Skillful Mariner // Thankfulness in Suffering

Givethanksheader I’ve always been a sucker for proverbs, quotes, inspirational sayings, and the like. I’d regularly have the fortunes from cookies, Dove chocolate wrappers, or magazine cutouts taped to my computer screen edges, walls, doors, notebooks, etc.

 

The days of displaying or even just storing away every scrap of paper are over for the most part, but for some reason there is one little fortune that is still stuck to my cupboard door. It is not necessarily because the saying is so much more significant than others, but more so that the mood hit me just right the day we ordered Chinese and the piece of tape I used to attach it to my cupboard happens to be particularly ambitious.

 

“A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner”

 

I do love the reminder. No one’s life journey is smooth sailing start to finish. Some face seas far rougher than others. Some skillful mariners have fought battles most or all of us will never know. Some people can barely tell the story of the storm they faced because of the very real pain that is imbedded in its memory. Some have never faced waters quite so rough.

 

Between history books and mass media, you may feel like you have never really suffered, at least not comparatively. We joke about our #firstworldproblems and preface our venting sessions with the acknowledgments of how our concerns are so small in the big picture, and how we know that we really are blessed.

 

 sailing

I don’t have big storms in my life like some do to point to, but I’ve got little ones just like everybody. I certainly wasn’t grateful at the time for the storms I faced, but I am extremely grateful now for the skills I’ve gained as a mariner!

 

Without the hurt I felt, the arguments I had, and the regrets from previous relationships, I would not be the wife I am today (which is still far from perfect). There are more things I appreciate about my husband, and less I take for granted. I am less inclined to need the last word, and more inclined to avoid the regret and apology later. I am sorry for the hurt I felt and caused in past relationships, but so very grateful that I learned so many lessons before I committed to my husband as long as we both shall live.

 

Each sickness, tantrum, argument, and various other less-than-smooth sailing with my children grows me as a parent.

 

I am grateful that my child has made a scene in public, so that I can look with empathy and understanding instead of judgement when it’s someone else’s.

 

There are many skills I have gained through life’s difficulties, and many lessons that I’ve had to learn more than a few times. I also know full well, that there are so many more to come.

 

More significant than any skill I have gained for each different role in my life is the fact that I am so grateful that I don’t have a life of only smooth sailing. How tragic would it be to fall so in love with the sea that we forget our goal and destination? It is in our moments of weakness, despair, regret, and hurt that we most clearly see our need for a Savior and look forward to heaven!

 

 

2 Corinthians 12:10

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

You don’t have to enjoy rough seas in your life, but you can try to put focus on allowing those rough seas to equip you for your future sailing endeavors! And always let them serve as a reminder that you have a Savior who loves you, who has a wonderful plan for your life, and a room in paradise waiting just for you!

 

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

 

I'm never going to be a perfect wife, a perfect mother, sister, friend, Christian or person. I'm going to fail over and over, but if each struggle will grow my faith and bring me closer to my Savior, I will give thanks for every storm.

 

1 Peter 1:6-8

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

 

 

JesSignature

lean in :: a story of struggle and infertility

I stand at the mailbox staring at the small pink envelope in my hands and take a deep breath. I know what's inside. Another invitation for another celebration for another baby that is not mine. The flood of emotions pours in and I hate it. The sadness and the sting of jealousy and pain. The worry that I'll never be a mother. The betrayal that my body doesn't work like it's supposed to. The disappointment and the longing.

I pull away. 

I stand in the middle of the dark room. Words come out of my mouth and fill the room landing on the ears of the man who is calm, but as frustrated and tired as his wife. I don't even recognize myself, the words and tone and thoughts not my own, but yet it's me speaking them and thinking them. They catch in my throat and I fall to my knees and my heart breaks again. I wonder who this girl is that feels so alone and angry, hurt and sad. The one who feels forgotten about.

When the dream is crushed again and again, month after month, year after year, the heaviness tightens and pulls.

I fall back, slow and fast.

I stand alone at the bathroom sink, a white ovulation test stick in my hands. My eyes study it, wondering if the line is too faint? Or dark enough? I don't know. I'm so tired and so broken. I close my eyes and try to breathe. When I open them again to look at the test, tears fill up and the line is blurred.

I snap it, the test, in half and throw it hard across the room.

I snap in half, too.

