Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Worst (Best) Summer of My Life

"I think we have lost the old knowledge that happiness is overrated - that, in a way, life is overrated. We have lost, somehow a sense of mystery - about us, our purpose, our meaning, our role. Our ancestors believed in 2 worlds, and understood this to be the solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short one. We are the first generations of man that actually expected to find happiness here on earth, and our search for it caused such - unhappiness. The reason: if you don't believe in another, higher world, if you believe only in the flat material world around you, if you believe that this is your only chance at happiness - if that is what you believe, then you are not disappointed when the world does not give you a good measure of its riches - you are despairing." - Peggy Noonan
This has been the worst summer of my life. That is quite a statement for me to make, I mean I really hate throwing around words like best and worst. I know that it could always be worse than it is and that so many more people have things much harder than I to deal with. But for me, this statement is true. I don't know that it will be the worst summer of my life in 30 years, but up 'til now it reigns supreme. Losing the baby was awful. It was so much harder than I imagined it could be in so many different ways, and yet it was not nearly as hard as I had imagined in other ways. Ya know? I am still going to the doctor every week, or every other week to have my HCG levels checked because I am not yet back to zero. I have to pay for every single test, every single week. I also am not exactly healthy yet since the miscarriage. Beyond losing my baby, there have been a myriad of other nice little problems that have reared their ugly head. The bills from the hospital that keep coming in (who knew seeing a PA for not quite 30 minutes could cost so much money?), the kids testing boundaries and deciding that screaming is the best form of communication and attacks on my marriage the likes of which I never thought possible. Wow! If this world was supposed to be the place I found my happiness I would sure be despairing right about now. But I am so thankful that it is not. I am so thankful that I know I don't belong here. How did C.S. Lewis put it- we're living in "enemy-occupied territory"? And it feels like that enemy has built his base on my front lawn! But in the midst of the darkness, the pain and the grief I have - joy. What? Joy? Does that even make sense? No, it doesn't. Though it may not always show, and though I am hurting and grieving and struggling with all of the pain from all of the blows the enemy is throwing at me and my family, underneath it all I have peace and joy. I know that I know that I know that God loves me. I know that He has a plan for me. And I know that He has called me His own, His child, His heir, His beloved. And because He has called me He will work all of this together for my good. We often think that belonging to Him is some sort of security policy - I'll follow God and be a good person and nothing bad will ever happen to me; He'll look out for me and protect me because I am such an asset to Him; He doesn't let bad things happen to good people. I guess we've never really read and understood the Bible then, or we've believed others words over the Lord's because the Bible says the exact opposite of that. Ever heard of Job? He was faithful to God, a good man - so much so that God was bragging about him. He endured so much pain and all just to test his loyalty. What about David, the man after God's own heart? - He hid in caves avoiding death for years, lost his wife and his best friend before he was able to take hold of his God-given throne. Paul - stoned, beaten, ship-wrecked, starved - all after he chose to follow Christ. The list goes on and on, topped with Jesus, God's own son. Jesus told us that in this world we will have trouble, not might but will. But to take heart, for He has overcome the world. But our hope is not in this world. Our lives don't end when we stop breathing, in fact, they are truly just beginning. So as I take stock of my worst summer I am grateful. I am grateful that God gave me the ability to get pregnant and the knowledge that He has my baby in Heaven. So many women lose a child or abort their baby thinking that it is the end, and there is nothing to look forward to. How hard to have to say a permanent goodbye with no hope. I am grateful that my children are healthy and strong-willed. Even though it is hard to train and teach them, it is how God made them and part of what makes them special, and part of what they will need to accomplish the plans and purposes He has called them to. Although the bills are high, they could be much higher. I could have had to stay in the hospital for weeks, and Patrick could be unemployed so we would have no way of paying for them. Although it is hard to go back each week, each time I am greeted by a wonderful staff whom I trust and the news is better each time. And though my marriage has been hit hard by the enemy, we are growing closer because of it. We are turning toward each other and toward God as a couple in a way that we never have before. I believe with all of my heart that this awful summer is going to be one of the biggest blessings we have ever received. God allows us to go through these things and we can respond one of 2 ways - turn to Him, or away from Him. He will be glorified with or without us. The men of faith I mentioned earlier all chose to follow God in the hard times, and all of them received a far greater reward for their faithfulness than the pain that they endured. We can choose to praise Him though we don't understand, or we can go our own way and look for answers in other places. But let me save you some searching - He is the only way to peace. He is the only freedom. Every other way offers you some joy or peace or escape, but it really just ensnares you with a taste of those things, followed by a lifetime of bondage. We all have our struggles, and maybe you read my problems and laugh because they are nothing compared to yours. But God is big enough for the biggest problems and small enough to care about the littlest annoyances. He wants them all. He wants all of me. He wants all of you. So as I look back on this summer and see the hand of God in it all, I may have to change my opening statement - this may just be the best summer of my life.

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