Although I kinda tried to avoid it, I think I have to do a New Year’s resolution adjacent post. It’s not really a resolution post because it has been years since I’ve set those (mostly due to lousy follow-thru on my part). But God and I are working on some things, and in the spirit of authenticity and my own ability to process, I think I need to write about it. Let me begin by saying that this is all very much a work in progress and I’ve cried many tears already this very day. I am as tender as the incisions from my recent surgery. My physical and emotional wounds are painful, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t promoting healing. I think the waterworks are a sign that my hard heart is softening.
I should probably back up a bit. If you have been reading my blog for any length of time (or you are an IRL friend), you know that the last two years have been tough for my family. The dark tunnel has seemed darker the last couple of months because I had much hope at the end of last year that we were putting hard times behind us and launching into a fabulous new year. But 2018 was NOT fabulous and the light at the end of this tunnel looks farther away than ever. While lots of my friends and fellow authors have picked a word for the year to be their focus and inspiration, I relate to Jami Amerine from Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors when she said, “If I picked a word for the year, it would be obscene, and I try not to cuss.”
While swimming the butterfly in a pool of self-pity, I questioned myself about why my kicks and strokes were drowning me. And the honest thought I had was, “Well, up until now we’ve lead a pretty charmed life.” And as soon as that thought crossed over the pathways and synapses of my brain, I said out loud, “WHAT?! Are you serious? Charmed?” From the beginning of our marriage, my husband and I have battled through the fall-out that broken marriages inevitably leave. We have a severely mentally and physically handicapped adult daughter who will forever be dependent on us. We dealt with financial woes, life-threatening seizures, my sub-clinical eating disorder and chronic pain. And yet…I honestly meant that my life, until 2 years ago, was charmed. But certainly no one else would agree. How can I really believe that the sum of all those problems equaled roses, but now I have thorns?
The only conclusion that makes any sense in this, is that things really haven’t changed. Some of the individual situations have changed, but in the big picture of our lives, I have trouble now and I had trouble then. So what is different? Sigh. I got tired. And I allowed my circumstances to change how I viewed God. I’ve never lost my faith. I made a decision a long time ago to give my life to God because He gave everything for me. I’ve never second guessed it. But somewhere along the way, I let my feelings cloud my vision of what is true. I stopped feeling in my heart that God showed kindness to me, even when my head knew the truth that He loves me in ways and volumes that I may NEVER understand.
A couple of Sundays ago in church, one of our staff ministers quoted 2 Timothy 4:5 NASB “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” This verse hit me between the eyes – right where my two eyebrows want to become one. I’ve stalled myself. I’ve been waiting (and way too focused, I might add) for our situations to improve. I don’t think there is anything wrong with praying for that…and hoping for that. But with the end of hardship and suffering, and not the finished work of Jesus Christ, as the nucleus of my hope, I bought a one-way ticket to personal disappointment and ineffectual ministry. The passage says I am to “endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” In my efforts to ESCAPE, rather than endure, hardship, I have neglected the latter two. And so this becomes my verse for 2019.
There’s an old joke about an old couple who saw a much younger couple drive by in a pickup truck. The pretty girl was sitting in the middle of the truck – as close to the boy as she could get. The older woman wistfully looks at the space between her husband and herself, saying, “Remember when we used to sit like that?” Her husband’s response? “I haven’t moved.”
God is wooing me with, “I haven’t moved.” “I haven’t changed.” “I am as kind as I have always been.”
“There’s a private place reserved for the lovers of God, where they sit near him and receive the revelation-secrets of his promises.” Psalm 25:14 The Passion Translation