Never saw it coming.
Ever uttered those words? There is deep vulnerability assumed in such responses–evidenced by the undertone of surprise.
I like to plan–you know–keep things nice and tidy. If possible, I’d do this with every area of my life. Emotions, faith, disappointments, friendships, etc. Keep things under control.
A few weekends ago, while attending a conference, I relaxed my posture of control and was blindsided. It all began with a mother’s story. She told of her unexpected tragedy, resulting in the loss of her two children, and her recovery. I was engrossed in her story and found it difficult to hold back the tears as she spoke. A tornado took the lives of her young children and threatened her own. While all that was enough to wreck this mama’s heart, it wasn’t what blindsided me.
She spoke of the goodness of God. She believed He was good–all the time. Good when the tornado took from her something so precious. Good as she recovered in her hospital bed. Good as she faced the reality of a home that no longer existed. Good as she learned to live her new “normal.”
Would I respond that way? That question kept rising in me as she spoke. Then more questions followed: How do I respond when things don’t go my way? How do I respond when my children aren’t behaving as I think they should? How do I respond when I can’t understand how God is leading?
I sat in that auditorium as if the only one. My insides in knots. The questions
lingered hovered over me. Gritty. Raw.
What about you, Alyssa, who do you say I am?
In good times…
In hard times…
No wonder fear and doubt had such a grip on me. My “keep things tidy” strategy was always rooted in me…in my ability to manage things. The thing is–I don’t need a manager. I need a faith bigger than my tiny mind that tries to plan and control. Controlling my world doesn’t require much faith. It requires strength.
It occurred to me that a mama wasn’t up there talking about the loss of her children because she was strong, or because she had managed her tragedy so well. She was speaking from a confidence in the things she hoped for and assurance of the unseen.
A few days after hearing her story, these lyrics kept running through my head–
you give and take away
you give and take away
my heart will choose to say
blessed be your name
That’s taken from Job 1–Job is a man worshipping after he lost his children and property. Yes, worshipping. He says, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). You read Job’s story in the bible, or hear a mother’s testimony filled with tragedy–and you can’t help but wonder if you’d respond the same way.
I found myself at a crossroad that day. A faith examining room of sorts.
As it turns out, crossroads always require a choice. I opted to lean into faith that day in a new way. I want to be like Job and April Smith and countless others that cling tightly to their true hope…in good times and bad.
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1