People often ask me how I have made it through the last six years.
I don’t know.
Sometimes we go through things in life and we look back over them and wonder how in the world we made it through, right? It’s those times where we know without the underlying presence of God we would not still be here.
There was a time back in 2013 where I was at the end of my end. I was exhausted and in dark emotional despair. It is the worst feeling in the world to watch your child suffer constantly in pain and not be able to do anything about it. I was still trying my hardest 24/7, but nothing made a difference.
Physically I was 15 pounds underweight. My hair was falling out. All I could do was put on black or grey clothes. It felt way too celebratory to even put on a small pair of earrings.
In our medical situation with our son we were receiving blow after devastating blow of disappointment that felt like unrelenting kicks in the gut. I couldn’t breathe.
Spiritually, I was convinced God had abandoned me. I pretty much told Him that He was cruel, and I didn’t think I could believe in a God like Him anymore. Can we be that honest with God?
You know what? He didn’t run away or condemn. Instead, He said, “Finally. Transparency. I’ve been waiting for this. I can work with this.”
You see, pain forces you to face whatever you believe about God. We may have to come to the place in a situation where God seems cruel before we are willing to really face our true beliefs. Then we begin a process of hard struggle to decide what is really the truth. We talked about this a little in my last post. Again this is not an intellectual process … it’s a heart process.
It took me a couple years, but I am thankful to say that I came out on the other side, knowing and believing in God and His goodness. My life is a 180 degree turnaround. I am completely unrecognizable from my old self to myself now. (To myself anyway!)
That being said, there are three things that helped me in the process. Maybe they will help you too.
- My Children. It’s not that my husband didn’t help me also – actually I am quite sure that without him our family would be in ruins right now. He held everything physical together when I couldn’t. But there is this part of me that figured he was an adult. If I didn’t make it through the trial he would eventually be ok.
But for my kids, I decided at the worst point that if I died trying, then so be it, but I would not show or teach my children that we give up when things are hard. I had a sense of responsibility that kept me going. They were worth waking up in the morning for, and I needed to model for them what living through a nightmare in the best way possible looked like.
- The Word of God. This was how I fought hard for years. I had gone to Christian school and college, I knew a lot of Bible in my head. This was a process of all of it going to my heart. I read the Bible now and I cry through it, every day. I feel the emotion of the characters, the love, the anguish, the bravery, the supernatural energy.
I have a thing for sticky notes. As I was seeing the Bible in a new light and my faith was being restored, it became part of my personal fight to write verses on sticky notes and look at them. I started taping them together so that I could look at them all at once. After a while, the taped-together grid was too big to fit on my end table anymore.
Every verse I wrote on the square yellow notes was important to me, God was breathing on every one. Over a three-year period, I acquired several hundred taped-together sticky notes that climbed up my bedroom wall, becoming a sort-of permanent wallpaper feature. It came to represent so much time spent with God and illumination of his Word that I can’t imagine ever taking it down, although it doesn’t fit into my minimal home decorating aesthetic.
I went through a phase where I needed bigger paper, colors and markers, so I wrote verses down that way for a while. I taped them on the underside of Carson’s bunk for about six months so that he would read them while he was in bed. This was how we fought.
- Music. After a year of fighting with my verses, I started to be able to listen to music and sing again. Music became part of the battle. (I am unashamedly extremely narrow in my music choices… just worship music from a real place with heart.)
When we worship it changes the atmosphere, the atmosphere outside of us and the atmosphere on the inside. My decision was, if the enemy was going to continue to constantly rail against my family, then he was going to have to sit and watch me worship in the middle of it.
God is so proud of us when we make the choice to honor Him in our pain. When we are in eternity someday, we will not have the opportunity to make this choice. There will be no pain, so no need to choose Him over the darkness. When we make these hard choices in the middle of the pain, we are giving him an offering that we can only give Him while we are here. We have this choice while on the earth to give Him a sacrifice that is costly to us. It’s a moment in time that will never happen again.
Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on Me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you…
Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me… (Psalms 50:15, 23)
When everything is going great in life, it’s easy to be thankful. When is thankfulness a sacrifice? When it hurts. It reminds me of the attitude that David had (2 Samuel 24:24) when he refused “to offer God a sacrifice that cost him nothing.”
It is only in the middle of excruciating pain that we are able to demonstrate full trust. In the moment when everything is screaming at you to GIVE UP, you can choose to defy natural logic and do the thing that is the most difficult to do. Let your pain be the fuel to your fight. It honors Him and gives the cold-shoulder brush-off to the enemy at the same time.
It’s a win-win.
These are the moments that are recorded in heaven.