What to Do When You're Running in Circles
By Kendall Emmert
Hear Him Louder Essay Series: Kendall's Story
My heart rate was up and my mind was spinning through fix-it scenarios as I frantically made phone calls to people who were responsible for this mess.
I didn’t even notice that I was pacing all over my backyard, cell phone in hand. The boy who had been living with us for two years had just committed a terrible crime and would be put into a juvenile lockdown facility soon. His absent mother hadn’t communicated with him in five years. His father was an addict, unreachable. And I was told by the people who had asked us to bring him into our home, “We’re sorry, it’s Friday and our offices will be closing soon, so you deal with it until Monday.”
I was screaming a crazy, maniacal scream of injustice in my mind. As I slowed my pacing and became aware of my surroundings again, I found myself standing at the edge of my garden.
A few days before, I had driven to my friends’ homes with small bouquets of hydrangeas I’d gathered from my yard. I’d shared them as a reminder that when knees are hurting from kneeling, fingernails are broken off and full of dirt, and arms and hands are covered in small cuts from attempts to bring life out of soil, the blooms are worth the work.
And that included the life of this teenage boy that had been placed in our home. I had been working his soil for two years, watering it with sweat and tears, attempting to repair roots that had been ripped up and exposed so many times.
You should know, I am compulsive when it comes to pulling weeds. I often have to resist going out to the garden, because most likely, I would end up being late and arriving dirty to whatever demand is upon me from the four-teenager-schedule to which I’m bound.
Today, I didn’t care. I was drowning in rage.
Ninety-eight degrees, cute outfit, newly painted nails, and sweat rolling down my back? Not an issue! I was going to rip. out. these. weeds. like I wanted to rip out hearts!
I stomped to the shed in cute flats to get my new bargain purchase from Aldi: a plastic bucket with wheels and a handle. Fuming, I jerked it out of the shed and headed back to the weeds that were waiting to be torn from their very life source.
Both hands full of the invasive enemies, I looked into the bucket to hurl weeds inside when I saw it laying at the bottom: a dead mouse.
His little body now just a shell, with a trail of his little, grey hairs plastered to the plastic wall in a perfect circular track. A path of panic after falling in. The slick walls had prevented escape and so, he ran and ran and ran until he couldn’t run anymore.
I just stood there, weeds in hands, sweat smearing mascara, and looked at the evidence of his struggle. As I imagined his ending story, I heard a whisper.
The words weren’t audible. But His words were clear and unmistakable:
I appreciate that you are trying to find beauty in this mess. I’m glad you’re still searching for meaning and for Me, and that you want to encourage others to keep pressing on. But Kendall, honestly, isn’t this dead mouse a more appropriate allegory for the way you feel about life right now?
My anger and frustration turned to laughter, all by myself, in my garden. The last hours of this little mouse’s life, running in panicked circles, losing hair, and finally falling over to die from dehydration and exhaustion was exactly how I felt!
I thanked God for seeing me, for recognizing how much this seriously sucked, and that it really was just too much.
As tears started falling, I knew I was weary from gardening this boy’s life: planting, pruning, hoping for a harvest of good. God was now lifting this responsibility and asking me to return the boy back to Him, the Master Gardener. He was asking me to trust His plans. And He'd gotten my attention, and began healing my soul, by using a garden and a little mouse.
He sees me. He sees us.
O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away…You know everything I do. (Psalm 139: 1-3, NLT)
Photo Credit: Brooke Cagle, Unsplash.
The Hear Him Louder Essay Series is a guest writer series where God's daughters share their stories of hearing God’s whispers in their every day. It’s meant to serve as an encouragement for the times when God feels far and seems quiet. When we read each other’s stories of how He meets us, it reminds and reassures us that He is near. May this series be an invitation for us to listen for His voice together.
Don't miss any posts in this series! Subscribe to receive notifications for each new essay, posted every other Thursday. When you subscribe, you'll receive a link to a FREE five-day devotional (45 beautiful pages!) called, “Closer: Five Days to Hearing God Louder.” Each day features teaching on one posture and a guided journaling section to help us practice taking steps toward hearing God louder in our every day.
Learn more about each of these five postures:
1 | Seek: If I Seek God, Will I Really Find Him?
2 | Know: Will God Speak, Even to Me?
3 | Expect: Can I Expect to Hear God?
4 | Listen: How Do I Listen for God?
5 | Connect: Is God Really Right Here?
New to this series? Check out the rest of the series!
Interested in contributing to the Hear Him Louder Essay Series? The call for submissions opens in January and June. To submit an essay outside of those windows, contact me.
Kendall is the Editor for Legacy Press and provides a full menu of editing services and collaborative writing. She discovered her passion as an English teacher at Tóth Árpád Gimnázium in Debrecen, Hungary. Together with her husband, Andy, she served as a missionary in West Africa for seven years. Three children later, she returned to the States as a homeschool mom for thirteen years and co-founded 2:52, a local co-op of homeschool families.
As a freelance editor, she has written and edited for several nonprofit organizations, as well as worked alongside published authors.
Kendall also leads a yearly retreat called Time to Breathe, where she invites women to step back and refocus on their faith. She graduated with a degree in English from the University of Missouri and pursued her graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago.