This week was full of both rest and fun. Rest because I had 5 days off work (3 of those PTO) and fun because many days were spent with really good people. For Thanksgiving my mom and I went out to eat. Normally one of us cooks (usually her) but this time she wanted something different. After dinner we treated ourselves to a movie and then met her friends for bowling. It was a full day and I was thoroughly stuffed. Then Friday I had some alone time. I went shopping on Black Friday at my favorite mall and marveled at the crowds. Still, it was nice to be around so many yet be “alone”. What can I say, it is the introvert in me that appreciates such an occurrence…Later on I relaxed with a 90s flick, only to meet up with a good friend for a latte at Starbucks. I enjoyed a grande and even a chocolate chip muffin. Then Sunday my friend and I made our way to the Browns’ game. I will admit I have lived here over 10 years and have never been to a game! Lucky me the tickets were free, the weather was nice and our seats were phenomenal. It hardly mattered we didn’t win. We had fun anyway…
But even in the midst of all these blessings I would be dishonest to say this holiday was not without its own difficulties. The lack of family was evident for me while watching my mom’s friend’s daughter and her fiancé interact. I glanced at her ring once or twice and stuffed down the never-ending longings…There were moments I was home alone when I really didn’t want to be. Instead I wanted people, I wanted companionship, I wanted love. But as I told my friend last night on the phone, even with all the people who do love me, they will still choose family over friendship. It is natural. God does set the lonely in families, but I often wonder, when will He not need to? When will I have my own?…
The holidays are here and they are festive. They are a mixture of fun and rest. They are a mixture of enjoyment and lonelineness. That is life. The movie my mom and I saw had a character who was facing a divorce. She was freaking out and said “What will I do now?” My mom replied at the large screen in front of us, “Keep living”. She was right.
One thing I have learned in this season is the importance of resilience and the ability to keep moving forward. Someone near you dies? You keep living. You lose your job? Keep living. Depression hits? Keep living.
It has been a year where I have practiced this concept to “keep living”. It has been the fastest year of my life. There were nights I didn’t think I would get through, but I am here. And you are too. And that means there is a hope for the future.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Yesterday my roommate left for Africa. It has been a long awaited dream that is now being fulfilled and I bless God for that. She has been preparing Ben-Samuel all week long for her departure as best she could. With limited understanding between species who knows how much he actually understood when she told him frequently she would be leaving for a while. Though I care about Ben he is really her cat and so she does all the heavy duty stuff for him. When he was sick she took him to the vet. She changes his litter, buys all his food and is his primary caregiver. He has also gotten into the habit of sleeping in her room most nights. For that very reason I have been a little concerned about his response to her departure.
When we got Ben it was clear he was suffering from abandonment and really enjoyed people. He was so excited to be in our home that he made sure he was apart of every conversation and even made it a point to sit at the kitchen table to join us for meals! I have never seen such a cat. When we are lounging around the house he easily climbs on our laps and even computers just to snuggle. But lately I have noticed he has gotten even more attached to my roommate and thus I wondered how would he respond to her absence?
I can’t help but see a parallel of this season with God and Ben’s relationship to my roommate. She made sure to spend extra time with him, love on him and even tell him that she would be gone for a little while, but if Ben is anything like me, those things would fail in comparison to the seemingly never ending absence. You see, I can look back on this prior year and see how God was preparing me for the season of “silence”. I can see how much He was overwhelming me with feelings of His love. I felt it everywhere and wondered at people who did not. I can see how He was revealing Himself to me and who I am to Him in my heart and mind, flooding me in every waking moment of this revelation. I can see now it was all preparation for the darkness to come.
I tell myself cats are like kids and are resilient. I tell myself Ben will be ok and though he doesn’t know it, her leave is only for a short while. I must also believe these things about myself. I am learning resilience these days. I’m learning to be secure in a love I most days no longer “feel”. I’m learning to trust the Word over my emotions and I’m learning that though I may still desire a sign a sign has already been given. Many signs in fact.
