I have discovered that, more often than not, life doesn’t go as planned. You too?
When Brance and I were newly married we desired to have a home overflowing with children. We would gaze starry-eyed over coffee and books and discuss how theoretically we would raise all of these blessings. It was unknown and exciting to begin this journey together. We both were blessed with good, loving families and we so looked forward to building our own.
When the two pregnancies I experienced proved a huge trial to our young family (24/7 nausea and vomiting for 9 months–Brance basically having to move his office home to care for me), we dreamed of growing through adoption. And yet, our living and working situation over the last 5 years has prevented that from happening as well. Life doesn’t always go as planned.
I was fortunate to spend most of my growing up years in one location and in one home. Our roots went deep there and I have fond memories of every nook and cranny of the home my dad built for our family. I think that because of this, I imagined that I, too, would raise my family in one particular home. That it would be ours to decorate and fill with love and memories and that the years would be marked by the heights of our children and grandchildren on the door frames.
Instead, Brance and I have lived in a series of less than ideal rental homes over the last decade. The one we live in now is by far the worst. The kitchen and bathroom are in need of a complete gut-renovation. I can’t even use the bottom kitchen cabinets because the back opens to a wall that is open to the inside of the house. Let’s just say mice can roam freely from the downstairs restaurant into those cabinets from those holes in the walls–ones that are too large to easily repair. Instead of filling our cabinets with pots and pans, they are filled with a series of mouse traps. And there is no amount of cleaning that can remove the dirt and grime from the decaying bathroom (it literally has places that are rotting and coming apart). And while, we feel incredibly blessed to be renovating a beautiful home, 5 years into the process, I have had to learn to be content with a less than ideal home for now. Life doesn’t always go as planned.
I could go on and talk about my health (UC, depression, anxiety, etc.) and many other things that haven’t gone as I would have hoped. You too? (Perhaps singleness, or job problems, or infertility, or divorce, or financial stress, or sickness, or family issues, or something else entirely is plaguing you.)
But, do you know what? I wouldn’t change a single difficulty that I have faced. Not a one! Because, life not going as planned can be a GOOD thing.
You see, God has used the hard things in life to help mold my character and sand away some of the selfish edges. Smooth-sailing-circumstances would not have allowed for this. It is only in the furnace that gold is purified and all the impurities are burned away. Similarly, God has used the heat from less-than-ideal circumstances to help purify me.
The girls and I are reading the book A Little Princess (written by the same author who wrote The Secret Garden). In this book, the main character Sara is wise enough to realize that she may not be as nice as she appears. You see, until she was 11 she lived an extremely privileged life where she faced very little trial. Her father was wealthy and lavished her with more than any child could want. In spite of the incessant spoiling, Sara remained sweet and humble. And in honest contemplation with a dear friend at school, she admitted that her truest character could only be revealed when squeezed by adversity (which happens later in the story).
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Our true character is revealed in our response to adversity and trial.
Do we stress and complain and become bitter and angry? OR. Do we accept trials in our life as God’s “severe” mercy to help us grow? Do we view them as our teachers, giving us an opportunity to learn the priceless lessons of patience and perseverance (not ever giving up) and forgiveness and peace (in the storm) and hope and trust (that God’s plan is always good and for our best).
I want to encourage you by saying that you don’t need to despair if your initial response to adversity is negative. I think that is perfectly normal. It takes lots of practice and growth to respond in a positive way to adversity from the beginning. I’m still learning too. Regardless of how you have behaved in the past, pray and ask God to help you begin to view your trials in a new way–to see how he can grow you through them.
Trials and adversity can bring about some of the most amazing things in your life–if you’ll let them. And remember, God has promised that he will never give his children more than they can carry.