When we spent what felt like 40 days and 40 nights in the hospital with our son last summer, many came to us and said, “God is so good; He’s going to heal your son.” And we struggled with that, thinking what if He doesn’t heal him? Will he not still be good then? We hated that season for how sick our child was, but in another way, we had actually come to love the limbo – that liminal space between keeping and losing, rock and hard place – because it was where we experienced God.

Miscarriages and loss of dreams and loved ones have been painful places, too, where I have heard God whisper loudest His goodness and grace. It has been the pain that has ushered in the eagle wing and His ever presence. Jesus and I have seen some hard, dark days together, and I wouldn’t trade the beauty of His friendship in for less pain.

But something strange has happened the past few months. Actually everything is strange since I’ve given in a little more to Him. One blaring super freaky thing has happened, and I have to say that I’ve wrestled with it.

It’s embarrassing, but I think I feel happy. For Mother’s Day I ate a hole-in-the-wall lunch with my husband and my four boys, and the carnitas en salsa verde was so good and my boys were so sweet that I cried. We sold a house and are moving to a place that I love. Things rarely just go well. The truth is that it’s making me super itchy, and I’m having to work hard to keep guilt at bay.

It’s as if I actually crave the darker days a little, as if friendship were made only for the ones struggling. But what I’m learning is that Jesus Christ is a multidimensional Savior Friend. Sometimes I walk with Him and chat His face off. Sometimes we’re just together, and it’s pretty quiet. Sometimes He says go and do something, and He leads me in it. And sometimes He is simply smiling at me, saying “Let’s enjoy.”

I know I haven’t earned a smidge of it, so I know that it can all be taken away, and even then He would still be a good God. But part of becoming a friend of Jesus is trusting Him to brace me for pain. It’s all an unveiling of my desire to control my own life. Maybe I think that if I’m doing pain well, then I’m winning. I wonder if it’s just another way to feel that I can earn my position with Him.

These are not dark days. The birds have been singing, and even though Jesus’ love does not add up to whether or not I like my house, He is asking me to let myself enjoy. He’s asking me  to not fret about losing, to walk with Him in some actual glad things, and to trust Him in it all.

I’m a girl who usually has a conflicted, twisty poet heart, but this season has shown me that Jesus knows exactly how I’m raveled. There’s a back and forth about our relationship, because it’s real. He doesn’t just love me. He likes me. I feel His hand on my shoulder. His is a kingdom of all kinds of good, and I do indeed pray it: Come Jesus, in all the ways. Your glorious Kingdom come.

post by Amber C Haines

{photo by Alan Cleaver, Creative Commons, via flickr}

  • Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God

    What you said about yearning for the “dark days” in a twisted sort of way, resonated with me. It’s in those days that God is so close you can feel His breath upon you. Those days make our smiles that much brighter on the days where all is well. Thanks for sharing your poet’s heart!

    • Amber@theRunaMuck

      Thank you, Bev!

  • Laura

    wow Amber. wow. I clicked through to your ‘game changer’ blog as well, and it was like reading my own moments in someone else’s life. Well done for putting it all out there- for calling things by name, owning the fact that sometimes the good days with Jesus don’t feel as “real” as the hard ones, and to allow that let you grow. My heart echoes your heart on the journey. I have been so encouraged by you today.

    • Amber@theRunaMuck

      That’s a good way to put it, that the good days don’t feel as real.

  • Kimberly

    On the good days, I find myself anxious that the bad ones are sitting right around the corner. There is something so precious about releasing them all–good, bad, and in-between to Jesus. God bless these beautiful and light days you’re enjoying.

  • Jess

    YES. I am finding this too, all of it. Especially this: “this season has shown me that Jesus knows exactly how I’m raveled. There’s a back and forth about our relationship, because it’s real.” He does want to bless us, it’s amazing isn’t it? Somehow it takes the dark places to realize that.

  • Marcy

    Yes! Hearing and feeling God so close during the heartbreak has made it difficult for me to hear him and welcome him into the happy. I think at one point I began to equate his presence with the dark. It’s been a real discipline for me to look for him in the light and live out the grace of being content in all circumstances.

    • Amber@theRunaMuck

      Yes, Marcy, this is so it. He is the LIGHT. Sometimes I think we live deceived. He’s the one that saw the void and spoke light into it. Oh I love that stuff.

  • tammy@meadowsspeak

    I always imagine my children and how I give them gifts. I want them to enjoy and revel in the goodness of play, to appreciate what they have. I don’t want them to say to me “But I don’t deserve any of this.” I don’t want guilt {or worthlessness} to weigh them down in a way that prevents them experiencing and feeling pleasure of gifts too. Those are things I do. But also those are the times I’m reminded too just enjoy them, as any good parent would want.

    • Amber@theRunaMuck

      Oh Tammy, that’s some good stuff. Thank you, sister.

  • Brandi

    Beautiful, simply beautiful and what I have seen in my own life too. I am struggling with simply enjoying the blessing moments without wondering what may be coming down the pike so to speak. Jesus knows all and in all we must release control and trust. Beautifully written, an excellent reminder of our King and Friend…our most beautiful Savior.

    Blessings to you!

  • Sylvie

    Thanks, Amber. I can so identify with your feelings. It’s like I crave the deep valleys, in some weid kind of way, in order to feel that closeness I once felt. I too feel guilty when things are going so well, especially when friends around me are going through some very hard things. I have my own hard things that I carry every day, but they’ve become my new ‘normal’, they seem so easy now. But when things are going well, it’s hard to just enjoy the goodness of God in the blessings He sends.
    Thanks for sharing these thoughts. It’s helped me to see I’m not alone in my struggles. Blessings on you.

  • Rachael @ Mommy, LCSW

    What a beautiful post! I too am learning to lean into the good stuff, to enjoy it, to be happy in the blessings he has provided! Let’s break open that myth that as soon as you say thanks, it will all be taken away! Let us instead be thankful, be joyful, be happy, in whatever he chooses to give us! Amen and Amen!

  • Pamela Herman

    Can’t say enough about the unique way in which you expressed this time and this sentiment. I needed it. With sincere appreciation.

  • Devon

    This post totally resonated with me! When things go well, I feel guilty that they aren’t going as well for other people and then I find myself just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who experiences this. I’m working on learning to let the blessings flow, taking them as they come, and not questioning whether I’m worthy of them or not.

  • Amanda

    Amen! I’m coming out of a year-long depression, and it’s hard for me to know what to do with myself! I am feeling so much joy, but sometimes I forget to smile and laugh because I’m so used to being down. It’s easy for me to slip back into critical, angry thoughts, and I worry that I will fall back down that dark hole… but I’m seeing things afresh, and I’m so grateful that God is clearing the fog. I’m so grateful that He’s giving you a time of refreshing, too! Enjoy His goodness! :)

    • SarahJane

      Yes, Amanda, I so relate to what you are saying. I catch myself laughing and having a good time and suddenly stop to take my emotional temperature. I set limits on my enjoyment, because I feel like I should be trying to balance out emotionally, not go way off the charts in the positive way instead of the negative. It’s really hard for me to just sit and enjoy an experience, these days, but I’m so grateful for your reminder, Amber, that sometimes Jesus tells us to just go and celebrate what He has given us. And that He watches me with a smile as I celebrate…

  • Sarita

    Thank you.

  • Christy Fitzwater

    How richly you’ve expressed what it’s like to have a relationship with Christ. Thank you -beautifully said.

  • Darcy Wiley

    Sounds like you’ve got a case of good old “sehnsucht,” the deep meaningful joy that comes with a stab of pain and yearning (CSLewis). I know it too as a fellow melancholy and one who has come through some tough situations in the near past. Sometimes like you mentioned, I brace myself for another struggle instead of enjoying the happy now…i.e., Brene Brown’s foreboding joy or my friend Charity’s waiting for the other shoe to drop: I hope you revel in the good stuff this season and I pray Titus is growing well, maybe even enjoying those carnitas with you. :)

  • Vanessa

    I LOVE this post!!!!!!!

  • robsbabe

    WOW Amber- felt like I penned this posting myself! Get out of my brain girl!!
    Loved it. Completely identified. It is THAT precious friendship that I cherish- dark days & light days: AWESOME!!
    Thank you,
    S xo

  • Susan G

    Oh Amber, who among us women haven’t had those same feelings and thoughts when things are ‘finally’ really good and going well. We do need to simply enjoy God and His blessings and His goodness to us and be thankful! I am reminded of His Word to us,Ecclesiastes 5:19,”when God gives any man wealth, possessions, and enables him to enjoy them…his lot…and be happy in his work–this is a gift of God.” And I Tim. 6:17b,”put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” And,”Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” James 1:17
    So Enjoy and be blessed!

  • Virginia Stewart


    Todays “16th” email was so much in season where my heart is heavy..I have lots of
    trust issues after many yrs. of abuse….the portion about the eagle was where I am
    having to get out of the the LORD to be there.

    May I print out a copy?

    Virginia Stewart

  • Amanda @wandering

    This was so timely for me to read today. I drove home from a doctor’s appointment today with the reminder that I can’t have any more babies. It has been over a year since that decision had to be made, but it was very hard for me today because my dreams for a bigger family are not happening. Adoption is not feasible at the moment though I have the desire. I feel today that my dreams had to die and be released to the Lord, and that is not an easy thing for me because I want control. And my body is not controllable. Anyhoo – I thank you for sharing your heart here – for acknowledging the hard times and questions and giving me the reminder that there is still also much to enjoy.

  • Barefoot Hippie Girl

    Yes! Embrace the joy, knowing He will brace you for the pain. We are walking through a tough year right now, but I know God is Good! I KNOW it. He has shown Himself to our family over and over again this year. But, what a reminder that HE is good in the good too.=)

  • Patty O

    It seems my dark days have been long; ongoing since last September with health issues. I’ve been struggling with the nothingness of my days now and in this next 7 months or so (projected recovery time). Thank you for explaining it to me…I feel as though you wrote this post just for me.

  • Laura

    I have never let myself utter the words . . . “It’s as if I actually crave the darker days a little, as if friendship were made only for the ones struggling.”, but it is so true in my life! Some days I beg for them because I think it will make me be better, do the things I ought. Seems that the dark days bring the obedience that I should exude every day no matter the situation. Also, “Maybe I think that if I’m doing pain well, then I’m winning.” I said a resounding “YES” out loud to an empty room because it struck my inner cord.

    Thank you for these amazing words, Amber!

  • Melinda Viergever Inman

    So true, Amber! Christ is our friend in the pit, and he is our friend when we’re smiling at our beautiful children as we eat tacos. When we’re down in the pit we learn to let go, to yield, to eradicate our hypocrisies, and to see our broken need for Christ alone. I’m glad you’re having happy days. Jesus’ arms are around you in every situation. Our lives are out of our control, but they’re not out of his.

    • Amber@theRunaMuck

      thank goodness.

  • Jan

    Thank you. My husband, by the grace of God, got the job he wanted. A big part of it he considers a ministry, though he gets paid. But not paid very much.
    We’re struggling to make ends meet with an income cut in half. Your words really made me think. I’m realizing that the good times (getting the job!) now gives us the dark times as reality sets in. BUT thank you for reminding me that Jesus knows it all. Just because it’s hard now does not mean that this was not God’s will for Bob. Maybe it really reinforces that it was His will, but that we are going to have to lean very hard on Him to come through to the good times. Thanks Amber.

    • Amber@theRunaMuck

      Jan, I think the truth of it all is that the real pleasure is in GOD. When things work out here in this flesh realm, it’s always a metaphor, a way to see Him better. It’s all a way to see Him better. I just stinkin need to remember that, you know?

