The Difficulty of Open Hands
At the end of the past summer the reality of shifting season’s really hit me. As surely and as quickly as this past summer had come, so would the next. I found my self in a place of struggling and wrestling. There is a strange uncertainty and certainty that comes with the next season in life for us.
Daniel started his third and final year of seminary this past fall. There is an excitement in that. There is also that feeling of seeing the home stretch, but there is still a ways to go. There is also a bit of sadness that comes as well, we have enjoyed our time here, we have both grown, and made some really deep rooted friendships that will be hard to say good-bye to. The kids have made some friendships that will be hard for them to say good-bye to as well. There is a lot of unknown about what next year will look like.
We are not strangers to big moves, we have uprooted and moved a large distance a few times. We haven’t always known the details of how everything would work out. Like what we would do for work, or what friendships and daily life might look like. But all of these big life changes did have one thing in common… We knew where we would be moving. This time we know Daniel will be done with school come this May, and we most likely will not be staying in Fergus Falls, but where will we be moving to?
Literally, only God knows.
I found myself working through this quite a bit at the end of the summer. It really hit me, how fast these past two years have gone by, and in turn how fast the up coming year would go. And the big question started coming up quite a bit “So where are you headed after Seminary?” I don’t blame anyone for asking. I was (am!) wondering myself. My kids started asking “Where will we be going to school next year? Will we still live by any of our friends?” And when the kids start asking, it really hits home. I really want to give them some firm answers. To comfort any fears they might have, to instill excitement in them, for a big transition. The problem here is, I don’t have any answers.
I do have the “right” answer.
“God knows where we will be going, we are trusting in Him, He will take care of us, and it will be good.” Thankfully my children are trusting in me and in God. This answer does bring them a lot of comfort.
And yet for me, (in my adult, and very human mind), with all of the questions and the up coming year, the wrestling was still there. I knew I had to bring it before God and start praying through it.
I have been happy to leave and follow where God has been leading us. Happy to say that I would truly go anywhere God is calling us. He lead us to Buffalo, NY, back to Olympia, WA, then to Calgary AB, and now here to Fergus Falls, MN. I have been happy and excited to go to all of these places. Knowing that, where God calls, there is peace and joy in that calling.
As I prayed and started working through it, I began to understand my unrest and struggle in this particular ‘unknown’. And that came to light when I realized, deep down, I had been longing that God would call us back to the Pacific Northwest. Back close to family, friends, familiar territory.
In the past few years there had been other close family members that were living far away. They have now moved back and are close to the family again. All of my boys’ cousins are back again and living, at most, a few hours from each other. I am not frustrated by this at all, I’m really happy for them. But I found deep down in myself that I had been wondering, “Is it our turn now?” We will have lived away for 6 and a half years when Daniel finishes school.
“Isn’t that long enough God? Can’t we be called back, even if it’s just for a short time, while the kids are still little?”
I finally stopped ignoring these questions I had stuffed down deep, and admitted to myself, and to God, these things. There was a part of me that did feel justified with these questions and desires. But another part of me that knew I was letting my wants and desires get in the way of peace. Peace for my now, and for our future.
As I worked through this, there was a sadness in it. Because I knew God was asking me to let go, to open my hands to Him again and surrender. I was also frustrated with myself, that something that previously hadn’t been such a struggle, was hard this time.
Why can’t I just have moved past this? Why is this resurfacing in a new and unexpected way?
So I prayed, struggled, wrestled, cried, and then again prayed, struggled, wrestled and cried. As many times as I needed to that month. I dug deep in God’s word and spent many times (with a cup of coffee in hand) praying through these struggles and emotions. I’m so thankful that I can come to God with my anger and fear, that I can be candid and real with Him.
I’m thankful for the Psalms and the raw emotion there.
By the end of that month, I had worked through this hard and emotional process, and slowly released that struggle, and my wants to God. So that I stand with open hands again.
I have found rest in this situation. I can truly say that I want to go where God calls again. No matter where that is. Because it will be good. Because God is with me, and because He always knows better than I do. Because ultimately I want what is best for the furtherance of His kingdom and His ministry. That He is able to use my family, my broken self included, to be a part of His ministry here on earth, is amazing, and I am blessed by it.
We are in the middle of November now, and I am nowhere closer to knowing God’s plan for us this next year. But I am at rest, with open hands. Excited to see where He will lead us, and to see what He has in store for us. I am so thankful that we can draw near to God, and admit all of our deepest struggles to Him. And to know that all of this will not change how He sees me, it will not change the amount of love He has for me. I am still His perfect creation in Christ.
He is listening to our prayers, and we can find truth and comfort in His word. I’m thankful for my God who will work through my struggles with me, that I can cast my cares on Him and He will lift my burden. And set me resting in Him again.
1 Peter 5:6-7
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.