Category Archives: Grieving

When It Feels Like the World is Missing the Point

10628631_10152518441896009_750468054027756701_o*Disclaimer: this post will only make sense if it’s read in its entirety. And it’s a little long–I apologize in advance. But stick with me? I think it’s pretty dang important.

My father is Hispanic; his family immigrated to the US when he was a child. My mom is white–a mixture of Scotch-Irish and German descent predominantly, with some other things thrown in there. I’ve been told there is some Italian in there somewhere; I’m not sure where or on whose side or if it even matters. I already got a lot of feisty blood, so what’s some more thrown in?

My life has been one of navigating two cultures. I don’t know it any other way. And I’ve never known which one I more strongly identified with; my pale skin and lack of Spanish linguistic skills kind of nudged me in one direction, but you can’t ignore what makes up half of who you are. In the end, this ambiguity has been a gift more than anything else.

(Although those little boxes where you can check your ethnicity on standardized tests and surveys and government forms always stress me out–which box do I check??? I don’t know!!! There’s no box if you’re mixed. I leave them blank.)

Anyway, the gift is that I adapt easily between people groups. This has even proven true in foreign countries when I don’t know the language or anything else. I just dive right in and absorb it all. And I was taught that all people are to be valued and respected because they are God’s children. To have ever held the notion that being white is somehow superior would have been to dismiss half of who I was. People are precious. Period.

***

It is hard for me to identify with communities that are predominantly made up of any one people group. I grew up in San Antonio which has a large Hispanic population. The school I went to was predominantly white and Hispanic kids, although there were a few black kids there too. I think that just reflects the demographic of the city; I could be wrong.

And then we moved to South Dallas which is so ethnically diverse, I don’t even know how to describe it. At one point the town I spent most of my time in was probably nearly half and half when it came to black and white residents; a rapidly growing Hispanic population I am sure has since shifted the ratios around some more, not quite into thirds, but still each group is significantly represented.

I thought we were a snapshot of America, just an example of how the population trends were going. At the very least I thought we were a snapshot of Texas. But after conversations with friends in other parts of the state and the country, I have realized how completely untrue this is.

***

My first real encounter with racism was as an adult, my first year teaching, to be exact. A student had failed an assignment because she had skipped almost all the parts I had outlined in the handout, so her mother and I had scheduled a conference to discuss it. I showed the mom the assignment sheet I had passed out, and then I showed her the assignment I’d received from her daughter which was barely completed and missing pages. I saw the anger rising in this woman’s face and was starting to feel very sorry for what was awaiting her daughter when she got home, when the woman stood up and started yelling at me: “You’re racist! You’re just penalizing her because she’s black. I bet none of your white students did the assignment right, but they probably passed anyway. You think you’re so much better, but you’re racist. I’m going to the principal!”

I was too shocked to even say anything. She stormed out, and I burst into tears, certain that I was about to be fired from my first real job as an adult. Was she serious? The thought had never even crossed my mind that someone would accuse me of racism.

I want to say that was an isolated incident, but there were a handful of parents who frequently tried to get around their children’s poor academic performance by blaming the racist teacher. It was exhausting. And to be perfectly honest, it hardened me. This is what people refer to as playing the race card–making race an issue when it has nothing to do with the problem at hand. I am sorry to say I came to expect it. I am even sorrier to say that for a while it kept me from being able to hear the legitimate wounds and struggles people were facing. I was too indignant that someone would make an assumption about me based on the color of my skin (ironic, I know).

When I was about to pull my hair out, I sat down with a friend and co-worker one day (who for the sake of the story I need to say also happened to be black) and said, “Please help me. Am I actually being racist and I don’t know it? Or is there such a thing as playing the race card? Why does this keep happening? What am I missing?”

And those questions to her opened up a dialogue that helped me gain some perspective and understanding. In our little neck of the woods, there were definitely times people cried “racism” to detract from the actual issues, BUT this did not negate that racism was alive and well, even in our very diverse community. My friend was highly educated and had run into people’s surprise that she spoke “like a white girl”–as if somehow a black girl couldn’t possibly be well-spoken and intellectual. Her fiancee had been followed by police on more than one occasion when he was hanging out with his brother, suspicion aroused because two young black men surely wouldn’t be out at night unless they were up to no good. Neither of them were alone in these experiences. My heart started softening.

