I almost finish rebuilding my emergency fund and then the two-year old dishwasher stops cleaning. So I hand wash and choose to appreciate how this happened at a slower time of year. And I realize I sort of like the calm, slow, hand washing process. It is easy enough to trust through this.
Two big backyard trees, shade and privacy trees, trees that draw flocks of birds in the fall and winter to my delight, must come down as they are rotting and dangerous. The fee must be pulled from our emergency fund, almost but not yet completely recovered from our minivan dying last June. But I choose gratitude that we have worked to rebuild this fund in the first place.
I go to visit my brothers and get a deep rock chip on my one year old windshield. Non repairable. More money to replace a windshield when we had hoped for some fun money this summer (and already booked plans). Discouragement creeps in but we decide to try and push it off until fall, grateful that for the moment the chip and crack are not impeding our line of vision.
My daughter needs an emergency surgery to remove an unknown mass in her jaw. Hopefully nothing more than a bone cyst. But she is worried and I leave the next day for Montréal. This was very sudden, there are fees attached, and I am supposed to go have fun after this; it is my first extended time away without family in over 20 years. I remind myself to breathe and silence the fearful voices in my brain. All will be well. She will be with her daddy who loves her. And I am so grateful that the surgeon books her in the day before my flight so I can be there.
Why is it that there are seasons where everything seems to break all at once or budgets are drained or people get sick? Though there are yet other uncomfortable (bigger) trust issues in our life right now, this smattering of examples I provided all happened within two weeks of each other. Nothing major, right? Separate they are easy enough to handle, to brush off, to deal with in a mature and trusting fashion.
But when I feel like I am being picked at, deflecting one little irritation or scary unknown after the other, fear can begin to overwhelm. Defenses are weakened. And I must choose my response.
Faith or fear. Freedom or fear.
I feel like I am entering yet another testing ground. I don’t want it. It is not like I have had years of rest or peace under my belt that I should somehow be ready for a new challenge or period of growth. As though I am in control of any of this. And yet I wrote not that long ago that I sensed change coming yet again. Darn it – why did I have to write that?
I don’t want to grow right now. I want to just enjoy summer and rest and connect and laugh and eat good food. Sweat in the Alberta sunshine, saunter through the majestic mountains of Banff, people watch along the cobblestoned and multicultural beauty that is Montréal. Remain aware of the hate and fear and bombings in our world but stay separate; compassionate but untouched. But when pain or even inconvenience, because let’s face it, much of what we deal with is simple inconvenience, when they visit our home, we must reaffirm our identity.
Am I Much-Afraid or Acceptance-With-Joy?*
And I am so grateful for the life-altering lesson learned in the dark valley four years ago: joy and pain can coexist. Joy is a choice. And there really is no love without pain but I will always choose love anyways. Trust is a choice. Surrender to the One who is faithful, who I believe sees everything I am going through, who knows and cares about every detail of my life. That surrender is a choice.
But surrender is also not about giving up nor is it passive. It is hard work and involves taking personal responsibility, and living with wisdom, and walking in mercy and kindness even when I am fearful or angry. When I am so afraid of what lies ahead. And afraid I might not have it in me to recover.
I am learning to trust. Again. Or still.
The journey is not yet complete. I am being formed and am yet becoming even as I watch my children become. I will focus on the next thing before me and then the next. Enjoy the sunshine and the gifts of today. Make the appointments, research when necessary, meet with doctors. I will tighten the belt to deal with unexpected expenses and be thankful that we have an abundance of food and people to love and a solid roof over our heads. I will practice breathing in the harder moments and remind myself that if this is my journey then I have, indeed, been equipped for it.
We forget sometimes, as my sister in law recently reminded me, that we have never been promised a life without struggle. No amount of budgeting, organizing, or trying to protect ourselves within our safe little bubbles can exempt us from loss or pain or inconvenience or plain old heartache. In this world we will have trouble. There are people who abuse babies and countless who die of hunger. Tsunamis and airport bombings.
And all our personal struggles are training ground, too, for knowing how to respond to these bigger world issues. If we fall apart when our favorite t-shirt is destroyed, wasps keep finding their way into the house and the neighbor sprays pesticides on our garden (all also within the past couple weeks), how do we offer a loving response to those affected by natural disaster or a nightclub bombing?
If we do not learn to choose peace or trust when our sense of safety is rocked at home then how will we be people of courage who stand up for justice or push back against laws of tyranny or oppression in society at large? We won’t because we are too afraid. Too needy of comfort to speak out.
But I want to be a person of strength and courage. You probably do too.
So right now I choose trust. I let go of what I think my life *should* look and feel like at this moment and step into what is. Heart open, willing to listen and learn, remembering that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be amazingly, awe-inspiring, crazy beautiful.
I am learning to trust. Again.
*From the book Hinds’ Feet on High Places, Hannah Hurnard