Sometimes life doesn't go as expected.
Like l i t e r a l l y, just now.
Sitting at the bar in our kitchen beginning to write, I had just said my goodbyes as the boys headed out the door. Thomas reached for his book bag, the one mindlessly slung on our small antique church pew. As he does so, a large metal, ornamental wall hanging "falls" down (knocked down? I don't know, I looked up when I heard the noise), simultaneously hitting him in the head and knocking the two pictures to its left slap cock-eyed. Come to think of it, Thomas was cock-eyed, too.
Thomas and the pictures are fine, but the wall didn't fare so well.
Such is life. Unexpected. Not always what you signed up for. Sometimes better, other times, not so much.
I've begun one of those seasons, an abrupt turn from where (I thought) I was headed. Excitement, uncertainty, curiosity, eagerness, wonder–a perculiar, precarious balance of emotion, keeping my knees bowed low and my spirit tethered to the Divine.
Age brings with it a glimpse of wisdom not fully understood by those who haven't journeyed enough days:
Where is the life in life if not threaded with surprise and challenge, or devoid of forks and bends in the road?
How boring a road trip if it's just one, long, mindless interstate, a fast-track to a known destination, without the shades and color of Small Town, Anywhere?
There's comfort in predictability. Sometimes that's what I want. But I wonder if it's ever what I need…truly need.
I'm a believer and follower of Jesus who's prone to doubt. Sometimes debilitating, leave-the-faith, is God real? doubt.
The incredible, redemptive beauty of my doubt is it is often the very thing that drives me back to God!
I take issue when people blindly, carelessly declare "God is in control." I hate that phrase, overly simplistic and exasperating. It suggests too much that can't be true; among them that our choices are puppetiered, mechanical, lacking thought and decision and natural consequence.
I do believe God is sovereign, though, that nothing escapes his notice; that ultimately, the planet and all things created are under his authority and that his dominion lies beyond the confines of time–He knew the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end.
God is good, only good, and I fully believe out of this goodness, he has shaped my thinking to trust whatever circumstances occur in my life – the good and the difficult – are intended for my good, his glory, and in some way, the advance of the gospel.
That is why and only why when The Life, Unexpected happens (the hard unexpected), I'm convinced ~
… it's important to discover what I can learn about others through the circumstances.
… it's important to consider what God is teaching me, how he's refining me
… that my testimony is being told through my response to the situation, and how might others be encouraged through my response?
For those reasons and more, I'm able to perservere, look to the future with optimism, embrace life however it's packaged.
Where is life's magic without the occasional cliffhanger or tumultuous adventure?
I'm willing to pay the price for both. Sometimes eagerly, sometimes reluctantly, but always, eventually worth it.
When the hardest of tragedies occur – illness, death, financial ruin, infidelity, addiction – during those darkest of days, I know it's hard to keep faith. I.know.it.is, I am not minimizing the hardship. But there is the other side to that stinkin' mountain, and when you get to it, I pray you remember these words of encouragement.
Note: originally there was a giveaway attached to this post; I removed that portion of the content once it was awarded to simplify this message.
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow,
Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
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One day I will have to tell you the story of my ‘everything happens for a reason ring.’ The ring I wanted to be so much more than it was and by the time I was told how much it did mean, I was so happy it wasn’t everything that I had hoped for.
Love the post, and the giveaway too 🙂
Sometimes you sit in a crumpled mess and know you are for more… Several years later you reflect back on that crumpled mess and know those circumstances were shaping you. And you look around and know you are much stronger than you ever imagined.
As always, love your words Robin.
My stance in life “bring it on”
I subscribe to you in my reader 🙂
I follow Lisa on twitter (I’m @maryfred)
And I like Lisa on FB 🙂
“keeping my knees bowed low and my spirit tethered to the Divine.” This post. It’s just what I’m learning right now with God. That everything is His right now gift for me. And, even so, it’s not just some little “God’s in control” simple little thing to say to try to get someone to stop grieving or whatever. But the truth. God. He is all Divine and Sovereign and, like you wrote, always GOOD. Thanks for this.
I like this post. And I liked it on fb, too. 🙂
Also, I subscribe to your blog.
I am already an email subscriber!!
Those necklaces are darling!!
If I’m battling something, I revert back to my childhood prayers of: Please God, Help-ME! Help me, helpmehelpmehelpmehelpmehelpmehelpmehelpmehelpmehelpmehelpmehelpmehelpmehelpme…….
