[[Because this post will reference several seasons of life, I’ve decided to add links to some older posts concerning things referenced in the past (where applicable) for those who may not be as familiar with my life and growth in Christ over the past 13 years.]]
It is rare that enough is swirling around in my head late at night that it causes me to lie restless, compelled to write and compelled to seek the depths of my heart – these days, at least.
I have struggled to find a normal routine in recent years (see “A Night Owl’s Growing Convictions on the Importance of Daylight“), migrating from night owl to functioning daylight person, and I have yet to strike a proper balance. I’m still often too exhausted in daylight hours to function well, perhaps reinforcing my theory from college that I actually sleep best when I start in the early hours of the morning rather than the later hours of the evening… but I digress.
As I laid in bed this evening attempting (or maybe not attempting so much) to find the sleep my body so desperately craves, several things swirled in my head as I mulled over things that have accumulated over the past few months of our lives. I apologize in advance that this might come across as an incredible and random mixture of thoughts, and put forth that they do coalesce.
The first is perhaps that this last week has seemed a lifetime. Chris shared a verse tonight with the youth kids from James: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (4:17).
And that might be where my self-evaluation is driven from tonight, casting my own actions and reactions in a fresh glow of saving light.
I know that I can trust God to have the best for me, and I know that it is good to do so – that I should do so. But I fail to, and that is sinful.
As I’ve mentioned before, my first listens of Sara Groves’ albums seem to be ordained for the moments and seasons I need their truths the most (see “Christmas” and “Peace, Peace“). Her latest, “Invisible Empires” is no exception. A few weeks ago, I learned that she had a new album (that I somehow missed) and I purchased it with an iTunes card (a Christmas gift from my parents) the next day. I somehow wound up driving around town for a while trying to find a friend’s apartment, which was probably a good thing because I was in tears by the end of the second song.
In the little more than a year since my grandmother died and I woke from my second major bout with depression since being married (see “A different kind of happy“), our lives have certainly been incredible messes. We have seen everything from freak accidents and rehabilitation to friends moving away and substantial delays in what we thought life would be. We have also seen incredible blessings (see “God is not a cashier at a fast food restaurant“) and have been shown that God is still gracious toward us in every way.
But in the midst of all of the chaos (that continues), I’m beginning to realize that I have replaced some of my depression with a strong desire to control my life – and I’m finally realizing, more than a year later, that I truly hold no control over anything that I desire to hold firmly in the palm of my hand.
I cannot force someone to hire me. I cannot keep the sins of others from breaking my heart. I cannot control hurtful words others might say. I cannot prevent others from growing up and moving forward in their lives in ways that I feel incapable of doing. I cannot control whether or not we ever have children. I cannot keep others from moving away or falling away.
But I am finding that the things I do have quite a bit of say in are possibly the things that actually matter, which is a strangely liberating thing for me tonight. For the first time in more than a year, I feel I can take God at His word that He is not only good but has good planned for our lives – even if it doesn’t turn out as we may have wanted it.
And this is where Sara Groves song, “Open My Hands,” comes into the picture and is so incredibly poignant as it pierces my soul at its deepest points:
I believe in a blessing I don’t understand –
I’ve seen rain fall on the wicked and the just.
Rain is no measure of His faithfulness –
He withholds no good thing from us.
I believe in a peace that flows deeper than pain –
The broken find healing in love.
Pain is no measure of His faithfulness –
He withholds no good thing from us.
I will open my hands, will open my heart.
I am nodding my head, an emphatic “yes,”
for all that You have for me.
Certainly, this idea of common and special grace has been settling in my head for almost a year now (see “How He loves us…“). One of the most deep-reaching areas of struggle for me has been our desire to have children, with this month marking more than a year and a half since we began this painful adventure. It is something that we have held close and not heavily publicized.
And, no, I am still not pregnant. But God is still good, and I believe that more and more whole-heartedly the longer this waiting continues. The crazy thing is that I’m finally beginning to let go of the need to do all of this in my own timing. My desire is still there, and it sits with me daily, but some of the urgency is receding a bit as I realize it is good to trust the plan God has – and perhaps, for the first time, that to do otherwise is sinful.
Perhaps it is the unfortunate events of the past few weeks that have finally placed everything in the proper perspective, as I haven’t had the opportunity to grieve as I typically do. It’s amazing how, month after month, one can still have the slightest sliver of hope that things might finally be different than every month that has come before.
I may not be able to control my life, but I can be useful. I can do the good I have been entrusted with (Ephesians 2:10). I can enjoy my dear husband, whom I love and admire more than I did the day I walked to meet him in a church in Aurora, Colorado. I can enjoy the blessing of his friendship, his desire to know my heart, his desire to continue to lead us in the direction of the Kingdom – remaining faithful to the vows we took unto God and unto each other (see “Four Years and It is Lovelier (Still)“).
I can choose joy. I can choose to continue my pursuit of the Kingdom. I can choose to be healthy. There is no sin in the pursuit of these things.
It has been interesting since the beginning of the year, when I resolved I was going to finally take control of my body and lose the 20 pounds that make me overweight. To that point, I had hoped they would just be taken over if I were to become pregnant, and had used that as an excuse to avoid being healthy as I ought to be. The strangest piece is that, as I’ve lost little by little and seen myself become a little smaller, I’m finding that there’s life in that.
God has blessed this past year with an incredible and building desperation for Him in my heart. In my weakness and in my emerging into the light of sanity, He has been faithful to restore my awe of the love and grace He has given to me.
I have never longed for heaven more and have fallen in love with the promise of Revelation 21:5 – “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'”
All things new! Do we even dare to begin to think we know the implications of that thought? The world is broken, but the God I serve – the God who sent His only Son to redeem this wretch – is not broken, and is the same today as He has always been and always will be. How glorious!
And so I find myself desiring to embrace all that God has for me tonight, for the first time in a long time. The rain of the past year is no measure of His faithfulness or His love for me. He is good, and I want to open my heart to that truth daily – to see His infinite graces toward me in every star placed in the sky, every time of laughter with Christopher, every impatient pawing from a pup who just wants to be loved, every melody and lyric that resonates deep within, and every opportunity of sweet friendship, fellowship and worship. I am blessed in each and every moment, where there is at the least a hint of grace.
Common grace, specifically for me.
Listening to: Invisible Empires, Sara Groves
Reading: Emily’s Quest, L.M. Montgomery