The wounds cut deep; both physically and figuratively.
Fourteen Decembers ago, I fell down the stairs. People sometimes talk about traumatic events as experienced through a surreal slow motion reality at the time. That would perfectly describe how it played out for me.
Having come back late from a church meeting, I longed for rest. Having just snuggled into my cozy layers of protection for my body , I was awakened by the high pitched voice of my toddler from the top of the stairs son beckoning me. Our bedroom was in the basement in the not completely renovated lower level (read that as concrete stairs), I was concerned about his possible fall. In my half asleep state, I climbed up to grab him and bring him down.
However, as I held him in my arms and attempted to take the trek back down, I realized quickly that something went wrong. Fear erupted as I felt my foot hit air when it should have made an immediate connection with cold cement. In what seemed like a few minutes (but was likely a few seconds), I scrambled to make sense of what was happening and how to resolve it. Fearing that my son would hit the cement floor, I turned my body to soften the hit.
Fortunately, he did not sustain injury. I did.
My broken shoulder commenced a nine month journey into waiting-for physical and emotional restoration. Truthfully, it was painful at times. Waiting for something for which you long but in which you have little control is hard.
It turns out, I also realized that my spirit was in need of attention. I’m not good at waiting. Trusting in God’s character rather than grabbing toward my tendency to a always be in control challenged me.
As I reflected on my experience that happened during Advent, the connections were not lost on me.
Waiting. Longing. Envisioning.
The Israelites knew a bit about these things. The hope of a Messiah. A King. A Deliverer, A Restorer was held up generations deep. God’s promises were embraced as the prophecies were repeated. Hope dangled in front of them as they witnessed God’s presence reminding them that they were never forgotten; through word and action.
But lifetimes went by. Unexpected twists and turns to the vision they held in their minds threatened to detour them toward discouragement.
When will fulfillment take place?
Waiting for something for which you long but in which you have little control is hard. It reminds us of our humanity; broken in body, mind, and spirit. True restoration can only originate from Heaven.
So we hold on to hope-one that is generational deep.
Waiting. Longing. Envisioning.
My shoulder is not completely healed. I lost cartilage that can never be replaced. The amount of movement is limited. I can’t do a backstroke very well but I can live with that. Jesus meets me in my brokenness yet I know that these moments are blips on the journey. Experiencing the fulfillment promised in Jesus will take a lifetime. Actually more than that.
“Know this with all your heart, with everything in you, that not one detail has failed of all the good things God, your God, promised you. It has all happened. Nothing’s left undone—not so much as a word.” Joshua 23:14
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Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever go. Joshua 1:9
How do you feel when you are driving along certain of your location and suddenly, without warning, you find yourself forced to take a detour? Many times the detour takes you to your destination through a series of streets with which you are unfamiliar. The confidence you felt in pursuing your destination has changed to anxiety. “I don’t know where I’m going!” is the thought that takes over your mind.
The daily life for a family facing the realities of a mental illness illness or other chronic medical condition can; at times, be filled with moments of unpredictability-a loved one makes and impulsive decision with life altering consequences, a sick child takes a sudden turn for the worse, a new medication is introduced. Any pursuit of stability in your life seems to be thrown off with a detour into the unknown. Our human desire for control seems to have slipped out of our hands. Traveling into the unknown brings a sense of fear.
The Israelites were no strangers to traveling into unknown territory. The physical terrain was not always familiar. Sure, they knew they were headed to the Promised Land but how exactly do you get there? Along the journey, they made poor decisions and struggled with trusting in the promises God made to them in the beginning.
Here, the Israelites are to go forth into unfamiliar territory. The fears are real-life and death is at stake. Yet Joshua proclaims to his brood this promise.
How does this promise encourage you as you face the unknown?
