Trials, like people, come in all shapes and sizes. They come in all forms and all levels of severity but the one thing that they have in common is that we just never know when to expect them. (“I’d like to schedule my next meeting with the anvil on Tuesday at 3pm, please.”) Which means not that we have to be on edge of anticipation and worry about when the next one will hit but rather be at the ready, armed with God’s word, to tackle whatever we may face. Trials for me seemed to start early in life. I share this not to sound as a martyr but merely to help you understand more of where I’m coming from. Telling of these areas of my life will be the most challenging for me through this little project called blogging because I have turned hiding my past into a form of art. However, I have come to realize that what I had spent years hiding from is part of the essential components that have created me. Further they are all part of what has drawn me closer to Christ and to knowing myself.
I was born into a family of total dysfunction. Just reading that sounds mild to the sudden thoughts that have just raced through my head. The details of it all will have to be an entirely separate posting because there is just too much to share about it. Essentially neither of my parents truly knew how to be parents. Yes, there was abuse. A sibling was taken from the home and moved in with other family members. Another sibling married young and was out of the house early leaving me as the only child at home. Then one day, when I was eleven, I had to accompany my parents to a doctor’s appointment for my mom. This had never happened before. I sat in the waiting room quietly listening to their conversation. Then I waited for them to return from the consultation with the physician. I never said a word. Afterwards, I very vividly remember stopping at a car wash so my dad could wash the car. As I stood with my mom at the edge of the washing bay, I turned to her and said “Mom, do you have cancer?” Eighteen months later she was dead.
The following years for me were a roller coaster. I had a dad who not only didn’t know how to be a dad but at that point, didn’t really want to be one either. He was lost and therefore had no guidance for me. I bounced around from home to home sinking further into what I now know was a depression and struggled to find some sense of normalcy and purpose in life. The one thing I craved was direction and it was the one thing lacking everywhere I turned. I knew about God. I felt pretty confident that He was there but how could He love me if He’s the one who put me into the very mess that I wanted so badly to be out of? Pfft…loving God. Yeah right.
It has taken years for me to realize that EVERYTHING I went through then has molded me into helping others now. It took going through the fire in order to be able to help lead others out. I was fifteen when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior. I didnt accept Him so that everything would magically be fixed but I was a little confused when it didnt at least get easier. Yet the problems continued. The struggles were still there. The chaos of my childhood didnt go away. It’s taken twenty years as a Christian to understand that when we accept Christ, it’s not a bargaining tool. He doesnt offer salvation with the bonus of a problem free life. Those ‘problems,’ those challenges, those things that keep us making the payments on our therapists Jaguars are all part of a process. A process for growth. Those of us who are parents know that we can tell our kids a lesson until we’re blue and they’ve totally tuned us out but let them go through that same lesson on their own and they not only get more from it, they pay attention to what they’ve learned. It’s the same with our heavenly father. He knows that he can write a whole book (pun intended) with lessons for us to get us through but do we learn from reading about them alone? Nooooo…we don’t pay attention until the fire is hot under our own feet and then what do we do? Many run to Facebook or some other social network to cry out in woe of the tragedies of their lives; “God’s forcing me to grow and increase my strength! Ohhhh meeee…” Unfortunately it comes out as “My life sucks, where is God in all of this and why isn’t He fixing it?” Personally, I think the tragedy is that we fail to embrace Him when the challenges hit, we don’t listen to His word on how to get through it, we lose faith quickly and in the end we don’t learn a darn thing. What do we tell our kids when they don’t learn to keep their rooms clean? Yup, grounded again…and again…and again until what? Until they learn the lessons intended for them in order to create more responsible human beings who can positively contribute to the world. If we never taught our kids life lessons, how productive would we expect them to be as adults? The same is true for Christians. If we arent constantly learning, striving to do better, longing to be stronger in Him then how can we expect to be used as a tool for Him? God loves you just the way you are; but He isn’t content to leave you just the way you are. He KNOWS we can be better and as our Father, He’s going to do what it takes to teach us what we need to know.
I have to wonder how many of us would be bold enough to call God a liar. Yet according to the book of Isiah God says “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10) If that’s true and we BELIEVE His word then why do we buckle under pressure as soon as the problems start? Are we not saying to God “You’re a liar. I don’t believe your word” when we arent strong during our trials? Do we not trust that there may be a lesson for us in whatever we’re going through? Perhaps something that we might actually need to learn?
In the end, we ALL have our stories. We ALL have tough times that we’ve experienced. They come on many different levels and are individual for each of His children but, without a doubt, they are all tailored to our needs and our purpose within His plan for our lives. Instead of dreading the challenges, cursing the broken pipes, denying the illness, accepting defeat; may we all be bold enough in Christ to say “bring it on!” because essentially, God is always there saying “I’ve got this one covered. This is something you need to learn…if you’ll just trust me.”