Haplelujah, Indeed

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cara-meredith-broken-hallelujahs3

I don’t often realize I’ve reached capacity until near-implosion occurs.

My family and I had just made a major move: from the San Francisco Bay Area to Seattle, Washington, from blue skies to gray, from a comfortable knowing to what felt like a raw and callow Great Unknown.

I was trying my hardest to make lemonade out of what felt like a bucket full of lemons. Surely, my sons and I would don our rain jackets and cold weather knit hats and still step outside, even if the weather was a little bit frightful. We’d jump through puddles in the rain and we’d walk down to the water to feed the ducks and we’d be our bravest selves when it was time to make new friends.

But in doing all the really good motherly things I was supposed to do in order to help my children transition well, I’d neglected to look out for myself.

One afternoon, we went to an art studio. We went to the grocery store and jumped up and down in the cereal aisle, because Cheerios! Rice Krispies! Cap’n Crunch! We popped by to visit a friend who lives on that side of town, and then, finally, we made our way home. But about halfway there, in the rain and wind and dark and storm, in the middle of a high traffic hour, and on streets I didn’t yet know my way around, and with cars that drive way too passively for their own good, I realized that I’d left the keys to our apartment at our friend’s house.

Soon, when what should have taken 15 minutes neared the hour-long mark, a near-implosion occurred.

The restless kids in the backseat screamed for Christmas music, for “Christmas! Christmas! Christmas! Songs now! Now, Mama, now!” They threw wild punches in the air at each other and at themselves, and they cried for crackers and string cheese and apple juice, none of which I had with me in the car.

My fingers gripped the steering wheel tightly and my shoulders hunched over, the stress of the afternoon curling its sinewy way to every bone and muscle in my body. Like the rain pounding at my front windshield, my eyes filled with tears–at the stress, at my own state of mourning, at the foundation ripped out from underneath me.

I could feel a swell of anger and hurt and exhaustion rising within me, from tummy to throat to mouth. I opened my lips, ready to scream–at my children, at my own lack of foresight in forgetting to check that the keys were in my purse, at God for uprooting me from the place I’d called home for the last 15 years … and then I heard singing.

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

While the Pentatonix remake of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” played on the radio, the sweet voice of my two-year-old boy sang along. He couldn’t pair all four syllables of the word together, and his “hallelujah” included an extra “p” where the first “l” should have been, but that didn’t stop him in the least.

Haplelujah
Haplelujah
Haplelujah
Haplelujah

He sang his way through the remaining verses, replacing “I’ll stand before the lord of song/ with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah” with all the haplelujahs he could fit into a single sentence. Soon, I sang along with him, crooning along with my baby and with the radio and with Jesus as if my life depended on it–because in that moment, it did.

Peace and stillness and calm entered our car and our hearts. The yelling and the kicking and the whining stopped. New, healthy tears pooled at the corners of my eyes, and the screeching monster alive in my insides was laid to rest, at least for the moment–the holy hymn we sang the healing balm my soul so desperately needed.

I think that’s when I knew we’d be okay. We’d make it. We’d survive the move and the transition, the hardships that come with uprooting and starting over and calling a new place home.

We’d be okay because we’ll keep on singing our broken hallelujahs to the One who sees us and hears us and stands with us in our pain and in our glory.

Because even when we feel like we’ve reached our capacity and can’t go any further, peace and stillness and calm still manage to squeeze their way in to our lives.

So, hallelujah and haplelujah and every other version in between, come.

Come into our world and come into our hearts. Come to our neighborhoods and come to the places we can’t always see you right away in. Come and show us where you already are so we might be made to rejoice.

Come, so we might be made to sing again.

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Cara Meredith
Cara is a writer, speaker and musician from the greater San Francisco Bay Area. She is chipping away at her first book when not searching for the world’s greatest chips and guacamole. She loves people, food, reading, the great outdoors and her family. She and the HBH (Hot Black Husband), try to dance nightly and live life to the fullest with their two young sons.
Cara Meredith
Cara Meredith

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Cara Meredith
  • Leave it to a child to bring us back to Jesus. This has happened to me with my nieces. I love this real and raw story. And I love that with all the craziness and stress you were feeling, God used that simple moment to remind you that He was there. Thanks for sharing with us! Your son is adorable!!!

    • carameredith.com

      Oh, thanks for the encouragement, Keri. And you’re right: in the midst of real, raw crazy and stress, God is found.

  • Saying “hallelujah” (or “haplelujah!”) out of that place of depletion is such an act of faith.
    It does seem as if 2016 has been a year of holding in our hearts and minds two irreconcilable conditions: the way things are and the way things ought to be.
    Thanks for not giving up on the beauty.

    • carameredith.com

      Michele, your words are just what I needed to hear. I’m so grateful for your kind attentiveness. Hugs.

  • Fiona Lloyd

    Thank you so much for sharing this story, Cara – the idea of you all singing “Haplelujah” together made me smile! And I love your reminder that offering God our broken hallelujahs creates an opening for his peace to refill our hearts. Blessings to you and your family as you settle into your new home.

    • carameredith.com

      Thank you, friend. Might we keep offering our broken hallelujahs!

  • This reminded me of an article I read recently on Sojourners, “Singing Our Way Back to Hope.” It talks about the power of carols to remind us of our hope and of reminding us what God is all about, and therefore what our lives should be all about. Thanks for another beautiful reminder about the power of ancient words to transform us.

    • carameredith.com

      Oh cool – I’ll have to check it out, Beth. I am ALL about singing those carols and all about Sojourners. 🙂

  • I hear you, I hear you, I hear you. I loved that a two-year-old rang in the Holy from the backseat. So beautiful and tender.

    • carameredith.com

      Thanks love – and thanks for posting the “Haplelujah” video – I think it brings it all back together. xo.

  • Sandy Hay

    ” I sang along with him, crooning along with my baby and with the radio and with Jesus as if my life depended on it–because in that moment, it did.” Oh Cara…I’m with you here. and the sweet 2 year old’s voice rings loud and clear to God 🙂

    • carameredith.com

      Oh thank you, Sandy. His voice is a holy reminder to me, too. 🙂

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  • Jeannie Boyer

    Love this story and can so clearly imagine this scene. Thanks for sharing your heart. Praying for more hallelujahs in Seattle!

  • Cara, this is so touching! Your little boy is just precious. I can imagine how you were feeling, because I’ve been in similar situations. Isn’t it just like God to use a young child to remind us of His presence? 🙂 Many blessings to you, sweet Cara! xo

  • Bev Murrill

    I’m with you girl. I remember similar situations when I moved from Australia to UK although I don’t remember anyone singing hallelujah from the back seat.

    And now, in a new season where it’s sometimes hard to see through the fog of grey clouds in our life, interspersed with the occasional lightning strike, I know that the broken hallelujahs we bring to the One we trust above all others, is enough for Him. Thank God that He is always faithful, and holds onto us when we are not.

  • fiona lynne

    Moving is HARD. We’re planning move number three since we got married and even though this is the first one in the same city (not even to another country!), it’s still a whole hour away and I’m kinda dreading the starting over. We need those moments, those interruptions that remind us it is okay, and this is still holy ground, this hard in-between. Hope you are feeling more and more settled x