Two decades ago, my husband walked in the door from work with a broad grin, announcing he’d gotten a promotion and handing me two glossy home sale magazines. I was home on maternity leave with our newborn and a 2-year-old, and I joined right in with his excitement. This was a great move to a great town and offered what we thought was a world of possibilities to our little twenty-something selves.

Other changes aren’t so easy. Deep down we know they’ll be good for us, but we first have to make it through the hard.

That’s where I was a decade ago, when Dan received another call. It was his dream job and while he was elated, I was conflicted. It meant pulling up the deep roots we’d sunk into this town where I could have happily stayed.

“Give it time,” I told myself through the house hunting and church finding. Sure enough, after about a year, we began to settle into a new neighborhood, a new circle of friends, and a new church.

But life can also dish out unembraceable change.

The kind that no amount of time will fix. We’re not talking a new job or new neighborhood. This is change that forever shatters life as you know it. That’s the kind of change I faced four years ago when I woke to the sound of Dan’s labored breathing. He was having a heart attack, and three hours later, I came home to tell our children the doctors had been unable to revive him.

Change I could never have imagined, never have prepared for, rushed in and crippled every part of life.

What do we do with this kind of change?

Every morning, alone in my minivan, I poured my heart out to God. “I CANNOT DO THIS” I would write at the top of my journal. I had no idea what my future looked like and no amount of chin-up would bring my children’s dad back.

I may not be able to embrace this kind of change, but I have to accept it or I might as well write off every bit of joy and hope God still has for us.

As I’ve walked these past four years, three truths have helped me accept Chapter 2 in my life:

1. We may not know our future, but God is already there. He goes before us, yes.

But it’s not that God stays just one step ahead of us. When our future is uncertain, God leads us to a place where He already is.

That is peace-giving truth. There will be joy and laughter and good there just as much as God has brought joy and laughter and good to the chapters we’ve already lived.

2. God is more interested in the process than the destination.

We want to know where we’ll land. We crave that security. Will we be okay? Will God take care of us? Yes, God will take care of us, but He is less concerned about our comfort and more concerned about our conforming.

We may not know where we’ll land, when we will be healed or what the finances will look like. But regardless of that destination, God can use the process of getting there to make us more like His Son if we will let Him.

3. Unwelcome change allows us to utterly depend on God.

This is precisely where God wants us. We can grieve at what got us here, but being in a place of utter dependence on God is a good place to be. It’s where we can see God so clearly and hear Him so distinctly. We may not be able to change our circumstance, but we can change what we see in the circumstance.

We will forever have a hole in our hearts. This kind of change is as hard as it gets and yet — we can accept it. When change comes that we cannot wrap our arms around, we can trust the God who’s allowed it. And in the process, we can choose to see all that God has for us in it.

Related: Inspire yourself or a friend with words of encouragement displayed on this beautifully wrapped canvas print, and begin the journey of being you, because “You are braver than you know.”

  • Webbgurl2000

    Yes, trust God with the process. My life was going to be a bed of roses, or so I thought. I was so young and immature. I needed badly to grow deeper in My Heavenly Father.
    He knew the WHAT. I could not have avoided THIS MESS. An addicted spouse. Children with disabilities, physical illnesses, etc.
    But, if I had MY WAY, the Walk on the Bed of Roses wouldn’t be drawing me Nearer to the Cross, Walking and Trusting more with EACH PAINFUL STEP to Transformation!

    He knows the Reason Behind the Whys, What’s, & Hows. My Response is to follow like He did, so I might become more like Him

    • http://www.Trueandfaithful.net Lisa Appelo @True and Faithful

      I’m not sure where my reply went. I wanted to affirm that yes, when we yield, God will do His refining in the hard.

