2016 has been a less than stellar year for me. With the exception and blessing of purchasing our new home, it seems like many many other things have happened that I am anxious to file away in the distant memories of past tense.
I’ve grieved more loss in the last short few months than I have over the course of my entire life, with the loss of my Uncle David, the loss of my friend’s son, the loss of my aunt’s marriage.
We’ve struggled though many doctors appointments early this last spring trying to decipher if I had an extremely rare form of breast cancer (which many scans and tests later determined I did not – Praise Jesus!) — only to struggle through several more appointments later this spring when we realized our new pregnancy was ending in miscarriage.
I have not been super open about the miscarriage we had in May, not in a malicious way, but more so because I really just haven’t had a lot of time to process the events of this year, and it was just queued waiting in the backlog of my mind.
And before I had time to process our own intimate loss of a baby, we yet again were faced with trial in our own marriage, and realizing it was needing some “rehab” and reshaping to be on a truly solid foundation.
So here we are halfway through the year, and I find myself anxiously awaiting the passage of the rest of it. Like let’s just write off this year in the proverbial books, and cut our losses – for.real.
Maybe because I’ve never experienced grief, and then experienced so much so close together, my heart and mind have just been on circuitry overload – not sure. But slowly I’ve been funneling and sifting through each emotion tied to each event, wondering if “normal” will ever be something I experience again.
Early in the spring of this year I could feel God priming my spirit that He was going to grow my faith. He kept reminding me that faith is a muscle that must be flexed and exercised. In that time, I thought He was merely going to test us financially (which He has) – I was not attuned to just how in depth this building process was going to be.
What is Faith? Hebrews says faith is the evidence of things unseen, and the confidence of things hoped for. Faith is believing even when we don’t see. Faith is knowing it’s all going to be okay while you’re still waiting on the lifeline. Faith is rooted in trust. Trust in God. Trust that He is who He says He is, and He will do what he has promised.
So what is trust? I’ve started a new book called “Uninvited” – and in the book the author describes trust like the air. It’s there – but can you draw a picture of it? Does it have a clear definition? (Not literally all you webster’s- but metaphorically – what does trust look like?)
This begged the question in my spirit – do I trust God? I say I have faith – but do I trust my faith? Do I trust that God is good?
For me trust then ties to control. Oh control…
I started to imagine life like a road trip with a destination. I’m a tourist. I know where I want to go. I’ve picked -my- route. I know all the turns that -I- am supposed to make on paper. I have it all mapped out. I know how long it should take and I know my expected arrival time (which we all know is really just the time to beat – ha!).
So then what happens to this perfect plan when an accident blocks a road, or I’m faced with a detour, or the road just plain sucks because it’s covered in potholes.
How many times have I done this in my own life? How many times have I mapped it all out perfectly and then presented my plan to God not asking for amendments but simply asking His sign off with a blessing and to send me on MY way with MY plan?
I spend so much time chasing the chaos surrounded by needing control, that I forget the sweet simplicity that surrender brings.
What if I really give control to God? The intricate creator of the universe. He who knows the ins and outs of my life from beginning to end. The one who doesn’t need a map to navigate. The one who isn’t flustered by the detour because He knew there was roadwork there and is familiar with the area, and already had a plan and forethought to get us around to the destination?
Maybe I’ve lost some of you. My mind gives me some weird analogies, but hey, they work for me.
In the same book the author gives a story of how she was shopping one day and everyone in the store was going about their day when all of the sudden a woman runs out of the store screaming. A man had just snatched her purse. Snatched everything she had and took off. Suddenly her life was wildly rocked. Her “normal” as she knew it was robbed.
This begged me to think of the times when in life we are robbed of “normal”. We don’t see it coming. We are living content and happy, and BAM! The rug is pulled out from beneath us, and we are just scrambling to fit the pieces back together into some semblance of what was and what makes sense to us.
We don’t want to forge this new path. We don’t want to rearrange our travel to get to our destination. We had a plan. We had it all mapped out…
So in reading her analogy I realized that’s where my life has been this year. With each blow struck in my life I’ve tried to rearrange it all into some kind of normal, some kind of box that all makes sense to ME and MY plan for my life. All the while repeating that I have faith.
I do. I have faith. I believe Jesus died on the cross to save a world condemned in sin. I have faith that God is ever present and constant in His workings. I have faith in God.
But do I trust Him? This year, has my heart really trusted in the fact that HIS plan is greater than my own? Does my heart trust that through loss and grief there is goodness? Do I trust Him enough to let go of my need for “normal”? Do I trust Him enough to rest? To rest in the chaos of the circumstances? To rest when the rest of the world is spinning?
Again in this book the author talks about living your life out each day based on three truths:
- GOD IS GOOD.
- GOD IS GOOD TO ME.
- GOD IS GOOD AT BEING GOD.
Do I trust God is good? Do I trust He is good to me even when it doesn’t feel good? Even when my heart rips and my soul hurts? When my eyes are dry and puffy because the tears won’t flow anymore. Do I TRUST that He is good at being HIM? That the intricate creator of the universe sees the beginning and the end of my life, my circumstances, holds it together, and is so much better at navigating this life and world than me?
It’s easy to trust a situation with a predictable outcome. But that’s just the thing (that this year alone has proved) -we can plan and plan and plan and make more plans- but life is unpredictable. It’s messy. And sometimes it’s just plain messed up.
But God is still good. God is still good to me. God is good at being God.
I’ve spent most of my summer searching for my WHY? Doesn’t every season have a why? Yes and no. Maybe it does. Maybe it’s abundantly clear. Maybe sometimes we aren’t graced with a why in this life. Why did we lose our baby? Why did our marriage have to go through trial? Why have my friends and loved ones around me suffered so much loss?
But God is teaching me it’s not about the WHY. Why doesn’t always make something better. Why doesn’t change the circumstances. Why doesn’t undo the hurt and pain.
But God calls us to lean not on our own understanding. DON’T LEAN ON THE WHY’S – LEAN ON HIM.
Going through our medical issues this spring has completely depleted our finances and resources. BUT GOD is good. God is good to me. God is good at being God. He will provide.
We lost our baby despite praying for healing and health. Three couples close to us have announced their pregnancies all healthy and due around the time I would have been. BUT GOD is good. God is still good to me. God is good at being God. He will bless us and has already immensely blessed us with our daughter.
Our marriage had to be broken and the foundation repoured. BUT GOD is good. God is good to me. God is good at being God. Why build a skyscraper on a flawed foundation?
At RUSH camp this past June, Pastor Brian (our senior pastor at West Ridge Church) spoke to our students and student leaders about the character of God saying:
- God loves people.
- God is completely trustworthy, therefore everything He says is true.
- God does not change.
- God is enough.
We apply these truths to our life in this way:
- Because God loves people, He loves me, and He loves me unconditionally.
- Because God is completely trustworthy, I can trust Him completely.
- Because God doesn’t change, His feelings about me will never change, and He will never leave me.
- Because God is enough, everything I need is found in Christ.
I may not have the answers – the why – the perfect explanation for each thing that has happened over the course of this year, BUT GOD is good.
With each passing event I know more confidently and surely than ever that my hope, faith, and TRUST are in Him alone. Because let’s face it – I don’t know what’s coming next. I don’t know what turns are ahead. But I know who holds me. I know who loves me. And I know that God is good. God is good to me. And God is good at being God.
And while there are many things of 2016 I am eagerly awaiting “archival” of – I can equally rest in this season that my hope and confidence are re-anchored and secured in the creator who knows and loves me, and is holding my life.