There is a tremendous thunder storm going on as I sit quietly on my back porch**. It’s a little damp, a little loud, a little chilly but it is a lot nice. I love it.
I can’t tell you how blessed I am to have this sweet moment to think. On one hand I feel that I have so many unspoken words and on the other I feel as though I have nothing to say.
But I do have something to say, we all do. Some message of our lives that God has given us to share…some hope, some faith, some perspective.
For the past ten years it has felt as though I just barely get past one challenge before another begins. Sometimes it is as though these challenges are the defining feature of my life, but I have realized the things that define me are more subtle, more precious, quieter…
The moment of quiet in the midst of the storm…the ability to find hope when things seem so very hard…unexpected comforts.
This past week my daughter Lizzie got braces…Ally has had hers for quite a while and had no trouble adjusting to them…Lizzie’s are so very painful and through many tears she has pleaded to have them removed. I get it.
Why in the world choose something that not only hurts, but keeps you from sleeping and eating? Why in the world choose hard?
I keep telling her this short-term pain will have long-term gain! Ugh. I hate saying things like that. Who wants to hear that when things aren’t “right”?
So after trying the pep talk route once or twice, I decided to just sit down with her. It might sound funny but I convinced her to braid my hair while I read her a chapter of a book. She was reluctant but I persisted and we climbed onto her bed and while she braided I read a new book. By the end of the chapter, she was smiling and felt loved…and I had a rocking braid in my hair!
We have had many such moments since those metal torture devices were attached to her teeth. And each time I’m amazed how a simple thing like just being with her, comforts her. She relaxes and even smiles some.
I think it is because she doesn’t want to feel as though she is facing this pain alone. She wants the comfort of someone beside her. I get that too.
How often as a single parent do I feel like the burdens, whether big or small, are just too much to bear alone. The decisions, responsibilities, and challenges sometimes make me want to plead for a change. Thankfully, sometimes all it takes for a perspective change is a friend to come alongside and love me with their presence.
I can’t take Elizabeth’s pain away, but I can comfort and love and be there in the midst of it. I can’t change the circumstances, but I can help with the perspective.
That’s what we do for each other. That is what God does for us.
When I first became a single parent, I was much better about spending time in the word. It was the way I survived. I had friends pouring into me, but that Scripture the Holy Spirit poured into me was life-changing.
I needed those friends showing up, but even more, I needed God staying put. Those words, “He will never leave you nor forsake you” took on new meaning.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
I am not facing an army as Joshua was…I don’t have to take a land…but I do have battles ahead as I retake my family back from our tragedy…I do have to move forward when I want to lie down.
Sometimes I wonder if the Israelites ever thought, “Ya know, this wilderness…not so bad. After all, we have survived here. Why face an army and possible destruction just for the promise of a new and better land?”
I think it would be easy to feel that way – not put on the braces of life. To hunker down in survival mode and not move forward…not face the challenges. Not be strong and courageous. Forget that God goes with us and will not leave us.
Even when God didn’t answer the prayers I cried out to Him regarding my marriage and family, He didn’t leave me. Even when God hasn’t made things easy (or easier) these past several years, He hasn’t forsaken us. At some point there will be a Promised Land…a place of peace and joy and love. I know in the end there is heaven…I think maybe heaven happens in small glimpses here.
A braid and a story even when things hurt.
A porch in the storm.
A friend on the other end of a phone who listens and loves even though the story kinda never changes.
There is comfort in companionship. There is comfort in knowing that God has a plan…and even though I know the outcome will be grand, the way there is not at all what I’d choose.
Like braces, there is a lot of pain involved. A lot of adjustments that make me uncomfortable. A lot of things that rub me the wrong way.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 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 4:16-18
I know that many of us balk at the words “light and momentary troubles” because sometimes life feels anything but light and these moments are taking FOREVER! And it can be near impossible to fix my eyes on anything but all the stuff right in front of me…so how in the world do I fix my eyes on what is unseen? Eternal?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12: 1-2
Fix my eyes on Jesus.
I realized something as I wrote that…in the book of John, Jesus is called the Word. So maybe one of the first steps to fixing my eyes on Jesus is putting my eyes on His word.
Filling myself with scripture…like I used to do before 2 jobs and life happened…The words of truth to counter the lies I sometimes allow to change my perspective, mood, and attitude. Things about being a failure, about being in control, about not surviving, about no hope, about loneliness. A good dose of the truth of Him and I change.
Circumstances don’t always change, but I can.
When I fix my eyes on Him, the circumstances blur into the background. Like when you put a magnifying glass on a word and everything else blurs around it When I fix my eyes on Jesus He becomes bigger and everything else becomes less overwhelming.
Siting on this back porch while thunder booms, lightning crashes, and drops of rain are blown onto me, I think how like God to show me where I am with Him.
Life is a storm, but God is my back porch…my refuge in the storm.
I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2
* The picture is NOT the view from my back porch as much as I’d like it to be :)!