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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Finding redemption for the hard places in unexpected ways

It's been a rough few days. I feel like everything in me has been pulled every which way and I've been begging God for just a little break. Tonight, I feel like He's given me one- not from all the things plaguing me, but a change in my perspective that's strengthened my resolve to push through it.

I spent most of the day at the hospital with my friend I blogged about two weeks ago. Unfortunately, the issue that landed her in the hospital two weeks ago was not resolved and she had to go in for another procedure. So of course, I went to be there with her.

It's interesting how things that hurt in your past can be used to help someone in the present. My friend had never gone under anesthesia and was terrified of what that would look like- I'd felt the same when I'd had to go under a couple of years ago. Only for me, I'd done it alone, tried to be brave, and had no one holding my hand. It felt good to be able to redeem my own bad experience by being there for her. I know it comforted her to be told she wasn't crazy for feeling the way she felt, and to be told that her feelings were okay. She didn't have to be be brave. She had someone to turn to afterward and be weepy, silly, and joyful all in the same breath without worrying that she'd be told to pull herself together or other nonsense. She came out smiling, with the joyful statement, "I am articulate again," and someone was there to smile with her.

One of the biggest blessings for me was how this helped me realize the blessing in my own struggles. Today is April 15th. Tax Day. A year ago, I wouldn't have been able to be there for my friend. I would've had to have told her that I was very sorry there was no way I could get the day off, but I'd pray for her. I would have missed that joyful celebration of her ability to articulate. No one would have told her that it was okay to feel the way she felt. She would've sat alone in that hospital bed, dealing with something no one should have to walk through alone. But I got to be there.

And see, as much as I celebrate not having my tax job, you need to know it hasn't been easy. I miss the work. I miss my friends. I miss my clients. And, to be really honest, I really miss the money. When God asked me to quit the job, I guess I expected that there would be a reward for my obedience. Not this horrible financial struggle that has me praying for every penny to balance things at the end of the month. I quit my job, and life got harder.

So here it was... the payoff. Materially, I am no better off. All the things I thought would happen because I obeyed God and quit my job did not happen. But wow... God gave me something even more special. He gave me the ability to let someone I love dearly, who is in the midst of really hard times, know that she is precious. I have to believe that giving this gift to my friend is far more valuable than any of the things I thought were important.

God hasn't given me a break in any of the stuff I'm going through right now. Yet today taught me that the stuff I went through a couple of years ago, hard stuff that made me wonder if I'd survive it all, is being used today to help someone else. I have to believe that my struggles of today will be used for good tomorrow.

On the way home from the hospital, my friend said something that made me think even deeper about this. Yesterday had been one of the worst days of her life. Then she started comparing it to all the other things that could have happened, how it could have been so much worse, and she realized that if yesterday was the worst her life had gotten, her life was pretty darn good!

It made me feel selfish for all the petty whines I've brought before God lately. I continued to process it all through the evening, and when I finally got her settled in bed and I was able to leave, I started to think about all the tiny prayers I'd uttered throughout the day, and realized how faithful God has been. Many of them were quick "God, I don't know what to do about this" prayers. As I drove home, God showed me all the ways He took care of them. It occurred to me that had He not pointed them out, I'd have never made the connection that God had arranged it all so perfectly. I wonder how many times we don't think God has answered our prayers because we're not paying enough attention to make the connection between the prayer and the resolution to our problems.

So tonight I am thankful. Thankful that God cared about me enough to perfectly fit together all the details of today that worried me. Thankful that God brought my friend through her procedure and everything is going to be fine. Thankful that God allowed me to see how He'd worked out so many things I'd never even considered.

Do I still want a break? Absolutely. I can't tell you how done I am with all of this junk I'm dealing with right now. But knowing that my hard junk from the past found redemption in my ability to help my friend makes today's junk a little easier to endure. I don't know how any of what I'm going through now will help anyone else. I choose to believe, though, that someday, there will be a payoff. It probably won't look anything like what I hope for, but God will use it for something better. If I'm willing to look for it.


Diane Marie Shaw said...

Amazing how God uses all the experiences of our lives to help others. I've had many opportunities to encourage others because of situations He had brought me through, situations that I cried out to Him to remove. He very gently told me "no, but I will never leave you or forsake you." I don't look for the hard times or accept them graciously but I know afterwards that I will probably be called upon to tell someone how God brought me through.

Danica Favorite said...

Thanks Diane!! It's a really good reminder. I'm like you, I don't look for them or accept them graciously, but at least I know there will be something good to come out of it.