Recently, a bout of sleepless, restless, nightmare-filled nights accompanied me to bed. I am not a huge worrier, but lately, fretting, anger, and anxiety have chosen to rest on my soul, especially when I desire to sleep! Not fair!
Other than our personal journeys today, we are citizens of a country that appears all discombobulated. Some folks seek calm, while others stoke fear. Some work diligently to feed their families, while others steal for themselves. While many preach law and order, some don’t trust the law. A few believers in the Almighty hurl insults and threats, thus turning others away from faith. And that, my friends, is just the tip of the iceberg in my sea of worry.
Am I losing faith in America?
“God, I need to rest, so help me escape the turbulence around me. I know I will face its reality tomorrow, but I will accomplish more if you slay the demons ringing in my ears.” I asked the Lord recently.
Sure enough, I slept well because He sent me to a place that gave me peace and assurance. He transmitted me back in time to view how others survived sleepless nights and stormy days.
The year was 1810, and Mary Polly was sweeping the floor of her small inn in the Tennessee mountains. Her children made her laugh as she playfully shooed them with her apron when they ran around the dining tables. She knew she would toss and turn with worry and grief later.
Mary prayed each night, “Lord, please provide me the strength needed to survive these turbulent days.”
It had been over a year since her husband, John, died unexpectedly, leaving her the inn and five small children to care for. To laugh seemed like a guilty pleasure, an oddity, but she welcomed any joy.
It was a late summer afternoon when she saw a dusty covered wagon stop in front of the inn. Two young gentlemen strolled in, looking for a home-cooked meal and a place to stay for a spell.
Like many others, they explained they were heading west to find good farmland and a new life. Benjamin was the chatty older one of the two, and his bright smile and clear blue eyes radiated a gentle, discerning warmth.
After a few days, Mary was laughing more, and her nights were less restless. Who was this Benjamin, and why was she suddenly excited to pour his coffee each morning?
Benjamin and his brother stayed on the mountain. He and Mary Polly wed two years later and began to live a life running the inn and farming the rich soil. Their union delivered seven more children into the world, and each one added more laughter around the tables.
The family befriended President Andrew Jackson, who always stopped by the inn on his way to Nashville. He thought Mary Polly prepared the finest eggs in the world, and he loved playing with all of Ben and Mary’s crazy young’uns.
However, life was far from easy back then. Wars, disease, crop failures, and uncertainty accompanied the family’s daily happiness.
As the children grew, so did their restlessness. Benjamin Walker’s family was always adventuresome, and Mary knew it. Their oldest son left home to travel to the new Arkansas territory, and soon, wagon trains were journeying together, heading west. By 1840, all their children were gone except for the youngest, named after their friend, Andrew Jackson.
Finally, approaching old age, Benjamin and his wife waved goodbye to Andrew and his growing brood. The couple began the trek that Benjamin had started years before. They reached the rest of the family in Arkansas, but within a short period, tragedy befell the couple.
Mary Polly died in 1857, and Benjamin followed her in 1859. Both succumbed to disease and typhoid fever.
Their frontier days were filled with angst, stress, fear, and sleepless nights that we do not fully understand today. Yet, they boldly paved the way for us to follow. Their lives inspired generations to believe America was the land of hope, faith, and courage.
Remembering the story of my heritage and those who bravely forged their way through the mountains and valleys to seek a better life, find love, and flourish encourages my confidence in all of us.
So, the story’s point is if we go back in time and remember those fearless enough to build this land, we must be courageous and courteous enough not to tear it apart with our discombobulated, often ungrateful, hate-filled attitudes. When we search our history, we understand that the love of country and each other will prevent us from drowning in a sea of worry.
God always pulls us away from the crashing waves if we ask him to calm the waters.
Lynn Walker Gendusa is a Georgia-based author and columnist. Her first book, “It’s All Write with Me! Essays from My Heart,” was published in 2018. Her latest book is “Southern Comfort: Stories of Family, Friendship, Fiery Trials, and Faith.” For more inspirational stories, click here. You may reach Lynn at www.lynngendusa.com.