I came across an old journal while unpacking from a recent move, and my breath caught in my throat.
Life is full of surprises and changes, ups and downs, and a whole lot of days somewhere in between. This particular notebook has moved with me from place to place many times, and I’m certain that one day I’ll pack it up again and bring it along for whatever the next chapter may hold.
The pages are full, and I don’t particularly treasure many of the words inside, but if you flip to the middle you’ll find a list that documents a turning point, a line in the sand, a moment I want to always remember. Several years have passed between then and now. The ink has long dried and is starting to fade. But it’s still there, still legible, and with one glance at the page, it all comes back as clearly as if it were written yesterday.
In an attempt to quiet my soul and my mind, I had opened the journal to a blank page, flipping past grocery lists and to-do lists, and wrote out what I wanted most. One after another, I listed what I longed for and the things that kept my mind spinning at night.
It didn’t take long before I filled the page. As my hand stilled and I took a long, hard look at the words written in ink, a question stirred within me. The lines on the page began to blur as tears filled my eyes at the three simple words I heard in my spirit:
“More than Me?”
The question, unspoken but felt deep within, gently waited for a response.
Slowly, purposely, I began to drag the pen through each desperate cry. I can write about it years later, clean it up and make it sound nice, but the truth is, tears fell with each and every long, dark line cutting through.
And then in the blank space by my long crossed-out list, I wrote:
Only Jesus. Just Jesus.
I’ve been the girl with the happy face, the one who looks like she has it all together. But the truth is, I’d rather be the woman with puffy eyes holding up a tear-stained, crossed-out list. She may be messy and she sure won’t have all the answers, but she’ll tell you that all she truly wants is Jesus. She’ll tell you that He will be enough because she has already tested that truth and found it to be solid and sure.
A few years after making that list — the one in the journal I keep packing and unpacking and packing again — I wrote a book called Even If Not: Living, Loving, and Learning in the in Between. But it isn’t a story from the other side, a memoir wrapped up with a pretty bow and a happily ever after.
No, it’s about trusting God in the storylines we wouldn’t have chosen, about living in the messy middle of in-between seasons, about choosing to say we’ll love Him and declare His goodness even if He doesn’t answer or move how we know He can and hope He will.
Answers and redemption and healing? I’ve hoped for them all before, prayed and cried and asked one thousand different times that He do what only He can do.
Sometimes He does.
But sometimes His goodness sounds like Wait.
And sometimes, it’s simply No.
I won’t pretend to understand, and I won’t deny that I’ve doubted His timing and wondered “Why?” so very many times. But when I look back over the pages of my story, the chapters I never would have written in, the doors that never opened and the healing that came in unexpected ways, I wouldn’t change it. I can see that He was there. He never left.
He promises to work all things for good, He knows how it all ends, and so I will trust the unknown of the future to the God I believe is authoring its pages. I will choose to trust Him in the in-between — even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when it doesn’t add up. Even when my list grows long, and it seems like nothing is happening. Even then and even if not.
I’ll pull it out again, the list that I’ve carried with me all these years. I’ll remember the Scripture reference I write under my name every time I sign a copy of Even If Not:
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV)
I’ll reach for another journal, turn to a blank page, and make a new list. I’ll write His name, and I’ll sit there as long as it takes, until every last thing is crossed off and only He remains. And then I’ll hand Him the pen.
He’ll be enough.
He promises to work all things for good, so I will trust the unknown of the future to the God I believe is authoring its pages. I will choose to trust Him in the in-between. - @kaitlyn_bouch Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
My heart skipped a beat as I read your list and then the Lord’s question, “More than Me?” Wow. All the yearning and pining of our hearts and Jesus cuts to the chase. Do you desire these more than you desire Me? “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33. On my heart’s GPS, I need to reset my destination as the heart of Jesus. I know that when I seek Him and Him alone, then all these other things have a way of taking care of themselves in His timing. I needed this wake up call this am. God bless you and thanks!
Kaitlyn Bouchillon says
That’s it, right there. That’s the question: Do you desire these more than you desire Me?
You nailed it.
Michele Morin says
I’ve been thinking for ages that I should burn all my old journals, freeing up some space under my bed, and adding some warmth to the house for a few minutes, anyway. But the record of God’s work in the past is just too dear for me to relinquish. The lists, the paragraphs that describe days of wondering, and even the pages of rants (Madeleine L’Engle called them “tirages”) had a part in who I am now. Thanks for sharing yours.
Kaitlyn Bouchillon says
Oh nooooo, don’t burn those! What treasures.
Thank you for sharing. Many lessons learned and reminders of Gods goodness and the answers of ‘ it’s not in my timing just yet’ or a loud No to directions we want. Thee Lord always has something waiting beyond what we can even fathom and I’ve experienced it and I pray I will again.
