A few months ago, I had an encounter with mud. I ventured out on the banks of the tidal creek near my house at lowtide. I was unaware of my vulnerability, as in an instant found myself sucked thigh-deep in the viscous soil. When I was pulled down, my phone fell from my hand, out of arm's reach. It was the middle of the day, not a soul around. I could hear the intermittent sounds of birds; I noted sun rays dappling the gray-green tidal waters. Seagulls flew overhead. A faint breeze ruffled my hair.
I panicked. No one knew I was there. I couldn't get to my phone. My neighbor's car was not in his driveway. I felt my legs sink deeper. "Think, Priscilla," I said under my breath. "God help me." I remembered that if a person found they were drowning, the first thing they needed to do was relax, as this would help them float and begin to breathe. I took a deep breath. I relaxed my body. I faced the tidal creek, but soon realized that if I leaned back, I could hook one elbow on a higher piece of ground. I hoped to leverage my weight with my arm strength to turn around and face the creek bank. I could then use my forearms to pull myself up and out of the mud. With slow, gradual movements, I maneuvered the turn. All the while I talked aloud to myself and prayed to God. "You can do this, Priscilla. You are strong." "God, in this hidden place, pull me up and out. Thank you that you are present with me." The company of the birds brought solace. After about twenty minutes of making slow, twisting movements with first one foot, then the other, I heard and felt the suction loosen. I placed all my weight on my elbows and began inching forward on the solid bank. Eventually, i was able to pull my mud-saturated legs out of the brown sludge. I lay face-down on the creek bank. Out.
Lately, I've reflected on this experience as I face health concerns. There are some metaphorical similarities. I was walking along, venturing out to seize and explore the territory of my life when I came upon the unexpected pluff mud of a life-threatening illness that took me down. But not all the way. I still have my wits about me, akin to still possessing my upper body strength when I was stuck in the mud. And I'm now employing many of the same coping tools to support me in breaking the suction of disease and anxiety. It is tempting to panic and sink further down into negativity and hopelessness. Yet these are not the thinking patterns that will prove helpful. God sees me in this hidden space, just as He did that hot afternoon at the tidal creek. He reminds me, "You have the mindset of a queen, the heart of a warrior, because you are my daughter. Just as you leaned on the creek bank, lean on me. Rest and peace are in me. I will pull you up and out." And just as the cries of the gulls and the regal presence of egrets comforted me as I inched my way out of the mud, so does the extravagant kindness and warm gestures of family and friends bring consolation now as I move forward.
And I know I am not the only person facing unexpected circumstances. You, dear reader, may face an unwelcomed situation of your own. I stand with you in support and say, "In Jesus, you have the heart of a warrior, the battle not your own, but His. His victory, your victory--His resplendent peace encircling you."