***

I was an English teacher and always had to field an endless number of phone calls and emails from angry black parents whenever it was time to read Huck Finn. The literary purist in me was always indignant. Did these people not understand satire? Could they not see how Mark Twain poked at the foolishness of racism? I held my ground until another dear friend and co-worker lovingly but firmly said to me, “I would never ask my children to read that book. I don’t care what point he’s trying to make. Do you know what it was like in the years immediately following the Civil Rights movement to be one of the only black girls in your school and have a teacher assign this book and all of a sudden your classmates think they have a right to try out this word because it was in literature and you’re the only one around for them to try it out on?”

That book was not on my reading list the next year. There were other ways to teach satire without ripping open wounds for the parents of my students.

***

I am so grateful these friends were in my life to help me see. I don’t say this in a smug “See, I have black friends” way. The corner of the world I grew up in was colorful, so my friendships were colorful. This doesn’t mean I have always been able to clearly see their stories, their struggles, their wounds, their needs. Actually, that has taken me a lot longer than it probably should have.

But I have been learning to see. And I have been reading some portions of history that were most certainly left out of my education. And I am listening to people who live in other places and deal with these things on a far broader scope than I previously imagined. I am no expert–not even close–but the research-hound in me has been unleashed on this matter, and what I am discovering is demanding that I approach current news headlines differently.

And this is where I feel like so much of the world, specifically MY conservative Christian world, is straight up missing the point.

If you are only caught up in all the details of transcripts and autopsies and so on from Michael Brown’s death, you are missing the point.

If your only narrative is the one about police officers doing what they have to do to make it home to their families alive, you are missing the point.

If you are quoting stats about black-on-black crimes and fatherless black households, you are missing the point.

If you are too busy saying looting and rioting isn’t the way to bring change, you are missing the point.

If you are looking at the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner as isolated incidents, you are most certainly missing the point.

Our black brothers and sisters are trying to tell us that something is not right. Actually that lots of somethings are not right. And the vast majority of them would agree that looting and rioting are not the answer, but still they are pleading with us to listen to what is behind those actions.

When my children act out, I can write them off as bad or I can find out what is going on in their hearts that is provoking this response. People’s behavior is evaluated this way all the time; why not now?

I think of the apostle Paul writing that we are a body and if one part is hurt, we all hurt. Well, I have black Christian brothers and sisters who are hurting, and even if I cannot fully understand or grasp what is prompting that pain, dismissing that pain is flat out wrong. Throwing around words like “thug” and “none of us were there so none of us know” and “let’s just wait for the facts” is not remotely helpful. It certainly is not loving or compassionate.

We should sit with them in the pain, mourn with those who mourn, and offer our voice to their prayers. Above all, we lay down our agendas and our politics and our limited lenses, and seek to understand.

There is so much more I could say. I had a whole other section about the police side of this after my experience with my husband going through the police academy and pursuing that career path. Maybe it’s another post for another day because this is already crazy long.

In the end, I am shocked by the lack of compassion I have seen on display, even through silence and refusal to engage. Compassion does not say, “Well, yes it’s tragic, but…” And compassion is not quick to find ways to justify the loss of life. So I am saying, pleading, with all my other Christian brothers and sisters, we can do better. We have to do better.

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Filed under Change, Grieving, Pain

The Battle for Hope (And I’m Still Here)

Image Source: CreationSwap.com

Image Source: CreationSwap.com

Oh, dear blog readers, I’m still here.

I cannot believe my last post was September 15. This might be my longest stretch of silence since I started blogging, and I certainly did not plan it.

There’s this fine line as a writer–finding the balance between not over-sharing but still offering the vulnerability and raw honesty that makes stories powerful. I struggle to walk this line because I do not believe in spewing AllTheThings over the entire internet, but I do believe in transparency and not shrinking away from the hard things.

