For many years I found myself living in a space of expectation. Yet it was not an expectation of something good. Rather, an expectation of moving from one hardship to another. From one stressful event to another. From tears over one challenging moment to another. As if I did not deserve to be free from difficulties for even a season. And now, I find myself in a space of routine. Where boredom looms, and my mind can easily slip to thoughts of what’s next? How long until another hard hits?
For so long, we lived as if we were constantly walking on hot coals as our youngest struggled with major developmental delays, relentless seizures and intense sensory issues. He would scream for no reason for hours on end. He would slam his head into the wall, the table, the person sitting next to him, requiring him to wear a helmet at all times. He was in and out of the hospital. He spent hours in therapies with numerous trips to a variety of doctors. And there was so much more that would take far too long to explain. All of this trained our minds to live in a state of constant upheaval and stress. There were many other unrelated events that occurred over the years also causing profound stress, adding to an environment of anxious apprehension. The challenges became expected, routine pieces of our days. It is hard to think about the days ahead, wondering what is next. Yet we relish the predictability of his diagnoses even though the challenges can be so very hard.
But don’t we all walk a similar path? Our situations, challenges and daily routines may look different, but we all have a cross to bear in life. We all face fears, stress and unknowns. We all wonder on our tomorrows. We all worry over family, friends, situations. The challenge is to find the beauty of each day and live in a state of thankfulness; to focus on the love that finds us and the blessings that capture us; to mark the beauty in the story that defines us.
So today as I find myself challenging feelings of guilt for not feeling like I have excessive difficulties and stress, I want to put myself into a place of thankfulness. I want to remember the faithfulness of a God who wrote my days. Who always supplies all of my needs. Who shows up every day when my heart doesn’t think I can take another challenge. No matter what we face or how difficult our journey becomes, our Heavenly Father always paves the way and shows up with an outpouring of peace. The One who is always steadfast, reliable, trustworthy and loving is the same God who allows difficulties to find us. He is the same God who is giving us a season of routine, mundane moments. And when the next messy comes, when the next heavy challenge arrives, He will be the same God who walks faithfully beside us.
My challenge is to enjoy the path whether the scenery is lush or barren. To focus on the blessings instead of the hardships. To relish in the provision instead of the unknowns. I am just as thankful for the seasons of difficulties and stress as I am for the seasons of mundane routine.
Every day is a gift. Even in the hard, every day is a gift. As I sit back this week and watch several around me struggle with a new diagnosis, a challenging situation, a season of hospice and impending loss, I recognize the responsibility to extend a word of encouragement, to breathe life into a weary soul, to share the gracious gift of empathy. I think back on the many blessings we received in our hard days. Friends and family who showed up to bless us with encouragement, gifts, food, just being present. May we all use the experiences we collect, whether easy or hard, to show empathy and love for someone else who is struggling on their journey. May we all find the strength and energy to be a supportive, encouraging friend to someone in need.
Romans 12:10-13: Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Isaiah 41:10, 13: So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand….For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.