He is My Assurance in the Mess

I recently heard someone say, "I'm not sure how you can be a Christian and have so many things go wrong for so long." These words weren't spoken to, or about me, but instantly I felt they could have been. We've had a rough year. One where we felt we were being kicked while we were down, and it hurt. Over and over again. And each blow seemed to make it tougher to smile then the last. If you'll bear with me, I'd like to share a little of the difficult, in order to share the present, and my thoughts on this question of being a Christian and having bad things happen.

I've written (could be read: yelled, cried, dwelled, hurt, held on to, talked about, written again...) about an incident with at least one of our kids that happened last April, or at least, that's when we found out about it, that rocked us to our core. It hurt, rightfully so, made us angry, rightfully so...scared us, scarred us, and to some degree, kicked off this tornadic year of bad happenings. There were wonderful things that happened also, like the adoption of our daughter, but sadly, this past year has been marked as a very difficult time, despite those bursts of joy that sporadically  pulled us from this funk.

In the weeks and months that followed the aforementioned incident, I lost weight. I couldn't eat. We didn't sleep. We fussed and fought with each other as we struggled with understanding the thing that was done, and the lack of care with which it was handled, and then dealing with the investigation that followed. It took us a couple months to finally realize we were fighting each other in our hurt, rather than coming together to help each other, and walk through this thing together.

In June, my grandmother who lives with us and with whom I (and my whole family) are extremely close, had a heart attack. She was 90 years old and a mere 66 lbs. It did not look good for her to recover from this event, but amazingly, she did. That is, until October, when again, her health looked too shaky to overcome, but again, she did.

November and December where the months we finally broke down and sought help through counseling about several things we were dealing with, one of which was difficult behaviors we had been dealing with from one of our boys. Something we had battled for so long, but either from duration, stress, or an over burdened heart, we finally received the help we needed. We caught our breath during this time and the holiday season.

In February, my grandmother got sick again...nothing to cause us to fear the worst, but enough to take the winds from the sails of an already hurt, angry, and damaged vessel. Later that month, her recovery still in progress, Scott had a cancer spot removed from his ear. Read about that day in full here if you'd like: http://makingmemommy.blogspot.com/2016/03/whats-your-emergency.html, but the gist is, enroute from one ER to another after bleeding for eight hours,  he shook violently, vomited and passed out, and I thought I had lost him. That's difficult to recover from. Even days and weeks later, while thankful as all get out that he was still with us, the emotions from that night would wreak havoc on my heart and mind. The next day, Gram's arm was swollen and causing her lots of pain. I ended up back in the ER with her, to rule out a clot, which we finally did the next day, but still having a swollen arm, had appointments and meds to try to find her relief.

Stress. In the midst of the trauma were our kids, still being kids. My body and mind were stressed.

Over the next month Gram continued to have pain off and on and then began to lose weight again. It was at that time, I began to notice that my fully independent Grandmother was no longer washing her dishes. Her laundry basket was overflowing to a pile of the floor, and my once critical of anyone who stayed in their jammies too long Gram, hadn't changed in five days. I called my mom and uncle with the news that things didn't look good. No matter how sick Gram had ever been, she'd never been like this. She was losing her will, her desire, and I couldn't help her. It weighed on me like a pile of bricks I was unable to move. And on top of it, I had a major surgery scheduled and coming up in a few days. My mom was already scheduled to come during that time to help with the kids, so my uncle got on a plane within days to come stay. He said he could hear in my voice that he needed to be here. I guess no matter how hard you try to hide pain, it seeps out. We needed help in more ways then we had been able to see.

At the end of March, with my uncle in town to help with Gram and the kids, I had a hysterectomy. That sucked. All of it...another night away spent in a hospital, swollen tummy, four incisions, pain meds (which I don't tolerate!), and a six week recovery in front of me. However, during this time, my Gram, the greatest comeback kid ever, started making a recovery. She showered, changed clothes, and little by little gained strength and desire. Whether it was having her son in town, or me being down and in need of TLC, or both, I have no idea. But she was nearly back to herself within two weeks and continuing to improve while my mom was in town the following week.

Week four of my six week recovery, we had three more ER trips, first with our daughter who lost consciousness after falling off our concrete stairs and hitting her head, then me with severe abdominal pain, and lastly, making it five trips in just eight weeks, my mother-in-law with chest pains and difficulty breathing. Prior to this, I think I'd only been to the ER once, maybe twice in 39 years.

In April, a year after the investigation began, we got word that the evidence needed to prosecute was not found. I spiraled into anger once again, realizing it was always just beneath the surface, as I awaited the news of an arrest under the facade of a 'process of forgiveness', that would not happen.

And this is just the highlights of the difficulties of our year. This doesn't speak anything of the girlfriends I have whose marriages are broken and under attack, or those who pray to find a love to marry, or the couples we know who are struggling with infertility, or who have lost babies, or the brother, former student, and colleague who all lost their battle to cancer, or...this list could go on and on. There are hurts daily that are difficult, at best, to bear up under.

So, back to the question of  "how can you be a Christian and have so many things go wrong?"  I'm not a theologian so I won't go into the fact that we live in a fallen world, or that things going wrong has nothing to do with whether or not one is a Christian, or about predestination vs free will, and consequences of our actions and of those around us.  Stuff just happens, all the time, to each of us. The better question is, how would you get though this mess without Jesus? Where do you find your strength or assurance? Who does your help and hope come from?

Where am I now? Recently, I heard a message that convicted me in a mighty, mighty way, about the anger I was holding on to, and my unwillingness to forgive which would allow me to move past a very hurtful situation, thus allowing me to better deal with the every day. I was drinking the poison hoping the offender would suffer. It wasn't working. So, I wrote it out. I wrote a letter that may never see its recipients. I cried, a lot, and I let it all go. My heart finally began to heal. I finally took a full, deep breath...maybe the first in a year. I'm lighter, not so heavy burdened all of the time. Gram is much improved, but she's still 91. We take every good day with her as a blessing, the gift of time.

So, what changed? Those difficult things still happened. We all, Christian or otherwise, will have to walk through these seasons of pain and struggle throughout our lives. What changed is when I realized that the Lord is enough, even when it hurts more than words can express, or our anger is big enough to scare us. He knows, He sees, and He is still in control. We don't have to be, thank goodness, but we will do well in the midst of the mess, to find peace and assurance in Him.