I don’t know how people make it through life without God. I don't know how I used to get by on my halfhearted attempts at right living. I just didn’t get it. Losing Trinity was a catalyst for an intense spiritual growth spurt, and I can say now that I would not change the past if I could. I respect God’s will, and accept that it sometimes contains events we would never willingly choose. Thankfully, we can depend on God to carry us through those events.
We are in the midst of one of those events now with the loss of my husband’s job almost a year ago. Part of the reason we came to Colorado was so that I could stay home with the boys, and our one income has been whittled dramatically to what unemployment pays. And that is scheduled to run out in the near future. Thankfully Richard has been nurturing his faith the past few years, and is taking the blows much better than he would have in the past. He’s had to endure crushing disappointment, as the excitement of each interview so far has been murdered by rejection. It’s a buyer’s job market, and the seller’s market is saturated. I think this situation will result in an intense spiritual growth spurt for him, as every bit of control has been ripped from his hands. He has no choice but to lead our family by faith.
And I am faced with the opportunity to deepen the impact of the lessons I thought I’d learned. Richard’s job loss has been harder on our marriage than losing Trinity. We have tried to be creative with our time and money, but too often the tension bursts our seams. We worry that the stress is impacting the boys. I affirm my trust in God all the time, yet I’ve had some disconcerting episodes of heart palpitations. I breathe deep and remind myself that God’s in charge.
Other days, I love this roller coaster, when I seem to have X-ray vision to see straight through the disguises that the blessings are cloaked in. On these days I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the time we have together as a family, for the opportunity we’ve had to serve and visit other family – the elderly, the pregnant, the moving. I don’t know how this blog would’ve been written if Richard had not been available to pick up the slack, lots of it, while I’ve been at the library writing.
As we approach the year anniversary of Richard’s job loss, and no viable job is in sight, we are strongly considering storing our belongings and ditching our rental in order to travel the country visiting family and friends this summer. He can continue to job hunt as we go, and we can abort mission at any moment if the right job presents itself. But we are buffeted by uncertainty, fear, and anxiety. It’s an all out battle, but we refuse to make decisions based on fear. Though unemployment extends all the way to the horizon before us, we know it won’t last forever, and this may also be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Some days we are a train wreck, other days we are the happy-go-lucky local (a swinging song about a train by Duke Ellington). We’ll find out where our tracks lead if we just keep going, letting God fuel our engines, trusting Him for an on time arrival to the destination of His choice, that will be made known to us at precisely the right time. Along the way, I remind myself of the milestones we’ve already passed, while keeping an eye out for more.
Milestone 1: He has never abandoned us, and He never will.
Milestone 2: Sometimes the answer to our prayers will be “No”, and when it is, there is a very good reason.
Milestone 3: Trust Him. He knows what He is doing.
Milestone 4: Surrender everything to Him for ultimate freedom.
Milestone 5: Heaven is real, and we must remember that our entire Earthly existence is but a breath of time. Stay eternity-minded in order to keep troubles in proper perspective.
Milestone 6: Worship is healing and renewing. Take time to summit our mountain of worries each week, so that all we can see is a breathtaking view of God’s creation.
Milestone 7: Consider Easter from God-the-Father’s point of view. Take comfort and be amazed.
Milestone 8: Keep our eyes on our own path. Other people have what we want – homes to settle in. But what lies in front of us is freedom – no jobs, no mortgage, no pets, young kids without summer commitments. What are we going to do with our freedom?
Milestone 9: Since we cannot create our own faith, we must choose faith and let God manifest it for us.
Milestone 10: We must turn our backs on fear, and focus on praising and thanking God for the freedom and countless other blessings we have right now.
Yes, it’s all much easier said than done. Perhaps that’s why we are given so many opportunities to practice. It’s another chance to throw up our hands in a gesture of trust and enjoy the ride.
To stop and look back over the last six years, I can see that I’ve been transformed markedly. If I could sum it all up, it all comes down to moment by moment dependence on God. Trusting Him and taking comfort in the fact that He’s in charge, not me. That’s where I am at this moment. One day at a time. One task at a time. One moment at a time. I’ve heard for years the importance of being mentally present where you physically are. And I am finally beginning to get it as I become too overwhelmed when I think beyond the present. I am forced to live in the now. It’s uncomfortable, but I know I will be happier when this becomes my mode of operation, and so will my family. My husband and children deserve no less than all of me when I am with them. I need to stop conserving my energy for the next task or the rest of the day. I hate it when I reach the end of the day, and the only thing I can say is, “Whew! I made it.” I need to trust that God will provide all I need for each task as I go along concentrating on one thing at a time. And while I’m living one moment at time, I can try to maintain the upper perspective that time is not static. No situation will last, good or bad. So I should savor the good moments every second they last, and take comfort that the bad ones will move along, too, even if they seem to be sitting on us.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
And as we go forward, one unsure step at a time, into the uncomfortable unknown, the transformation continues...