faith

Finding God Through The Questions

I’ve been struggling lately. With fear and anxiety. With my children and my role as their mother. But mostly, with God. I’m struggling to reconcile the God who created the world and who loved us so much that He sent His Son to die so that we could be rescued and spend eternity with Him, with the God who allowed my friend Sarah’s 12-year-old son to die or who allows two of my close friends to struggle with infertility or who allowed my father-in-law to get stage three Hodgkins Lymphoma.

I question why these things happen. I question why life has to be so hard. Every day, it feels like a new question arises; and the one answer I keep coming back to is HIM. GOD.

HE IS BOTH THE QUESTION AND THE ANSWER.

He is a profound mystery that calls us to have faith in what we cannot see, and yet, He is the most certain thing I know. He is there in death and life and sickness and health. He is I AM.

My 34th year of life has been one of the best and the hardest of my existence. The highs have been high: Starting this website, a summer filled with beaches and lakes and Paris. The lows have been low: death, cancer, self-doubt and fear. As I look ahead to 35 and 2019, so much of what’s to come feels uncharted. Yet God is there. In the midst of the unknown.

He is both the question and the answer.

In my heart, I want a plan. I crave strategy. I think that if I can save enough, obey enough, parent a specific way, everything will be ok. But God is not a God of plan and strategy. He is a God of will and purpose. If the beginning of 2018 was about understanding who I am and what I’m passionate about, the latter part of the year has been about surrendering myself and my passions to God and His design for my life and for this world.

Life is joy and pain, beauty and mess, excitement and confusion. Life is both/and, not either/or; and God is still God in the midst of all of it. When the world seems overwhelming, take heart, He has overcome the world.

Because I am a woman who likes plans and strategies, I also want blog posts—both the ones I read and the ones I write—to wrap themselves up in a nice little bow; but life isn’t like that and sometimes blog posts aren’t either. There’s no good way to end this post, so I will leave you with Ephesians 3:14-21. It’s a passage of Scripture that I have come back to time and again over the past year, both in prayer for myself and for those around me. Wherever you’re at in life or your faith, know this: God is big enough. When we seek Him, He promises to make himself known to us. His love is high and deep and wide—even when it doesn’t feel like it.

He is both the question and the answer.

Ephesians 3:14-21

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do

This isn't a post I want to be writing. This definitely isn't a place I want to be in; but I'm here, and I'm writing. I learned a long time ago that the difficult seasons of life are easier when let others in. I also believe that the hard stuff is all for naught if we fail to learn from it and share those lessons with others. This post is my attempt to make sense of a difficult season of life...while I'm still in the middle of it. 

A few months ago, I felt as if the Lord was preparing my husband and I for something hard. I thought maybe "the thing" we were preparing for was to homeschool our oldest child this year. After a lot of prayer, we decided to put him in full-day kindergarten. That wasn't "the thing." Then, I thought "the thing" might be the lump I found in my breast in June. That was benign. It wasn't "the thing" either.

And then someone very close to us got sick. Very sick. Night sweats, metallic taste in mouth, fatigue and weight loss sick. Unlike the lump and the homeschooling, this was "the thing." It was (is) Hodgkins Lymphoma. And so, our family has entered a season of life characterized by chemotherapy and doctor visits and test results and uncertainty. So. Much. Uncertainty. 

When I was younger and something bad happened, my dad would go into "crisis mode." In crisis mode, dad took care of the logistics of the situation as well as our family. He was calm. He was strong. He was the glue that held things together and assured my mom, brother and I that everything was going to be ok...even when it wasn't. 

I am the opposite of my father. I run from crisis. I fall apart. I want someone else to handle it. 

I'm learning that there are times when it's ok to fall apart and there times when we have to be the glue. Right now, in this season, I feel God calling me to be the glue. And yet, because my default "crisis mode" is to fall apart, I'm not entirely sure how to be the glue. So, what do you do when you, quite frankly, don't know what to do?

You let go.

Of trying to control the situation. Of worry over the situation you can't control. Of anger that you are in the situation in the first place. Of unnecessary commitments and responsibilities (because when one part of life is complicated, it's important to simplify in other areas). The reality is that we cannot always control the path we are forced to walk in life; but we can control our response to the challenges we meet along the way and find peace in the journey. 

True peace doesn't mean the absence of chaos, but rather a deep sense of calm, harmony and wholeness in the midst of the storm.

True peace is feeling an incomprehensible stability and confidence when everything around you is unsteady and confusing. True peace can only be found in Jesus. Which leads me to point number two. In seasons of life when you don't know what to do,

You run to God. 

As one who runs from crisis, you'd think running to God would be my first inclination. I assure you, it is not. All too often, when running from crisis, I run to the things of the world that will bring me immediate pleasure or distraction: Shopping, Netflix, reading, talking with a friend, a good glass of wine. These things, in and of themselves, can be good things; but when used at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons, they are all destructive.

In crisis, a wise person runs to the name of the Lord. Who God is. What He has done. What He promises. 

Finally, in seasons of life when you don't know what to do,

YOU MUST KEEP GOING.

Sometimes inch-by-inch. Sometimes carrying other people--or at least their burdens--on your back. You move forward because you realize that life doesn't stop just because you or someone you love is hurting. Life is fun and hard and beautiful and painful...often all at once. You must use the good times to fuel you through the bad; and you MUST KEEP GOING. 

But here's the good news. You were never meant to keep going alone. Rachel C. Swanson, one of my new favorite authors and podcasters says: "It's easy to shut down in our weakness instead of investing in God's strength." Ephesians 3:14-20 is my absolute favorite passage of scripture these days. I send it to everyone I know who is going through a tough time; and I read it daily. I'm going to write it out here because I think writing and reading scripture is the most important way to get TRUTH to sink into our hearts and minds: 

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant you to be strengthened with power through His spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:14-21)

Friend, I don't know what season of life you're in. I hope it's a fun and beautiful one. But if it's not, know this: I'm right there with you. I'm praying for you. And YOU ARE NOT ALONE.