(Sigh.) This summer has turned out to be not at all what I expected. As I write this I can't help but think of others whose year hasn't turned out all that great either and I am thankful for the smallness of my problems compared with theirs. Kind of makes me feel like a wimp for even feeling the slightest bit disappointed, but I do. I just do.
I had such high hopes of doing fun things with my teenage daughter, like driving to Jerry's for sno cones, taking in movies, and having some fun field trips. It would have been nice to get out of town with my family, but my eighteen-year-old is at that age where family vacations aren't his thing. My daughter and I have managed to spend some time together on a couple of short trips to my mom's house, but the family vacation never materialized. With the unexpected loss of my husband's job, our attention has been diverted to more urgent matters like finding work...quickly. We know that God is in control and we are waiting as patiently as we can for him to move in our circumstances and open some doors. It's not like we haven't been down this road before in our twenty-five year marriage, but this time it is different. It is harder. Much harder.
All of the challenges we are facing as a family are very distracting to me. I find that I am not nearly as focused on my writing or on ministry as I should be. Perhaps that is because I am afraid to set my heart on something I feel is disappearing right before my eyes. What if I am the one who has to go back to work? How will that affect my children or my parents-in-law? I have enjoyed having the flexibility to be home for my kids after school and during vacation and holiday breaks. It has been a blessing to be able to say, "Yes, I can take you to the doctor on Tuesday." What happens to all of that now? I am praying like crazy that our situation will not come down to my having to work outside the home, but it could. If it does, by the grace of God I will make the necessary adjustments.
We all have challenges in life that are difficult. Challenges that derail us and sometimes even cause us to question God. When our course becomes a series of detours, our vision becomes unclear and doubt creeps in. Did I mistake God's call on my life? Wasn't this what I was supposed to be doing? If this is my heart's desire, then why isn't it being fulfilled? Hard questions plague us and sometimes we just shut down because we don't know what to do next.
This has become a summer of searching...for God's will, the next step, and for peace as we await His provision. I confess that I am not handling things as well as I know I should be. My fuse is short. My patience is shorter. With the heat wave we have been experiencing of late, coupled with miserable drought conditions, more than ever I feel the need for a refreshing breeze and a fresh breath of the Spirit in my life.
I find myself praying often for God's forgiveness for mistreating those closest to me, whining about my circumstances, and being less than grateful when I have so much to be grateful for. We are healthy. Our bills (the critical ones anyway) are paid. God promises to provide for our needs daily, and He has. We are not dealing with cancer or homelessness or disability. We are simply dealing with a problem many before us have faced in this economy.
I am reminded of the following commands from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." Could it be that the only thing standing between me and God's will and provision is my lack of gratitude?
My prayer in all of this is that God will change me for the better, help me develop an attitude of gratitude, and use me somehow to encourage someone else when all is said and done. That's the best any of us can hope for.
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