Earlier this week I met with a great group of ladies as part of the Greater Youngstown Praise and Coffee chapter. My dear friend Maria was the speaker on the unexpected, and until Panera threw us out because they longed to go home, we all shared our unexpected stories and God’s hand through all of it.
After all, not one part of our stories is unexpected to Him.
Of all the things the unexpected reminded me of, it was Wii Rock band.
We are a quiet, introverted family. But when we have a snow day and/or snowy weekend, all bets are off. We each take our place, turn on the Wii, and it’s on.
I’m not a musician by any stretch, and the diva that I am, I fight the youngest for the microphone. This girl’s had her own lounge act played out in her mind for decades, and Wii Rock Band is my arena. But our oldest and my husband take turns on the instruments, each on the pro level. They know what they’re doing.
And sometimes they have to recalibrate.
Same game. Same instruments. Same song. But they have to reset the instrument to measure accurately, for lack of a better definition.
When I face the unexpected, it’s a recalibration. I’m usually in the same place, I’m the same, but something has changed. And the best thing I could do is get with the program and receive God’s plan. As I’ve said all week–what’s unexpected to you is not to God.
Sometimes my son lets the need to recalibrate go, and it never ends well. He ends up off beat, has trouble hitting the notes, and gets frustrated.
Isn’t that just like dragging your feet and refusing to roll with the punches? When I learned my husband was offered a job away from everything and everyone I knew, I could have refused the move. But I hit reset and our little family made the change. As unexpected as it was to me, my obeying God in it gave us blessing after blessing. In fact, years later the blessings still come.
Do I immediately surrender to God’s plan in the unexpected? Not always, but my reaction time is faster. I’m not afraid to recalibrate.
And I hope you won’t be, either.
We’re in a season where God is asking our family to obey Him in a series of steps where we don’t know the outcome.
It’s quite possible we could do a ton of work and there be no change to the situation.
As in we did a lot of work for what will look like nothing.
That’s hard to get excited about, isn’t it?
But we’re plugging away in faith and believing even if nothing happens, God has purpose.
Yet, we would like to see a result.
One filled with favor and acceleration, lacking in obstacles and delays.
I’m not new to these kind of journeys, and I’ve experienced and heard amazing testimonies through the years. One I haven’t forgotten because this person did everything they felt God was asking them to do and nothing happened.
Not one thing.
Not a changed life, healed body, nothing.
And when they asked why would He put them through these hoops without any kind of result, the answer was swift, sure, and full of love.
I want to know if you will trust Me even when it doesn’t work out.
If things don’t, if our family proclaims trust in Him anyway, that’s an even greater victory.
I’ve had a pool most of my life. My dad spent hours testing, adding chemicals, and cleaning to reap the reward of his daughters and their friends splashing most of the water out and giggling summers away.
This year I realized what a science pool maintenance is. We went through a stretch where no matter how hard my husband tried to work on the pool, as soon as he finished, it rained. The rain messed up the levels and we had a problem.
We tried everything, but the bluest he could get the pool was with a green tint, if that.
“We have something a lot of people don’t have. The chemicals are perfect. The water is safe. This is refreshing. Let’s just stop the madness.”
My husband wasn’t ready to quit.
And it’s a good thing, because once a neighbor’s flowering bush stopped blossoming and falling in our pool, everything changed.
And we have crystal blue pool water.
My attitude reminded me of marriage, and sometimes, I admit, my own.
I’m tired. Things are okay. Good, even. But taking it to the next level?
Let’s just keep things here. Where it’s easier.
We used to work in marriage ministry. The illustration we learned was that if couples don’t work on their marriage, it’s the same as not maintaining your car. Sooner or later, you’re going to be on the side of the road, disabled.
Good enough isn’t an attitude anyone should take in their marriage, or with any relationship.
But I was willing to sacrifice greatness and settle for algae.