  • Carmel Girl

    This is such a huge blessing!!! On 12/11/15, my husband of 42 1/2 years, business partner of 30 years, father to our children & papa to our grandchildren, had a massive heart attack while we were having our morning devotional…he was reading Heb 13:16, mid sentence…leaned back in his chair & went to be with Jesus… Your words have encouraged my heart; especially where you state ‘4 years later’ as this gives me encouragement that I/we, too, can make it! Though I was his wife for 42 1/2 years, I’ve belonged to Jesus for 56 years and He has brought me through it all! As you say, ‘Chapter 2′ has begun & I will keep Him close as I/we trust in Him! Thank you!

  • A

    Lisa, thank you for sharing your story and the learning that God has given you. I understand having to move through such change and the hardness of it. God has shown me that in being weak, it brings me to utter dependence on Him for strength, true strength, as I move through the crucible of growth and change. Thank you for the reminder that He is more concerned with the process, that each step is precious to Him and how He empowers us to take them as we cooperate with His Spirit. Such a blessing to read these words this morning. Thank you, God, for this message, this loving reminder. Praying that you, Lisa, and everyone here knows the full bounty of His love and empowerment today :)

    • http://www.Trueandfaithful.net Lisa Appelo @True and Faithful

      A, may God bless you and keep you and make His face shine on you. In the palm of His hand is a good place.

  • Stephanie

    Lisa, I am so sorry for your loss. God will get you through this. May God bless you and your beautiful family with comfort and faith always. May blessings surround you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. You truly are braver than you know and you have the Lord Jesus living inside of you always. Xoxo

    • http://www.Trueandfaithful.net Lisa Appelo @True and Faithful

      Thank you, Stephanie. On the hardest days it has still been abundantly clear that God is good.

  • Gail Noe

    Thank you so much for sharing your hurt and your heart. Altho my husband did not pass, it has seemed like that as what to the world appears as dementia has arrived. The man I knew is not there BUT the Lord in his grace and mercy has brought me to new levels of faith and trust. Even now He has me praying blessings and truth over my husband totally unsure where this where lead but trusting in His grace and goodness for what lies ahead. His love endure forever!!!

    • http://www.Trueandfaithful.net Lisa Appelo @True and Faithful

      Gail, that is such a hard place! God bless you as you love and serve your husband in these years. Such a picture of marriage and Christ.

  • http://ChasingHoliness.com/ Brenda

    (((Lisa))) I’m so impressed with your strength. What a testament to God that you’re so gracefully walking through such loss. God bless you. <3

    • http://www.Trueandfaithful.net Lisa Appelo @True and Faithful

      Thank you, Brenda. All testament to God.

  • http://juliesunne.com/ Julie Sunne

    Lisa, this is as powerful as it gets! You write from a place of experience and vulnerability. A place of hard knocks and gritty trust. God’s faithfulness through the years sustained you through one of the most difficult changes any of us can face. And you reveal that and inspire us to hold on to hope in an authentic and real way. Thank you so much!

    • http://www.Trueandfaithful.net Lisa Appelo @True and Faithful

      You always encourage, Julie. Thank you friend.

      • http://juliesunne.com/ Julie Sunne

        As you do, Lisa! Blessed to have gotten to know you.

  • Anna Smit

    Lisa, thank you so much for this. This is a truth God has been opening my eyes to this past year:

    “Yes, God will take care of us, but He is less concerned about our comfort and more concerned about our conforming.”

    I’ve shared your post with a blogging friend of mine who lost her husband just over a year ago. She has four teenage girls. I KNOW this will bless her to read these truths she’s living out from someone further into the journey of grief.

    BTW I think God uses those who face unembraceable change and lean into Him in it all mightily…my blogging friend, for example, has been an enormous encouragement to me in my own journey of faith and grief and I’m sure many others too.

    • http://www.Trueandfaithful.net Lisa Appelo @True and Faithful

      Anna, that’s the hope ….that we listen and learn and in our brokenness, God gives us compassion for the broken.