With trembling hands, can I hold out my messy heart for a moment?

A few weeks ago, I had one of those epiphanies that often comes in the ethereal seconds between waking and sleeping, when your defenses are down and your mind is drifting, so your heart and spirit get a chance to speak up a little louder than usual. I had been so busy surviving, trying to keep my family encouraged and hopeful and moving forward during a hard season, that I missed how deeply my heart was grieving. Space had not been allowed for the processing of some painful losses.

I am used to living with feisty emotions, but the depth of what I was carrying and stuffing deep inside caught me off guard. The processing has been rough. It still is.

2014–a year I held very high hopes and expectations for–has turned out to be marked by four heart-shaking circumstances that have all left their own variation of chaos or hurt in their wake

A prayer we’d been waiting to see answered for five years was seemingly realized for a few weeks, only to unravel into a nightmare. And nothing in my theology or experiences with God prepared me for this. Seasons when He seems silent or distant? Yes, I can navigate that. Seasons of waiting when you’re wondering when He will come through? We’ve gotten pretty good at those too. But when it seems a promise is fulfilled and then it’s not? Ok, technically I supposed stories like Abraham & Isaac & Job should’ve prepared me, but they didn’t. They just didn’t.

How do you navigate feeling utterly betrayed by God? At least there was a point when the prophet Jeremiah cried out, “Oh God, You deceived me and I was deceived.” It’s not really comforting, but at least someone else felt tricked by God and had the guts to say so. But I have walked with God for most of my life, and this has shaken that relationship to its core. In a lot of ways, God and I are beginning again.

During all of this, another decision we had been mulling for several months became clear, and we realized we needed to step away from the church plant we’d been part of for two and a half years. And while I still know in my bones this was the best choice for our family, it has been an enormous loss for me. I loved that church. I invested my heart deeply into that church. I had huge dreams for that church. I saw myself there for many more years. I had relationships I thought would last a lifetime, and instead they are broken or unravelling.

I have grieved this like a death in many ways. It still stings. Even though my children and husband are flourishing spiritually in a way they hadn’t been able to for a long time, even though this decision was made back in June, my heart aches. It is hard to trust that what was best for my family will also somehow be best for me. I don’t see it yet.

We had every intention of moving when our lease was up at the end of September. Our current apartment isn’t horrible, but we don’t love it and only saw it as very temporary. Our kids have been asking for their own rooms and a backyard, and we were really hoping to find a house to rent, somewhere we could settle for a little while.

But the closer it got to September, the more we realized it wasn’t the most practical choice yet. Financially, we would benefit more in the long run if we stayed put another year. Another hope dashed. We’re adjusting a little better to this one, but it’s still hard, especially the closer we get to Christmas. Last year, when we packed up our decorations, the kids and I actually prayed that when we put them up again, it would be in a new house with a fireplace. I’m really hoping they don’t remember that prayer. I’m not ready to deal with those questions.

And the thread running through all these things has been an ongoing health challenge with our little girl. I’ve shared here before about her surgery as a baby and why this is so hard for me. She has a kidney abnormality, and I’ve spent a huge chunk of time over the last month and a half sitting with her through tests and waiting rooms and visits to specialists. The good news is it doesn’t seem as serious as they initially thought; the bad news is there are still a lot of question marks, things we just don’t have answers for yet. So we wait and plan for a few more doctor visits and we wait some more. I don’t know how this story ends yet.

I don’t share all this for any pity or dramatics. I share it because someone else out there needs to know they’re not alone in the unravelling of hopes, in the quaking of faith. I share it because I’ve mastered the art of smiling and looking like we have it together, and I don’t want to be that person.

I share because last Saturday found me locked in the bathroom, sobbing on the floor, everything in me just wanting to give up because it’s too hard and the strain I’m experiencing on so many levels feels too intense. I found myself on the brink of throwing hope to the wind. Do you know what a terrifying brink that is? It almost seems cruel. Because what is life without hope, yet how do you hope when you’ve been met with disappointment again and again? You feel like you can’t win.

