June 17, 2015

Facing Uncertainty

It is Wednesday or hump day as folks like to say. You know, that day in the middle of the work week where you feel like you are at the pinnacle of the mountain top. You see how far you have come up, and you look down to see the valley below. You know that your journey is not over, it is only partly completed. The rest of the way looks easy, well at the least, easier than the climb up. Still, the journey is hard, it is taxing, and at times, it is overwhelming.

Facing the Giants in my Life

I am in the midst of great uncertainty. My life is in flux, as it has been for the past five years. Yes, my life took a hard turn back in August of 2009, when I found out my ex-husband was in love with another woman. While I struggled through that fall, dealing with counseling sessions, arguments, and breakdowns, I never imagined that in January of 2010, I would be asking my ex to make a choice, to choose me or the other woman. In the end, he chose her.

From that moment on, I have lived in a state of unknown, uncertainty. I have leaned on the Lord, relied on Him for everything, every single thing, and He has been my constant comfort, my helper, and my support. I have had to deal with separation and the long years that followed. I ended my marriage in 2014, choosing to file the paperwork rather than continue on in limbo. I moved into my own place in 2011, and I managed my life to the best of my ability (and to the best of His ability) for two years. Then in 2013, I made the decision to move into a home with my parents. I believed then as I do now that it was His will for me. I was starting doctoral study, changing careers to teaching, and I needed their support as much as they needed mine. It was a hard choice to make, but it has been a good one. Sure, we have disagreements. Sure there are times when I wish I was still in my own place. But through it all, I am glad my Mom and Dad are here with me. I have enjoyed the time we have spent together, laughing, crying, hugging, and mostly just hanging out. It has been a good thing, a God thing, and I am blessed.

Now, though, things are changing for me again. This time, the change is bittersweet. Yes, I have a new man in my life, someone I adore, and with whom I hope to share my life someday soon. I am pleased that the Lord chose a man for me who loves the Lord deeply, who desires to pursue ministry full-time, and who is like me -- wounded, yet healed. We share much in common, and we get along well (even if only by distance). We laugh a lot, we joke around, and we discuss very serious and very deep Biblical and cultural concerns. We seem at times to be "two peas in a pod," but then we are also so very different. God found me a man who wants to be with me, how is that for good news? Yes, it is true. I have never met anyone who actually wants to be with me, and who readily tells me how he feels. I have never experienced this kind of affection before, and because the Lord has chosen for us to be apart, it means that we have to talk to one another. We cannot experience the physical sensation of being next to one another. We really have to communicate, and that folks, is a HUGE challenge. The Lord has blessed our conversations, and we have benefited by having to focus on each other without being face-to-face. It really is a miracle that we are still hanging out together -- after a year -- and that we still want to hang out together! I am blessed to have his support for my schooling, my family, and my work. It feels so good to know that someone cares for you, prays for you, and supports you in what you do each day. I do the same for him, and I love that this is something we both do naturally.

As I think about tomorrow, my future, and what will be, I am left with this great big UNKNOWN. I feel that the Lord is making a way for us to be together, yet He hasn't opened that door at this time. No, I am in AZ, and he is in AL, and we are separated by a great distance. God knows what He is doing for sure, but I have to admit that it is getting more difficult as the days go on. I simply want to go --> to go! Yet, I must wait, and I must remain where I am because the Lord has need of me to stay put.

This is the bittersweet part of the change in my life. My parents are aging, and both are not in good health. My Dad, the one who should be suffering the most because of his life-long struggle with polio and its after effects (PPS), is actually doing well. He is in good health overall, but he is disabled nonetheless. He gets very tired, and he cannot do much physically anymore, but he still goes where he wants, volunteers at the Science Center, and attends HAM radio club meetings. He is active despite his disability. My Mom, however, is the one who is suffering the most. Recently, we noticed memory changes that seemed to come on rapidly. She already was struggling with the symptoms of CLL (Leukemia), and now she has just been told there is a chance the lump in her breast is cancer. I see her decline daily, and that fact saddens me. I mean, she is 82 after all, still the thought of losing my Mom saddens me beyond words. I know the day is coming, and I know the Lord will keep me through it all, but to see the end come this way, well it is just not what I expected, not what I hoped.

