We’re so deep into summer now that the outline of fall is clearly visible in front of us, and today I’m neck-deep in yet another unforeseen change within this maddening year that is 2020. I’ve had it up to here, and I tell God as much. I mean, it should be enough that we have a global pandemic and national unrest and a political divide wider than the Grand Canyon. But no. Several more problems closer to home are here too. This shouldn’t surprise me, I know. After all, it’s not like job stresses or relationship issues or family discord take a summer vacation. It’s not like the enemy looks you or me up and down and says, “Yeah, she’s had enough for today. Let’s leave her alone.” No, he’s an opportunist, and he relishes kicking us again and again when we’re already down.
Still, when something brand new — and awful, I might add — slides into the home plate of Team Strong, I just about take off running up Pike’s Peak.
It’s amazing how change-upon-change can find your doorstep when you just wish it would lose your address.
Our summer has brought us moments of sparkling goodness, like my husband and I celebrating our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. But it also brought less desirable moments too, including many tears lost because of difficult, I-didn’t-ask-for-this change. And lately, like a sibling squabble that keeps circling back to my attention, the difficult parts have hung around much too long, grossly overstaying their welcome.
I’m not only annoyed, frustrated, or put out by this. I’m devastated and just plain heart-weary.
In the past, it’s my nature to resist allowing the difficult parts of my life to have a seat at the table, to just push them right back out of the room. I fear that if I spend a little time with them, they will grow and take up even more space in my life. So I both pep-talk and chastise myself by saying things like, Get over it, Kristen. This isn’t the end of the world. People deal with a whole lot worse all the time.
Ironically, the more I try to push the difficult realities away, the more they cement themselves to the curves of my heart.
Unlike past times, the persistence of these difficulties and the weariness of my heart means I just don’t have the energy to shoo them away. I don’t have the energy to do anything but simply sit with them and bring them to the light of Christ.
Walk as children of the light . . . when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.
Ephesians 5:8, 13 (ESV)
When we give our difficult circumstances attention rather than deflection, it exposes them to the light of Christ. Simultaneously, it reduces the dark’s power over them.
But this means we have to do the work of walking through it, of first keeping company with the harsh parts of our circumstances so we can introduce them to the power of Jesus. One might think that giving the darker parts of our life circumstances room to flex and breathe pushes hope away. But instead, it becomes the window through which Hope enters.
There is power in bringing the dark into the Light and letting the love and care of Jesus show us how to deal with it.
I want to be aware of the darkness but identify with the light.
Emily P. Freeman, Simply Tuesday
I can be thankful for the abundant good in my life and still be unafraid to call the hard realities what they are — hard.
I can be joyous about my blessings without pretending the hard doesn’t exist. I can walk as a child of the light because I refuse to just get over the difficulties in my life; I get through them. And getting through them can’t happen till I acknowledge them and bring them front and center into the presence of Jesus first and then into the presence of other safe folks as well.
Life will always be a rhythm of light and dark, easy and difficult realities dancing the two-step together. But within it all, we are growing in grit, perseverance, and resilience. We are growing good things that wouldn’t push through the stubborn earth without it.
And over it all is God’s promise, bending like a rainbow across the sky over our tired hearts, offering us a gentle place to land and rest in Him.