Earlier this year there was a women’s conference that I was unable to attend. I remember feeling such a need to watch online. It was difficult and I felt a tiny bit guilty about it because all 3 kiddos were home. I basically banished them to the playroom so I could focus, In retrospect, it needed to happen.
One woman shared a story that has literally played on repeat in my head the last few weeks. She spoke of one day having “that” conversation. You know the one. The one where you discuss what you could NEVER do. Something you just couldn’t handle. I think we’ve probably all had a similar one. I remember before Kevin and I were married saying that I could never move away from my family because we’re so close. And yet somehow here I am, and actually happy to be here. Here happens to be 1,000 miles from my extended family even though I once said I could NEVER.
The woman who shared her story, lost her two sweet boys in a tornado. Here are some of her words:
My husband and I were at a cemetery placing flowers on his grandparents’ grave. He had not been there in 10 years and we drove by it every day. We stopped for the first time. After planting flowers, we noticed there was a grave behind his grandparents of a little boy and a mother. It was not taken care of and the grass was growing everywhere and toy trucks were strewn around. My husband said to me, “Let’s clean it up.” It was a great idea. On our hands and knees, we cleaned this stranger’s grave. I will never forget that time. I looked up at him with tears in my eyes and said, “if anything ever happened to our boys I would die.” My husband agreed and said the same thing. Little did I know that four days later they would be gone. Immediately, God picked me up after crying out and carried me through, and He still is carrying me. -April Smith
I know it is more comfortable to do hard things when we are excited about the journey. When God called us to serve with Safe Families, I was all in. God has given me a heart for the hurting. I love to serve. It is hard but rewarding. We have had so many difficult moments but it has been worth it. We have walked on with determination because we are passionate. This doesn’t make the journey easy-but since it is a journey that I want to travel, that I’m happy to travel, the roadblocks aren’t so overwhelming.
But what happens when God calls you on a journey that you don’t want to go on? What if, like April Smith, the next season is one of loss or grief? What if you aren’t passionate about this part of your walk? We are afraid to talk about those seasons, but we need to. Because they come. For all of us. It is my nature to pray against those seasons because I don’t want to be in them. But I am learning that obedience means moving forward no matter the season.
If your current season is one of hard things, I’d like to confess that I’m in that season, too. Not to diminish your struggle, but to walk alongside you and remind you that you aren’t alone. Here are some things that I am learning in this season and I hope they will help you, too.
–Gratitude. It’s so important. Every day there is something to be thankful for. Feel that gratitude with your whole heart. Thank God for how richly blessed you already are. I find myself so grateful for my amazing husband, my sweet children, my supportive church. On the worst days, I can still find something to be grateful for. Salvation. A God who knows the end of the story. The promise that one day He will wipe every tear from our eyes and death shall be no more, neither sorrow. Friends-there is always SOMETHING to be thankful for. With gratitude comes joy. And joy in the middle of the storm is that much more rich.
–Surrender. This is where we let God be God. Where we recognize that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. This is where we relinquish our grip on the illusion of control. This is where we get to show Him that we mean it when we say we trust Him. This is the beautiful place we can reach where we discover peace in saying “I don’t know how this story ends, I don’t know what each day holds, but I know that You’re going to be enough.” In surrender, there is contentment.
–Community. This is a hard one for me. But it might be one of the most important. I can’t tell you the fulfillment I have found in serving the broken. But when I’m broken-my gut instinct is to pull away until I can get myself together. That’s not how God created us to operate. Especially as Christians. We are part of a body. When we hide difficult times and pull away from that body, we do not only ourselves a disservice, but we do the people in our lives a disservice, too. There are lessons in humility for you to learn in your transparency with others. There are lessons in diligence and servant hood for those around you to learn. And when God does come through, no matter how it looks, you won’t be the only one rejoicing. The people who walked every ugly step with you will be able to be rejoice, too. They will come to know God more because you allowed them to share in your struggle. We may be robbing others of their blessing by choosing to walk a hard season in solitude. We aren’t meant to walk alone.
Maybe you aren’t in a season of struggle. Maybe this time in your life is fantastic and everything is going smoothly and you are looking for ways to serve someone else. I have had many family members and friends tell me recently that they struggle with what to do when crisis happens in the life of someone they love. Here are some ideas:
-Pray. And share that you’re praying. If you woke up at a certain time and had on your heart to pray for that person, tell them that you did. You would be surprised at how many times someone has told me that they prayed for me and it was at a moment that I specifically needed it. It was such a precious reminder that God’s got this.
-Take action. Don’t say “Tell me what you need and I’ll do it.” When crisis strikes, it can feel overwhelming to hear many people request that you think of something that they can do to help. It’s so kind, but the person struggling likely won’t take you up on your offer. Think about how you’d like to help and be specific. Say “let me know when I can watch the kids so you can take care of things.” or “I’d like to order dinner for you this week, what day would be best?” Drop off coffee. Send an encouraging card in the mail. Text scripture with no expectation of hearing a response. Take the burden off of the person struggling to figure out what they need and who can do it. Instead, be intentional when you notice a need and fill it if you can. If you can’t, be confident that your prayers will be enough. Because they will!
-Be the friend you’ve always been. Don’t ask for the gory details, but let them know you’re there to listen. It may be a day that they need to talk, or it may be a day where they are longing for some normalcy. Offer them that option.
We’ve all been on both sides of this story-the helper and the one who needs help. The one in the season of pain and the one in the season of prosperity. That’s life. May we learn to embrace the journey in both seasons.
Until the next blog…be blessed!