Friday, August 7, 2015

Your Story Is Not Over, You Just Might Be in the Crappy Part



June 2010 our dream ministry job ended due to a restructuring of the church where we held staff positions. We stayed around for another year to help with the change because we had no idea what else to do, but it was a bad idea and our (paid) ministry life ended May 2011. My MIL passed away that April, followed quickly by my own mom’s passing one month later. Three months later my son was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. (Fully and thankfully recovered now!) That August we also began what would be 2 cycles of using Food Stamps, and I was assigned the kindest doctor I’ve ever had, at the same local Family Services Center where I used to volunteer time with a “coats for kids” program when I was a pastor’s wife. We depleted all of our savings account and came very close to losing our home.

Good things happened during those awful months too. Writer Son married Sassy Bride (Yes, she still is.) We were gifted surprising amounts of money from friends and our marriage blossomed in this difficult season of us against the world.

But mostly we were confused and miserable.

Recently I was asked if I’ve ever felt completely out of control in my life while calling it faith in God.

A journal entry from June 19, 2011 reads….

“Father, I am flunking this test (if that’s what it is) badly and painfully. I KNOW deep down that you love us and you have not forgotten us. But it is REALLY deep down and nearly hard to believe today.
We’ve lost both mothers and both of our jobs and many friendships this last year. I don’t feel you and I cannot help Hubs feel you.
We desperately need an encounter with you regarding our income and lack of jobs. It is getting scary around here!
Help!
What would you have us do Father? We need your direction and presence so much!
Help!”

Yes, I felt completely out of control…because I was. (And this was written BEFORE Rocker Son's accident!) And no, I did not call it faith. Even the word “faith” mocked me.

A journal entry 10 days later….

Psalm 31 is very applicable right now. “Have mercy on us Lord, for we are in trouble….But our trust is in you.”
Can we trust and be afraid at the same time? Well, that’s where we are. No clue what the rescue will be, but still expecting it.”

Here on Recovering Church Lady I stumbled and bumbled my way through discussing what trust and faith really looked like in real life. It was not pretty or mighty or terribly inspirational. During that time my journal has huge gaps between dates. I got tired of asking God what was going on. My mind and heart were in a constant circle of doubt, then strength, then back to a downward spiral of confusion and depression.

It did not feel like faith.

It felt like failure with a capital “F”.

I tried giving God the silent treatment. But that is like an ant out on my front porch giving me the silent treatment. I wrote about it here. I stopped believing in a lot of stuff I used to believe…

..but I never stopped believing in God.

Can I take credit for that tiny sliver of faith? No, that belief was lodged SO DEEP inside me that it took no faith to access it at all. It was just there. Yes, God is real. Yes, He knows what is happening in my life. In some ways that made me even more confused and yes, angry.

You Guys, I look back now and I can see that God was there. I do not know why He chose to keep Himself a secret. But NOW I can see that He was listening, watching and maybe even shifting some things and events around that would bring us to where we are today.

Today we own a beautiful home and even though we still live paycheck to paycheck, we actually go out to dinner once in a while and we are trying very hard not to touch a new savings account. We live near our son, his wife and the most amazing grandson on the planet. Hubs has a fulltime job and I am contributing a teeny tiny bit by freelance writing from home!

As I finished that last sentence it felt like I should say “And God is good.” But He was good back there in the crappy time too. He was doing things behind the scenes that we may never know. He was whispering encouragement to one or the other of us at just the right moment to keep us sane. God was prompting people to give us money anonymously and others to let us know they were praying for us and dropping checks in our hands at the perfect second.

God is with you in your crappy season, friend. He may be playing hide & seek and it’s not a fun game right now, but He has not forgotten you and there will be another chapter to your story. It does not end here.  

Your story is not over. There will be a day when you are looking back at today and you will be telling the story from a shockingly happy ending. You cannot picture that right now. I know that place. But please know that God has not left you. God has not given up on you and turned away in exasperation. He has not decided to just let you fall out of his hands. “Oops, that one got away.”

Take a deep breath. Maybe breath out a whispered prayer that “all will be well.” Talk to Him even if He has hit the MUTE button and you can hear nothing. Don’t over analyze the WHYs of your situation. Instead look at the WHO. Remind yourself of WHO God has been for you in the past. Pull out your old journals and read aloud the stories of His provision and presence in your life. (Try really hard not to shake your head in doubt as you read.)

If you are in an awful season, feel free to let me know and I will join with you in prayer for the happy ending to arrive sooner rather than later.

Linking up with Random Journal Day. 
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34 comments:

  1. Thank you for writing this. I feel like you wrote it just for me.

    Jackie

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    1. Well, I guess you could say that I did write it just for you. I hope it helps.

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  2. Crappy season over here. Thanks for writing; I'm sharing as you said it better than I could right now.

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    1. You are welcome Nylse. I could not find the words while in the middle of it either. That's why we have one another...to drop the right words when you need them and then look forward to your version when your happy ending arrives!

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  3. Susie, Thank you for this beautiful, honest piece of writing. You made me cry...good, identifying tears. I did in fact pull out an old journal this week and am amazed at the things God has done for us that almost escaped my attention. Now I'm off to Pinterest to pin you!

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    1. Honored to be pinnable Cheri! Your recent blog post was a great reminder to me also. Thank you.

