You may or may not have noticed, but last week was very quiet here on the blog. There is a very valid excuse for the first half of the week, since our family traveled to Birmingham to teach and encourage some future church planters through the ARC, but I have a little bit of a confession about the second half: I kind of crawled into a hole and did not want to come out. I say this is a "confession" because just last week I was so strong and optimistic about our current situation, and yet just a few days later I let it get to me. My strong foundation of faith starting chipping away little by little and by the weekend I was on the verge of a full-on meltdown. You see, we came home from that trip on such a high: we met great people, connected with old friends, had some great one-on-one time with Lilly since Jake stayed back home at a buddy's house, and then we came home and found our counters loaded up with groceries. And when I say groceries, I mean hundreds of dollars worth of household items that had been anonymously gifted to us through some people at the church, presumably our small group (which is just one more reason you should be in one! They take care of each other!). It was incredibly moving and I got choked up seeing the kindness of others and the church literally being the hands and feet of Jesus. That's what it's about... that's what church is supposed to be! On top of that, a few families had also been incredibly generous and given us cards, sent texts and emails, and even donations and gift cards! I was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of our church family, many of whom I don't yet have the pleasure of knowing as well as I'd like. But then, those little chips in the armor started coming along. I have been through this before, I know how it goes, but even though I knew it was a possibility, I was not prepared for what it would do for my heart. First, our insurance lapsed because of a miscommunication between myself and Josh and on day one of that lapse, I got sick... followed by Lilly and then Jake. This is the third time a stomach bug has swept through our household since March and this mama is OVER it. Then the AC in my car went out, after we thought it had been fixed. And the icing on the cake was the $1000 bill we received from the IRS for a miscalculation in our two thousand-eleven taxes. Seriously??? Little by little, all of those strong, courageous, peaceful feelings began to dissipate and fear, doubt, and other unwelcome emotions crept in. By the weekend I was a wreck.
"Is this what life in ministry is always going to be like?" I asked Josh on Saturday. "Great high's followed immediately by low points?"
He literally laughed at me (lovingly of course) and replied, "That's not life in ministry. That's LIFE."
Oh. Wow. And... he is absolutely right! I had somehow attributed anything negative happening in our life to it happening because we work in ministry, as if that should keep us immune from bad things happening. It was ridiculous, and I needed to be reminded that life is tough for everyone, not just for us. In fact, thanks to being a part of a life-giving church, life is easier because we have a community of people to surround us when things aren't going our way. This was not the first time I've seen this happen, and I'm proud to say I've been a part of cleaning a family's house to thank them for selflessly opening their home every week for small group and sneak-attack cleaning and freezer-stocking another family's house when they had a death in the family. People coming together to help each other out is what this life is all about; it's what God meant for the church to be. As I re-read some of the sweet cards and emails we had been given, these words were seared into my spirit:
Continue to take care of My church and My church will take care of you.
It was just the reminder I needed. In fact, if things never got tough and I never needed help or support, I wouldn't even realize what a gem the church really is! God brings us through trials sometimes to remind us that we can't do it alone, and I certainly know it's easier to get through tough times when you have others around you lifting you up!
So even though things are still uncertain and one of my children is still throwing up, I am reminded that it's not so bad. I need to stop looking at the circumstances and keep my eyes on Him, like I did right at the beginning of this
mess new chapter. We even discussed how we wanted to handle that lovely bill from the IRS (seriously, if you're just now noticing the mistake, shouldn't we be off the hook?) and noticed that the amount of money we had been given was almost exactly equal to the amount of the bill... coincidence? I think not; He is already looking out for us. He has always been faithful, and this will be no different, but that doesn't mean that it's going to be easy either.
So I'm out of the hole I crawled in and I think I'm over that hump, even if we take a few more hits here and there. But if I go missing for a week at a time again without warning, please shoot me an email and remind me to read this! That's what friends are for, right?