It's been a long time since I have written on here. I haven't forgotten about you, but as many of you are aware, life happens. And, boy, has life happened! I've had some ups and downs, but overall, all I have to say is that God reigns over all and that he deserves all the praise.
I'm going to start from where I left off. Some of you may have known that I was dating a girl at the time of my last post. Some of you may not have known this at all. I ended up proposing to that girl on Christmas of last year. About five months later, we were happily married.
Being married has been so good for me. People have told me that they have noticed something different about me ever since I have been married. I've been happier. I have had a spring in my step. I've been more friendly and cordial with people. God has blessed us financially and we have been doing well.
Granted, we had some bumps along the way, with jobs not panning out, school work getting too hard, and sickness. We managed to get through and praise God through it all. Everything seemed to be panning out... until about three weeks ago...
It all started when our dryer's heating element went out. I figured, eh, no big deal, I could replace it. While I was working on securing a relatively inexpensive heating element, we get a phone call from the mechanic we left our car with. A few days before, my wife's car was making some weird noises, so we sent it to the shop. The mechanic said that the transmission was totally out on the car, and it was way more money for us to fix, making the repairs equivalent of what the car was worth.
While we are deciding on what to do with the car, my brother brings the computer I loaned him to my house because the power supply went out on it. I try working on my laptop to order the new part, only to realize my laptop is no longer holding a charge.
In the midst of all of this, I head to work the next day. About a week has passed up to this point. As soon as I get in--I haven't even taken my coat off yet, I am informed that I have not been handling a situation the way one of my supervisors would like me to handle it. It frustrated me, because I love my job and I thought I had been doing so well. It was really heartbreaking to hear that I hadn't been doing it right.
On top of all of this, my ministry has been particularly stressful. I have some youth who have been super stressed and have been coming to me for help. I relish in helping these guys! I love that I can be the person who can direct them to Jesus and show them what next steps they should take. Nothing feels more fulfilling than serving youth as Jesus served his disciples. I love doing it! Yet, it is also stressful and puts an additional load on top of everything trying to help bear their burdens as well.
So, I begin trying to cross things off my list: I fix the computer for my brother, I fix my laptop, and then... my phone goes out. The antenna on my phone simply stops working. I cannot receive or send calls or texts. One more thing! Great! So, we begin the process of getting another phone.
The phone was to be delivered on Tuesday of last week. It never showed. I come home Wednesday--no package. I called, and they said they couldn't find it. Thursday, they called and said they had delivered it to the wrong address and were on their way.
I finally got the phone. Okay. The computer is fixed. I send it with my brother. My laptop is fixed. We end up deciding to sell the car for scrap. It was not the best choice, but about the only one open up to us right now. Things start to look up. I can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or so I think...
My brother calls me back. Now, the graphics card went out on the computer. Oh well, easy fix, I think. He drops it off and I begin working on it.
Then the worst happens... We get a phone call... I had just gotten out of the shower when my wife comes in, her face red, tears pouring down her face, holding the phone, and screams in an barely understandable voice, "She's dead! Mom died this morning!"
"What?!" I scream back, embracing her. And we cry together. And we cry. And we cry some more. (And I am crying now writing this.) It was the absolute worst feeling I have ever felt in my life. I have had some dramatically crazy things happen to me, and I have been very emotional, but never like this. I have been haunted ever since by that feeling of first finding out that someone you love so deeply has died; it is a horror that has been coming back into my mind over and over again over the past day or so.
Her mother had been battling cancer for about two years, and while it had taken a turn for the worse, death still seemed a long way off. She was just switching treatments and things were starting to look up. So the phone call took us totally by surprise. We had just Skyped her two days before. She seemed tired, but other than that, she looked fine, especially for someone with cancer.
And now I'm here, sitting in her parents house, composing this message with the funeral two days away, thinking a lot about the past three weeks. And crying. There has been a lot of that the past day or so. More importantly, I am thinking about the past year and all I have been through. I have been through so much.
I feel like Job. Everything seems to be going wrong. Life is stressful. We have problem after problem after problem come our way. I felt like every phone call, every email, every text message was just another harbinger bringing the next set of bad news: that my cattle had been all killed by invaders or that a windstorm had destroyed my flocks.
But then I remembered something. Before I can really play the victim; before I can play martyr for how crappy life has been, I need to remember what I do have. I still have my jobs. I still have my health. I still have my wife and she still has her jobs. We have an apartment and a way to get around. We are still insanely blessed. We have family. We have friends. And we have a great church.
Most of all, we have a great God. He has been with us the entire time, through the good and the bad of this past year. It is easy to go to one extreme or the other in these kinds of situations: either ignore God in the good and only come to him in the bad like he is some cosmic vending machine that you insert prayers into and out pops the answer you wanted, or we celebrate with God with the good and blame him for all the bad. Yet, it was not his fault in any of this. He has been with us helping us through all of it.
As I sit here and I think about my mother-in-law, I have to smile through the tears. She had a very close relationship with Jesus. She was always challenging us to grow closer to God and was constantly telling us the things the Holy Spirit was teaching her. Even when she was sick, she treated it with joy, joking about the funny things that would happen along the way.
Now, I know for a fact that she is doing Zumba down the golden streets with Jesus, totally healed and happier than I can even imagine.
Although it pains me so much that she isn't here with me right now, I'm glad to know she is no longer in pain. Selfishly, I want her here. I want her to see her grandbabies. I want to sit down with her for coffee (while I drink tea, of course) and listen to her funny stories as she recounts her life before Christ and how much God has changed her. I miss her laugh. I miss her happiness with life. I miss the way she would sing off-key in the kitchen and not even care. I miss the way she kind of danced when she thought nobody was looking. Selfishly, I miss her. But I know she is truly happy now.
This time, is a time for grieving. Yes, life has been insanely hard for my wife and I, but we have a great God who can help us through it all. All we have to do is persevere.
persevere /ˌpərsəˈvi(ə)r/ (verb) 1. continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.
We have to go through grieving. We have to mourn. We have to cry. We have to let life happen and move on through it all. Life is tough.
It is not about asking, "Why did this happen?" but more of, "Where do I go from here?" And for us, the only way to go is forward in the face of adversity--to strive forward even though it will be difficult. We persevere.
Following His Call,