I have been asking myself over and over this week “What comes out of me when I am squeezed.” What are my responses to life? What are my responses to the challenges and to the trials that I am personally facing and that my family faces at this time. What about my friends and my community. Honestly, lately there are times when I have disappointed myself. Where my life and my choices do not make me feel proud or, if I am honest, even pleased with myself. Life in 2020 looks different to how any of us ever expected life to look. Did we honestly believe that we would be spending months on end social distancing, isolating for our own protection and the protection of others, that food shortages would be a thing or that so many people would find themselves jobless?
Human frailty sucks. My emotional state has not been where I wish it was. Since the episode with my heart and being in hospital, I have been struggling. I am supposed to be staying calm but that has proven to be more difficult than I would have expected it to be. Calm and the current state of the world that we live in don’t really go together. The personal situation that has been happening in our lives has broken me and caused so much pain to my family. We will all recover but we won’t be the same as we were. I have experienced a time like this before. It was a long long time ago – when Justus was born months early and we had multiple things happening in our lives at once. I felt like I would break from the grief that I was feeling.
I vividly remember an horrific phone call that I received during my long days spent by my sons humidi-crib. After that phone call, I went outside and walked up and down the pavement that flanked the hospital. I was exhausted from lack of sleep, from waking multiple times a night and from the emotional exhaustion of not being able to be there for my other 3 children. I was ranting, crying, praying and pleading with God to intervene in my circumstances. I am going to be really honest here. There was no gloriously splendid splitting of the sky with a rolling, thunderous voice, telling me that everything would be okay. There was no phone call from the people that we thought cared about our situation with the exception of our most immediate family. (Most people are only equipped to deal with their own shit – they can’t cope with yours too and if they can, well……………… they might do it for an hour or two, but they seldom do it for week after week, month after month – and by this time we were 2 months in to our journey) Our lovely Christian neighbours were complaining because I was coming and going from the house at odd hours (yep being called into the hospital in the middle of the night is fun and you are a bad neighbour if you turn your headlights on at 1 am) My marriage was all kinds of broken and I was in crisis.
As I broke down on the pavement that day, a scripture that I had read years earlier popped into my mind. It was from the 90th Psalm and it talks about numbering our days that we might obtain a heart of wisdom. In that moment I remember wondering if that meant that we should live with the end in mind. That moment, there beside the hospital, I realised that my suffering, my pain and the things that I was going through weren’t going to be magically taken away. It had nothing to do with me being good enough, or being able to quote enough scripture at it, or pray hard enough or stand long enough or having enough faith. It was the very first time in my life where I found myself questioning the charismatic teachings of my childhood and realising that the sovereignty of God is not something to be laughed about.
I grew up in a movement that often made fun of those who believe in the sovereignty of God. In its very simplistic form, it is the belief that all that is good is God and all that is bad is Satan and if you have bad things happening in your life then it must be because you have Sin lurking in your closet. Believe me – my closet has sin AND so does yours! 🤣 We can’t control anything in this life EXCEPT ourselves and how we choose to respond to what happens to us and our responses to that. I now believe that there is a fine line between faith and arrogance. I realised that day that this was a valley to walk through and it mattered very little why I was in the valley or even who was responsible for me being in the valley – what mattered was the person I was becoming in it and on the other side of it and where I would run for comfort. Would I still be arrogant? Would I assume that I knew all of the answers? Would I still pretend that I was fine when I wasn’t? Would I flash the fake smile around? Would I be authentic? Would I be brave enough to change.
Perhaps I didn’t change enough, or perhaps it is just one of those things, but here I am again. More broken than the last time but more sure than ever before that in my brokenness I am not alone. I wish that I learned differently, I wish that pain wasn’t the catalyst for radical changes in my thinking but unfortunately it is ……… so valley, I see you, and hey, I am not stopping here. My prayers now are not demanding, declarations. They are the pain filled cry of someone with a deep understanding that it will only be because of grace that I don’t get exactly what I deserve. And it will only be His kindness and love that restores my soul ….. or not