  • Ann Skalaski

    Thanks for another great post, Lisa! Just what I needed to hear today…my husband is looking for a job, again. When (if?) my husband finds a job, this will be our fourth move in five years. He is talking about getting out of coaching, but I love the influence he has with his players and I know God has used him in the life of so many young men. Although I sometimes grow weary of packing/unpacking, finding a new house/church/community…I am gradually learning that the joy of the Lord is my strength. I wish I knew where we will be living in two months when our lease ends, but all I really care about is living faithfully in the story God is writing for us. Your posts have been a part of my journey towards accepting, embracing and finding joy in His plan. Thank you!

    • http://www.Trueandfaithful.net Lisa Appelo @True and Faithful

      Ann, praying now for you and that you all will discern clearly God’s next step for you. God is never late!

  • http://faithspillingover.com Betsy Cruz

    It’s so good to see you sharing your story here at (in)courage, Lisa. Unwelcome change causes us to utterly depend on God. Yes. So true. I was just inwardly complaining tonight when I read your story. It gave me new perspective. Thank you.

    • http://www.Trueandfaithful.net Lisa Appelo @True and Faithful

      Thank you, Betsy.

  • Kristi Woods

    Lisa, beautiful words. You’re using a hard situation to turn eyes toward the Holy One, toward hope and encouragement. Praise God. Your words in the shadow of Dad’s death were words well worth clinging to, my friend. I recalled them often. So thankful for His hand of hope through you.

    • http://www.Trueandfaithful.net Lisa Appelo @True and Faithful

      What a beautiful picture, Kristi — of God’s hand of hope.

  • amanda

    beautifully written! I love to hear your words of such great faith and trust. “..regardless of that destination, God can use the process of getting there to make us more like His Son if we will let Him.” Such wisdom =) love, amanda

  • Lela Cherry

    Good words to remember! ♡

  • http://michelemorin.wordpress.com Michele Morin

    So true about process over destination. I never fail to look for ways around the journey — trying to get THROUGH the wilderness without learning the lessons the wilderness has for me. Thanks for a visceral reminder of this truth.

  • http://www.indulgentaromas.com Nicole

    I love this post!!! I lost my husband 3 years ago, he was 34. At this time we had 4 girls, ages 12-3. It was the most heart wrenching thing I have ever been through. We were high school sweethearts and absolute best friends! It took us a loooong time to get to exactly where we felt God wanted us, then God took him home. It was/is so hard to not question God “why”……but I know with all I am that He has something in mind for us, post loss. Thank you for sharing!!!!!

  • Marlene Jiannino Daley

    I have been walking that road, a journey I never imagined in my wildest thoughts. Yet, I have arrived, if even for a short while, in a place God chose for me doing what I should be doing….giving back. I feel the blessings of the Lord in my life each and every glorious day that I am alive.

  • Alisa Nicaud

    Lisa, my heart grieves for you. I can’t even imagine the pain. I can identify with many of the things you wrote. I, like many others, do not enjoy change of any kind! Especially ones that invoke pain. My father was killed in a car crash when I was 23, he was 48. It literally rocked me to the core. I am an only child and I felt so alone in the process of handling the affairs, much less the deep emotional wounds it produced. But just like with you, God showed up in ways I never imagined. Ironically during the most heart wrenching times, He was there to bring me peace. He loved, comforted me and guided me to the next day. That was 15 years ago. As I look back I can now see some of the goodness that God brought out of it. Not that He caused it, but He used it- to draw me closer to Him most importantly.

    I pray that God would continue to give you peace and rest. For supernatural protection and blessing over you and your children. I pray that God would shine His goodness on you when you feel like your surrounded by darkness. I thank the Lord that He is a Father to the fatherless, that your children will be covered by the mighty hand of God and will be confident in who they are in Him. I pray a rich knowledge of who He is would rise up within them. That they will be trophies of God’s grace and goodness. I pray He would sustain you when you feel like giving up. That you would feel His Presence in the victories and the defeats in life. That He will use your message to draw many to Him. In Jesus name, Amen!

    Linking up with you at Grace & Truth.