It’s been a tough year with a lot of changes in our household. Part of the changes had to do with my in-law’s moving and more than half of their stuff coming to live in our garage. Then my oldest moved out, and moved back in, then moved out again. Bit by bit, we’ve been going through things, getting rid of things, and finding new identities for children’s rooms. And then my husband got the idea of cleaning out the attic for the first time in our 25 year marriage and this was something that couldn’t be denied. One of those unspoken honey-do’s was coming true!
One of the boxes in the attic contained a bunch of old journals. I started reading through them to correct some memories I’d included in a writing project. But before long I got sucked back into my life of 20 years ago. It wasn’t pretty. There was a lot of emotion and a lot of hormones. Did I only write when I was emotional? I hope so because if not, I was a lot more unstable than I remember! Sitting on the floor of what was once my oldest son’s room, I read about myself and my husband and our struggles with a long bout of unemployment and young children and starting to homeschool. It was a lot and I think I underestimated the stress and strain it put on me and my family. But 20 years later I found myself feeling kind of discouraged instead of thankful for how God had brought us so far. Yes, this has been a tough year. But I am more stable, my marriage is much stronger, and I know God so much more deeply than 20 years ago.
If you’re in the midst of diapers, or homeschooling small kids, or at your wit’s end with teens, hold on and give yourself grace. Know that the Lord is with you in all of the less than ideal aspects of your life. He is pleased with you amidst all the frustration and loose ends. If you struggle to fully believe certain things about God, keep pressing in as Paul says, press on toward that goal for that prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14) What does that look like practically and specifically? It looks like gazing upward instead of inward. Spend more time meditating on his steadfast love and faithfulness than wallowing in your failures. I guarantee you that if you do that, 20 years from now, things will look a lot different.
After I put away those journals and gave myself time to process all that the Lord has done these last 20 years, I was able to get some perspective. I was tempted to be discouraged and wallow in what I looked like 20 years ago. But then I thought about the things I struggled to really believe about God back then. I struggled with thinking that God was indifferent. I so wanted the knowledge that I knew with my head – that God is truly for me and loves me no matter what – to burrow deeply into my heart. As I reflected, 20 years later, I saw that those things have burrowed their way into my heart, almost imperceptibly, and have become the rock solid ground under my feet that are sustaining me this very day. Slowly, very slowly, but surely, God was working over these last 20 years to build my faith stronger and stronger. Yes, 20 years ago, a lot of things weren’t pretty, but God was in it and he’s been faithful. And he is faithful right now and forevermore.