And I am telling you, I was completely and utterly at the end of my reserves to muster the ability to just keep going. I do not have it in me. But hope is a powerful force, and sometime it takes hold of you even when you can’t take hold of it. Say what you will, I know beyond the shadow of doubt it was God Himself that picked me up off that floor and gave me enough spark to finish that day. Then the next one, and the next one, and the next one . . .

I think of Jacob wrestling with God and saying “I will not let You go until You bless me.” That is pretty much my only prayer right now–to wrap myself around everything I have ever known and experienced about grace and hope and unfailing love (even if those things feel so hidden right now), to look through the tears and hang on tight and scream, “I will not let You go until You bless me. I will not!”

I realize in deeper ways than I have known before that so much of faith is truly not about feeling, but about choosing. I can choose to let go or I can choose to hold on. One day, I might choose for me. But right now, there are two precious faces that look at me every day with eyes full of wonder and hope, so for them, I choose wonder and hope too.

Can I whisper to you, friend also looking to get up from the bathroom floor and see beauty through your tears, choose hope with me? 

P.S.: I promise to not go so silent again. I have so many things I want to write and share. And later this month, I am celebrating seven years of marriage to the love of my life, and I am going to share both fun and serious things I’ve learned so far. Stick around?

P.P.S.: If you read all the way to the end of this, you deserve a prize. Have a piece of chocolate or glass of wine!

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Filed under Change, Faith, Grieving

#Ferguson (or When You’re Struggling for Words, but Still have to Speak)

AP Photo/Sid Hastings via Buzzfeed

AP Photo/Sid Hastings via Buzzfeed

I am heartbroken. My heart has been heavy for weeks now – Palestine and Israel, Syria, Ukraine and Russia, ISIS, Robin Williams, the list is getting longer and the world is unraveling.

But Mike Brown has pushed me over the edge. Every time I think about it, the tears come.

There are a billion words I want to say, questions I want to ask, things I want to understand and dialogue with friends who have better perspective than I do.

But not today.

Today is for lament. Today is for grieving. Today is for holy indignation. Today is for holding out hands to rightfully angry, hurting, frustrated brothers and sisters and breathing, “I’m sorry.” Because I am. I am so so sorry.

This is not the world I want, for you or for me. And I don’t understand how this is still a thing – how a person is assumed to be up to no good simply because of their skin color. Why??? Why are their people who see the world this way? Why are their people who want to hide out in their monochromatic bubbles away from anything and anyone different from them? Why do we think someone’s skin color speaks for their character?

I grieve for mommas who love Jesus and love people with their whole hearts, who are doing their best to raise their children to walk in peace and respect for people, but who are afraid to let their children out on the streets for fear of what someone will assume and do. I grieve for dear friends who have shared stories of being followed by police while they were out having a good time with their siblings simply because they were two black men. I grieve for friends who have struggled to find themselves because people made them feel they had to “act more white” in order to succeed in this world. I grieve for students I have loved and mentored who carry this weight on their shoulders ever single day. I grieve for sons shot dead and futures snuffed out.

And I am sorry for holding these words in my heart for several days and not writing them sooner. I am sorry it took a wave of conviction prompted by someone else’s boldness to make me speak.

I hate racism. I hate it with every fiber of my being. And I want to know how we can do better. I want to push back against this injustice.

But today I start with I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart. And for what it’s worth – to all the many races and ethnic backgrounds and cultures, but especially, today to my African American brothers and sisters, you have every right to be in this world. I want to be in your life, and I want you in my life. And I don’t want it to be my world or your world but our world.

I know it may not feel like it in the world at large right now, but with all sincerity, you ARE loved. Right here, in this heart, you are.

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Filed under Covenant Relationships, Grieving, Pain

Why We Must Ask Questions

IMG1190I have been reading C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed over the last week and a half, and that little book has just about wrecked me. I can’t relate to Lewis’ precise experience; I haven’t lost anyone that close to me.  But there are other types of loss, other deaths, that cause intense grief in us.  This isn’t discussed much, so we don’t always know how to walk it out.  We don’t always recognize the presence of grief or its role as the catalyst in forcing us to face our hardest questions.

