I think it is pretty safe to say that life has a way of kicking the breath out of you. There are days when I just want to put my hand up and say, “Just give me a minute so I can catch my breath!” Like a runner, after finishing a race, my hands are on my knees while I wait for the pounding of my heart to get back into a normal rhythm.
The past two months, I have been reading Lysa Terkeurst’s book “Forgiving What You Can’t Forget”. This book isn’t just about forgiveness. It is also about how to deal with the many issues that come from experiencing trauma. If you have faced a lot of trauma, and you need something to help you process, this book is for you.
I can relate to the pain that Lysa writes about. “And hidden behind all that exhaustion was a girl stuck in so much grief, her perception of God was more informed by her pain than her past experience of who she knew God to be.” Terkeurst
My pain has a tendency to take over the truth of who I know God to be. Part of my problem has been disillusionment. I think I have been disillusioned with God because of what He has allowed to happen in my life. God didn’t intervene like I thought He would in so many different situations. I prayed and prayed for things to change, but my answers didn’t look like I thought they would.
“Your answer never looks like you think it should.” Terkeurst I can “think” I know what should happen, but I am not God. I might think I have the right answer but God ultimately does. And somehow, I have to make peace with that. I might not like what is happening, but I have to get to the point that I have to trust what He is doing. He is the only One who can see everything and knows everything. And most important of all, I have to remember that He is good. (Psalm 34:8) He doesn’t withhold good from us. (Psalm 84:11)
“What if we’ve been looking at things from only what we think is good? From our vantage point, we can clearly see how what we’re asking from God makes so much sense. In our minds, we see all the good that would surely come from Him doing exactly what we suggest. But what if our requests, though completely logical and reasonable, aren’t what we think they are? Yes, from an earthly perspective, they are exactly what makes sense. But what if God sees things we can’t possibly see? What if we could see everything from His complete, eternal, perfect vantage point? What if I’ve been thinking of this all wrong?” Terkeurst
This is where my disillusionment has to turn into trust. Do I trust God? That question can be a hard one. There are lots of things I trust Him for, but there are others that are harder for me to trust Him with. It is hard for me to trust when I don’t understand what He is doing. It is equally hard for me to trust Him with what He is allowing to happen. I like to be able to understand what is going on. And when I can’t understand or rationalize things in my brain, I tend to have feelings of fear. I think, “Lord, what in the world are you doing here? I don’t understand why You are allowing this to happen?” (Cue the trauma feelings that rise up within me that I felt as a little girl.)
And then… I read these next words that made my jaw drop. “I’ve been praying for almost as long as I’ve been living. But I’ve very rarely had the thought to look around at my life and see today, this moment, in this season, as the answered prayer. When I think about prayer requests, I think of what I “hope” God will do… not what “has been done” for today. The reason I miss seeing what I’m living today as the answer to my prayers is that very often, maybe even always, it’s not what I thought it would be. God’s answers don’t look like what I have pictured so clearly in my mind.” Terkeurst
Oh my goodness! That’s it! God’s answers haven’t looked like what I have pictured in my mind. Can anyone else relate to that? I have pictured God working very differently. And, I have been shocked at some of His answers. I haven’t understood them and frankly haven’t liked some of them. I have had so many expectations of what I thought the answer should be.
That question— “What if I’ve been thinking or looking at my situation all wrong?”—stuck with me. I wrestled with it and journaled over it.
This is what I wrote in my journal. “What looks good to me might not look good to you, Lord. I actually might not have the right answer. I need to let go of what I think is good. My idea of “good” needs to change. I need to say that I am sorry for the way I have acted when You haven’t answered the way I thought You should. I have become disillusioned with You. Yes, I would have loved for things to be different in my childhood, but it doesn’t get me anywhere to wish things were different. I know that You provided so many things to get me through those years and I am very grateful for your provision.”
When I was a child, I loved watching Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc…because all the Disney movies had a “happy ending”. I formed the belief that the evil would be dealt with and I would have my idea of a happy ending. So, when that didn’t happen, I didn’t know how to handle it. I became a little girl stuck in grief and shock of what I saw and experienced. My perceptions of what I thought life should be like were turned upside down.
Of course, I didn’t realize any of this until I was much older. But, that has been one of my biggest problems. What I perceived to be good, has not been the same as what God says is good. I know God can work good from any situation. My answer for what is good needs to be what God says is good. I must focus on His provision and make the choice to see that instead of the chaos that is going on around me. I have been living in chaos most of my life so my brain has been trained for survival instead of looking at what God is giving me.
I am wired to be hyper. My brother is the same way. We attack and we do and we over do and there is no peace. It is a learned behavior from a chaotic upbringing. I don’t know how to rest or stay in the same spot very long. This past year has made it worse for me. The chaos of the pandemic made me crazy. I became that frightened little girl again. I’ve been fighting panic for over a year. The problem was, and still is, the fact that I forget to look for God’s daily provision. I am praying every day that God will help my mind look for Him and His provision for me. And, I am praying to be thankful for it all!
In the midst of everything we are facing, there is good provision from God. My mind always goes to the story of Joseph in the Bible. God provided for Joseph for so many years. His circumstances were’t ideal for sure, but God had a plan. I have to remind myself over and over again—amidst the chaos—that there is a plan. I must trust God with His plan.
I am going to end with sharing something I saved on my phone last year. The author is unknown. I pray the words encourage you and give you hope!
“I would have pulled Joseph out. Out of that pit. Out of that prison. Out of that pain. And I would have cheated nations out of the one God would use to deliver them from famine.
I would have pulled David out. Out of Saul’s spear-throwing presence. Out of the caves he hid away in. Out of the pain of rejection. And I would have cheated Israel out of a God-hearted king.
I would have pulled Esther out. Out of being snatched from her only family. Out of being placed in a position she never asked for. Out of the path of a vicious, power-hungry foe. And I would have cheated a people out of the woman God would use to save their very lives.
And I would have pulled Jesus off. Off of the cross. Off of the road that led to suffering and pain. Off of the path that would mean nakedness and beating, nails and thorns. And I would have cheated the entire world out of a Savior. Out of salvation. Out of an eternity filled with no more suffering and no more pain.
And oh friend. I want to pull you out. I want to change your path. I want to stop your pain. But right now I know I would be wrong. I would be out of line. I would be cheating you and cheating the world out of so much good. Because God knows. He knows the good this pain will produce. He knows the beauty this hard will grow. He’s watching over you and keeping you even in the midst of this. And He’s promising you that you can trust Him. Even when it all feels like more than you can bear.
So, instead of trying to pull you out, I’m lifting you up. I’m kneeling before the Father and I’m asking Him to give you strength. To give you hope. I’m asking Him to protect you and to move you when the time is right. I’m asking Him to help you stay prayerful and discerning. I’m asking Him how I can best love you and be a help to you. And I’m believing He’s going to use your life in powerful and beautiful ways. Ways that will leave your heart grateful and humbly thankful for this road you’ve been on.”
Until next time dear friends. This is my journey to joy.