I’ve been pondering a great deal lately how some people seem to get through tough times with a cheerful calmness, and others not so much. Why is it that people under remendous stress, yet with a strong belief in and reliance on God, can respond so differently (from depression to near hysteria)? How do we find the peace, that allows us to be happy, in the midst of chaos, heart-ache, pain or lonliness?
Years ago, okay, many, many years ago, my whole focus was on having children. I was born the second of nine [sounds like a Borg designation, doesn’t it?] and I loved spending time with my younger siblings. Our first Christmas as newlyweds, we were in Texas and my family was in Idaho. Everything was perfect, except there were no children gathered around the tree, nervously eyeing the gifts and waiting for Dad to hand them out. I missed that and I’m afraid I cried. [My poor DH.]
As a couple, we agreed that we would trust God, and do nothing to prevent the starting of a family. As the months passed into years, I became obsessed with the idea that I wanted a child. I didn’t become bitter when others had babies, but I didn’t want to hold theirs either. I wanted a child in my arms that would never leave. My focus on this “trial” led to depression, and by the fourth year, I had moved to anger. I even became angry in my prayers. I don’t remember much of those years, only that I wasn’t getting pregnant.
Thankfully, God understood and was patient with me. Five years into the heartache, and after specialized procedures and a whole committee at the University of Utah Medical Center, we were expecting our son. Five years after, we were equally blessed with the adoption of our daughter.
But I don’t know that I grew much from that “trial.” I think I merely endured.
Years have passed, our children are now grown and there have been many challenges in the years since, some that took us to the brink of faith, but hopefully I am learing. This last year is a small scale example.
For years my DH has been an independent businessman. We’ve had prosperous times and lean times, and embraced them equally as part of the territory, because we cherished the independence. He enjoyed the challenge of running his own business and the satisfaction of success when carefully established clients began to order regularly. People responded to him and he formed many friends from his business colleagues. He enjoyed the occasional travel and staying atop of new technology for marketing.
But economically difficult times hit small businessmen first. They don’t have the capital to carry through the long term. For a couple of years we congratulated ourselves on staying afloat while large companies failed, but by this last year, we recognized that we were draining savings too rapidly and no longer replenishing them. My DH had already taken us beyond the point of maintaining a comfortable working capital in reserve. He was faced with getting a job, leaving behind his dreams, and reentering the work force.
This could have been a big heartache to him. But, together we decided that we were about to begin another adventure and that God knew our situation. There was also a secondary, potentially devastating, trial that was occurring simultaneously. But as we moved forward, trusting in Him, we were astounded at how things fell into place. In retrospect we see that the timing of each choice was divinely blessed.
There is peace in that. In doing all we can; in praying about our studied out choices and trusting that, when the answers are not clear, but while we are faithful and obedient, He will not allow us to go too far the wrong direction. There is peace in letting go of the outcomes.
When our hearts are at peace, even in the midst of heart-wrenching challenges, we are able to be cheerful.
I know that we will be blessed, not just in the hereafter, but day by day. I believe a key is to not focus on the heaviness of the trial, but on the joy of living. I believe we can experience the comfort and strength that comes from allowing God to pilot the ship. I believe that even if all things collapse around us, it can still be turned to our good and in the meantime, he is pouring out blessings to us.
How I’ve been blessed this last year:
Hikes (and a zip-line adventure) with my DH
Climbing a mountain with my daughter
Time with my granddaughter
Time with all my children
Serving with women every Thursday that have taught me about love for others
Helping with Cub Scouts
Having a friend give me swimming lessons
Connecting with old friends and making new ones
Starting another book
Blogging—I enjoy writing.
These are what I remember best when I think of this past year. I hardly consider the changes we went through economically. And my DH, who was affected more personally, thinks of the changes with a deep gratitude that they happened so smoothly.
But if not. . .that’s okay too.
Valerie Chandler recently posted a review of a wonderful book, The Price We Paid, The Extraordinary Story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Pioneers. Near the end of her review are some concise, bullet-pointed lessons worded perfectly. Check out her blog: “It’s all about These Boys.”