And this is what has struck me most and drawn out my reading time of what normally would be an easy book. I am undone by the questions Lewis transparently and bluntly asks about God and his whole spiritual journey.  He doesn’t back down from them or hide them; rather he grabs them and shakes them out and wrestles with them.  It’s breathtaking.  It’s freeing.

I encounter again and again people raised in church or around church who feel like they cannot ask certain questions. Even if spiritual leaders would say, “Of course you can ask questions.  It’s called seeking God,  He can handle our doubts.”  There is still this almost unspoken understanding that the freedom for asking only goes so far; there are still questions you just shouldn’t ask. And if you dare to voice those doubts, those puzzles troubling your mind, you are usually told you are in error or must be in sin or clearly have not been reading your Bible enough or some combination of all of the above. I wish this wasn’t true. But I’ve listened to their stories and experienced my own.  We all have that spiritual leader or friend we trusted and dared to voice our questions to, only to be rebuked or shamed or given some empty trite answer.

(*As an aside, I do need to say, I was fortunate to have two pastors in my life during two different critical, formative periods in my spiritual journey who received and encouraged all my questions, big and small, in those seasons. I am fairly certain I wouldn’t still be loving God without the grace they showed me, and I am unspeakably grateful.)

But here is the epiphany that has come to me as I have sat with Lewis in his grief journey.  The only truly damaging questions are the ones we do not ask of God.  The ones we keep inside because they seem too dangerous, too inappropriate, too unorthodox. These silent questions turn into a slow poison, eating at us, smothering the life in us one day at a time. They are ever present to feed our ravenous fears and doubts and wounds.

If we ever want answers, or at least to be at peace with the unknown when we realize some questions have no answer in this life, we must ask the questions. We must voice them.  All of them. The angry ones. The hurt ones. The confusing ones. The terrifying ones whose answers could unravel everything we ever believed. The broken ones that simply cannot be asked without some swearing and anguish. They don’t have to be asked nicely or neatly or politely. They just need to be asked. Really truly knowing God depends on this unfiltered, unedited dialogue from our heart to His.  I am more convinced of this than ever.

I encourage you – no, more seriously, I implore you – ask your questions. Scribble them into a journal (you can always burn the pages later if you’re worried about someone reading them. Or even if you’re not worried. **It’s therapeutic.) Drive out to the middle of nowhere and scream them at the sky. Pour them out to a trusted friend who will love you no matter what, if you are so fortunate to have one of those. Do it however you like, but please, get those questions out. You cannot possibly shock or offend God with your seeking heart.

I will take my own advice and do the same.

P.S.: I’m sorry I have been neglecting this space a little. It’s a rough season and the words are not coming easily. **Also, I promise I’m not a pyro, but I do find occasional small burnings to be cathartic. 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Faith, Grieving, Prayer, Uncategorized

A Sliver of Hope

We’ve had a lot of craziness in our lives recently.  I’ve had a major project at work reach its climax.  I started taking care of a friend’s little boy 4 days a week, in addition to my own munchkins.  Any routine or schedule I’d been fighting for has been thrown to the wind.

Last Tuesday, I came the closest to having a productive, normal day I’ve come in several weeks.  It seemed we were finding a rhythm.  I managed to get a few things done around the apartment.  I managed to get some work done on my project.  I got all the little ones tucked in for naps.

And then the phone rang.  And after only a matter of moments, my world as I knew it was turned upside down.  I was left, struggling to breathe between the sobs.  (And I will write more about this change soon.)

The rest of the day was a fight to take care of the children and not alarm them, even though I only wanted to lock myself in the bathroom and cry.  It was a fight to face my friend when she came for her son and not come off as a deranged nutcase she should never have entrusted her child too.  It was a fight to be present when my husband came home, to not crawl into bed and refuse to come out.

