A Note From Tony: Apologies are in order, because I posted #8 before #7.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
I have never liked roller coasters – real ones or emotional ones. They aren’t my favorite.
Lately my entire life is one big emotional roller coaster, the scary kind. The kind that is the oldest roller coaster in the amusement park and is made of wood. The one you can see the sides shaking and creaking as you slowly climb the biggest hill to the top for the most exhilarating ride down the other side. The whole way up you are scared because you feel at any moment an old piece of wood could give way and the whole thing will fall down in one heaping mess and you’d probably get splinters too.
That’s my life. That has been my life for 17 months, with the last 13 days being the longest valley in the history of any roller coaster ever. Even on an okay day that has more good hours than bad ones I am apprehensive of when the wood will give way and I will be in a heaping mess of tears. It happens often and without warning: in stores, at work, in the car. I could be doing ok and then BAM, one piece of wood goes and I’m a hot mess (Sorry, my southern is showing).
I’ve been told a lot in the last two weeks I am strong. No, I’m weak. Jesus is strong and HE gives me strength. I’ve been told a lot in the last two weeks that my faith is inspiring. Maybe, but it’s only because Jesus gives me that faith in order to glorify Him. I ask God for strength and faith every day, multiple times. I’ve heard that others are saying those kinds of prayers for me too and I am so very grateful for each one. Yet, I’m on some very shaky ground here. The only thing solid to plant my feet on is God, and sometimes I get upset with him and then there is nothing to plant my feet on. I have to come back from being upset with God very quickly because if I stay upset with God then what do I have?
I have been reading some books by a wonderful lady named Carol Kent. She is in ministry as is her husband and they have been for quite some time. They found themselves in an unthinkable circumstance a few years ago as they got a call that their only son was in prison accused of murder. He is now serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole. She has written 3 books, all after her son’s incarceration and they are immensely helpful. This is an excerpt from one her books that resonated with me when I read it six months ago, and it still does today:
“Lord, where would I go if I turned away from You? If I didn’t have You, I would have nothing. I have nowhere to turn, so while I’m pounding Your chest with my hurt, pain and anger, please know that I am still facing You, still leaning into the warmth of Your embrace, not sure I can trust You, but knowing You are all I have left. If I left You, I would be completely aimless and lost. So while I feel devastated by what You have allowed to happen, I still cannot resist pressing into the comfort of Your strong arms. I am angry that I am not resisting You more, because I know You could have stopped this from happening, but I have nowhere else to go.” Carol Kent; “Laying My Isaac Down”
I love those words from her. I read them often. It gives me comfort that I am not the only one feeling that way. People tell me to take it day by day, I’m more at the hour by hour stage for the time being. It’s more manageable that way. I have good hours and bad hours every day, sometimes I just go minute to minute. My prayer usually sounds something like this in a desperate time, “God please help me to trust you for the next 5 minutes, and if I make it through those then we will work on the next 5 minutes”
Literally minute by minute is the only way I get by sometimes.
Shaky ground. Shaky trust. Shaky Faith. Shaky emotions. Basically, just a shaky life right now.
I am not always strong in my faith, it’s shaky and messy sometimes. But I can say I always come back to Jesus’ embrace and the shakiness doesn’t last long. It’s 11:15 am and I am feeling pretty solid in my faith right now.
At 7am this morning, it was as shaky as ever. I wrote my husband a letter around that time and I have since thrown it away and re-written it. I refuse to let the enemy win me over and actually get me to send out a letter that will cause my husband pain when it isn’t what I really mean or want to say. (See my previous post about how writing is better for me because I can re-write hurtful things I say after I am over the mood I was in when I said them)
I’m learning more every day that the enemy finds your most shaky spot and then whispers lies over and over until you are almost face down on the ground. That is where I was this morning. The good thing is that before he gets me face down on the ground, he knocks me to my knees….and that is when I can regain solid ground. I’m finding I’m much stronger on my knees than standing. I’m also stronger when God is carrying me, pulling me or pushing me (whatever he has to do to make me move in the direction of His will), standing on my own two feet serves me no good right now.
I have times when I am angry too.
Angry at God (they are getting less and less these days), angry at my husband (getting better too), sometimes just angry at nothing and everything at the same time. Those are the times when trust is hard, when trusting His plan seems next to impossible. It’s just so difficult to accept something you can’t understand. It’s also difficult to trust God to provide for your needs and be able to tell those needs from your wants. I WANTED very much to be able to go visit my husband this coming weekend, however it looks like that isn’t a need and that doesn’t seem to be God’s plan. THAT is difficult for me and if I am not careful it puts my faith and trust in a shaky position.
So I just pray…I pray A LOT. Prayer brings me back from that shaky wood roller coaster and puts me back on solid ground. Even if the solid ground is a very tiny piece of property it’s God’s property and it’s all I need most times to turn the shakiness into steadiness in His grace.
I’d like to add one other thing here, not pertaining to this entry but because it’s been gnawing at my mind for a few days. These are posted under “Giving a Voice to the Victims”. I don’t want anyone reading to misunderstand and think that I consider myself a victim or that I would ever compare my struggles to that of true victims of horrible crimes. I do know the difference and I would never say I am victim. I am a victim of circumstances beyond my control, I am a victim of someone else’s decisions and actions. My step-son, my mother-in-law, and myself are all victims of circumstance we had no control over, not victims of any crime or abuse. So please, when you read “Giving a Voice to the Victims” please know I view that term loosely and I have never really seen myself as a victim. I think it’s just a good place to put the blogs in a technical sense.
Another Note From Tony: First, let me just say that this woman’s honesty should provide us all with motivation to examine our own lives and our own circumstances and to see how our relationship with God figures in how we manage those lives and circumstances. Every time I read something she writes, I am encouraged. Saddened at times, and certainly often on the verge of tears for her, but encouraged also by her reliance upon God for strength.
Secondly, let me point out that Diane and I exchanged emails regarding the very last paragraph. I had convinced her to allow me to remove it since all of the individuals mentioned, including herself, are victims of the crime committed by Chris. I feel very strongly about that, but then…..this is her story, and His story, and their story. After careful consideration, I decided to leave it as written.
So here is the challenge: Help me come up with a new category under which to post all of Diane’s thoughts and make them uniquely hers. “The Prisoner’s Wife”, perhaps? “In A Prison Of Pain”, maybe? Email your suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will re-categorize all of the articles already posted and post all future ones that way.
Thank you all, God bless you, and please continue to show your support for Diane by reading and commenting.