Her heart cry poured out to me on the screen: I need prayers for clarity. I have no idea what we are supposed to do.
One of the greatest joys in my life is the relationships I have with women a few life stages before me and behind me. Their wisdom and joy is a blessing; it also helps me see the markers I have left alongside the roads I am walking.
This week has been full of uncertainty. Several women are asking about the best schools and homes in places they will soon be moving to, courtesy of the military. A few wonder where the money will come from to pay for the medical bills or school next year. Others wonder how to adjust to multiple children in the home or how to cope with medical needs of a child made ‘extra special’. We women like to tell our stories and hear others’ stories while ours are being written. One such dear girl wrote to me today.
This young wife is expecting her first baby and all the unexpected that comes with it. She hadn’t expected that she and her husband would be working 3-5 jobs between them, that the cost of living would triple in their town in two years, or that a baby would be coming just as they downsized to save money. She hadn’t expected ANY of it, from the indigestion to the desperate need to know where the next nest would be. If God would just make his will known, they would follow it!
At first all manner of advice and lists flooded my mind. The thundering of ‘have you tried’ and ‘have you considered’ and ‘what has prayer yielded’ rolled into my mind filling a clear sky.
As it did, the clouds bumped up against the ones that were already in my head—those ones that I hear incessantly from people all around me. The people I treasure are the ones who listen to my heart-cries and promise to walk with me for a while rather than just light the path or tell me how to walk. It sounds wise, responsible, and helpful to advise another. Isn’t it our job to sharpen iron and spur one another on?
What wisdom could I provide from experience? When I was expecting Firstborn the decision not to work the two jobs I had held was made for me by the United States Army. 5 weeks after his birth we would drive from the east coast to west coast to live for 9 months. I was injured and learning a new way of life. I was headed to a literal and figurative desert.
I too had no friends, no family other than a working husband, and no church where we were headed. We arrived to find the land on fire and the air thick with smoke and unrealized expectation. I wrestled with postpartum depression as I waited for God to show himself. God showed himself PROFOUNDLY in the desert. He does his best work there, you know. I didn’t realize the lessons until much later. Friendships and understanding gained in that desert make me long to visit. Surely I could provide the answers in a well-crafted anecdote or flannel graph.
Then something happened. I realized her need. It was peaceful silence.
We do well when we simply LISTEN and are present. The whispers from God are often more beautiful than when he needs to shout to capture our attention.
When we are quick to give an answer, to tell our own story or to advise without showing true compassion, we show ourselves to be arrogant, ignorant, and unhelpful. It has taken me longer to learn this lesson than I care to admit. When we come to the Lord he already knows how we feel, what we need, and the solution. He wants to show us himself more than the journey ahead.
It was essential to the well-being of my soul that I reflect on her journey today. It made me turn back to see my own road littered with markers of where God showed up to make a way and where Jesus Christ showed himself as the Living God who Saves.
I wrote this to her, to myself of 2010 and also to you, fellow sojourners.
Let’s start with some chocolate, shall we? If I were present I would bring food and we would just sit. We’re southern. It’s what southern women do.
What you are going through is hard. Millions of women have done it and it was hard for them too, no matter what they say or have conveniently forgotten. Sarah of the Bible didn’t know where she was moving to or when she would finally become pregnant with a promised child. Stress? Why yes, in droves. Then she was chastised for laughing at God. Sometimes you just can’t win. One thing I can tell you is that trying to make the plan for God to work with is not a good idea. It is smart to look around for solutions and opportunities; there are many opportunities to find a Hagar and try to force things. The ugly truth is that in real life “I’m a Hagar!” signs aren’t on new jobs, new homes, or even well-intentioned plans.
Things are beyond your control right now. You are in the dark, reaching.
The exciting thing is that inside your very body you hold a precious little life that is growing, developing, changing, specially made in God’s image. Your child is also in the dark. The natural progression of life is scary and dangerous; many things don’t go according to plan. Your child cannot see anything but darkness but as the baby grows it will stretch. It will feel as it reaches out that it is tightly held and carried by a protector who loves it, cares for it, and occasionally just really needs it to be STILL because elbows hurt at 2:00am.
God is holding you in the same way. He may ask you to go somewhere new. He may ask you to be stil and attend to new tasks while your wonderful husband is stretched into a new role of Godly provision and manhood. He is accountable for much and has shown himself to work diligently and to listen for God’s voice.
If God brings him a new job and asks you to move within the town, God will provide a way for the money to come or for you to have what you need. If God asks you to move to a new town, he will provide all you need. He has done it for me, even when it kept me crying out daily. I suspect that is what he wanted.
You are courageous, strong and brave. When I moved with a baby in tow, you were there. You encouraged, you rocked the baby, and you spoke to my child even before he was born. God is waiting to bring a new stage of life to you. Contractions REALLY hurt, as you will discover. In fact, you are discovering it now. Tightening up circumstances so that you are forced into a new place and new dependence is frightening. Christ will carry you. He will sustain you. He will be there to catch you. He will cleanse you, change you, cover you, and clothe you in righteousness day by day.
I promise to be here too. I’m the one up ahead on the path with one child screaming and another putting toy airplanes on the road markers. If you follow the trail of puzzle pieces and blocks you will find me, looking back at you beaming with joy at how you are walking and waddling a bit under the weight of what God has given you. Your weakness simply shows strength training. I am here and I love you. We will walk through this together, even if I have to bring the kids and help you move.
I love you more than Bluebell ice cream.
Journey on. The mile markers are waiting and the darkness does not mean the end.