• Dana L. Butler

On absorbing beauty and going to the park

The mountains. Y’all. They are balm to my soul like I can’t describe in words.

But watch me try.

I spent this past weekend up in Allenspark, CO with a group of 30 or so precious women from our church fam.

We worshiped our guts out. I led worship, and it was still more balm, just pouring myself out before the One who’s trustworthy, in the face of my life’s circumstances and in the midst of my heart’s pain, experiencing His heart with my sisters.

We heard from two phenomenal speakers, and you guys? Jesus moved. He moved so tangibly and practically that I found myself in tears on Friday evening, and tears don’t typically come easy for me. I mean, I generally cry — like, really cry — maybe a couple of times in a year.

But oh, did I ever cry.

Because Jesus whispered tender understanding to my heart, reminding me in my very core that He hears and feels the internal agony and grief around which I so struggle to wrap words.

I’ve ached lately over my inability to help folks understand how deeply this season is wrenching my heart, how acutely I find myself grieving.

But He gets it. My God gets it. Fully. And He’s with me in it.

This grief, you guys. It runs deep and it is poignant.

We now have one diagnosis for Isaac, and are beginning the (long) process of seeking a second opinion and another probable diagnosis.

To be honest, my friends, I’ve really struggled over how much to say here, because Isaac’s story — his unique combination of struggles and strengths — is his. 

And yet, his story collides minute-by-minute with my own. Profoundly impacts every single facet of my life.

Secondarily to wanting to honor Isaac’s heart and his story, I still have this very real need for my blog not to become a platform for receiving advice.

You all have walked beside me so very graciously here, and I’m so beyond grateful for your companionship, kindness, and support. Yet, for practical advice in this season, I’m needing to pretty exclusively lean into the handful of people who’re bearing practical witness to my day-in, day-out life with my littles. Thank you all so much for understanding this.

All of that said, I do want to tell you a little more of where we’re at with our boy, and a little more of how it’s personally impacted me.

Isaac’s current diagnosis is Generalized Anxiety Disorder. By means of honoring my kiddo, I’ll simply say that the components and variations of his anxiety have dramatically impacted his quality of life, and that of our entire family.

We are, as of the last couple of weeks, pursuing treatment for his anxiety, including weekly therapy. And, as I said above, we’re going to be seeking a more thorough developmental evaluation for him in the coming months.

Little by little, I’m beginning to see improvement. I see Isaac growing a bit more settled inside. There are a few more peaceful moments for him, and a few less anxious ones. For this, I’m incredibly thankful.

We have a long road ahead of us, though.

On Going to the Park

By means of illustration, I have a quick (and fairly vague, for Isaac’s sake) story for you all about why I’m afraid to take my kids to the park anymore.

Twice in the last couple of weeks, we’ve been at parks (both parks that are very familiar to us) and Isaac’s anxiety has flared up (mixed with a couple of other special-needs-type struggles).

Leaving out the bulk of the details, I’ll tell you that at one point I nearly had a full-on run-in with another mom (which, if you know me and my non-confrontational-ness, is almost laughable) who was actually yelling at my son while I stood there trying to help him calm down so he could emotionally handle letting another child move past him on the playground equipment.

The next week? Same story, only with a bigger group of children, and Isaac was even more upset. Although, thankfully, this time no other parents felt the need to interject their full-volume thoughts and judgmental glares.

You guys, I’ve never, ever been afraid to take my kids to the park. Till now. I literally have anxiety over it.

Okay, so that was kind of a tangent, but I wanted to give y’all a bit more of a glimpse of what my life looks like these days.

It is agony, watching my son hurting and afraid and paralyzed. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so helpless.

Like I said, we are seeing glimpses of progress, but this will likely be a long journey.

Which brings me back to the mountains.

After arriving home from the retreat on Sunday evening, I found myself trying to describe to Stan and to a dear friend the degree to which I was desperate for the beauty of the mountains, and how I didn’t realize my need for them till I actually got up in them.

“It was primal, my need for that rugged, violent beauty. I wanted to eat the mountains. Wanted to absorb them, or for them to absorb me and never let me go. They were so healing.”

On Sunday, I left the lodge early and went for a walk before my morning meeting with the retreat leadership team. I watched the sun’s rays begin to spill over the mountains. I inhaled splotches of light and color, drank in the early-morning silence like it was life to my soul.

And it was.

I stared into the mountains and I never, ever wanted to leave.

One of our retreat speakers reminded us of how mountains like our Rockies were created, the shifting of tectonic plates beneath Earth’s surface, the violence required to give rise to such rugged beauty. She spoke of how God’s process of shaping and carving and birthing beauty in our lives so often feels violent to our souls, and oh, was she ever right.

But in all of it, His ways are perfectly, utterly trustworthy.

I believe it, you guys. I believe in His commitment to unveiling His beauty in my life, in Isaac’s life, and in our family.

And I believe there is unprecedented intimacy with Him in all the carving, in the internal violence. There is no closer contact than that of a river with the rock that it carves.

So I’m asking Him again and again these days — let it be that intimacy that sustains my heart. That depth and continuity of communion and closeness through the agony of the shifting and shaping.

Shore me up. Unveil Your beauty. Sustain my heart.

And He does it, you guys. He sustains my heart through all of this.

And one of the ways He sustains and strengthens me — is through you all.

Thank you again for walking beside me here, my friends. Your support and prayers mean more to me than words.

Know someone who'd appreciate this?

© 2020 by Dana Butler. Proudly created with Wix.com.