(This story was originally posted last summer as part of a longer essay, click HERE to read part 1.)


I’m headed to the biggest grocery store in town on the day
before the fourth of July. This is only the second time I’ve ever gone shopping alone with all four kids and I know it’s a fool’s errand, doomed from the start.

My heart
sinks a little at the sight of the full parking lot.  The sun beats down mercilessly on the blacktop as I anxiously calculate the time that remains before the twins are due for another nap. 

As I turn off the engine, my oldest shouts with
urgency from the back of the van, “I have to go to the bathroom!” 

Of course. 

I unload the stroller and position the older two on either side.  The double stroller is like a pontoon and the
kids and I float along like rafts tied-on as we ride the tide toward the
automatic doors.  I grab a cart and
assign roles.  One will push the
stroller and one the cart, as I carry the list and pull things from the shelves.   

I see a friend with whom I’ve been meaning to connect, but
time is pressing on me – time before the babies break down, time until the
older two break down, time until I break down – so I brush her off.  Now a second friend is trying to chit-chat as
we turn and head for the restroom.  I refuse to enter the bathroom with the older two, a passive-aggressive expression of my
frustration at the inconvenience of this pit-stop. 

I’m tense and irritable at the crowd and the scene we make. The aisles, like the parking lot, are packed with shoppers loitering, choosing slowly, chatting and generally in. the. way.  

I’m trying so hard, fighting, resisting.

In the pause of our bathroom break I can feel
it, the invitation to surrender. 

What am
I so afraid of?  What do I seriously
think can go so wrong that this trip must be a battlefield, an attack against
which I’m perpetually braced?

The question sinks from my head to my heart until I can
glimpse an alternate view, until I can taste the prospect of adventure and fun
and possibility, until I relax and start to float. 

And so we float through the store, our boats
bumping the aisles and strangers’ carts and each other. 

We laugh at Levi who pulls boxes off the
shelves with fixed determination when the stroller wanders near the aisle’s edge.  We absorb the smiles of
strangers as my kids squabble over who gets to help with what and I stand like
an air traffic controller waving people past us and directing kids, my tiny
fleet of beautiful, floating boats.  

*   *   *

What is life if not one long lesson in the art of letting
go, of learning to float in the sea of grace and mercy that lies below and
within and all around us everyday, every
moment an opportunity to surrender.

This post is linked with Playdates with God.

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