I'm undone.

And I'm done. No more. But. Instead of pulling away, instead of falling, instead of carrying the weight....

I lean in. He pulls me close. I lean into Him. And for the first time in forever, I can breathe again.

And I let it go.

The worry. The weight. The control. The questions. The shame. The plans.

They are pulled from my tired, broken heart and placed at His feet.

During my struggle with infertility, I carried the burden and buried it in my heart, the pain erupting from time to time when it became too much. I refused to allow others to see my pain so I bottled it up and slapped a smile on my face and a "I'm doing fine!" on my lips. But there I was, wading through the mess and the hard, stumbling and flailing. Why did I try to carry everything on my own? I think back to that time and want to wrap that girl, me, up into a big hug and whisper His promises into her ear again and again.

Lay it down. 

I knew my Jesus and His love. I felt Him near, close enough to touch, and still kept pushing away, allowing brokenness and worry and shame to hold me. I allowed my desires to consume me and trump God 's plan. For a time I thought my identity was in being a mom, but really it's not. It's in Him. I am His and He wants my whole heart. Even the part that so desperately wanted a baby in her arms.

I could write for days and years on this, without ever reaching the depth of it all. The circumstances of my pain spun me around and changed the course of my path to motherhood. Without the struggle, I wouldn't be holding my beautiful boy with the almond eyes and sweet smile.

Leaning into God and His promises doesn't take away pain or struggle or hurts, but He covers them with Comfort. Hope. Rest. Leaning in allows us to see and feel the Joy that's here in every breath. Because of Him. Leaning in brings a Peace that soothes and calms, a balm for the weary. And a Grace that sustains and strengthens.

Don't pull away. He holds you. He will carry you through. Lean in.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

When you Lose your Best Friend // Thankfulness in Suffering

Givethanksheader Sometimes, life throws you curveballs.

You lose your job. Your marriage splits up. There's more money going out than coming in. Your child gets very sick. You get the idea. Our lives, our world, is full of tragic things.

When I was in high school, my sister died in a car accident. It was a pretty hefty curve ball at the impressionable and fragile age of fourteen. I didn't always handle it well. There were times of depression and times of anxiety. There were periods where I felt like I was losing hope. There were occasions that it consumed my life. Despite it being almost 14 years, despite growing up, despite starting my own family, it still hurts. A lot. Sometimes it hurts so badly my insides feel raw. Sometimes I am so broken hearted, I just want to crawl into bed and ignore the day. Sometimes I am just so incredibly sad. I have a hard time finding much to be thankful for from this part of my life.

When rotten things happen in our lives, it can be hard not to lose hope. It can be hard to trust that God knows what is best for us.

Writing this post has given me the opportunity to think of all the things I am truly thankful for having gone through this tragedy.

I am thankful for the time we did have with her. She was only seventeen when she died, but I have seen families lose babies and toddlers. I am reminded what a blessing seventeen years was.

I am thankful that God chose me and my family to be hers--what a blessing she was for our family!

I am thankful that God was there for us, and that he gave my family the strength to continue living even after death. I have seen families broken by tragedy and am so grateful that wasn't us.

I am thankful for how rock solid her faith was, that we never have any question where she is. She believed in Jesus.

I am thankful for having an experience such as this early in life, allowing me to have a different perspective while growing up.

I am thankful for the many, many awesome memories that I have.

I'll be honest. I am still not happy about it. I never will be. I don't think God expects us to be happy in times of tragedy. Even Jesus wept when Lazarus died. God expects us to look to Him for guidance, to look to Him for reassurance, to trust that His plan is better than our plans. If we are honest with ourselves, sometimes even "normal" days get in the way of our thankfulness and gratitude to our Savior.

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Even though we may not always be happy, we can have joy. Joy in knowing that Jesus is our Savior.

Job 19: 27, "I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!"

I have joy in knowing that my sister and I will meet again someday. Heaven is our home.

I'm but a stranger here; Heaven is my home. Earth is a desert drear; Heaven is my home. Danger and sorrow stand Round me on every hand. Heaven is my fatherland; Heaven is my home.

Therefore I murmur not; Heaven is my home. Whatever my earthly lot, Heaven is my home. And I shall surely stand There at my Lord's right hand. Heaven is my fatherland; Heaven is my home.

BeckySig2