Right now as I type this post Ben is sleeping on my leg. He has joined me for an early morning snuggle after trying to eat my cereal. For some reason he likes people food…
And in that picture I am shown the need to adapt. And the need to seek out other ways to have our needs met. And I am grateful for this picture which I’m sure is given from the Father of all creation.
Can I share something with you? I tend to get “stuck”. This is something I didn’t realize about myself until this season but it’s true. I get stuck on songs. My roommate can attest to this as I will put a song on repeat in a minute! I LOVE listening to the same song over and over! I’m doing it now. I’m having a hard time getting through the whole Hillsong United album because I’m stuck on “Prince of Peace” & “Scandal of Grace”. But in general getting stuck on a song is not necessarily a bad thing. It actually can serve as great background music when you’re studying for an exam or writing a book. That’s my experience anyway. But getting stuck on thoughts, well, that’s another story. You see I tend to get stuck on thoughts too. And maybe if they were super happy memories like my grandmother taking me to the amusement park or my best friends showering their love on me during a road trip or other excursion that would be great. But no, these thoughts tend to be negative and even dark. They are a constant temptation that I give into more often than I resist and before this season I just lived with it. I barely recognized it. Then God said it was time to address those negative thoughts.
“You need resilience”, He said. I remember years ago He said I needed endurance. Then I waited several years for a spouse, ran a half marathon and waited years to move on in my career. I’m pretty sure I have that endurance now. Then I remember He said He was giving me discipline. I obtained that Masters degree in Accounting and that involved a lot of discipline. It involved a lot of faith too because I was really bad at Accounting in undergrad! But now He says I need resilience. I need resilience not just in recovering from toxic thinking but recovering from toxic relationships.
My friend was sharing with me a little while ago about a sermon she heard about David. The minister shared that while David’s child was ill David prayed and fasted and wept before the Lord. He cried out and interceded and pleaded that his child would live. But then his child died. And instead of continuing in mourning, David got up and ordered his servants to feed him. They marveled because others would now grieve but David did the opposite.
David understood something. He understood the times to weep and the times to count your losses and move forward.
I have not understood that. I have wept and wept and wept. I have grieved and grieved and grieved. But now I am learning, there is a time to move on.
There is a time to realize that the past is the past and though it was good, the present and the future can actually be even better.
I am learning resilience. I am learning to count my losses and keep it moving. I am learning to believe that the future is full of prosperity and peace and beauty.
I am learning that my present is full of all those things too.
When this new season started I thought I had this faith thing in the bag. I thought “I’ve been around the block a few times. I’ve passed my share of tests. I’ve seen God’s faithfulness so many times. Too many times. But there is never a point of arrival. This season has backed me up against the wall. In mere days I have fought simply not to lose my mind and even my faith.
I’m still fighting.
The one thing that has kept me is remembering my testimony and His promises for my future. This present battle cannot be my end. But when will it end?
I was encouraged by Elijah’s story that even after such a great victory he lost courage. Yet God took His time wooing him back to faith. 40 days in fact.
One morning I woke up in the midst of the battle and Jesus reminded me of the man who was blind and the Lord brought back his sight in stages. At first the man saw men as trees which some believe were really angels. And then his natural sight was fully restored. Not to mention there was this unorthodox way God had of healing him, a concoction of saliva and dirt. The point is God moves however He wants to move and sometimes He moves in stages. Sometimes He doesn’t move in the way He did in the past. That can be difficult when I want things done overnight. I want healing overnight. Deliverance overnight. But sometimes it takes 40 days.
What I’m learning in this process is to just give Him one more day. Maybe today was a battle but maybe the next day won’t be. Maybe my deliverance is coming in stages.
This mindset is one of resilience. I didn’t have this understanding before this season. I didn’t need it because I had His presence and assurance and awareness of His love. I was very dependent on my feelings and awareness of God. But when feelings are gone what do you have? You are left with your testimony. You are left with all the ways He moved in the past in your life. You are left with His word that doesn’t change.
And that has been enough for me to just keep giving Him one more day.
In other news, here is a selfie from this morning😉: