Oftentimes, in the rough places of life, I figuratively pack up my bags and hike down a steep, winding road of despair.
And I camp out there.
Five years ago, God brought a tremendous mountain into our lives. There were cliffs and rocky terrain. Circumstances seemed insurmountable and we literally camped out there.
We had three children – ages 6, 4, and 3.
Up to this point, my life as a homeschooling mama had been one of simplicity, so to speak. My youngest still took a nap each day while the other two had quiet time in their rooms. Life seemed manageable.
I was living my dream. It felt as if our family life was very well-planned. We felt responsible and safe.
Then, 2009 happened.
Our family and marriage were tossed down a steep slope of uncertainty due to legal issues. Making matters more complex, the economy nose-dived and my husband lost his job. He felt like he lost his identity on many levels. There was shame.
I lost my identity as well — as a mom and wife. No longer a homemaker, but a road warrior. I had to do all the driving due to the legal situation of our lives.
My leisurely mornings of coffee and homeschooling transformed into a daily routine of packing lunches, schoolwork, the dog, and taking a road trip.
Road trip after road trip after road trip. Day in and day out. We were the Partridge Family.
Except we weren’t happy song birds dressed in polyester – we were a mess. My husband and I each lost choices we normally made each day. We camped out in an RV at various campsites around the state and I was weary.
Juggling homeschooling from a minivan or the RV was tiresome. My husband was burning the candle at both ends as well. He couldn’t find another job, so he courageously started his own business. I secretly swore I would never look back and say I enjoyed this time of my life.
But a funny thing happened.
Recently, my kids and I were looking through old photos. Tears welled in my eyes as my children pressed in close to gaze at miniature versions of themselves staring back. We laughed and reminisced.
Good memories from our days traveling.
The hard years.
The days I swore I never would enjoy.
And I was reminded of what a kind-hearted mentor said to me during that season of my life: that I would one day view our undoing as one of God’s greatest mercies in our lives.
I wanted to body slam her.
Over time, God’s grace has allowed me to understand that she was absolutely right. The wake-up call was a tremendous mercy in our lives, in our marriage, and in the lives of our children.
It saved us. You see, He woke us up. Shocked our hearts awake to His voice, His immeasurable love, and our blessings.
Blessings don’t always appear in ways we might think — wrapped in foil paper and tied with satiny ribbon. Sometimes God’s greatest blessings are through messy, body-slamming heartache.
Shouldn’t I already know that?
The Chief Blessing of all time came down as a gift bundled in a stable full of animal stench to live the life of poverty and suffering. Not exactly the picture one would have for the God of the Universe.
An undoing of ourselves can be beautiful and miraculous as we open our hands and hearts to the Father and allow Him to unravel our perceived comforts and safety — filling us fully with Himself. The question is: can we embrace a picture that is different from what we had planned?
If we are open to His Spirit, we are left breathless by His unrelenting love and grace.
God graciously gives us a choice — to camp out down winding trails of bitterness and despair or camp out in the hope and joy only He can offer.
By His grace, He’s giving clearer vision to this blind girl. He’s still chiseling and refining this wayward heart.
Ask yourself today where you can press into fear and bravely embrace the life He’s planned for you.