I have laid awake many a night and wondered how on earth I am gonna pay that electric bill, or how I am going to manage raising that little person with all of his needs, and get my car fixed, and my air conditioning, and my plumbing. It seems at times if my finances are in check, I think of other things to worry about, like if my child is being bullied at school, or if he is learning, or if the girls in my small group were kind to others this week, or if others were kind to them.
If you’re not careful, worry and fear can absolutely consume your peace and your rest. Over time (and with Dave Ramsey) your finances become a matter of sometimes mind over matter, over choosing priorities (I don’t need any new clothes, ever, and we can cook at home now, and go to the beach this summer) over wants. And more often than not, you worry for nothing, and whatever giant trouble or fear that is consuming you will never come to pass.
A new friend of mine is going through the terrible pain of divorce, and wondering about how her new life is going to look, with the finances and with the emotional pain and loneliness. I remember that painful chapter of my life, and wondering when exactly things would turn around for me. Well meaning people tell you all kinds of things, like God closing that door (it always felt like it had closed with my fingers in it, ouch) and how life was going to be so much better. In the middle of that storm, I remember feeling like the world would not stop spinning, and I would never get my footing. I do remember a pastor preaching about God’s provision for me, if I just kept pushing on. My sweet friend says that she wants to know when exactly things will get better, tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Because people keep telling her of God’s promises for her life. One of the most difficult parts of God’s provision is that it rarely looks like what you had in mind, it’s usually a much more creative pathway to the end goal, and that terrible pain does have a purpose. That phrase about what doesn’t kill you making you stronger is true, as much as you would probably rather not go through the painful experience to get that strength.
I recounted to her my own story of God’s provision in my life. In 2009 I was a counselor at Fayetteville High School, and then made the decision to leave all that behind (the glamour!) to move to Batesville, get married and have a baby, my one true love, Cole. I remember being so excited about my new chapter, but still sad that I may not ever get the opportunity to be a counselor again. We had made the decision that I would be a stay at home mama for a bit, and then I was teaching colorguard on the side. When opportunity knocked for me to add some part time advising in, I did that too. One day, the band director mentioned to me that the high school principal wanted to talk to me about teaching Spanish, so off I went, not even thinking it was an interview. I ended up walking out of there with a full time teaching job, and I wasn’t even sure that I wanted it. I never ever saw myself going back to the classroom. After two years of teaching Spanish (in a portable building that sometimes did not have electricity, Wifi, heat or air…it truly felt like sometimes we were simulating language immersion in a third world country) a counseling position came open, I applied and got the job. Around that same time I was going through my own divorce, wondering how on earth I would provide for my sweet child by myself, how I would make it, and when when when God’s provision for me would happen. It wasn’t that first day, that next week, or even the next month, but I can look back and see God’s handiwork in all of that pain (and teaching with the wasps and without air conditioning in my portable building, ay ay ay), in moving me along to where I need to be. I always say that God knew I was going to be a single mama before I knew it. I would not have chosen to write my story this way, but I am pretty thankful for the peace and contentment Cole and I have now.
If you find yourself in a position where God keeps closing doors, and your pain seems pretty unbearable, just hold on. Just do the next hard thing. Take a shower, go to work, cook yourself a meal, and get some fresh air, and hold on to that hope that things will get better. If you wake up in the morning, you still have a chance to do better and to make some changes in your life. Grab a friend and talk it through, I promise you there is always hope on the other side.
*On another note, it’s ok to ask someone for help, if you are simply not OK. No one expects you to be happy all the time, or do life all alone. The holiday season can be a lonely time, and the cold, dark season (January and February) is a hard time for so many. Don’t assume that the people you know who have faced some terrible moments recently are ok. Check on the people you care for.