Stuck. Have you ever felt stuck in a negative cycle?
What a way to start a blog the day before Thanksgiving. Yet, this is 2020, and for many this has been a wallop of a year.
Last night, I delivered a pecan pie to a friend who recently lost her husband in a tragic accident leaving behind young children for her to care for on her own. Yet, in her eyes I found joy.
As we chatted, our conversation turned to her husband. “Sometimes, we get so caught up in how people are good or bad,” she said. “But coming through this, I realized how important a life is, how important just the presence of a person is,” she paused. “Maybe we just need to appreciate being together more, and not try to change each other.”
I added, “Yeah, and not be so concerned about what the other person is doing or not doing that’s wrong or right. Just enjoy their presence. Who they are.” We both nodded in agreement.
The other night I swung my legs up beside me on my daughter’s bed, as she told me how she just wished that her Christian friends accepted her for who she is without wanting something from her, like her to change or live up to some expectation where she can’t even figure out where the raised bar is. I reminded her that Jesus is not like that and reassured her of my love no matter what.
Earlier this week, I made another visit to the retirement home, another marble jumped more marbles on the Chinese checker board as I patiently reminded my mother-in-law again of what I’ve repeated several times before. I sighed deeply as I heard the words inside. “Just enjoy her presence. Love her where she is at.”
The day before that I sat with my mom while she rocked nervously in her chair fearful of the future possibilities of illness again, I peered into her worn eyes and said, “There’s so much mom on the other side.” I patted her hand and continued, “Jesus really loves you. It’s going to be ok. You are going to be ok.”
I heard Yahweh reminding me of what a friend told me. “Don’t try to change her, change the past, or take responsibility. Just love her and enjoy the person in front of you now.”
A month ago, I argued with God about my marriage. “Abba, I feel like we are living two lives. If this keeps going we are headed for trouble.” I began listing off to God all things my husband wasn’t doing to make me feel loved as if He didn’t know. Then I asked, “Should I write him a letter?”
I can feel all the guys cringe. I knew from past experiences letters only guilted my husband more making him feel like a failure.
“How about you give each other what you are wanting instead?” I heard the whisper in my heart. “Do that for thirty days.” There is a reason the Holy Spirit is called our counselor after all.
So, I had a discussion with my husband, which went really well.
It’s been over thirty days and you know what? We are both feeling more loved and connected.
For me, it wasn’t so much that I got lots of gushy notes. The benefits I felt were hopefully more long lasting.
For one, it got my attention on who my wonderful my husband is, and I’ve come to really appreciate His presence. I also felt like he saw me, that he noticed and valued me for me. Isn’t that what we really want anyway, to be loved for who we are as a person, not what we do? Isn’t that the kind of love God gives us?
You know, 2020 has been a rough year in many ways, but I’ve also realized that it is also a matter of perspective.
When I had my eyes fixed on what I wasn’t getting, what I didn’t have, what wasn’t happening, I felt stuck, and discouragement set in.
When I lifted my eyes higher and looked at the big picture of Yahweh and all the amazing things He has done in me, the doors He has opened, friendships He has renewed, and relationships He is restoring, my heart has burst with gratitude.
It has not been the way I would have picked and definitely not what I had pictured in my mind that 2020 would hold.
When does Yahweh’s plan ever quite look exactly like what I’ve envisioned?
Yet, I’ve truly grown in my faith walk with Him, and He has proven Himself faithful over and over again.
He is teaching me what it means to love people for who they are, to value others, and just enjoy their presence. In that process, He is also showing me that’s how He is with me. He loves being with me just because He loves who He has made me to be.
If we feel stuck or more on the disappointed side of life maybe we need to shift our focus a bit. Maybe it’s time to just appreciate the gift of imperfect family and friends in the middle of the hard or just uncomfortable times we are in. Maybe we can learn more trust by experiencing God’s unconditional, faithful love.
So if you are walking through Covid-19, you just found out someone you loves has cancer, the government is in turmoil, you separated from your spouse, or you are struggling with the fact that things haven’t turned out as expected, He loves you for you right smack in the thick of it. He is right there in the middle of our messy lives loving us, caring about what we are going through, and faithful to see us safely through. That’s a whole lot to be thankful for.