Sovereign God, you have shown us through your actions in your people before us that we have nothing to fear. You are greater than any challenges we face here on earth. Please fill us with your peace as we claim your words through Joshua as our own. Amen
Without warning, I found my mental state rapidly shifting. For one week in late March, it seemed to spin out of my control. Increasing anxiety gripped my soul, its force building stronger each day. Suddenly, the anxiety transformed into a deep depression. Never had I felt such a heaviness pressing upon me. After a few days, the weight lifted.
Making sense of it left me pondering: Why now? I had been treated for anxiety and depression for the last 15 years. For most of that period, my moods remained stable. Any shifts lasted only a few days. Through medication and therapy, I learned to manage my illnesses. However, this time, I felt blindsided; the symptoms appeared unexpectedly. Even though I was exhausted, the experience left me puzzled.
Read the whole post at http://mudroomblog.com/soul-care-unexpected-descent-depression/
Sometimes life doesn’t make sense. The reality of living in a world of brokenness washes over us on a daily basis. Yet, I think we are still caught off guard by it……and sometimes the depth of that brokenness challenges us.
In November 2015, Amanda Blackburn, wife and new mother, (her son wasn’t yet one years old and she was pregnant with their second child) was simply in the midst of her daily routines when an intruder broke into the home. Her husband of a couple of years, came home from the gym to find his beloved soulmate dying. She had been sexually assaulted and shot. Somehow, in the midst of their everyday tasks, in the refuge of their home, the life they knew was shattered.
I know this scenario is not exceptional. Sadly, the random taking of a life happens everyday, all over the world. People lose children, spouses, parents, friends unexpectedly everyday. Sometimes, the events are preventable. Sometimes they are not. Yet, because the we cannot fathom the pain endured by those affected, and because we know that we could easily find ourselves in their place one day, the gut reaction is to find reason. We grasp for control. We tell ourselves that if we can explain the incident away, then we can remove ourselves from “that place” of vulnerability.
As I read comments to the articles on Amanda’s murder, I noticed a thread in one of the discussions. Perhaps this young vibrant couple should have done their research before relocating from South Carolina to Indianapolis? Unfortunately, sin happens everywhere. And when you are a follower of Christ, you cannot go anywhere that will assure you of safety. And that’s the rub. Jesus never made safety a prerequisite for following him.
The Blackburns knew that: which is why they moved to Indianapolis. The Blackburns left their beloved church in the south to follow God’s leading to begin a new church in Indianapolis. According to the church’s website, “Davey and Amanda Blackburn moved to Indianapolis in January of 2012 with a dream and a calling to start a life-giving church that would connect with people who normally wouldn’t connect with church. (http://resonateindianapolis.com/our-story/).”
At a conference I attended, Rev. Raleigh Washington shared about his personal experience regarding the costs of following Christ. He and his family moved to Chicago to plant a church. The neighborhood to which they moved was one depicted by poverty and oppression. Violence, unfortunately, occurred on a daily basis. One day, his son was physically assaulted by another student as he got off the school bus. Friends of the family questioned Raleigh and his decision to move to a “dangerous” place. His response is etched in my heart and my mind. “My friends,” he said, “the most dangerous place to live is outside the will of God.”
That truth is uncomfortable. It’s no wonder Jonah jumped out of the boat. He feared going to a dangerous place. Which, by human accounts, it was. Have you researched the Ninevites? But this life isn’t about us. It’s about God and a bigger picture that involves us.
Several years ago, my husband was offered an opportunity to work in Florida. It sounded like a fantastic opportunity. He even would have traveled to the Bahamas occasionally. Our child was a toddler. What could possibly be wrong with this offer? We were ready to jump on it. But first, we committed to praying and seeking God’s blessing on this new move. And you know what? It didn’t happen. So we prayed some more. And we still didn’t sense God’s blessing. We had to acknowledge that, for us, Sarasota was a dangerous place to live. Not because of criminal activity. But because it was outside of God’s will.