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  4. You've been tapping my phone? I am so happy for you and your resting place. It makes me smile to know that you walked the crap walk and made it through. I'll follow along behind you. My fears will not consume me. (Even on the days when I am sure they have.) My God will provide. He always has. It is how He works. I have no reason to think he'd change that now. But the waiting is atrocious. And even tho I know him to be bigger than all, I genuinely hope that his bigness doesn't have to cover all the crappy chapters my wobbly kneed mind can fathom.
    I rely on these words..."all you can ask or imagine".
    And every day..."Lord come quickly."

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    1. Haha! "walked the crap walk" Love it! And you are so right that "the waiting is atrocious." perfect word for a crappy time. He does repay with more than you can imagine....why do you think I am constantly blabbering on FB about my swimming pool? Never thought in a million years!!! And yet!

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    2. I love love love your blabbering. I suspect He loves it too. When you get the gift your heart imagined but dated not truly hope to receive...sometimes blabber is the only appropriate response. ;-)

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  5. Love it! Perfect. Thank you for sharing, now I will share it with those who need this too.
    ~Barbara

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  6. Oh Susie, this is SO wonderful! You've shared more insight into your life over the past several years than I realized at the time. I knew you were hurting...we shared a lot of life experiences during that time and God was working in both of our lives across the continent in very similar ways...even before we discovered each other through our blogs. I am so blessed to have you as one of my best blogging friends ever...and hopefully beyond that. I am so excited to see how God has answered your prayers above and beyond your wildest dreams. Your life is an inspiration and encouragement to so many! Thank you for being YOU!

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    1. I am blessed to know you too dear Pam. Though we've never been in the same room together, I really feel like we have! Love you!

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  7. "...I stopped believing in a lot of stuff I used to believe…"

    What did you stop believing in, if you feel comfortable saying.

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    1. Sandi, I have been asking myself how to answer your question. I am pondering it and it may just turn out to be a whole new blog post.

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  8. I think that God was absolutely working details out that we have no idea about. I also think all our story is important to God and needful...despite the pain- because how could we rejoice and be grateful in the Promised Land if or even hope for eternity if we have no reason to long for that which we have not in the moment. He has given you the thoughts, reflections, and conclusions to complete the book. And the challenge to make time to write between the moments of joy you ARE experiencing after your desert days...He is Good! Love you lots, and thanks for making it for RJD with your grandmotherly duties and all...and the other distractions. ;)

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  9. Reading with tears of knowing in my eyes. Been there, done that, bought and wore the crappy tshirt. Praising God with you that we can look back, see His hand, get a slightly better glimpse into the enormity of His plan and rest on the other shore. Love this "don't analyze the WHYs of your situation. Instead look at the WHO. Remind yourself of WHO God has been for you in the past. Pull out your old journals and read aloud the stories of His provision and presence in your life." Amen and amen.

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    1. Yep Toni, you and I crossed paths as we were going through very similar stuff at the same time, huh? Your upbeat attitude in the middle of gunk made a big impact on me and I am so glad we are on the other side...for now. Ha!

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  10. Susie: What can I say, except the God has been good to you and your husband. Yes, God is at work all the time, especially when we don't see it. May He continue to pour out His love and blessings on you and yours.

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  11. Love your blog!! Very encouraging for those going through a tough season. We've all been through it, and will be again at some point. God is faithful. We see that in hind sight, but we have glimpses during it too. We just have to keep seeking His face.

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  12. Oh, Susie,
    This one grabbed me right from the post title on! (And the blog title, too!) There's so much here I can identify with. I'd call what you're talking about real, *honest* faith. The question is who or what do we have faith in? Out of control and stuck in the crappy zone, we can have totally lost faith in ourselves and a lot of things we used to lean on, and not have lost faith itself---in the most important thing: Him, just Him. You defined it so well when you said, "I stopped believing in a lot of stuff I used to believe...but I never stopped believing in God...that belief was lodged SO DEEP inside me that it took no faith [sic] to access it at all. It was just there."
    One of my most frequent prayers is, "I believe; help my unbelief!" I don't know, either, how to conjure up the faith I need, but like you I know who to call on for it! Thanks for this great encouraging post, reminding me of important things in a timely way. I would call myself still stuck in the crappy part, but maybe that's not true. Maybe He's right now bringing me out of it.

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    1. Thanks Sylvia, your comment has given me some good things to ponder. It's true, it may have been a case of misplaced faith to a certain extent. I also lost faith in myself during this time, all of my negative traits seem to loom extra large as i looked around and had no clue how to make a living anymore.
      I do hope that you are entering the end of your crappy part, whatever it is. It may look completely different than you imagine...this I KNOW!

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  13. Susie, I just found your blog and read the loving encouraging words that I needed to hear right at this time. Simply, thank you. Blessings.

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    1. Joanie, your comment here means a great deal to me. Thank you for coming by and I am so glad this post was encouraging for you!

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  14. Just saying this...I love you more today than the day we found each other in the blogosphere! lol

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  15. Just had a reader leave a comment to come and check out this post - and I'm SO GLAD I did. I feel like this whole post came out of my head. Experiences may be a bit different, but the pain...the worry...the WAITING? The same. Thank you for giving my soul words.

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    1. Wow, very cool to be recommended! Thanks for coming by Rebecca.

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    2. Omg Rebecca, I just spent some time at your blog and you have a new follower! Are you on Facebook? I love the brick floors you discovered after the awful flooding happened! Are you in DFW? So am I!! Grand Prairie TX.

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