Three months ago today my life was turned upside down. It felt as though the bottom fell out of my life and I would never stop falling. So many things that felt certain no longer were.
(If you have no idea what I’m talking about, this is the post where I shared what happened.)
It’s three months on now, to the day. Life is still a struggle every day. It’s easier than it was, but pain and questions and darkness are never far from me. So I share what I’m about to share—three simple things I’ve been learning—not from a place of being ‘out the other side’ of all this. I’m still in the storm.
This too shall pass
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
One of the first friends I spoke to back in November about what had happened was a guy called Josh. He and his wife Lois have been absolute rocks for me in the last three months. From the day I first told him until the end of the year, he called, texted or saw me every day. Faithfully, prayerfully, honestly. It meant so much.
He wasn’t the only one, but I mention Josh because of something he said. When it was only one week from the day it all fell apart for me, Josh called. I was a wreck, in tears, barely able to talk. I manage to get out, “It’s just been the worst week of my life.”
Josh said this: “Yes, it was. But it’s over now. The worst week is done. Next week will be horrible too, but it won’t be the worst week.” I trust Josh, but at the time I didn’t know if I believed him. I couldn’t imagine it being any better. But it was. Or at least it was less bad.
In the midst of the darkness, it often doesn’t feel there will ever be an end.. I still don’t often feel there will be. But I now believe it. I have a future. I have hope. One week on, I needed Josh to say it for me. Now I can say it myself. The worst three months are over.
God’s grace really is enough
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you…” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)
Five days before everything happened, I preached on these words. Paul has a struggle, a very deep struggle, and he asks God for it to end. It doesn’t. What Paul learns is what I’ve been learning, that in the middle of the hardship God is enough. His grace and love are enough. I’ve had to learn the discipline of throwing myself onto God in the midst of pain, leaning on Him for everything because by myself I just can’t cope.
And I’ve learned He is sufficient. He’s all I need. I don’t need for things to change. I want them to, but I don’t need them to. I have prayed things will change and healing will come. If I’m honest with myself, a part of why I prayed that is so life would return to a place where I can stand on my own two feet, can make it through the day by myself. That’s more comfortable.
Now my prayer is different. I’ve been changed. I just want God. He doesn’t depend on situations, or the faithfulness of other people. He is all I need.
…for my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I’ve also been learning to be weak. And for that to be ok. I cry a lot (I’m crying now!), so I have two choices: cry publicly, or stay at home. I’ve often been too self-sufficient in my life, wanting to have it all together. I’m learning to be vulnerable, to expose my heart, as hard as that is.
Two things on that.
First, it is beautiful to be part of a church family where it’s ok. Where I can cry, I can be exposed, I can be truly myself, and people don’t freak out or get uncomfortable. I am so grateful to the other leaders of Gold Hill for modelling that and encouraging that. It’s family and it’s real. My voice can crack when I’m preaching, and that’s ok. It’s a truly beautiful and healing thing. Thank you, church.
Second, there’s true power in weakness. Not only does Paul (and I) know God’s grace in struggles, but in his (and my) weakness, God’s strength can be made known. I can’t serve or minister from a place of strength right now, but I can from a place of weakness. So I am. And God is using it. So if you’re in the same boat as me (and Paul), don’t think that disqualifies you. It simply does not.
There’s more, but that’ll do for now.