Lamentations of Past, Present and Future
I located this as a "draft" on the blog. I am not sure why I didn't post it. I know it was a busy time of life, and perhaps I never got around to doing an edit, or making a meme to post with it. Still, I'm in awe of God's timing—then and now.
This was 3 moves ago, leaving Owensboro and moving to Harrison, AR. It was such a time of emotional and physical turmoil. Thankfully it was not a time of spiritual turmoil. God is so faithful. Going back and reading this is like looking at an old photo album. I remember these thoughts, these ideas, these fears and answers. Now years on the other side I remember details that I didn't know then...and I'll write them at the end.
I am grateful for God's faithfulness, and letting us stay here right now (in Alabama). Having been in this house for a year now, it's one of the few times in the past 10 years that we're getting to see a full season in one place. It can always change, and that's ok. He always knows where we need to be, and where He will move us next. He also knows when it's good for us to stay put for a bit. I still hold it all loosely, and look forward to wherever He has us in a year, here or away from here.
I've been thinking a lot lately of lamenting.
I think that it was borne out of forcing myself to look beyond the sadness of moving and see the amazing things God was still doing in this season. I also think it was the answer to a lot of people's prayers. It's easy for me to camp out in a sad emotional spot, especially when it's justifiable.
Who wouldn't be sad to be in some part of a move for the 4th September in a row? Who wouldn't be at least a little sad (ok, a LOT sad!) to move so far from the majority of their grandkids, after getting to see them often, and having them live just a few minutes (or hours) away? Who wouldn't be upset to have just poured blood, sweat and tears into completing the fence around the house, planting the beginnings of a great perennial flower garden, and starting to celebrate the start of a few friendships in the new neighborhood?
I can really go on and on in my complaining... but I won't. God has done some amazing things over the past few months, and although it doesn't change the situation that we're in (moving) it convinces me that He is a part of this change.
I've been reading a book that comes out soon called Girl Meets Change, by Kristen Strong. I don't think that it was a simple coincidence that I'm reading it now. She addresses the feelings of change we all get, fear, anxiety, sorrow, and takes them head-on with scriptural truth. It's helping me. A lot.
I think that is where the seed of lamenting came from too. It reminded me of a sermon I heard about a year ago, while visiting my sister's church in California. In all my years of church-going, I'd never heard a lesson on "lamenting." I've been taught on the book of Lamentations, and the Psalms (where many of David's lamenting poems are found), but not on the facts of what makes a lament.
In the past few weeks, the negative complaining had taken over my emotional bank. Grandkids were about the only thing that brought joy to me. I found it hard to enjoy anything, especially the things I really enjoy - photography, art, music, working outdoors in the garden. Even watching tv changed, as I turned off the shows on travel and house-hunting and home repairs and found myself tuning in to more news (bad news, of course), or shows that were more drama and negative. I was trying to escape.
I also found myself engaging with other bad behavior, like biting my nails more, snacking more, and drinking more sugary drinks. It was as if I was feeding my poor attitude and ignoring the things that normally brought me joy.
I asked a few friends for prayer, more specifically praying for things like my behavior, my attitude, my marriage and my heart. I confessed things that I knew needed confessing, and invited accountability, even though I didn't want to.
More than I didn't want to ask for prayer, I didn't want to remain on this path of depression or destruction.
I also know that I'm facing some big changes, and that it is not wrong for me to be sad, upset, disappointed, or depressed about them. It's not always wrong to feel these emotions when they are balanced with other emotions. I was walking a fine line, and finding it hard to pull away from the negative feelings, but being authentic in suffering, and lamenting well, helped to find that balance.
I think that having to get my car worked on was the final straw.
I had been having the "service engine" light come off and on for the past few weeks, and I finally managed to get it to the auto parts store, and there was time it was on to get the computer read by the little gizmo that reads the codes for what's wrong. The code it indicated was about a $50 part, but my husband was out of town, as well as my son in law, and I didn't feel confident in changing out the part all by myself. My husband and I agreed to put it at the dealership (where we have a great relationship with the service department) to get the work done. I was also doing a little investigating online (of course!) and saw a few other things it may be, but all easy fixes and relatively cheap.
When the dealership called me with the news that it was going to be several THOUSAND dollars to get my car fixed, it pushed me over the edge.
