A couple of weeks ago, I sat down to write about this summer, and a message the Lord had been placing on my heart throughout it. It was a rough summer in a lot of ways. I was adjusting to a new nanny job. We had to give my puppy away. I got mono. Our wifi was broken for a good part of the summer, which poses quite a problem to a student taking summer classes online. Going to a public place to complete my homework was not an option, because my car spent more time in the shop this summer than it did in my driveway. I wrecked twice in one week. Consequently, I paid for car repairs twice in one week, which caused my bank to close my savings account due to the high volume of activity. It felt like if it could’ve gone wrong, it did, if it could’ve been broken or spilled, it was.
To put it simply, I had enough. I was frustrated. Exhausted, angry and confused are all adjectives you could throw in there as well. My family might contribute grouchy and irrational. I was, undoubtedly, all of those things.
But I had a message to share.
Ever so ironically, all summer long, the Lord was stamping on my heart this theme of living with joy; not just facing hard things with a smile, but truly allowing the Lord to transform my heart and my outlook and restore to me the joy of His salvation, and He was giving me a thousand opportunities to practice it. Unfortunately, most of the time, my mood got the best of me, and though the sun shined bright outside, inside of me was a storm of emotion, raining negative thoughts day and night.
People talk a lot about valleys and hills in life, and this was undeniably a valley. There’s something about being in the valley for a long time that makes it seems as though we’ll be there forever – wandering, desolate + hopeless. And as I trudged through mine, I was making plans for when I might finally reach the hill. I began to hope in a new season, a new job, a new schedule, before the one I was in had hardly begun.
What I realized not long before I sat down to write this post was that I so desperately needed guidance, confirmation and joy from the Lord – for this season and the next – but I had invited Him into neither. Caught up in the commotion and emotion, I had left my Father out of my plans completely, and proceeded in the way my sinful nature knows best – my own. It breaks my heart to recognize just how frequently I do this; how quick I am to bank on His goodness without trusting the means by which He may choose to accomplish it.
Luckily, Almighty God doesn’t need an invitation to my pity party; He simply shows up to crash it, then He stays to help me clean up afterwards.
I never finished that post on joy that day, and I know now its because the Lord wasn’t quite finished driving that lesson home.
A couple days later, while out of town visiting my boyfriend and watching my sisters in their volleyball tournament, I was in a third, yes, a third car accident, and this time it was more serious than bruised ribs and a broken fender. My boyfriend and I were t-boned on the way to the doctor. I was hit on the driver’s side by an oncoming truck, totaling my car. After being pried from my car’s demolished structure, I was strapped to a stretcher and taken to the nearest emergency room. Covered in glass, blood, and paralyzing fear, we spent the day at that hospital, and as I lied on the bed, confined by Velcro straps around my body and a brace around my neck, I knew my greatest struggle for joy would lie within the days ahead.
It’s been about 11 days since, and I have spent them all in bed with a broken back. It has given me a lot of time to sleep, stare at the ceiling and hope for more episodes of Shark Tank to show up in our DVR, but also to reflect, to pray, and ponder all that the Lord has been teaching me.
He has taught me once again that dependence on my own strength is futile, clearly portrayed by the assistance I now require to accomplish common, daily tasks. He has taught me to simply be still, to wait on Him and seek His presence, and He’s given me lots of time to practice! Most of all, He continues to drive home this message of joy – that though we face things on this earth that are hard, He faced death on a cross to win us to perfect, Eternal Life. And that is reason to rejoice!
And even here, amid tough times, He gives me things and people to remind me that I don’t have it so bad after all. My sweet, little sister spent so many nights sleeping on my floor at the foot of my bed, catering to my needs day and night. My other siblings have prepared food, cleaned my room and helped with chores. My dad has kept up with my medicine schedule, and the second I mention something I need, he’s off to go get it (back to back Graeters cravings, anyone?). Friends and family have stopped by, made cards, brought flowers and gifts, and people continue to check in with me, pray for me and love on me. I’m humbled. Perhaps one of the greatest things I’ve learned in this season is to cherish the people I have in my corner, because they love me so well and I am so undeserving.
Today I am reminded – valleys are hard – but it is there that streams of water, Living Water, flow, and we are invited to come and drink. With tears in my eyes I read these verses, over and over again, that perfectly sum up all He has taught me this season…
“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”
I will trust without fear, for God is my strength. I will draw water from the wells of salvation, with – JOY.
Read those words, friends, then read them again! Claim those truths as your own and go forth with joy!