So we’re back in the thick of it, aren’t we? Gone are those sweet days of summer, those sips of iced drinks beside blue water, those mornings of bed head and sweatpants lasting til noon, those evenings that stretch on and on. I don’t know what stage of life you’re in or whether the shift of summer to fall changes the practical workings of your little world one iota. I don’t know if your summer included zero trips to the pool and a hundred drives to the office. But I have a feeling you, in your own way, are also mourning the loss of yet another summer as we all jump back into the swing of things yet again.
I have big dreams for the school year. Dreams like embracing my daily life, living the hours to the fullest, and not waking up each morning with the countdown till Friday running through my head. This is the year I’m going to stay on top of all the adult-y things and pack grown-up lunches for us to take to work. But then real life happens and there I am – stumbling to the coffee pot in the wee hours of the morning, mentally ticking off the mornings remaining until Saturday arrives. There I am – dreaming of Netflix marathons while I’m at work. There I am filling our lunchbox with hot pockets instead of green things. There I am waking up on a Monday morning and realizing that, horror of horrors, I finished the last of the coffee yesterday.
We got to the thick of things real quick this year.
Tell me, how is your thick life? I hope, for the sake of the coffee supply in this world, you aren’t also downing your third cup by 7 a.m. That you wake up as energized and excited about the day ahead as you imagined you would be back in July when school schedules were only hypothetical. I hope you love your Tuesdays as much as your Saturdays. I hope you’ve found a place to breathe in the thick of things.
But if you’re not, I have a word for you: you are not alone.
We’re all trudging through some kind of thickness.
Twelve hour work days and uncooperative children and dishes piled high and bills to pay and trying to navigate through the complexities of the human soul while staying on top of all those little tasks that have to be done but never are quite finished.
It is amazingly easy to get entirely wrapped up with our own little world, don’t we?
Two weeks ago I flew across the globe to the Netherlands. Every face I saw was new, every word I heard accented. I remembered that the world is wide and vast and there billions of beautiful, crazy people living in a million beautiful, crazy cities. And my own small life, the one that gets so heavy and thick on my own shoulders, is weightless to them. No one noticed the day I flew out of Amsterdam. They had life to attend to. A life in which I mattered a total of negative nothing. I’m not saying this to depress or humiliate. It’s just true. We are small people living in a big world. Though you may get lost in your thick world it is only a sliver, a fraction, the tiniest speck you can imagine.
I sat on the airplane for ten hours, thirty thousand feet above this immense planet, realizing how very much more there was to life than my own realm.
And there, flying through clouds and air too thin to breathe, I saw the world for how it was: vast and incomprehensible. And I saw myself for who I am: small, yet deeply loved.
Occasionally we break out of our thick lives into thin places – mountain tops, forested retreat centers, commercial jets flying us home. We get a second to breathe, a second to break out of the suffocating lifestyle that is based entirely upon our puny lives. We see how big God is, how big His world is. We see our own minuscule life and at the same time we understand the enormity of the truth that we are His beloved.
So yeah, life is thick. I know just as well as you that it is easy to get caught in all the fog that the busyness of right now – the rushing to carpool, the aggravating traffic, the tedium of daily work that is boring you to death and sucking your soul, the problems that pile up, each feeling heavier than the last. It is easy to live in the thickness and forget there is anything else.
But here is this: there are thin places everywhere. Find them, search for them like your life depends on it. Because the one thing that will save your September is the inhaling of thin air, the inhaling and acceptance of our smallness. And the exhaling of a soul released into lightness.