Does God mess with us? It’s a question my husband and I wrestle with now and again. Mostly now. And usually with a stronger word than “mess.”
It feels like at times that God gives us a sneak peak of what might be only to wisk it away like a bait and switch job and we’re left to wonder “Is it something we said?” In the past few months we have taken turns despairing (so thankful we haven’t despaired at the same time) and wondering why God keeps leading us down trails that He knows full well go in a complete circle.
And maybe our finite brains get us stuck on end results. At least the results you can see. It goes something like this: we know God is sovereign and in control of everything, so, logically, nothing gets by Him or happens without His full knowledge. It’s not far off from a certain NFL organization who have full responsibility for everything that happens within their organization until they get caught cheating and then have absolutely no idea how that happened. You can’t really have it both ways. You’re either in control or you’re not. And when you’re caught, you don’t have to feel any consequences whatsoever because you’re that in control…
But I digress. Well, it is related, because at times we may very well feel like “life” is a bunch of cheaters who actually DO prosper and we are frustrated by what looks like the successes of others and our own seeming failures and slammed doors on our faces. We’re tired of the doors. And we are definitely tired of people saying “When God closes a door…” Yep. And this is me acting that out with you.
More bitterness. More grumbling. I don’t like being bitter. I’m not that person. I generally don’t complain and complaining makes me itchy. Just ask my stepkids. They know that nothing they do will ever bother me EXCEPT complain. They’ve told me that I have an incredible tolerance and I’d like to think that God has given me a calm, peaceful spirit that allows for quite a lot of “noise” in life.
But then why do I complain in my heart? Why do I pray such things like, God, please don’t tease us. Please don’t make us struggle with the epic weight of sins, our own and those done to us, that keep bringing us to the brink of despair and then forcefully throw us over the edge with a cackle. We are tired. We are weary. Please don’t bring us light only to shutter us into a darker space.
And it occurs to me that we choose to focus on the dark. We let it in. We let it envelope us. We focus on what we don’t have. It isn’t that I don’t think about all the good gifts – my perfect-for-me husband, my beautiful amazing kids, all four, and the awesome immediate and extended family we both have, and that these are things that many people I know personally can’t celebrate – but I also know that it can be hard to enjoy the moments of pure love and sweetness when you are staring at your bills or wondering if you will ever live in your own place again. It can be hard to see the good through the tears of all the bad.
I’m sorting my kids’ clothing into boxes. The change of seasons means change of wardrobe from cute shorts and light dresses to tights and corduroys and long sleeves. We have been so incredibly blessed with clothes, it’s craziness. My girls have way, way better outfits than I have now for sure and maybe ever in my life. As they should. Even in this way, God has shown us how good He is in providing not just what we need but abundantly more. I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve had to purchase clothing or shoes so far.
And as I’m sorting through, I have this epiphany. We have been so abundantly blessed that we get to keep only those things we absolutely love and give away whatever doesn’t suit us. It’s an amazing thought. I look at each item and think, meh! Or I gush over with glee as only a mom can over things like a pair of socks or that perfect matching outfit. My eyes well up as it hits me. We get to choose. God’s grace is so much, so overflowing, we get to toss out whatever doesn’t fit or whatever we don’t want to abide. We get to focus on the beautiful things, the things that lift us up, encourage our hearts, makes us feel pretty. Not that we ignore the pain and hurt and injustice of the world and of our lives. But we can find the grace to “clothe” it, if you will, in God’s terms, seeing His plan, connecting the dots, waiting for Him to complete the work He started. We don’t have to keep the dark. We can choose the light. Through His Spirit, we are IN the light. I don’t have to close my eyes. I don’t have to despair. I can see His abundant goodness and I can rest in it, knowing there will always be more to come. We KNOW KNOW KNOW there is more to come at the very end.
Although some day my girls’ wardrobe may come to an end, and that will be ok too. In the meantime, I dress them daily with love and beauty, thankful for the generous hearts of family and friends, and grateful to a God who gives and gives and gives again. “…why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”