How about you?
photobucket image. Not our pool. 🙂
Last week I read about retired NASCAR driver Dick Trickle’s suicide. My parents dated by attending races at the Chemung Racetrack where then amateur Geoff Bodine was always put last in line to see how fast he’d get up front and win. Once married and with children our parents continued to watch NASCAR, much to my dismay at the time. But when I married and moved 7 miles away from the famed road course, Watkins Glen, I fell in love with the sport, too. Dick Trickle was beloved not just for the name that makes teens giggle, but because he drove the wheels off anything for years.
When I read about his death, he apparently had been suffering with a pain in his chest that doctors couldn’t figure out what it was or what to do to alleviate the pain. It was crushing, chronic, and life-altering. You have to be pretty desperate to take the option he did. I can’t imagine his suffering anymore than I can get a hold on the heartbreak for those he leaves behind.
But desperation I’m familiar with, and this isn’t an easy confession. I don’t know a lot of people who want to raise their hand and say I felt so out of sorts my mind conjured up fantasies where the pain could be gone. Thing is, those images never play out the consequences, and no one wins in a suicide. I so get that, and my heart breaks when I learn about a grieving family.
But for years I grew up and in a situation where hormonal imbalance dominated my thought life. When that time of the month came I could feel an emotional plunge and month by month, year by year it enhanced. By the time I was married I started hiding from my husband because the depression was so deep I was ashamed. There were times I got out a suitcase and put it on the bed thinking if I ran away I could spare him the experience. When the plunge abated I’d put the luggage back and go back downstairs and re join civilization.
It grew even worse after pregnancy, birth, and then the grief and physical change from miscarriage. For those that don’t experience depression there aren’t adequate words to explain what the mind does. But dark, void, hopeless and full of shame and fear were my constant companions, and trust me, they came without invitation and stayed. No one knew what to do with me. I heard from what I call Job’s friends, if only I’d done this or if I were stronger in faith, I’d snap out of it. I could feel it coming on and retreat upstairs where I would weep, I mean those wracking sobs that give you a migraine, for days. And the desperation took me to a place where I went to the medicine cabinet and picked up a bottle and thought what if.
My faith, shaky as it was back then, was just enough to hang on, even holding the bottle, but refusing to open it. And when the feeling passed, I dried my tears and rejoined society. It was in my opinion, 1000% hormonal, for me.
As I aged, physical symptoms accompanied the feelings and because my faith was stronger, I decided to ask ladies to pray and find a doctor that would hear me out. I’m not a girl that believes pill popping is society’s answer to problems. Quite the opposite, actually. But for me and my situation, the doctor prescribed a daily medicine to balance me. I had a hysterectomy where we already knew I had severe polycystic ovaries, PCOS, but he found extensive endometreosis. The physical pain had been constant and life-altering. The imbalance was staggering.
And today the desperation is all but gone.
I had a short season where I believe God touched me and no medicine was needed, and it was fantastic. But for whatever reason, the situation returned, and I remain on medication. The one hormone issue I battle, especially in warm weather, is not a hot flash, but a temperature increase so sharp and all encompassing that it is evident everywhere. I have to change clothes sometimes several times. I get anxious in public when I suspect this will manifest. But that’s the worst thing I deal with, and I thank God those fantasies I used to go to have been permanently shelved.
The pain Dick Trickle suffered with was physical and apparently so intense this to him was his only option. For Matthew Warren, Pastor Rick and Kay’s son that recently passed away, his pain was emotional and perhaps more hidden from most people. Yet that desperation was real to both of them. It was a fantasy for a season for me.
Do I have a 1-2-3 solution for you or your loved one feeling desperate? How I wish I had an easy fix. But I will tell you taking every single thought, and for me my mind is a constant run even in sleep, to Christ made a vast difference. I am a visual person, so I had to picture myself taking my thoughts and letting them go at the foot of the Cross. That continues to help me. I picture my desperation as the devil and Jesus fighting over me. In my desperation the Holy Spirit shared with me that the devil doesn’t want me to know he is the true defeated one. His job is to make me feel defeated. So when those feelings came, I took thoughts to Christ and pronounced I was not defeated. And visual as ever, I pictured it as an arm wrestle between the devil and Jesus, and Jesus wins every time.
