I recently took a road trip with my sister and on our way home after hours and hours (and HOURS) of talking, we turned on some music for the last hour or two. This song came on that had been my anthem last summer when I was going through a REALLY challenging season. I hadn't listened to it in months and when it came on... the emotions of that hard season just HIT me.
Even when it hurts like hell
I'll praise you
Even when it makes no sense to sing
Louder then I'll sing your praise
All the memories of frustration and confusion in that season came flooding back. During those months that's exactly what I did. I sang LOUD. I clung to the One who I hoped would bring a miracle or at least give me a crumb of blessing.
That wasn't that long ago but I felt changed listening to the song in hindsight. What had changed? What I wanted so bad in that frustrating season didn't have as tight of a grip on me anymore.
I made the best life decision when I chose to marry my husband Chris. When we said "for richer or poorer" I knew "poorer" would refer to the non-profit Young Life salary/social work grad school situation we had going on. Rough. But not disheartening at all back then. I embraced it. I didn't expect to be in that same situation 10 years later though.
I work hard, I earn decent income *most* of the time. I get up early, I go to bed late. I love to work. I love the world of entrepreneurial go-getters. I had so much hope for so long that we would be financially free soon and had hoped at this point we would be moving towards wealth, or at least security. After baby #3 and an understandable lull in my business, I came back from maternity leave willing to work harder than ever. And I did. I took every thought captive, got up early to read/pray/nurse/sing/pray, I tracked my activity and work, and I cried and cried and cried when I didn't see results. Not tears of sadness, tears of frustration. I was thinking things like, "Ahem. Excuse me God?! I don't know if you've noticed me working down here and trying to be obedient, but I have, and now you owe me a blessing. Right??" Or in sadder moments I would say to myself, "I'm sure God will notice and step in any moment now..." Have you been there? Do you hear the self-righteous, you-owe-me, crybaby pattern I was in?
Something happened gradually in my heart as I was reading/praying/singing though. The American Dream that has captivated me most of my life started loosing it's appeal to me. My eyes starting seeing things that I already had in a new, deeply appreciative light. When I thought about people around the world and not just people in America, I realized I am in the top 1% richest people in the WORLD. TOP 1%. If you're reading this on a computer screen or mobile device, you are too. Oh my goodness! When I let that sink in, and I had to fight the urge to brush that fact off as a non-relevant fact to me, I stopped asking God for financial freedom and PRAISED him for how financially free I already am. I'm free from worries the rest of the world carries around like a burden. My situation hasn't changed THAT much from then, but I am so incredibly happy and fulfilled and peaceful. My daughter asked me the other day if we were rich. I said YES! we are so rich. We are richer than almost everybody in the whole world. We have food to eat every single day and none of us are sick. Do you know how amazing that is?! We are so so rich.
Something else gradually happened in that tough season. As a therapeutic outlet at night, I started tinkering around on the computer with design and planner layouts. I needed a planner and couldn't find one that served me well. I started discovering and remembering strengths I had in the detailed, technical, creative realm. I worked on it slowly all summer. I started using the PDF pages I made and it helped me as a wife & mom with 3 small kids and a business to prioritize my week when everything seemed fuzzy. And not 3 months later, look what has happened. Those plans turned into a beautiful physical planner that will bless hundreds of women this coming year. That came from my season of frustration! What a gift.
This Sunday, during the last song we sang at church, the words of the bridge stood out to me. The first line sings, "I will rest on your promises" yes, I thought, that's what I did all summer. And the next line is, "My confidence is in your faithfulness" YES. I took that moment to quietly and happily squeal in the presence of God and praise him. This time it wasn't because I was hurting still, but because His faithfulness had changed me and I rejoice in what He's doing in me and through me. Because of the words I cried out in the hurt, the exclamatory song of joy felt all the more sweet.
Are you hurting? What do you want your anthem to be in this hard season? Who do you want to become as a result of this pruning?
This season WILL end. I encourage you to download the song, Even When It Hurts by Hillsong United, get in your car, crank up the music, and sing LOUD, especially this part:
And my heart burns only for you
You are all, you are all I want
And my soul waits only for you
And I will sing till the morning has come