November 23, 2015

Avoiding Disappointment

"I don't want to feel such heartache ever again!"
I've said it many times over and again.

I don't want to feel again the depths of grief that I have......
To FEEL again.  Yes.  Maybe that's it.  Not to FEEL.

I remember vividly the moment this irrational fear swept over me.  Suddenly afraid of losing everything and everyone I cared deeply about. 

Maybe not intentionally but somehow I had created this protective wall around my heart.
Avoiding those deep feelings.  Avoiding what could inevitably cost me another piece of my heart.

I feel deeply.
I love big.
I give without hesitation.
And if I'm honest, there are times that has been a costly sacrifice. 
I've known loss.  I've known heartache.  I have felt the depths of grief.
.........but I too have known unexpected, surprising JOYS. I have known abundance....being overwhelmed with such blessings. I have felt the depths of gratitude in the midst of grief when the presence of God was so evident to me....His capable hands holding me, protecting me, hedging me in and granting me such unexplainable PEACE.

PEACE....I've known peace.
Seasons of rest.

If we are not careful we will forfeit the GRACE we have been so freely given with bitterness.  Voicing our complaints, feeling we've been ripped off when life unfairly deals another blow. 

One of my husband's favorite songs was "HELD" by Natalie Grant.  He found comfort in the words and I thought of them after he'd passed away.




This hand is bitterness.

We want to taste it and let the hatred numb our sorrows.

{BUT}.....The wise hand opens slowly to the lilies of the valley and {to} tomorrow.



This is what it means to be held.  
How it feels when the sacred is                                                                torn from your life and you survive.  
That the promise was that when everything fell.....we'd be held.  


Hasn't He held me?
Hasn't He whispered words of Hope when my heart needed to hear them most?

Yes, He is VERY near to the brokenhearted and those who are crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:18

Hadn't He moved Heaven and Earth for me to make His presence known that very moment I was faced with the grave reality my husband wasn't coming home?
Didn't He make it OBVIOUS to me that He had prepared us for this moment in time.  He knew what was to come and as blindsided and shortsighted as I felt......He showed me all the ways He had.  One detail at a time.

Had He not made the crooked paths straight for me.  Made a way where there seemed to be no way?  Provided miracle after miracle to not only prove Himself to me as a provider and husband but as the One Who is called FAITHFUL.

HE. CAN. BE. TRUSTED.  

Had He not sent ANGELS to my side as my friends sat with me, grieved with me, held me and helped me stand again. Friends who spoke words of encouragement and never hesitated to be whatever they could be at a moment's notice?

And is He not there in the whispers of the night. In the darkness.....when everything else seems to whisper louder.....
I cry out to Him, "I never wanted to do this alone!"  
How quick He is to interrupt me, "My daughter, you were never meant to."  

The light shines in the DARKNESS and the DARKNESS *HAS. NOT.* overcome it. John 1:5

Not for ONE MOMENT has He forsaken me to do this on my own.
But if I am not careful.....my focus will draw me away from the immense gratitude my heart feels and pull me into a place of bitterness, resentment and fear.

He paid such an expensive price --- for me.
He has made every effort to BE for me and to DO for me.
To heal places in me I didn't know He would heal.  To make provision for me where I saw none. To GRACE me with the ability to do the things I had in front of me to do. To show me BEAUTIFUL things in those places where I'd only known devastation and brokenness.  

To robe my HEART in thankful praise instead of a spirit of despair.
GRATITUDE.
A GRATEFUL HEART rests content and SATISFIED.
Suddenly seeing things from HIS perspective.
After all....we belong to the One whose vantage point is GREATER than our own.

{When we face a crisis we are so quick to misunderstand and misinterpret and yes, even MISS the workings of God in the midst of what we are going through.}
Our emotions hijack our ability to see that perhaps there is a purpose He is working out, something greater.....
That maybe somehow He knows more than we do and might be doing something we could not have possibly manufactured on our own.
Sometimes our greatest disappointments, setbacks and heartaches merely reposition us for something greater. 
After all......our greatest disappointments are His greatest opportunities. 