If this post hits home for you, may your hidden pain dissipate at the foot of the cross and in the arms of Jesus. May He erase desperation and replace it with hope and joy, and of course, a healing.
When people are skeptical about Christ’s ability to transform people today, I want to bring in people from my childhood to display as my Exhibit A. I was a wounded, angry child and my mouth was often far ahead of my brain. If I couldn’t say it in person, well I did the next best thing–write a letter. I earned the nickname “Poison Pen.”
It’s a true testament to Christ that I’m not referred to that way anymore. But be assured it remains a choice on my part, and some days are easier than others. My feelings get hurt just like yours. Sarcasm? I could be a master if I practiced the skill.
And boy, do I want to have a showcase displaying that talent.
There is someone in a small circle in my life that I give far too much access to my time and thoughts. They are a wounded person that lives a double standard. They love to tell everyone in their radius how privacy is important to them, while they are literally looking over the fence to watch everyone else. I should know. They have literally called out to me from a distance asking how much my mom’s sewing machine cost because they openly confessed they watched my mom sew all night. From a distance.
I learned early on this was a toxic situation and it escalated to a point that someone close to us was nearly harmed because the wounded person got in our business without knowing the full picture and called the police. It wasn’t out of concern, it was out of gossip. And it nearly got our friend, a disabled person who can not speak without assistance, hurt.
was am so mad more than a year later that I still rehearse what I really want to say. When it first happened I caught the person watching me, again, from a distance, as I backed out of my driveway.
Honestly? I wanted to give her a one finger wave. The anger was that intense.
But I dialed down the sass somewhat and stuck out my tongue.
I know. Real mature.
I’ve prayed a lot. For me to have compassion. Yet when my circle and theirs interact, the assessment is always the same. This person is wounded, and we are all their targets. No one escapes. It’s hard to feel sorry for them.
I’ve prayed for them. There have been hard times in their life and I believe they had a scenario regarding how I’d fit in their life. And I totally don’t match that fantasy. To say they are probably disappointed in me would be an understatement.
Well this week I came face to face with them for the first time in years. I’ve heard time and time again how so and so was such a disappointment because they didn’t greet the wounded person, in fact so and so went out of their way to escape. So when I saw the wounded person, I instantly felt like they deserved a greeting.
So I said hello.
Not loud, but with the courage I had with me. Not snotty, but not full of love, either. But I tried.
And wounded person put their nose in the air and looked right through me.
And my flesh roared back. I whispered, “Unbelieveable! What a pain in the butt!” as I walked away.
But I didn’t stop. Not in my mind, at least.
I’ve been rehearsing for a show that should never go into production. One where I pronounce what probably everyone else is thinking, and I know I am. Where I shout their deeds and failures from the top of my roof. And yes, I’m still struggling with the wave. Not the kind one, either.
I don’t have the right answer for this, but it is a confession Saturday. I know the wrong answer is to keep this rehearsal going. I don’t believe they are approachable or willing to receive anything, so by praying, I’d need to keep it on the down low. Yet, I’m not really feeling it, either.
I know this much, not giving every thought to Christ is a dangerous deed. My rehearsing comebacks are as toxic as the wounded person. No one wins.
And like I said, this show I’m practicing for, the Director of my life never gave it a green light. It doesn’t have backing. No one will buy tickets, because there will be no play. No matinees, no closing night. Nothing.
Where does that leave me? A frustrated actress without a stage. But you know, the play that never opens is the closed door that is closed for good reason. And if I obey, chances are an open door is close by to practice kind words and responses to someone willing to receive.
And through obedience I believe there will be great applause.