It’s surprisingly helpful and calming.. the whole chanting thing and most time I have no idea how to pray or what to ask for if my emotions and thoughts are out of whack.. These are times when you must rely on your training.. as a soldier or athlete practices nonstop until it’s just like clockwork. Or a musician.. when you practice so much that your brain may not know the notes anymore, but your hands do..
I *love* the necklace. That is my favorite hymn.
Right now I am going through a very deep valley. It is heartbreaking, but I have faith that the Lord will bring my children and I through. He has shown himself faithful over and over again.
Everything that you wrote that you are convinced about, I am with you, I agree. I have and am learning it, first hand.
I’ve been working through an Advent Bible study the last few weeks, and today’s scripture was Psalm 16:11 “Now you’ve got my feet on the life path, all radiant from the shining of your face. Ever since you took my hand, I’m on the right way.” [MSG]. Not only is God lighting our way with His love, but He has already set the path for us to walk. Before I even read it this morning, I was standing in the rain this morning talking to the guys that will cut down the fallen tree by my house and told them that “God knows the path He has chosen for me, and all I need to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other in faith.”
I am at a place in life where I have nothing to cling to except my faith. I have no job, no car, no income, my abusive husband has (finally) left me. I’m waiting for the foreclosure eviction notice on my door to make me homeless, Friday my power will be shut off, and Monday my water. But I know, without a doubt, that God has me in His hands, and this is all part of His plan for my life. With that… I have everything.
I’m an email subscriber and LOVE your words.
I also re-pinned to my board here http://pinterest.com/cindic515/dear-santa/
I love you for differentiating between control and sovereignty. Amen.
Shared and commented on facebook that I love your blog!
Liked on facebook…
Liked Lisa’s facebook page…
I try to think “Look for what God is doing now,” not wishing things could be the way they were or mulling over possible negative consequences. I’m not 100 % on this.
God is in control. Nothing escapes Him, nothing takes Him by surprise, nothing gets by Him. Having said that, we still have to go to Him continually to make sure we are on the path with Him, making the right choices. When those seemingly ‘life things’ happen, it is our response that God is concerned with. How do we respond to the things that happen to us? Even the very hard things…cancer, flooded home, car wreck, even death… He just wants us to acknowledge Him in all things and trust Him, that He is in control, and that He will work it out for our good. He is working in our lives constantly, changing us to look more like Jesus. And that is our goal, to be the people He wants us to be. Keep looking up – God is in control! 🙂
Blessings to you!
I’ve subscribed to your blog for some time, love it!!
Refreshing! I’ve definitely blindly, carelessly used the phrase “God is in control.” At one point I would have though, ‘oh, that’s just semantics’ but recently I’ve learned that semantics come out of what you truly believe, live in and out of.
Being in a season of discomfort. Limbo. Endless emotions from a change in directions, I plan to find more comfort in “God is Sovereign” than I used to find in “God is in control”. Thank you.
Would LOVE to win the necklace bwt.
I visited Lisa’s website, subscribed for email updates, and loved the By the Sea key chain so much I’m going to get it with my 15% savings coupon for subscribing! I know that there is a car in my future, and the feather will remind me that it has been on the wings of angels that God has carried me the last few years!
I am *learning* that the desolation that seems to plague my soul is a place of potential. To be transformed and grow and become more fully HIS. Although I do wonder why the climb over the mountain has to be so laborious at times.
A lot of my doubts have been quieted by God sending me a Spiritual Director (think Chiropractor for your soul) and learning to embrace silence.
I find most modern day christian platitudes exasperatingly meaningless when the rubber of life meets the road of my faith…
Shared with some friends on FB…if I won I thought I’d give it away. But there are 4 sisters. How could I pick ;o)
I don’t qualify for the giveaway because I am in the UK and not the USA, much though I would love the necklace. However, I do qualify to write about when things become a challenge. Go wrong. When the unexpected happens. Does a husband dying unexpectedly (and learning later it was because of a mega mess up in hospital), fighting a now 6 year legal battle with said hospitals, having to go out to work suddenly to support my son, who was still at school and had university to get through too, then getting injured at work, resulting in a lifelong sentence of pain 24/7 and being unable to work at all qualify? Does having to steer my small family through the mire of grief and distance – qualify? Does the fear and worry matter?