I sit here today, and I blog. I am blessed. I am so blessed. God has provided a good home for me, a good job teaching at a nearby college, and a good education at Regent University. Yes, I am blessed. My parents are here with me, close by so I can enjoy them, and my son still lives with me. He is a treasure too, smart, strong, and a good boy. He is seeking the Lord, struggling to find his way, and trying to understand his call, but he hasn't walked away yet, and he is still seeking, still seeking. I pray for my family every day, and I know that the Lord has a good plan for all of our lives. My parents are at the end of their days, my life is in transition, and my son's life is just beginning. It is sad, it is bittersweet, but it is good, so very good to know that the Lord is sovereign over every detail, every disease, and every disappointment. He is good, He is God, and He is in control.

What Comes Next is Unknown?

My future is uncertain at this point in time. What I know is that I am in Phoenix until the Lord moves me elsewhere. I have been praying for an open door, a job offer in Alabama so I could move to be closer to my love. However, the Lord has not provided that door -- yet. I have applied for other jobs, online positions in VA, TN and LA. These have not come to pass either. I have applied locally to several positions -- teaching and non-teaching -- and again, nothing has happened. I have two jobs, part-time, at two very good schools. I am making the minimum that I need to live on, and while I don't like that my credit cards are almost maxed out, and my school debt is increasing, the Lord is meeting my daily needs. I have enough manna for the day.

I would like a full-time job just so that I could have steady income and health benefits. Yes, my stress over my finances would subside, and I could take on a bigger role as head of household, helping my parents more with household expenses, and not worrying so much about my looming debt. Still, the Lord has not provided that extra income to me. Nor has He provided more work. I have four teaching contracts for fall, and that is full-time by most accounts. I am set to tackle a very difficult semester, my last at Regent (in coursework), and then prepare for exams (for candidacy). I am panicked about the next two semesters, and I wonder how I will handle everything on my plate. My school load and teaching load are enough to sink any one's ship, but with my parents health issues, I am struggling to keep my ship afloat just thinking about it.

When I consider where I am today, and where I think the Lord is leading me, I realize that I cannot even handle my "today" without His help. I mean, I am incapable of doing anything, anything at all, even the smallest thing, without His help and His support. I cannot process the details, provide for myself or my son, plan for the future, produce the scholarly work required, or patiently wait for His deliverance from all the trials. I can do nothing without Him. Phil. 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," and this is truth! I cannot function today without His mighty and merciful intervention. I so want to crawl under my covers and stay there. I don't want to do the work assigned to me, and I don't want to face the giants that are in front of me. I want the easy way, the smooth way, the simple way. I want to go back to where and when it was calm, easy, and so restful. This path I am on, this journey is getting rocky, and I don't like what I am seeing up a head. I see heartache, pain, and more suffering, and I don't like it, I just don't like it.

Yet, I recall the words of our Lord when He said,

John 16:33 NLT - "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

I know that what lays ahead for me is no different than what other brothers and sisters in Christ face. In fact, it is all part of the conforming process, of being conformed to the image and likeness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are to be transformed, and through that process, we become like Him in character. As iron sharpens iron, we must realize that we cannot be transformed through ease and comfort. No, hardship, trials and suffering produce fruit that honors and glorifies our Lord. We must be rubbed raw with sandpaper in order to reveal the smooth beauty of the wood underneath. I know this is truth, but I don't like it, especially the way that if feels to be bruised. However, I know that my Lord was bruised for my sin, He was chastened for my arrogance and pride. He suffered and bore my sins upon His body, and through His stripes I have been healed. Therefore, I know that the path I walk is not meant for comfort or for ease. It is meant to bring me to His throne, to His feet, in order to worship the One who is Lord over all creation. I rest, I let this go, and I accept that I must walk this way, this path of  uncertainty for it leads me home. It leads me home.

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