a log and simply reply, “Blah.” Because that is the epitome of my emotions of late. To take the time to share my thoughts would seem too tedious a task. Too tiresome.

So if it’s just the same to you, a simple Blah should suffice, thank you very much.

I feel as though I’m losing the battle of chasing and holding onto so many things. Important things. Things like hope, rest, peace, truth, joy.

Those necessary and oh-so-hard-to live-without yet oh-so-hard-to-hold-ontos.

Similarly to children chasing flitting butterflies, the joy of the challenge wears thin when the butterfly refuses to settle. Much like my own restless heart.

The harder I work to possess those hard-to-hold-ontos, the easier they appear to live up to their name. Elusively slipping just beyond my reach, settling for mere seconds before departing again for greener pastures. And I can’t say that I blame them. I’ve not exactly provided them a pleasant place of welcome.

Reminiscent of this summer’s strange weather patterns, I just can’t seem to find my niche with God lately. What starts out as a promising forecast of warm and sunny, craftily morphs into a wet and dreary – dumping gallons of water on my already weary, saturated heart. And the garden of my soul withers and yellows with the soaking of too much.

Just. Too. Much.

Upon returning from India a few days ago, my son innocently asked, “What happened to your garden?” One glance at what normally would be a vibrant and lush patch of veggies and herbs reveals the unsettling effects of this year’s cycling bout with too much wet, then scorching dry, then too much wet again. The withered and yellowed plants, the bare patches, the crumbling leaves… all give evidence to produce that is producing at minimal level.

No matter that I’m still investing hours of time weeding, planting, and caring for my beloved patch of soil and foliage. The harvest has been stunted. And no amount of toil can bring it back to what it once was, what it is capable of producing.

Only a new planting season will reveal the full potential of the seeds. Only time will bring a healing.

And my heart follows suit. I feel as though anyone glancing my way can see the stark and glaring proclamation of too much that is draining the life from my harvest. And while I look to the heavens for that beam of sunlight, I get the torrential downpour instead. Hoping for hope, I latch onto despair. Looking for joy, I reap yet another turn of bad news. Fleeing for quiet, I am bombarded with noise.

I share these thoughts today because I know there are others who are being drenched not with blessings, but with trials. I have friends who are grasping for sunlight and turning up shadows. Looking for a calm and reaping the whirlwind. Perhaps you are one of them, as well.

I don’t have the ability to control the weather patterns of this life, nor do I have the capacity to look to the heavens and grasp joy to myself for keeps.

Because sometimes life is hard and hurt weighs heavy. Sometimes the answers we seek are not the solutions we are given. Sometimes the thorn remains, and we must continue to live with the pain.

Sometimes those hard-to-hold-ontos settle for much too fleeting a moment.

Yet in the midst of the whirlwind, God is. In the torrential downpours of life and in the beams of sunshine, He stands fast. Immovable. Unshakeable. Simply Himself. Completely and fully God. Capable. Sure. Eternal.

Though the shadows of life try to hide Him from view, His presence remains.

As surely as the sunrise and the sunset and all the moments that meet to connect the two, God is.

When you’re faced with another round of grasping for those hard-to-hold-ontos, perhaps the best thing to do is stop grasping and allow yourself to be grasped. No matter if your own hands are empty or filled with pain, He is holding onto you.

May that truth be enough to steady you on your journey through both the sunshine and the rain.

That’s what I want. To feel alive even in the midst of the messiness of every day life—even through the storms and the changing seasons and what they don’t bring. Because these branches in my heart will always be reaching toward the sky, bare and begging, hoping for some kind of new life waiting in the next breath. -Elora Nicole



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