You see, I am a little older than you are, and oh yes, I have learned that life does not always happen the way I dreamed, or anticipated, but that if I just keep remembering that one step forward is good, that if I think of 4 things I am thankful for every morning before my feet hit the floor, that I have been blessed in so many ways by so many people, my family, my friends……
I started a gratitude journal many years ago, and it has become the stabilising reminder in my life. Thousand upon thousand words of thanksgiving. You can’t be miserable when you are thsnkful, can you?
You know, we were studying Job at church a couple of weeks ago and I was thinking about what he had to endure, and I started singing “It is well with my soul”, and the words wouldn’t go away, so I looked on Youtube for something to sing with, and I read all about how the hymn came to be written, and I realised that I know NOTHING like the pain Horatio Spafford and his wife must have known. Check him out on Wikipedia. I CAN say “God is in control, you see, Robin, only because I know for absolute certain that I am not. And as the world keeps turning, it must be Him. (This is a self-confessed control freak speaking, by the way!) And now I have taken up way too much of your comments, so I will cease and desist. But let me just say to anyone who may need to hear the words…..no matter how dire your circumstances may be, be ever thankful that God loves you. You will be amazed how much of a difference that makes, and believe me, prayers are answered.
I know God cares for me. It is the very core of my being. He cares for me. That first principle has carried me through so many dark days. He cares for me. That knowledge, that faith, that tenant allows me to fully embrace all of life’s moments. It is well with my soul? The song I sang, at her request, at my precious Neenie’s (Grandmother) funeral. . She was the biggest little woman I ever knew and such a blessing to all who knew he.
“Happy Holidays!” I am over 50 and everyday is a
learning process…What used to bother me very easily,
has stopped and now my perspective on life changes
quite often. The things that matter now; according to
my judgment, are the wonderful family,friends and the
people who have yet, to come into my life. Life goes by so quickly that even my 94 year old dad says that it
does! I have watched our two sons grow into wonderful young men and I am so proud of them…Also, I have been blessed with the marriage to a kind and giving man.
We will celebrate our 27th year of marriage very soon.
My favorite Bible verse that I meditate on daily is:
Psalms 46:10 ~ Be Still and Know That I am God. Many thanks, Cindi
I have been an email subscriber of yours for awhile…
Many thanks, Cindi
I tried feebly to say something similar several years ago when I was still blogging and failed in my effort. This was beautifully and eloquently written, my friend. And, truly, God is, indeed, always sovereign, but we have choices with how we respond to the things for which we have no control. God Bless You, Dear, in this season. (((HUGS)))
Sometimes when I am wondering where He is, if He really cares, if He truly keeps His promises, or why, if He is in control, things are the way they are, I go to this verse: “Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.”-Psalm 34:10. I think for me (now that I am “older” and have a, shall I say, more mature and realistic perspective) when I feel like He isn’t answering or the things in my life aren’t all “good,” or I’m in the middle of a pity party and feel like I am just a complete failure as a Christ follower because I am questioning, I have to realize (again and again!) that I am probably desiring that thing or outcome, whatever it is, more than I am desiring Christ.
That’s not to say it’s not okay to admit things are difficult or even terrible (or the other extreme, for me–that Pollyanna/denial/avoidance syndrome, in which I tell myself that if I pretend everything is okay, maybe it will be–but that’s another issue, altogether!); but I know that I need to remind myself that He IS in control, and that maybe, probably even most likely, He is using that situation for me to seek Him and long only for Him. And in my heart, I really do know that I know that I KNOW that anything, no matter how humanly hard it may be, or how far from “good” it may seem in my own myopic vision, that draws me closer to Him and makes me long for more of Him, can ONLY be good.
I follow @LisaLeonard on Twitter.
I also “Like” Lisa Leonard’s Designs on
All of her jewelry creations are wonderful…
One of my favorites is her “Fresh Cut Necklace!”
Much thanks to you…
It IS true – God is in control. 🙂 With God there are no mistakes, no ooops, no misses…He sees it all. But we do live in a fallen world and we will have trials, challenges and yes ‘tribulations’ – but God has ‘overcome the world’. We know that whatever happens to us, He will turn it around for good, He will use it to draw us near and to trust Him more and more, and use those hard times to help us look more like Jesus. That is our goal. We are only here for a very short time…considering eternity… 🙂 Keep looking up and following His path.
I forgot to say I subscribe via email. Nd the posts are the highlight of my day :).
And I liked this on facebook!!