What we think will be the very thing that takes us under----He shows up with a different ending.
A glimpse of HOPE.  That perhaps.....there is ANOTHER plan at work.
A GREATER purpose.  That He has something in mind and He will do whatever it takes to see you through to the other side.  

.........and in the end He won me over with GRATITUDE.......
HOW could I feel like a victim when I see what GREAT CARE He took to see to so many intricate details....and what's MORE?  Draw my attention to His hand in all of it.  So I could see....HOW MUCH HE TRULY DOES CARE FOR ME.
He has NOT left me WANTING.
He has entered my darkest places and shined a light of HOPE and HEALING.   

Suddenly I realize the answer is not AVOIDING heartache.
Keep a tightly clenched fist to those things that matter deeply to us....trying to avoiding loss.  Avoid pain.  Avoid disappointment.

                                 what we are REALLY avoiding is REALITY----
In this life you WILL have disappointment.
You WILL experience heartache.
You WILL have tribulation.  but take heart........I have overcome the world. John 16:33



Then one morning I realized.  Avoiding heartache is an exhausting impossible pursuit.
Avoiding disappointment also keeps you from experiencing success. 
Avoiding change keeps you from experiencing PROGRESS.
Avoiding loss keeps you from experiencing the JOYS of some of God's greatest blessings.


Can I TRUST Him with these things?
Everything I have has been given to me by the hand of God and if I should experience heartache and disappointment remind myself

............[with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.  Romans 8:28


It's not about avoiding heartache, loss and disappointment.  It's about finding those who will stand WITH you in your darkest moments.

We cannot avoid disappointment.
We cannot avoid heartache and loss.
but if we are wasting all our efforts in trying to do so then what we are really avoiding is LIVING. 
  
He has made a promise to you.  He will NEVER leave you nor forsake you.
He has promised you a hope and a future. 
No matter what {THIS MOMENT} looks like ..... every moment is working together for GOOD.   You can resent and even try to avoid the process or you can embrace the process knowing His heart for you is ALWAYS good.   

November 14, 2015

Our Response to Tragedy

      
Our RESPONSE when faced with unthinkable tragedy is PIVOTAL.  It will determine what happens next.   Everyone responds differently.  For some of us it will propel us into fear and we stop moving, stop doing, cower in a dark corner and cease to exist.  Still others......fight back.  
      When my husband passed away I remember vividly my phone call from my pastor.  Within moments of learning the news, he called.  Very assuredly and very calmly and confidently he said, "Here's what we're gonna do."  He laid out for me a strategy.  A plan of attack.  How I was going to respond to this tragic moment.  I was to take my children and go to the Word.  Before anything else.  Before any decisions were made.  Before panic took over.  I was to go to the Word and read it till I couldn't read it any more.  I could barely read the words through my tears and they were only a whisper....but still I read and I kept reading .... Truth.  When the enemy was throwing a barrage of lies and doubt, fear and panic .....I was reading Truth.  

      The next morning and the morning after that and the
 days to follow my pastor would give me the next step....and the next.  With each word a new directive....laced with HOPE and TRUTH.  

     This is CRUCIAL in your darkest moments.  It's okay to grieve. I'm not saying there is no time for grief.  But if you don't take the time to map out a strategy.  If you have no plan.....the darkness will overcome you......we need that time to process and heal but we cannot stay there.  
                                   Because this IS war.
The enemy strategizing and scheming against you.  His plan of attack?  To rob you of HOPE, FAITH and TRUTH.  To attack your future and the WORD that's already in you.  One of his greatest tactics is fear.  Getting you to doubt the Truth you know.

  On the battle field the most successful soldiers have a strategy mapped out.  If unprepared the battle will quickly overcome him.  There's no time for panic.  Your best strategy against attack is the Word.  Fight fire with fire and let the peace of God rule and reign.  
And then surround yourselves with those who will fight WITH you.  People of FAITH.  Surround yourself with those who SPEAK the TRUTH and WALK in the TRUTH. THOSE are the people who will bring you BACK to the TRUTH in your darkest moments.
We were never meant to do life alone.


The light shines on in the darkness and the darkness CANNOT overcome it. John 1:5