During one of the elementary years of my childhood, we had a near-blizzard experience in the middle of April. Getting ridiculous amounts of snow in a month labeled ‘spring weather’ wasn’t the oddest thing growing up in Ohio – but I remember being snowed in at my cousins’ house for quite a few days that year.
My cousin Sarah and I were thick as thieves growing up – exactly one month apart. To this very day I don’t think there is anyone on the planet that I have laughed harder with in my life. She has several older brothers – two of which were only a few years older than us.
We were all trapped in their house and decided to do what any bored kiddos would do in a blizzard – build snow forts +plan to go to war with snowballs shortly after.
Sarah and I, being younger and not nearly as experienced in fort building, decided to roll four massive snowballs together and try to jump into the center of them (praying to God they would offer some sort of protection). Since the war had not quite been initiated, we checked on the boys to see how their fort was coming along.
It. was. a fortress.
First of all – they’re boys. They build things in their sleep.
They had already finished constructing and had a hefty pile of snowball ammunition already.
We freaked out, and Sarah reacted the way any youngest child/only girl of the family would.
(Just like that).
Surprisingly, the boys agreed and traded spaces with us.
We enjoyed the epic ice fortress of doom for about 4 minutes before deciding to check on the boys once again, curious to see what they had done with what we had created.
The two of them had gotten the hose out and hooked it up to the side of the house, making our pitiful fort ‘bullet proof’. They now were proud creators of an invincible igloo, ready to go to war.
…and Sarah did what any youngest child/only girl of the family would.
We can be miserable no matter what we have or what our circumstances are.
Whether you have an ice fortress of doom or an invincible igloo, there will always be another fort to compare yours to – another way to feel like what you possess is inadequate or lacking in some way.
I was talking with a friend yesterday and she asked
“…so, you had a dream of what your life in North Carolina would look like. Now that you’re here and living that dream, haven’t you come to find that life isn’t always that dreamy?”
YES. Life is life no matter where you go. There will always be something that can poke a hole in your boat and before you know it, you’re sinking into disappointment.
I was in the middle of Ireland in 2012 SURROUNDED BY BEAUTY AND CULTURE, and there were several patches of time where I was more focused on being exhausted and burnt out on “Americanized food” than I was filled with wonder of what surrounded me.
Here’s the issue…
I compare my insides to other people’s outsides.
I look at them and I say
“If only I knew what I was doing with my life, I could be confident like that.”
“If only I had a community like THAT, I would be thriving.”
“If only I were married, if only I didn’t have debt, if only I didn’t have to worry about (insert thing here).”
It all sounds really juvenile and we lightheartedly make fun of the ‘complainer’ that we’ve all been at one time or another – but there’s a heart issue there.
The heart issue says “There are people that have things that I don’t and that are happier than me; God is providing for them in ways that he isn’t in my life. He has given them more joy, more peace, more security. They are privileged, He is partial, and I am forgotten.”
They don’t have more joy than you. They aren’t any better off – every one of us has paralyzing fears and painful wounds and dead ends and brick walls that we can’t quit running into.
I compare my insides – my ups, downs, hopes, fears, dreams, and disappointments – to your perceived perfection and believe that you have something that I don’t.
But we’re all in this together.
THE BEST NEWS OF ALL is that although there will always be something that can take the wind out of your sails and drain you of all your happiness, THERE ARE ALWAYS GIFTS to be opened and savored.
The enemy can come and blind me so easily sometimes. He will put binoculars to my eyes and say “Look! Look at all you’ve hoped for that hasn’t happened. Look at all the times you’ve gone unseen, unheard, been forgotten about.”
The Lord can be giving me good things in so many places and I miss it all because I’m so worried about one lie. One tiny area that still awaits redemption.
He can even be trying to tell me the very things that will pull me out of my sinking boat and I miss it because I’m so angry about the hole.
Recently, I felt the Lord very gently give me options; “Han, you can either hold onto your unanswered questions, or you can choose to see me – but you can’t have both.”
There comes a point when we need healing more than answers – when we forfeit our right to be right because we need comfort so much more.
There are moments when he gives us the sweet privilege of using our faith to choose Him over the fear and all of the reasons why he might not be good.
“Contentment is the way you drink the grace out of every moment.” -Ann Voskamp
There are times when you so desperately need grace that you will suck it out of every place you can get it…
And it’s not such a bad place to be.
He is always chasing us down with good things. He will never quit doing good to us. We can daily find the good, walking through the difficult, knowing that although there will always be something that threatens to drain our joy, there is always goodness. We are always provided for.