In the middle of the fog and chaos and discouragement descending on me, I received this Facebook message:

I got up this morning around 6:30 to have my time with the Lord . . . I couldn’t get comfortable in my spirit . . . your face came before me in prayer . . . Please know that someone who really doesn’t know you other than saying hello in the parking lot was going before God for you . . .

God knew what my day held, and He stirred someone who is basically a stranger to spend the morning in prayer for me.  Why was it a stranger?  Why not a friend or my pastor or my own husband?  I don’t know.  I don’t care.

Or maybe I know a little.  Because in the days that have followed, I have often felt like maybe God has forgotten me, maybe He doesn’t see me.  It wouldn’t be that odd for someone I know to think of me in prayer.  But in moving the heart of a stranger on my behalf, the very day my soul was crushed, He emphatically declared that He does indeed see and know and has not forgotten.

This is my only hope right now, and I am clinging to it tightly.

And perhaps you, friend, have endured a heartache and disappointment recently.  Perhaps you feel abandoned or forgotten.  Tonight, I whisper a prayer that your eyes would be opened, that astonishing signs would be sent your way to have an assurance that He sees and He knows and He’s moving on your behalf.

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Filed under Grieving, Hope, Pain, Prayer

A Little Change of Pace

This week in Story101, we are being encouraged to write something that is outside of our comfort zone.  Being typically far more inclined towards nonfiction with spiritual undertones, I decided to dip my baby toe into the tempestuous waters of fiction.  I almost didn’t post it here, but then I thought, “Why not?”  And truth be told, I think a little bit of my personal nonfiction crept its way into this story.  Oh well!

 

A cold rain drizzled down, lightly rapping on her window pane.

She shrugged into her favorite red trench coat and rummaged in her closet for a hat, ignoring the voice inside her head trying to convince her to stay inside where it was warm and dry, like any normal person would.

She couldn’t help it.  She had to go.  Something beckoned.

Stepping out her door, she hoisted her umbrella and headed off in the familiar direction of the tube station.

In spite of the fact that everyone walks everywhere in London if they can possibly help it, the streets were emptier than usual.  Perhaps she had ventured out just late enough to miss the frantic morning rush.  Perhaps people of more sound minds had ducked into a pub or cafe to sip a warm drink.

No matter.  This was the London she liked best anyway –   one of those rare moments when the bustling city seemed to pause to catch its breath, as if some inaudible message whispered from soul to soul that at some designated hour, they should all inhale together and hold their breath a moment longer than usual before exhaling and reviving the whirlwind of activity.  In these pockets of silence and stillness, she always heard her heart most clearly.

Never mind that she had walked these streets countless times before.  Her heart fluttered with the anticipation of something new, something yet undiscovered.  She found herself picking up the pace, trying to hurry, as if by speeding up she would somehow catch up to this intangible thing and be able to grasp it.

Down the steps into the underground, slipping through the turnstile, she barely had a moment to wait before the train came roaring through.  Once seated, she finally allowed her mind to ask the question that had been lurking awkwardly in the room all morning, knowing it was uninvited but still begging to be acknowledged.

Just where exactly do you think you are going?

And where WAS she going?  Her soul had beckoned, and she had responded, simply wanting to let her heart feel alive.  Fortunately, there were countless places in the city which invoked this feeling in her, so it was only a matter of choosing one.  And settling on the need for beauty and art, she set her course for the National Gallery.

Mere minutes slipped by before that utterly poised voice came through the intercom, announcing the approach of Charing Cross station.  She stood as the doors opened and stepped out into the bustling station. The sudden emergence of activity threw her for a moment after the stillness of her morning, but the pleading of her heart was not drowned out.  Lifting her umbrella, she walked out into the falling rain, down the street and towards the museum.

The usual queues of tourists and school groups were assembled, but these she quickly passed, heading towards her favorite corner of the gallery.  Some condescending, self-appointed art expert had once told her it was cliché to love the Impressionists, but love them she did.  The softness of the paintings, the almost-blurring of the lines, the emphasis on the feelings evoked by the moment rather than the reality of the moment itself – how much of her life had been this way?  Indeed, she could rarely see a certain garden, feel a certain wind, walk under certain crisp autumn skies without recalling how she had felt in another time or place.