However, this didn't surprise my husband at all. He had been looking online too, and saw the articles dealing with the problem that the dealership found. How come I never saw those is beyond me! He almost expected it to be that problem, and was glad that they found it.
What infuriated and upset me, he was pleased with. This made no sense to me.
So written as a lamenation in my mind, it went something like this:
My service engine light torments me, coming on and off, without allowing me to get the problem diagnosed.
The service department can not get me in until days later, and there will be a charge to determine the problem, as well as the fees for solving it.
But still, You kept the car running, and running well. Never once did you allow it to break down, leaving me stranded while my husband was away.
You provided a clear passage for me to get my car in the shop at it's appointed time, and You alone allowed me the provision of a loaner car from the dealership. You never left me without transportation, and I was permitted to take care of the issue without inconveniencing others.
You allowed me to connect with sweet friends that encouraged me, and inspired me, while I awaited the call from the repair shop, making for a great time of fellowship.
While the diagnosis was so much more than I expected, You allowed my husband to set aside money to fix it. You met our financial needs, and helped us to be prepared.
You moved up the schedule, with the mechanic completing the task a full day before expected. You timed this to coincide with the need for me to pick up boxes and moving supplies from a store in the same city, allowing me to combine errands and making the most of my time.
I rejoice at the goodness that You have shown me. I will praise You, for You have provided in ways I never would have known, if I had not faced this difficulty. You alone are good, and You alone are God.
As I think of the upcoming move, I consider this lament...
My husband lost his job unexpectedly, although he was committed to serving You in this space, and we prayed for the people and the business that took place there.
He has applied for jobs here, and no door has opened. There are not many jobs available in the industry, or in the field in which he is trained to work.
You send him away to work in another state, for just a few weeks, while I am traveling on my own during a planned trip.
I'm frustrated and upset with the thought of moving again, as we've had to move so often in the past 5 years.
We had just finished working on projects on the outside of the house, fencing, extending the patio, and planting several trees and plants. I'm so sad that I won't get to see them grow, or enjoy the gardens I've planned and planted.
So many of my grandchildren live near us now, and it makes me sad to think of being far from them.
It will be difficult to get to see them and be involved in their lives, and how will I help my daughters when they need help?
But still, You are God. You gave these girls to me, and have given them 9 children between them.
You have provided work for my husband, and it is in another place, but it's not in an unfamiliar place.
You have provided technology for us to be able to participate in our kids and grandkids lives, and we trust You to meet their needs.
I have no idea where You want us to live next, but You have sold our home here at a fair price in just a day! We praise You!
I will trust You with my tomorrows, because You have walked me through this moving process so many times in the past 5 years. Each time You provided a buyer for our home, and took care to provide a new home for us too! You have never allowed us to be homeless, and You have given us an apartment to rent until You reveal the next home for us to buy.
You are moving us to a place that is not far from our son, and I will praise You for the opportunity to get to spend time with my new granddaughter and help our daughter in law. You could have sent us to another state farther away, or closed the door for the job here, but You have seen fit for us to be here for a season. I will praise You for this season near to them!
Epilogue: We lived there for just over a year (the new job location in Arkansas) and I loved taking care of my granddaughter there. It was a good season of life, living there, and it was healing to the soul in many ways. Again, God moved us again out of state, much to our surprise, and He provided a buyer for our home (again, after many projects!) and provided another home for us in Alabama. We did a lot of projects on that home, and sold it and moved to another home a year later! Each time God gives us a peace that it's time to move, and He has always provided a buyer for our home within 30 days, and a new place for us to go to. Every project we have done has been fruitful and good team-building for us as a husband and wife. He has met our needs and provided work for my husband, and right now, work for me too.
God is big enough to handle our complaints, our arguments, our ugly cries. He cares about us, and wants us to love people deeply. It's ok that our hearts break a little bit when we go through sad and difficult seasons. He wants to carry us. He wants us to be aware of His presence and provisions in the midst of our hurting and lamenting. He is with us. Always.
Girl Meets Change, remains one of my favorite books ever. Author Kristen Strong has a new book coming out this fall that I am looking forward to reading soon! You can pre-order Back Roads to Belonging through online book stores and Amazon.