The Dichotomy of Hope and Contentness
It’s been weeks since I’ve written, since I’ve painted or done anything remotely creative. To be honest it’s been weeks since I’ve really prayed.
I mean I talk to God, He’s always there and I’m thankful to know He’s ever present. But having a set aside time of prayer, actively engaging in relationship with Him... I cry out to Him but feel too numb to feel connected to The One Who Loves Me Most.
I still do what I know to. It’s like seasons where exercise isn’t fun (I’m in one of those too). Some seasons I’m excited to wake up and can push myself until I collapse on the floor. Other times, just moving is good enough. But I have learned over the years that in order for me to not get to where I was when I felt terrible all the time, I need to just keep moving. I must keep lifting heavy(ish) things.
Doing what I know to get the results I crave. It applies to health, finances, relationship. Pretty much every area of life.
And that includes relationship with God. For me that means starting my day with Jesus. I always like to start with reading something from the scared scripture. Then I have several books to choose from or could pray in a prayer journal. I just like to see where the time goes.
Since mom died thirty days ago, I still get up and at least try to read and talk to Him. For a few weeks I would open my Bible and my mind would drift. (Haha maybe that’s because I was in the book of Numbers.) But I noticed in the first couple of weeks I was grieving through my words.
So although I couldn’t make it past reading a couple verses, I still was active in my morning time. But then words left me. The thought of writing made me nauseous. The thought of doing anything made me a little sick to my stomach.
Then last week I heard Skye Jethani, one of my favorite speakers and podcaster, say that when he was in seminary he read the first two Harry Potter books to decompress between semesters. I’ve never read the books because I’ve heard they’re so good they suck you in and didn’t want to commit the time to it.
I was also reminded of a book I read where Eugene Peterson said although he loved pastoring and writing and all the deep things, sometimes he needed to just go to the ball field and watch a game. How it is good to get away from what needs to be done but we have to be careful not to try and live at the ball field.
I love that analogy. I spent years trying to live at the proverbial ball field and avoid all the things I didn’t want to deal with. But there are seasons when getting away is great.
So a week ago I started the first book of Harry Potter and it has been good for my soul. Which I have to say is funny because when it came out I remember cancel culture Christians trying to make us fear the Harry Potter series. But that’s another topic for another day.
For me the escape has been great. I wake up, read some from my Bible, then sit by the dim light of the fireplace and Christmas tree (I’m keeping it up until the weather gets warm) and get lost in the world of Harry Potter. Not only has it been just fun, it has been a good soundtrack for my conversation with God.
And because my heart was feeling better, my words to The Creator have started to moved from my heart to my mouth. I find myself chit chatting with Him again. And this morning I opened up the prayer journals I made for Chris to see what my life looked like around this time of year over the years.
I’ve written before how in 2010 I started a prayer journal for my future husband. I imagined him pouring over the pages and connecting dates with what happened in his life and seeing how my prayers matched up. Boy was I wrong. While my husband so appreciates that I had prayed specifically for Him before I knew his name or the curve of His face, he is not into time and dates like I am.
When I was making these journals, not once did I imagine myself going through them and being encouraged. I never knew the gift they would be to me. And this morning they have been a gift that God used to fan the flame of hope in my heart that really feels like just an ember.
Two years ago I wrote Chris a note about how God was speaking to my heart and encouraging me to hope for our marriage. How He was was teaching me to be “content in where I am but also looking forward to the not yet.” For me that is so key to my life feeling full and learning to walk in deeper faith.
To alway dream with God and dive deep into prayer for what He is doing, but not use it as an escape so I don’t enjoy what this season has to offer. Escaping was my go to for many years. When you have an imagination like I do, it’s easy to mentally check out when things feel too hard.
Yesterday I asked God for confirmation for some of the things He and I had talked about. To be honest mom dying has felt like a sword to my heart of faith. I never thought she’d die. Not once had it crossed my mind. In fact when they told us she’d passed I went into her room and hit my knees begging God to raise her from the dead. He did it before and I know He can do it again.
I don’t know how long I kneeled by that hospital bed begging The One Who Says He Loves Me Most to move miraculously. I do, however, remember when I realized He was saying “no”. I stared at the lifeless earth suit of the woman who brought me into this world. I uncovered her left hand to see the hands that hand once held me, but they didn’t look like hers. They were so bloated from all the fluids and her skin was so dry.
In that moment... betrayed is not the word to describe how I felt. God and I have been through enough and I have seen His love so tangibly that I no longer doubt His love for me. And I wasn’t angry either. I have no words to describe how I felt as I looked up the number of the funeral home for her body to be taken to. As I walked out of the hospital trying to wrap my mind around the fact I will never hear her laugh again. I will never have to breath through loosing my temper because she is making me mad again...
I was busy the first few weeks after her passing so honestly waves of grief would hit me but I kept moving. It’s in the silence that I struggle. And I’m self employed so if I don’t book jobs out of the house, there is a lot of silence. And I shut down. I wonder what else did I miss God on? The children I thought He asked me to hope and pray I would carry in my womb? The ministry dreams God and I talk about on the regular that feel so big I only share with my husband? Is He writing my story and can I trust Him to bring me work next week and the week after like I was sure He asked me to trust His leading almost a decade ago?
Then in His goodness, I come across a prayer from two years ago and feel Him reminding me it’s ok for me to feel whatever I feel in this season. That even when I don’t trust my ears to hear from Him I can trust His heart for me. The only daily goals I have is to eat at least one real meal that we cook and to put the clean laundry away. The laundry may not be a big deal to many but almost every day my mom was in ICU we had a basket of clean laundry on the floor and I hated it. Between working out, Chris working a hospital, and it being winter so my multiple layers and big sweats, we do a load of laundry almost every day.
I am proud to say since Monday all our clothes have been put away. In fact I started adding little stickers to our calendar when I get it out away. I celebrate a little with each one. Then I allow myself to feel whatever my heart is processing and if that means crawling back in bed to cry or read, I will be content in that.
I don’t know where you’re at but I’m guessing you know the dichotomy also of dreaming of what could be and keeping hope alive, and being content in where you’re at. Know you’re not alone today. And I am asking that you so clearly hear The One Who Put The Stars Into Place speaking deeply to your heart about what you need to hear. I am praying that you too experience His love even more deeply and learn even more fully what it means to be loved and accepted for who you are and what you have to give in this moment. And I’m praying all this in my favorite name Jesus, knowing He hears and answers even when we don’t have feelings of belief in Him. Because He is that good and that faithful and that crazy about you. Amin!