“Enduring hardship as a pathway to peace”

When I have the opportunity to talk about our story publicly, I always preface it with a little disclaimer: everyone’s journey through life is different.

I always say that you have to listen to God yourself because everyone you ask will have an opinion. Every specialist. Every preacher. Every friend.

Yes, there are some universal truths. Biblical principles. Some words of wisdom. And yes, we need to talk to someone for support. But ultimately, you have to ask God what to do.

Because sometimes, forgiveness isn’t the thing that is needed.

There are consequences to sin. Sometimes forgiveness removes those consequences. And sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes, even when you forgive, the best place for the man is prison. Sometimes, you have to run away from the addict who beats you, for yourself and for precious children.

But that’s not my story.

God wasn’t telling me to escape.

He was calling me to endure.

* * * * *

It is critical to walk the path God has for you and not someone else’s.

No one who loves you would choose suffering as your path.

Except God.

Because sometimes, when you sing and pray, the water parts and you walk through on dry land and walls fall down and you escape the fiery furnace and chains fall off and you walk out free.

And sometimes, though you sing the same songs and pray the same prayers, your children die and your body is stricken with boils and you marry an unfaithful woman as a lesson for an unfaithful people and you are falsely accused and forgotten in a prison cell for years.

Only God knows which is your path.

And there are times He chooses paths for you that you cannot explain, let alone understand.

* * * * *

That summer was one of the hardest in my life.

In addition to dealing with addiction, rehab and recovery, we went five months without an income. We prayed helpless prayers. Sold things on eBay. Delivered newspapers. Tried commissioned sales. Applied for jobs and had interviews: Not enough experience. Overqualified. Position filled.

Late at night, I would browse the Internet, my searches reaching beyond Tacoma to anywhere.

Anywhere that we could have some sort of life together. Someplace to heal and recover and rebuild our family.

I began to pray for a place like that. Someplace where our living expenses would be low and we could recover financially. Someplace where the kids could enjoy a stress-free childhood. And someplace where Dave and I would be able to work on our relationship and heal from the heartaches of years.

* * * * *

Eighty-some years ago, when the land dried up and dust took over the fields and the banks called in their debts, the broken farmers talked of a place where they could work the land and raise food again, where their children could breathe, where the sun shone brightly in a blue sky and where water ran through valleys that produced fruit like you’ve never seen . . .

I think anyone in crisis who has an ounce of hope has a California.

. . . my California was  a camp.

3 thoughts on ““Enduring hardship as a pathway to peace”

  1. Hi Deb…. wow… that is quite an bold and honest outlook. Thanks.

    I have been left wondering about why forgiveness spares some consequences yet not others. I am sure this has been a topic of debate for many theologians.

    But in the end, why should it matter what God does in one situation versus another? It would seem our priority should be obedience and not equality. Grace is not fair anyway.

    I believe you will find your California. I am finding mine. I have often fought self-defeating thoughts of “why me”. To which I often sense the response, “why not”?

    Would I not rather have had the lid blown of the tangled fascade that was my life and arrive at a point of painful, yet vivid reality? Versus remain blind in my middle-class suburban Christian comfort and be just another self-decieved person consumed with shallowness and self?

    Is it really a drawback to have crashed and burned or can it be an asset? Could it be that we are actually privileged to have had our lives blow up and then test our mettle and become stronger in ways we could never imagine travelling the road to recovery?

    Who are some of the most successful and admirable people in our communities? Are many of them not people who endured adversity, such as immigration, medical challenges, or financial crisis…. to go on and become far more humble, truthful, reachable, and helpful than those who sailed more comfortably through life with fewer, gentler challenges?

    Are we not to count it all joy when life hands us our teeth? (I’m being very liberal paraphrasing here)….. knowing that the journey THROUGH will make far more of us than the journey AROUND?

    I have known ministers who have had their sins buffered by their positions, fame, wealth, or power. To what end? Ongoing corruption. As much as it may hurt and be bewildering, it sounds like your situation has allowed you and your husband no other options than to be rigorously honest. This is indeed a privilege. This is indeed a blessing. Those who are left with options are denied the blessings of honesty on the level we must face.

    This is where I found myself. Having lost all distratcing factors and to be forced to face and work with simple, bare, truths. This is my California. And it is proving to be a fertile land, where many things of great value are growing.

    It was all worth it.

    Ciao

    Chaz

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