Not all dangerous places look the same
So, let’s pray for the Blackburns. Their lives have been changed forever. Her family and friends are experiencing brokenness in its most intense Earthly form. But evil does not have the last word. Amanda may not be here on Earth. The expectations her husband held for how they would serve God together may have changed, but God’s revelation and purposes have not. This is the place to which they were called to live. And because of that, it is anything but a dangerous place.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” (proverbs 3:5-6)
I’ve heard many metaphors for life: seasons, ride, roller coaster. Each of those words gives a word picture to help us express and define how we experience day to day living. Sometimes, only one metaphor aptly fits your given scenario. As I reflect on the last nine or so months, riding a roller coaster best describes the sensation of breathtaking speed and long climbs of the events of daily life. In a previous blog, I wrote about the image of riding a roller coaster and how it applied to my life at the time. I have always felt more comfortable in the front seat because that way I can see what’s ahead.
Not feeling in control is an area of challenge for me. But sometimes, you don’t get the front seat. That fact was never more clear to me than this past year.
In October, my oldest son, Seth began having health concerns. His symptoms did not seem worrisome at first. As a mom, you always balance that “I don’t want to be paranoid” mentality with the “what if I’m ignoring something life-threatening” train of thought. So we waited.
Sometimes he seemed better. Sometimes he didn’t. Several visits to doctors resulted in more confusion as to the root cause of his symptoms. We heard the names of illnesses we can’t pronounce as well as being told that it’s all “in his head.” Remedy after remedy tried….and failed. More doctors, more time and energy spent troubleshooting; no answers. As fall ended, and more school was missed, frustration grew. It invaded family life. Siblings were feeling left out. My ability to home school became confined by doctor’s appointments and my diverted attention. Seth was growing sicker and I couldn’t help him. The ride was going fast, and I wanted off.
Finally, after mass amounts of blood work, and tests, there was a possible diagnosis: Reflux At least there was a name. And a bit of calm. But then in December, on an ordinary December evening, following dinner, my husband called me into the living room as we watched in horror as Seth began seizing. Not knowing what was happening, my reality of not having complete control hit me hard. What if he is dying?
Fortunately, he came out of the seizure after what seemed to be the longest 4 minutes of my life. After being admitted to the hospital, all tests came back normal. What?? Apparently, it isn’t unheard of to have a seizure with no answers.
But one month later, he had another seizure. And two weeks later, one more.
Now, I felt like I was clearly in the back car.
I couldn’t see where this ride was going. And neither could my family-my fellow passengers. As it would turn out, Seth would have two more seizures. We now added a Neurologist to his list of doctors. And more questions…with no answers.
With Seth getting sicker, his ability to attend school was nearly impossible. I was attempting to home school Lena, communicate with Seth’s school, return homework, carve out time for my husband and other child. My body longed for rest. fatigue prevailed. Congnitive functioning became difficult. Maintaining control over the situation gradually morphed into grasping for answers….and help. The mom in me wanted to fix it. But I couldn’t. I found myself in the most uncomfortable place for me on a roller coaster: in the back seat.
The backseat on the coaster does not allow the rider to see clearly what hill is coming up next. The ride may inch by for a while if the climb is lengthy. Or the climb is barely noticeable because the hill was so small. Therefore, preventing worked up fear for the drop on the other side.
In either case, being in the back seat position means I lose a sense of control. There may be unexpected climbs or stomach churning drops ahead. I can’t see them. But God, who is sovereign can. God, my Creator, who knows my fears, sees what’s ahead. And that is to whom I must look to rather than my own devices of resolution.
In the midst of the ride I was taking, new turns were around the corner: a family friend and my kids’ piano teacher died suddenly: young and full of life-leaving us all stunned. My husband’s beloved grandmother, an independent, 97 year old woman and light of the family and her community developed cancer and passed away within a month. One month later, Scott’s beloved aunt left this earth. And did I mention that somewhere in the midst of these twists, his company was bought out? What would that mean for us? And him?
I clung to Lamentations 3:22-24:
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”