The past four months have been what everyone’s past four months have been: busy, calm, stressful, fun. All by turn. I’ve experienced highs and lows, and in retrospect it’s typically my perception of the “lows” that really sucks. I’ve been working on projects (not exactly tirelessly, but with boughs of inextinguishable enthusiasm popping up when I need them most.) I’ve been learning and growing, redefining the idea that love is my standard, trying to figure out what that looks like. Often failing, often leaning into God’s grace. That’s how life goes these days. I’m much less moved by time but rather see that time ushers me along without asking me whether or not I would like to pause or stop to rest. But that’s okay, because as I’m running this race I find my breath catching more and more at the sight of God’s hand in my life and the lives of those I love.
Even in the normality, there have been moments where I am left utterly breathless and felt the hope I thought I had a handle on shriveling up and flickering out.
Among other things that have been trials for my family and myself, my Grandfather passed away this March.
I think the strangest part about grieving is that it effects you silently. While you’re washing the dishes or surrounded by people.You wake up in the morning and for everyone else it’s just Thursday, and they’re going about their lives totally unaware that it’s almost been a month and you don’t understand anything. The man at the grocery store who pretends not to see the tears leaking from the corners of your eyes doesn’t know. The woman who opened the door for you at the office couldn’t possibly understand that your personal history has been altered and that now you have to walk forward, even as there is an unbridgeable gap forming in your life. The irrational side of me wants to tell everyone that I’m angry, that I don’t care if they don’t know me. It’s unfair. It’s sad. It hurts. It’s a tugging at your throat and it’s a lingering shadow in your mind.
They ought to know. They ought to know that while their just trying to fix a cup of coffee to make it through Thursday, my insides are a train that has been derailed.
But the rational side of me knows that it’s not fair to behave that way. And part of me thinks that this turmoil that seizes me some nights isn’t just a reaction to human loss, but every sort of loss that has built up over the years surfacing in a rebellious effort to throw off my grip on the reality of God’s grace.
The question comes up, the one that our logic debunks but our hearts cling to. “If God is a good, loving God, why does He allow these things to happen?”
And I think that at the core, we like to think our motives in asking are pure. If He really cares, why isn’t He fixing this ache in my heart? Why can’t the ghosts of anxiety give up and go home? Why do the feelings of loss have to be felt so deeply? What is good about this goodness if it constantly leads me to my knees, at my breaking point? But I think we keep asking because we hope that that God of the Universe is all of a sudden going to owe us an apology for the cards that life dealt us. I know for myself at least, I secretly want Him to take a chair at my pity party, to stroke my hair and agree that it was never really fair.
But if that is the posture of my heart, then am I really trusting that God is doing His job? Think of it this way. God isn’t unintentional with us. He is not up their spinning His wheels thinking, “how can I emotionally damage Sydney today?” Know. He is so much more brilliant than we give Him credit for.
No. I truly believe that God’s plan for my life is a process of drawing closer to Him, because the closer we are to our life source, the higher quality of life we have (in every capacity.)
My family and I don’t have much, in a physical sense. We live in and RV. We shop at thrift stores (and not because we’re trying to be ironic) and the types of hurdles we encounter aren’t easily explained to most people. The conversations we have, the personal struggles, the amount of team work that it takes to sustain life in the way we sustain life is entirely grace covered because if it were not for the Holy Spirit, it wouldn’t be working. Our income covers our needs and God takes our loaves and fishes and miraculously He makes what we bring enough. I know that it may not sound like much in earthly terms.
But I feel as though in the midst of the chaos, the grappling, the questioning whether being different is worth it, the struggle of hope and hopelessness…all of it-my life is a beautiful picture of grace. I find the purest joy in the darkest hours and the emptiness envelops me when I invest in the things of this world. I know that my precious Savior is up there saying, “your entire life can point towards me if you allow me to take your once empty vessel and fill it with my Spirit.” And when you say yes, when you submit, you begin this insane adventure. A different sort of struggle takes hold of you. It’s the type of struggle that makes you wonder why it was you. It’s the type of struggle that makes decisions according to the scriptures even when it makes absolutely no sense and it’s the kind of struggle that makes you say, “no,” even when every fiber of your flesh wants to say yes. Not out of strict morality, but out of a sense of purpose that doesn’t leave room for the things of this world.
It’s freaking hard some days. So where does the quality of life improve? It’s in your purpose. It’s hidden in the moments that we take for granted. It’s when I pour my soul out up on that stage and leave it there. It’s the dusty kitchens where we gather our strength. It’s when you meet another believer in parking lot of a truck stop who prays for you right when you need it. It’s the knowledge that all we know will be swallowed up by His glory, and that knowing Him, loving Him…it’s all that matters. It’s all that satisfies.
Am I frustrated by the conflict between redeemed soul and flesh? Every day. But you know what? It leads me back to the cross. It reminds me of my desperation for my Jesus. It helps me realize where my identity is. It’s not here. It’s not in the smallness where I find myself. And nothing, not the deepest pain, not the most desperate of situations can surprise, overtake or win over my God.
The beautiful thing is I would never ever trade this. I am living, I am breathing, I am grateful.
And that’s my life update. My heart update. There is so so much more I could say, but I’ll leave it there for now.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age?Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called,both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness,holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-31