And I pinned to interest–did I mention how fun this is ?
nd I liked Lisa’s facebook page!
and I followed Lisa on Twitter.Whew! That’s a lot of social media for one morning :). I feel so thoroughly modern! Thanks!
Just yesterday. Typed 70 addresses in for Christmas cards and promptly LOST THEM. Not what I had planned. It’s in those moments that I think of others who have REAL problems… not just typing in 140 addresses in a day… 😉
I forgot to say I subscribe by email and loved your doors
of London….my oldest daughter has been studying there since September.
I agree. And it seems that the seasons with the most change are the seasons with the most growth…even though I love predictability and routine!! I loved what you said about your doubt being the very thing that drives you back to God. In this year post-baby I have struggled with anxiety…but have heard God speak to me SO CLEARLY in the midst of it. His comfort, His love…in a way I had never experienced it before. He is so good.
I subscribe to you in my google reader. 🙂
I follow Lisa on twitter!
I stumbled this post!
I like Lisa Leonard Designs on FB. 🙂
I visit Lisa’s shop often, and I love the sweet pea necklace!!!
I try to remind myself that God is not suprised by the challenges I am facing and that He is using for my good. “It is well with my soul” is a favorite hymn of mine. Especially when I think about the author who wrote it. Blessings!
I’d love to win that necklace because “It Is Well” is one of my favorite songs. I also wrote a blog post called “It is Well,” and it is one of my posts in my top 10 most pageviews list. I think we all want to be able to say when trouble comes, “It is well.” Because if you are a child of God, it will be. Maybe not right away but it come ….
We experienced the unexpected a couple of years ago. We’d been married for years and had no sign that we’d ever have a child. I was just coming to terms with that – when we were surprised with a pregnancy. I’m happy to say that our little two-year-old keeps us on our toes, but I think God made us wait so we we’d have more patience and cherish her all the more.
I Like Lisa Leonard Designs Facebook page.
I love her gold wildflower necklace and the gold cream freshwater pearl earrings
You said it beautifully. xo
I already subscribe via email and in my reader. Cause I’m super cautious that way 🙂
I followed Lisa on twitter
I tweeted about your post
I liked your post on facebook
I liked Lisa’s Facebook design page
I visited Lisa’s shop and I love, Love, LOVE the open design bracelet 🙂
I’m so happy to have found your blog. You seem to share my ride on the pendulum … swinging from deep, convicted belief to those sniggling, burrowing little moments of doubt. So nice to have someone express these thoughts out loud…and also to come back around. I recently found a wonderful church whose message is all about light, community, and growing ever closer to God. I’m so thankful to be there…but I had one of “those” moments recently while listening to one of the ministers tell our children (in preparation for Hurricane Sandy) to make sure to pray to God to keep you safe during the storm.
I almost “hurt” when I heard that. I have a hard enough time reconciling God’s seeming indifference to our individual tragedies…how am I going to explain to my preschooler when bad things do happen to kids who pray for help? (I, too, am not going to give a name to the unspeakable.) I do believe in God’s sovereignity and believe that he loves us deeply. How to explain to a youngster that we’re on our own on this earth and the best we can do is pray for God’s presence and for him to bless us with strength, fortitude and peace though?
I look forward to more of your posts…keep up the great work.
I also know a whole lot about those mountains and valleys. I have lost a child, lost my extended family, basically gone bankrupt, but with each loss, I have learned just how much I was actually ok. I have gotten to the point that, “It is well with my soul”. I have learned to trust God, Psalm 23 is a favorite. Definitely check out Horatio. His story is amazing. I love this video. It has the hymn and Horatio’s story
I’m a google reader subscriber – Jill L
Follow @LisaLeonard on Twitter. @chipdip2010
Like Lisa Leonard Designs Facebook page – Jill Lear
I love the True Love Wins necklace.
Stumbled this post jlear79
I follow Lisa on Twitter.
I follow Lisa on Facebook.
My favorite design in the gold golden shores necklace.
A verse I’ve been meditating on is “And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” It’s a constant reminder that He is the one I can put my trust in!
this would remind me to remain calm in the storm
I find hope in life’s ups and not so much in life’s downs where instead of dwelling on the negatives, I try to find the good and turn to a journal. It’s a gratitude one in which I write down a word or phrase that makes me smile or think deep. Having a bound journal helps keep track of my various pieces of paper which is key to having a place to revisit and ponder on the beauty of what led me to this spot. I go back to these writings to repurpose ideas for two poetry workshops a month, so you can say I’m recycling even my words.