Kara’s Collection: Pixy Dust, Pain, and the Tension of Reality

From an article originally posted November 4, 2013…

Life is lived in tension. I have always wondered at the thrill of fear, but after experiencing Disneyland for the first time, I understand. Some dear friends, some strangers, and a volleyball team made it possible for us to sneak away this week. We played on the beach, we giggled endlessly with family, we enjoyed our grandparents, and we decided to spend two days in Disney. It was never on my radar of things to do, but after an oppressively hard month, we needed a break.

What is so compelling about fear? What is the stomach knotted fear that keeps everyone coming back for more? In each ride, in each new world/setting, an element of darkness was at play. My daughter put it well after she conquered one ride she was afraid of in Disney. Mommy, I feel a little more courageous now that I tried that, let’s go do something hard. Isn’t that interesting? Isn’t that us? We are all desperately afraid of hard, but once we face it, we find a new joy we had not known in our life.

Every night on vacation, I have fallen asleep in the exhaustion of a day well spent enjoying this state and our children. Every morning, I wake, I remember my story, I’m often gripped with fear, as though I’m on a ride of unbelievable proportion. I embrace my reality, invite Jesus to walk with me (even though He never needs an invitation once His Holy Spirit is present; the invitation is my reminder), and I humbly brave my day. I have moments so crushing at times I want to fall into fierce tears, but once the ride is over, the day is done, I recount my story, there is a thrill in walking with Jesus through my ride of a story. I believe it surprises people to enter the normalcy of our house. There are kisses, there are crushing hugs, but there is also tension, fussing, and discouragement. Mostly, there is life lived in the mundane, life desperately trying to embrace faith in the messiness of our daily living.

Disneyland was not a break from that tension—it was a mirror to it. Shocking joy paired with crushing darkness. Moments of victory in overcoming a fear, and moments of regret for possibly pushing our kids past what was their fear limit. Cancer has been lived in that tension. The tension of possibly asking too much, sharing too openly, wanting to protect our children from suffering. That is not the story written for our children, and I have desperate times of wishing it were: I believe the heart of every parent is for their kids to not struggle. The heart of us all is to desire comfort, ease, freedom from fear, but that option does not exist for us. The longer I live, the more I think that’s not a reality for anyone. Maybe a life of ease and comfort is the darkness, and the life clinging desperately to Jesus in the midst of suffering is living in light. And yet, I have days where I’m desperate for another story, but in the quiet of evening, I see grace, I know Jesus anew, I see where my children have been kept, and I know this simple story of mine is good.

I cried through the parade at Disneyland. The pageantry was amazing, the colors vivid, the music utterly memorable. I watched my youngest enraptured, and watched my oldest sneaking ever forward from a place of disinterest to amazement, I cried at the make believe I know we longed to enjoy, to embrace, to sneak away to for a moment. All of us. To escape our present tension, our nail biting story, to swap it for some pixy dust and run away to Neverland, for just a moment. To have that spoon full of sugar to help our story go down.

We run to things for an escape: drinking, talking, lusts of our heart, Disneyland, for a hope of a break from our fears and anxiety, and they often become a bright, magnified mirror to them. We want to call our suffering a mistake, we want to rewrite the good story written uniquely for us. When the scene change happens, and the pain comes we struggle to run to Jesus, and we chase after immediate fixes, numbing avoidances, or desperate anger.

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
— Hebrews 2:10

If it is true that our salvation was accomplished on a tree, and that ease isn’t always for our good, can we walk peacefully in our hard, clinging to a Jesus that understands suffering? This away for our family has been bliss, but I realized it’s not an escape. It’s a beautiful time to connect, pray through our story, seek Jesus, and look for the lighted path before us. California could not change our story, it simply gave us a moment to exhale and enjoy one another. It did not have the power to change my cellular makeup and rewrite our story.

But if I were offered a hit of pixy dust, I would happily enjoy flight with my family! So what are the temptations you run to in your struggle: Drinking, eating, reading, avoiding? How can you invite Jesus to walk with you instead of keeping Him at a controlled distance?