I said I’d concoct some impressive prose for my “big return” to blogging. But ya know, sometimes you just gotta jump in. I’m sure that, along the way, I’ll slide in where I’ve been for several years, but I want to speak to what God is doing in my life right now. I don’t wanna wait. So. I’m back.
It’s noon on a Tuesday and we’ve already had two home visits today. These are hit or miss. Today, they were both misses. We can’t win them all, but we can find victory in each day. I’m learning to celebrate the good and tell the bad it can’t win.
Today there was denial and pride. Today I was shamed for being helpful, scorned for being honest, and scoffed at for asking questions. But tomorrow, I might be thanked. I might be hugged. I might be understood.
Or I might not.
In those hard moments, my desire to control wells up and threatens to escape. But I’m learning to downshift. Instead of giving way to being right, I’m digging in to serving. And it comes with stretch marks.
Today, when I was snubbed and disregarded, I wanted to run. I wanted to run out my front door, barefoot, down the street to the stop sign, and then dramatically halt as I decided whether to go left or right (Hey, you never know…my life could be like the Truman Show.). But because I might be committed for such an action, I had to run in my mind. But where?
Where do I run first?
Should I run to my husband? Sigh. No…not to Eric. This is a good place to run, but not the first place. By running to Eric, I could end up pelting him with anger, resentment, bitterness, shame, guilt, embarrassment, entitlement, and gosh knows what else. Further, I don’t want to heap on any responsibility, burden, shame, or anger. He’s adjusting to a new job while ever-so-carefully balancing the two most important women in his wife living under the same roof…which didn’t end so well last time. I will run to him, to be sure…but once he’s home, once he can sit, once he can hear in my voice that it really is all going to be okay.
I could run across the street. My mom is across the street (yes, literally), and she walked this road from 2016-2018. She may well have some great advice, but she’s also sure to have some not-so-great advice, not because she gives poor counsel, but because her mom is waaaaay different from my mother-in-law, it would be unfair to think she could have all the answers for me… and I don’t want to potentially put a divider between myself and Eric that way.
Then there’s Voxer. My best friends are just a click away. So do I run to Gail? No. Not to Gail. She has great counsel, she knows the backstory, she knows me better than most, and she walks closely with Jesus but it’s an outside party who really doesn’t know Eric that well and doesn’t know his mom at all. I’ll probably take all this to her once I’ve processed it, but not before. She’s been instrumental in me becoming less reactive, so it’d be pretty counter-productive.
What about Darci or Miranda? Both have their own experiences with me, Eric, and Fran and helpful/insightful perspectives, though they’re very different from eachother. But neither of them are me, and neither of them fully know who I want to be, where I want to be, and how I want to live. They have been the most patient, understanding, kind, and helpful of companions through this transition, but I fear I’d become slightly gossipy if I don’t set my heart right first.
So. Where do I run first?
I run to Jesus first. Every. Time.
There, I find the answers to not only who I am, but why I am here. I find that who I am to the Lord is unchanging. I cannot earn my value. I cannot lose his approval. I am His. What’s more, he has appointed this. All of this is for his greatest glory. He’s present in this midst; he’s here as I type. He delights in my recognition of his goodness for me. I am being sanctified and blessed. Blessed sanctification: though there is suffering, we are each being tremendously blessed through this process.
The Lord has planted desire, deep in my heart, over the last two years, for a radically different life than the one I was living, the one I always dreamed I would live. I want mountains in my backyard. I want homeschooled children. I want a husband who works from home. I want to write books. I want, with my every breath, to bring glory and honor and praise to the high King of Glory, working quietly with my hands, delighting in his good works. He put that desire in me because I allowed myself to delight in him first. He put that desire in me because it’s what he has for me; I just really needed some redirection to get there.
Blessed sanctification is not ignoring the pain. It’s not pushing through pain. It’s not trying to make the pain go away. Blessed sanctification is knowing there can be joy through the pain because the pain is temporary but blessings from the Lord are eternal. He has set my feet upon this path and I won’t be shaken.
What does it look like to run to Jesus first? When I’m in the heat of the moment and my face is flushed with shame and despair, I speak Truth to myself. It might sound strange, but I can hear the Lord singing these verses over me. I start off a verse in my mind, in my voice, and it evolves into this stunning bari-tenor warm, with unpredictable cadence and clarity. When I breathe long enough to call on these truths, he sings over me, and I feel peace. I feel a peace deep down that envelopes me in certainty:
Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:3-4
Aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. 1st Thess. 4:11-12
We rejoice in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shames, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Phil. 4:11-13
What are the verses you call on in times of suffering?