And even as these thoughts filled her head, there came the familiar pang of remembering.  Quickly, she scolded herself for at least the thousandth time, Why do you still let this bother you?  How ridiculous.  You are so far past this. How can this possibly still haunt you?

And just as quickly, there in the comforting presence of Monet, came the realization that some moments were precious gifts, purchased by the savings of her deepest hopes and longings.  Losing them did not doom her to a life without other such breathtaking moments, but the fact still remained that something precious had been lost, a truth she was terrified to acknowledge.

She drew in a sharp breath, finally allowing herself to feel the magnitude of what she had given, the pain slowly emerging from beneath the numbness.  Before she could muster the resistance to the onslaught of recollection, a tear broke through the hardened memories and slipped quietly down her cheek.

 

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Filed under Creativity, Fiction, Grieving, Pain, Writing

Waiting on a Miracle

I have suffered a death of sorts this week.

Our car died.  And I can hear you now: “But it’s just a car . . .???”

But it’s not just a car.  You see, our last car died.  Slowly.  Over the course of many months.  We watched it happen, but there was so little we could do.  And then a miracle.

My grandfather had a car, but was no longer able to drive it.  My husband was at school in the evenings, and my grandparents were worried about me, at home, with two babies and no way to go anywhere if I needed to.  We weren’t able to handle the expense of two cars at the time, so my parents ended up buying it from them.

But when our car died, my dad said, “This was always intended for you.  And so it’s yours.”  And just like that – a miracle.  A reliable, well-cared-for (free!) miracle of a car.

In the season when this happened, there was a lot of other craziness happening.  Transition.  Challenges.  And the car became for me a symbol that nothing was impossible, that God could bring something out of nothing, that He was faithful.  I had heard stories like this from other people, but this one was mine.  My story.

Two weeks ago, we experienced some minor issues with the car.  A flat tire resulted in taking the car in for some other routine maintenance.  And when our tiny bit of precious savings was spent, it became obvious that the issues were far bigger than the life of the car.  Literally all this time, it has been excellent, reliable, such a gift.  And then in a matter of days, we watched it fall to pieces.

My miracle.

This current season has its own challenges, like every season does.  But these have been particularly excruciating.  My heart has been raw and bleeding and weary.  They always tell you in these hard times to look back and remember how God has been faithful to you.

But in the midst of this dark, suffocating season, the thing that served as the most visible reminder of faithfulness died.  How do I explain?  It’s not that this was the only time in my life God was faithful to me.  It was just the most tangible, wrap-your-hands-around-it, see-it-with-your-own-two-eyes experience I have had.  I could see the fruit of my faith.

And its death feels like a betrayal.

It feels like I was granted sight for a moment only to be plunged back into darkness again.

It’s not about a car.

It’s about deep wounds inflicted on my heart.  It’s about dreams that are buried and agonizing to remember.  It’s about pressure that threatens to crush.  It’s about the demands and exhausting challenges of mothering two pint-sized world changers.  It’s about watching my enemy carry out an unrelenting vendetta against the man I love.

It’s about the age-old lie that says He is not good, He is holding out on me.

I know I am not the first to walk these dark, hard places.  Nor will I be the last.  And I will say what so many don’t want to say – this faith journey is so dang hard.  More days than not, it feels like it gets worse before it gets better.  More days than not, it makes no sense.  More days than not, it seems like the people just doing their own thing have it so much easier than the more eternally-minded among us.

But.

More days than not, I see the fingerprints of His goodness all over my ordinary.  More days than not, I am assured that I am deeply known and deeply loved.  More days than not, I hear His voice above the chaos, saying, “I’ve got you, beautiful.”

So today, I will acknowledge my feelings, but I will not be governed by my feelings.  I will not let my enemy win.  I will cling to His hand for dear life, let Him lead me one trembling step at a time through the darkness until the clouds lift and the miracles appear.

 

 

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