I bought a t-shirt, and I’ve been living in it.
Take heart, I whisper to myself when I hear news reports.
Take heart, I murmer again when our rental application is declined.
Take heart, I sob when I hear back after a job interview and I’m not the chosen candidate.
Take heart, I breathe into her hair as my arms wrap around my daughter.
Take heart, I belt out in song in the car, when the sun is shining on a new day.
I know it’s not easy. I know you’re probably facing tough things too.
But taking heart is an active verb, a holding on with both hands.
I’ve (still) been reading through the Psalms. It’s my go-to when I don’t understand, when I don’t have the answers, when my prayers don’t seem to be heard.
Today I read Psalm 73.
Yes! I thought, Yes! The prosperous don’t seem to have any troubles. (v 5) There they are just enjoying life. They don’t have to worry about where they’re going to live, or what will happen if they don’t get a permanent job, or how they’ll pay the mechanic. Yes! Their hearts overflow with follies (v7) because they don’t seem to have anything important to worry about.
The Psalmists just seem to get how I feel. Yes I’m envious. Yes. It feels like I keep my heart clean all in vain! It feels like I keep believing and hoping all for nothing, every morning I’m rebuked—I’m told no to the house, the job. I’m stricken! Yes! (v14)
And always, in the Psalms, I’m given permission to feel.
To feel the envy. To feel stricken. To feel weary.
But then I’m reminded again and again to take heart. It’s not about the here and now.
“But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God” (v 17)
His counsel and wisdom are ours. He holds our hands, continually with us.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.
So I take heart again. Two-handed.
I write lists of what I’m grateful for in the here and now.
I entrust the future to Him.
I do what I can, and breathe prayers as I let it go today and watch the daisies dance on my doorstep.
I bring the little I can, I say yes, I offer my portion, I laugh a little and it loosens the knots in my stomach.
I look around at this, here; look what He’s given me!
I lather on things that smell good; lotions and oils, and I mascara my eyelashes and brush my teeth twice a day, and string up some twinkling lights. I stay up too late reading, I bake bread, and sweep the floor, and hang the laundry. I take fresh sourdough to work and the smell of it fills the workroom; by morning tea it’s almost all gone, and I’ve shared what’s in my hand while I shelf books and make jokes and smile inside that I’m here.
I let go of what I can’t control, and then I take heart and take it hard and fast and refuse to let go.
Because whatever you’re holding tight for will come, and we can simultaneously take heart and let go and dance.
Because if it’s not this messy middle today, it’ll be a different one tomorrow.
Because today is filled with the answered prayers of yesterday so take heart, He’ll overcome again, and again.
And again I’m grateful and the gratitude is what keeps us from sinking.