Mildred Morris says
I needed this message. I’m thinking about my list, prosperity, healing, love, restoration, husband, open doors, business . I’ve praying and speaking honestly to God and waiting. Question why? Saying my self that God is enough? Knowing now that my desire for my list out weigh my desire that Jesus is all I need. Please pray for me.
Kaitlyn Bouchillon says
I certainly will, Mildred. Thank you for sharing here.
Should I be happy (heart happy – not smiley happy) in the waiting period? Do I have 100% Full belief- yes. Full faith in his plan- yes. Full belief that it’ll all work for my good and to better me, His servant – no doubts about that. Not bitter, not angry, still following his instructions, singing His praises to anyone that listens 🙂 ….. but not enjoying His course that I’m on …I’m obedient – yet deflated. How does our Lord look on that?
Hannah Kuiper says
Dear Jessica – take it back down to the foundation. Can you rejoice because you have been saved from the broad road to destruction, and been set in a new path toward glory and blessing… Even if you never taste it until eternity begins for you? This can be our heart joy no matter WHAT we’re walking through. (Luke 10:20, Acts 16:20-25) It is real, heart-singing joy! Try lifting up some rejoicing praise for His love and redemption for you, even if you can only manage throwing a handful of leaves in the air. The song will come.
Do you have/watch/know children? Watch to see your heart and obedience played out in their lives, and see how it is the love relationship the Father is looking for, beyond the obedience. His heart is always yearning for ours to delight because of the great love He pours on us! Sometimes it’s about surrendering our idea of what’s good, reminding ourselves that He is the only One Who truly knows!
Psalm 84:11, Matthew 7:11
God bless you today!
Goodness gracious me. I am (and have been) 100% experiencing this very thing. Before I even began reading all my various emailed devotionals this morning, I had the thought that I can proceed in sharing my story, even though the wait isn’t over. The journey is what matters (as most find out in life). This post today is validating and reaffirming that I continue to move forward in doing just that. Thank you so much for sharing!
ps-I am sooo getting your book to read! 🙂
pps-I have also gotten Psalms 27:14 twice this week. It too is a favorite.
Kaitlyn Bouchillon says
I was just talking with a friend yesterday about sharing from the middle places. We definitely are not always called to do that… but sometimes, we need to share before there’s a bow to “wrap it all up nicely.” I’m with you in the middle today.
P.s. I’d love for you to read Even If Not! There are prints inside the book, and the full color versions are available on my website if you’d like to download them.
Joan Moore says
Oh that my moment by moment heart cry would be “JESUS, ONLY JESUS”!!!!
Thank you for your beautiful story and the reminder that HE is all we will ever need!!!
Bless to you!
Barbara Schultz says
House moves always bring out those old journals, don’t they? I’m still settling in from my most recent move, and I haven’t had time to sit and read about the past in my journals. However, I know they’re there, and I remember times God has spoken to me now about the things I’d written then. It’s always good to remember what He was doing then, and know that He will do abundantly more than we ask or think in any situation we are facing now. Thank you for sharing this, Kaitlyn, and for the reminder that Jesus is ALL we need!
Jasmine Ruigrok says
Nmmm, this aches within me deeply; painfully. I’ve been wrestling over my list with God lately, trying to reconcile hopes and dreams with scriptures and promises that just don’t seem to come through in reality, and the disappointment of unmet expectations and the regrets… they all mingle into this deadly cocktail of doubt and questioning God’s goodness, and what that even looks like. Is Jesus enough? I keep asking myself that and reminding myself that regardless of everything, I can still choose Him. He’s my choice. Even while it hurts, while it looks hopeless. I pray someday all shall be well, and I will recognise His Presence was and will always be enough.
Kaitlyn Bouchillon says
“He’s my choice.” That right there is beautiful. Just a few words, but there’s so much behind them. Thanks for sharing, Jasmine… I can relate to much of what you said.
Michelle Stiffler says
Yes, girl, YES. I know this writing down and crossing out experience very well. I know about releasing the treasure of the mind, picking up Hope again, and focusing the heart on the only treasure that satisfies – Jesus. IT’S HARD WORK! But so worth it. Thanks for reminding me I’m not alone. Wouldn’t trade the turning point moments for anything.
