“They, too, observed the Lord’s power in action,
his impressive works on the deepest seas. . . .
Let them praise the Lord for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
Let them exalt him publicly before the congregation
and before the leaders of the nation.”
—Psalm 107:23, 31–32
It’s like they tell you it is: It all happens so fast. One day, you’re wiping your sweaty hands on your khaki shorts as your parents drive away from your dorm room, and the next, you’re a senior. One day, you’re having very serious discussions about batting eyelashes and getting butterflies with your best friend, and the next, you’re Pinteresting wedding ideas like it’s your job. One day, you’re moving into an apartment with your favorite people, and the next, you’re preparing to let one go. Blah blah blah, life is like that. And sometimes what you need isn’t another emotional blog post. It’s not a tear-filled conversation with your mother. No, it’s simpler than all of that: it’s two cups of coffee. It’s sand in your sheets. Sunshine on your shoulders. Sea foam on your toes. And those favorite people a beach towel away, calling your name.
Being a grown up isn’t a piece of cake, kids. And since we’re only standing on the horizon of that, we get to do things like pack up our bags and hightail it out of life for a while. As you might be gathering, that is what we did. We took it down to the ocean, and let me tell you, the next time I’m asked, “What is your favorite day?” I’ll actually have an answer. That’s not to say anything particularly monumental happened, though it all seems pretty mighty, but that everything just breezed along so wonderfully that I thought, “Yes, this, this is how I want to be forever.” Wishful thinking, maybe, but for a few days, it was all fun and games. And no one got hurt.
I guess what made it so perfect was the brilliant combination between everything lovely in my life. It started out with a 7 a.m. wakeup call (I’m one of those weird morning people) and a latte or five. And then the fun began.
One of the most incredible things, second maybe only to the shark sighting or the fish tacos, was that every single time I looked at the water, the glory of God shook my soul. I’ve lived life thinking I know all about the glory of God, but I’m finding that the closer I get to Him, the less I can wrap my brain around the wonder that He is.
“I realized I was seeing the brightness of the Lord’s glory! So I bowed with my face to the ground, and just then I heard a voice speaking to me.”
Standing in the waves, staring at the stars, singing love songs to our Savior—moment after moment was stitched with His awesomeness, and I would find myself standing so still, as if the tiniest movement might distract the world from looking at Him. And being caught up in Him like that, with my mind so acutely aware of His significance and sovereignty, grew everything single inch of me (not the same kind of growing that happened from the ice cream eating every night, mind you.) In a word, it was glorious. And I was kidding about the fish tacos maybe being better, although they were really good.
And as we’re partaking in that, running again and again into the ocean to get washed in His truth, we found ourselves together. See, it’s an incredible thing, standing at the edge of the ocean and taking in the glory of God, whispering His name and hearing Him answer, singing to the sky and knowing He could hear you. But there’s another lovely thing called fellowship, I think, or friendship, or “you get me,” or whatever, and we have it. It’s something that pays no attention to miles or life stages or busy schedules, but it does require nurturing. This was a time of just that.
I almost wish I could tell you about the conversations we had—how we were torn apart and then carefully stitched back together by each other. I wish I could write about how we laid out fears and fancies on the table; how we soothed and strengthened those threads between us until we were certain they could bear the weight of distance; how we laughed our way through whole days for no particular reason. But you wouldn’t really get it, and you see, it’s ours, anyway. So just believe what I’m telling you: It’s all really worth it, to give to people and let them give back to you.
After all that, you’re probably wondering if it could get any better, or maybe you are rolling your eyes, and I totally understand that. I really like to think I’m not a cheesy person, but then I’m all crying over The Vow and all that jazz. But this happened, too: I was absorbing Tuesday’s UV rays on the beach, dividing my attention between listening to Ingrid Michaelson and trying to convince Norm not to go back into the water after the shark frenzy, when I remembered that I was 2.3 hours away from piling the sand and Joanna in the car to come back for work. I sent Haley a text message that said, “I miss you. . .but I wish you were here instead of me being there! I am having a brilliant time!” An hour later, when I was fully trying to convince Norm to sing Ingrid Michaelson with me by the pool, I got this response:
The next time the conversation turns to emotional roller coasters at a dinner party, this is the trump card I will play. Suddenly, there were 24 more hours, which seemed like a lifetime, and that was the thing that pushed the splendor over the edge. Not only did I get at least a million more hugs from my girls and two shirts from the Gap outlet the next day, but I got to stay for taco night. Seriously.
On Wednesday evening, I stood in a parking garage with my little family, and said, “Hey! Roommates forever!” because even though it was our last moment as official residents of Apt. 1906, and even though we wouldn’t see Joanna for three months, and even though we know we’ll probably eventually be scattered around the country for much longer than we’ve spent together, it’s like that. Maybe it took all those cups of coffee, or all those long talks, or all the moments worshipping the Lord together, or all of us standing on the edge of the ocean for it to be just fine. Or maybe it was just that one moment, crying in a parking garage, halfway laughing that we were, in fact, crying in a parking garage, embracing under the anthem of “Roommates forever!”
And there it was again, the glory of God, all wrapped up in a hug in a parking garage. Because of that, it’s one day you meet, and three years later, you’re best friends forever. It’s just a taste of His goodness, but it’s glorious.