Not to spoil the ending, but...
At that time, I was in the kind of agony that can't be described in words. If you've felt it, you know what I'm talking about.
My circumstances and my choices felt unbearable at the time. I could count on one hand the number of times I've felt crushed to the point of not knowing how I could survive something, when all I really wanted to do was curl up into a ball and cry. (Which I did many days.)
For a long time, there were endless questions in my mind -- and questions for God. Why is this happening? How is this happening? I've been there -- stuck in that quandary -- before. I would imagine most of us have been there. Maybe you are there right now as you are reading this.
The hard choice is almost always the choice of emotional or spiritual growth. I know that because of many years spent in self-reflection and doing self-work; struggling and forging my way through difficult and complicated relationships (especially a 27-year-long abusive marriage). I committed myself to the hard choices of health and growth. But that didn't help my broken heart.
Even when you have peace about a difficult choice, you can be racked with grief over very real loss in its wake. And that's exactly where I was when I stumbled onto this little wall hanging in a Hallmark store. I had to buy it and hang it prominently, where I would see it in a certain place regularly. I knew I needed to be reminded that there would be better days ahead.
I hung it in 2017.
When first hung, I often looked at it through tears. As the months passed, I looked at it and felt comfort ... reassurance ... hope. Not only would I BE okay, I WAS okay. My tears dried, occasionally made their appearances, and then dried again. I did not lose my whole joy in living because of the joy that was missing. Gratitude was the vehicle that carried me through the valley. I have consciously chosen to focus on what I have and not what I lack.
I now look at this saying and feel peace that I didn't have (to this degree) when I first hung it. I often look at it now and smile, thinking about how far I've come and realizing that God made me strong and resilient. That my record for surviving tough times so far is 100%. (Another little quote I love.)
The heartbreak that precipitated this purchase remains. But I have survived my broken heart. I have thrived in spite of painful losses. In the midst of pain and disappointment, I have still been empowered to choose gratitude, joy and FAITH that these words will one day come true ... in God's perfect timing. I have learned to be thankful for my trials even while I'm still in them because I know the growth and the healing that will come through them. I've said this before, but I love Tim Keller's sermon on how our greatest joys are birthed in suffering. I have lived that and know that it's true.
My 'scripture mantra' is still Romans 8:28. He is working all things for my good. Even this! (Which I always tack on at the end when I quote it to myself.)
If you are struggling with 2020; facing difficult challenges or disappointment, grief, loss, heartache, despair ... I just want to encourage you to hold on. Everything is going to be okay in the end.
Every detail may not unfold the way we want it to. In fact, I can promise you that it won't. We will be disappointed, wounded, and heartbroken at times. Life can be hard. 2020 has been hard in so many ways. But God knows what He's doing. He knows the whole plan. And He will use everything for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Believe that. It's true.
When I struggle to know what or how to pray, I pray for God's will to prevail (over mine). There is so much peace in that prayer. God, your will in our country. Your will in our government. Your will in our leaders. Your will in this election. Your will in all my relationships. Your will, not mine. Give me the humility to remember, in all things, that I don't know everything You know about the future or what is best; what is necessary; what is needed.
May we CHOOSE humility ... CHOOSE joy ... CHOOSE love ... CHOOSE light. And may we also CHOOSE to BE light in someone else's darkness. I can promise it will brighten your darkness at the same time because it never fails to brighten mine.
Darkness can never overcome the light.
But the light drives out darkness.
Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9, NIV)