Yes and Amen! Give me Jesus! Thank you for sharing.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
God is Arthur of our lives especially if Saved. We can’t throw the list away of all the lovely things he says about us in his word. Yes there are days when we have as his Children have problems no matter what they are. If to do with sickness or money worries. Or been told a good friend or family member has a serious illness especially if saved. You want to say God why did you let this happen to me this problem this sickness or money worry. Or to my friend or family member. Well you can’t blame God. Say especially if you or your friend or family member is saved. Why God did you let this happen. It is not Gods fault. God did not let it happen. The Old Devil wants you to believe it God fault. You have even if you know you are the person that not going to get well or your family member or friend if it a sickness. If saved. Look at it this way and so has your family and the friends family if saved. As I do with people I know that have got illness that can’t be made well. If saved. I might miss them when God takes them home to be with him on earth because I will not see them again on earth or hear their voice or get to celebrate their Birthdays with them anymore. But I have not lost all. As I will one day when my time up on earth see them again in Glory with Jesus. When I see them they will have bran new bodies no more sickness or suffering again. What a day that will be. I have that to look forward too. So I have not lost all. Yes I will miss them on earth. If it money problems I can pray to God and trust him through his Holy Spirit to tell me to know what to do next and how to get the help I need. Plus go God for any other problems I have in prayer and his Holy spirit will tell me what to do next. If I need to make a list of the help I can. Then I can write my story which can be that list I can look back on in months or years gone by and say yes God hands was in that list of prayers that I prayed to him. That I made into my story to tell to other to help them belive how God can help them. Even when they say at times where is God and why God did you let this happen it not Gods fault. Then you will be glad like today reading title. The List I Can’t Throw Away become your Story to tell people of how God helped you. If not saved when they hear your story might make that unsaved person say I want to get saved as you have might big God who loves you. Look at all he has helped you through. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little
Linda Esquibel says
I can identify. The process of waiting is so hard, especially when one is alone. But He is enough. He really is. My tears fall daily…waiting, trusting. Thanks. I know.Im not alone.
Sheila Young says
I agree with you that waiting is hard when you are alone. I have lots of friends and family and usually love my quiet house but finding it really hard right now not knowing what my future holds but I know God is preparing me and wants me to depend on him alone. Prayers for you!!
Pamela Herman says
His goodness has overwhelmed me of late. Even with the questions remaining. Thankful beyond measue for His love. For your witness.
Kaitlyn Bouchillon says
I’m so glad to hear that!
In Beautiful Chaos says
I can relate so well! Psalm 27:14 has been one of my “life” verses for years. Waiting is NEVER easy, and sometimes we NEVER know “why,” but looking back His hand is always in all the details, even the messy ones! Thank you for encouraging me today:)
In Beautiful Chaos
Darlean Tipke-Kane says
Stunningly, poignant and speaks deeply to me, gratitude for women and your ability write!!!
Kaitlyn Bouchillon says
Thank you so much for your kind words, Darlean.
I remember playing in mud behind our house as a young child, making pretend pies and various other delectable desserts. But I also remember my father pretending along with me showing his love and encouragement all the while ready to step in if danger reared it’s ugly head. We lived in the country where snakes were around and one never knew when one would be ready to strike. Even though I was aware of the danger I was more aware of my father’s ever ready protection.
As an adult, I have come to depend upon God’s word that He is able and ready to do and go above and beyond my expectations. All I really need to know is the truth given to us in John 3:16. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Let us all remember that we belong to a special group named the Whosoevers
So while we play in the’mud’ we call life, play comforted in the truth of the ‘whosoever.’
Danita Jenae says
This is incredibly beautiful Loretta. Thank you for sharing your story with us.
Great message. So many times we make lists and create vision boards as to what we want, need, or desire. But as you stated, Jesus Christ should be our all in all because when we have Him, He completes those desires. All the items in your list are obtainable by focusing on the One, True God! We are to live abundantly (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV) here on earth and in Heaven. Thanks for sharing your tender thoughts! Charisse 🙂
Thank you for this.
Brooke Frick says
Just Jesus. Amen. More than enough for us. Thank you for that reminder. ❤️
Denise Pass says
I love my journals and sifting through the pages to see what God spoke in earlier days that I might have forgotten. And through all of the pages is the sweet presence of Jesus. What a faithful Savior! 🙂
As I was reading through your list, I was comparing to my much more materialistic list and thinking of how I need to get my priorities in perspective. Then I came to “more than me?” And tears came to MY eyes. My struggle is so real. But to realize that my comparing was so far off base. We ALL must learn that Jesus is all, completely, totally ALL that we need. Thank you for my wake-up call.
Kaitlyn Bouchillon says
xoxo so glad you’re reading and commenting here, Debbie.
Beth Williams says
God longs to give us the desires of our hearts. Psalm 37:4 delight yourself in the Lord & He will give you the desires of your heart. The more we think & dwell on Him the more we will want what He wants. I continually ponder the goodness of God. The ways He has rescued me & His goodness through the ages. By doing that I can more readily trust Him with the unknowns of today. I lost a part time job earlier this year. I knew deep in my heart God has something better. Little did I know how much better. I make more money working less hours using more skills & knowledge. Plus I can work extra. Just this week my FIL had a stroke. He finally went to ER & is in ICU step down unit. I trust that God will work everything out to His good. He already is improving. We need to channel our GPS & dwell on Him & His past goodness more. Then we will be ready to trust in the In between.
Morgan Weihing says
Oh, Kaitlyn! That last paragraph and last line. Yes, and amen.