  • Suzie Lind

    I love how you have articulated the multi-dimensionness of our Savior as well as our walks with God and how they don’t always “feel” the same from one day to the next. I’m also really glad to know these are not dark days and your Titus is doing well.

  • Traci

    “It’s as if I actually crave the darker days a little, as if friendship were made only for the ones struggling.” This post resonated so much with me (sigh). After being pulled so close to God through a really hard time, I’ve found myself feeling like I need to “justify” my closeness with him (mostly to myself) when life’s more rosy. Thank you for putting so eloquently into words about how our walk with Him can change, does change and that it’s just fine when it does. It’s even ok to feel glad in it :) Blessings to you!

  • Erin

    This echos exactly how I feel. My husband and I are expecting our first child (a GIRL!) in October after a miscarriage two years ago and a lot of heartache getting to the place we are now. We’ve also sold our home and are moving soon to a house that I love and cannot wait to raise our daughter in. I’ve had a hard time enjoying this unbelievable good season because of fear. I’m afraid that if I let myself just enjoy, that it’s all a big trick and I’ll set myself up for disappointment when everything is just snatched away. You put into words what I didn’t even quite realize I have been doing. God is good!

  • Kaitlin Evans

    I so needed to hear this today!!! Yesterday my husband and I purchased our first home….and its.awesome. BUT I find myself totally doubting our abilities to do this and thinking things like “well, God is giving this to us NOW, but it MIGHT be to lose it and get us humble, blah blah blah.” God DOESNT WORK THAT WAY. He doesn’t lure us into fortune to burn it down in some sort of “parenting lesson.” He is a Good and Righteous father who provides, who lavishes love boldly, and who loves me to PIECES!!

  • Jen B

    oh how I loved this post! Thanks so much! It is where I am too, I had such a lengthy “winter” and developed an incurable pessimism… but God. God is and will always be and I am so thankful to Him for sisters like you who spread this truth. Thank you!

  • Nancy Ruegg

    “Learning to Enjoy.” That’s quite an oxymoron, isn’t it. Shouldn’t it come naturally to relish enjoyment? Thank you for showing the darker side of joy: the guilt, the questions, the hesitancy. With you I say, Come, Lord Jesus. Whether with gifts of delight or precious lessons to learn in the crucible, come. And I will seek to be content.

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  • Heather

    Thanks a million for posting! So incredibly blessed!

  • Beth Williams

    Wow!! What a revelation…God is a multidimensional Savior Friend…interesting. He is there for us in good times and dark days, talking or listening. Love love love it!!

    I’m also glad that God doesn’t answer our prayers quickly. He takes us on a journey and molds us into the Christian person He wants us to be.

  • Kelsey

    I just love this. The conflict even ushers in peace. Jesus is so good to us!

  • Katherine Miller

    The pastors I work with call that “limbo” you described as “the thin place”. It is exactly what you described – a closeness – an heretofore unknown experience of/with God. I have not heard anyone else talk of it so I was glad to read about that. The whole piece was so interesting to me. We sometimes long for the hard days where we truly relied on God whereas now we don’t have such a strong feeling about relying. And the guilt – the guilt of the good and the sorrow that other’s don’t seem to get the good we experience. Challenging.

  • Barb Wicklander

    Great thoughts! Why is it so difficult for women to allow themselves to desire and experience joy. There always seems to be guilt in feeling happy and content. So much of our relationship with God seems to be “in our heads” and our knowledge of who God is. But I think God wants us to experience the feelings (happiness) and emotion (joy) of being in relationship with him. I wish I was better at this.

  • Lesley

    It sounds strange when you first say it, but I completely agree with hearing God the loudest in the most difficult situations. For me, I think it reflects that I let down my defenses the most in those moments of hardship in a way that I don’t when everything is going well. It amazes me how God can create such peace in the midst of a raging storm.