I knew it was coming. I’d already heard the word discipline from the Lord several times throughout the month of January, as if he was asking me to put in the work now so I could reap the harvest later. When I finally had some clarity, I told my husband about the stirring in my heart. Some stuff is going to hit the fan for us this year. I think someone might get sick, or we might lose an income, or there might be new relational chaos in our family. I want to be prepared when it happens.
Ever supportive of my spiritual gifts, my dear husband gave me some serious side eye and told me to pipe down. Then he closed his eyes and nodded. And shook his head, at the same time. If my man could figure out a way to build a house in the clouds, he would move our family to the sky in a heartbeat. Chris could literally get punched in the face and he’d pull himself out of the dirt, dust himself off, smile, and make some comment about how there’s nowhere to go but up from there. In that moment at our kitchen table, he knew I’d heard from God, but he didn’t want to think about our lives being turned upside-down.
And eight months later, upside-down they went! In the course of just a few weeks, our family has experienced significant sickness, loss of income, and relational chaos. I’m trying my hardest to compare it to other times my life has felt dark and hopeless, because these are some of the most extreme events to ever happen to us. And yet, this is the most at peace I’ve ever felt. I don’t feel dark and heavy. I feel light and hopeful, excited even. Because we’ve been preparing for this all year.
Mere weeks after my word from the Lord in January, I sat at the IF:gathering and listened to Katherine describe her life-changing stroke and subsequent recovery. She said that in her darkest moments, she reminded herself that THIS IS NOT A DRILL. This is what she’d been training for, in a spiritual sense. All of the Scripture, all of the prayers, all of the diligent times spent with Jesus, they came flooding back to her and kept her company while she lay in a hospital bed, unable to communicate with anyone. As I listened to her words, I felt God again remind me of our conversations a month prior. It almost felt as if he was nudging me to stop wasting time. No need to be flailing about and trying to remember a random Psalm when the bottom drops out. And so I got ready. I got after healthy rhythms and relationships like my life depended on it.
I started reading my Bible every morning, and not just when I remembered to or on a phone app in the car. When people ask, I try not to sound blunt in my reply. I just read it. No reading plans, no journals. I pick one book at a time, and I read one chapter per day until that book is done. Throughout the day, I ask the Lord to remind me things from my morning’s reading. What does he want to tell me about himself, myself, and the world?
I also started going to the gym every day. Not just a few times per month for yoga classes, or on a Saturday morning when I had some free time. I work out five days a week, for twenty minutes each morning. This is another question I get a lot, about how I make it work. I just go. The answer might seem unrealistic to some, but it took so much time and work to get to this place as a family. We literally changed jobs and moved things around in our budget to get the morning routine we have today. And now my husband and I start our days together while apart (how couples do the same workout next to each other, I might never know), moving our bodies and asking God how he wants to use us today.
Lastly, I really started to let people in. I feel like I went to my best friend Jess and my husband and blurted out I HAVE A PRIDE PROBLEM, but I know it was more nuanced than that (I hate nuance. Even the word. It feels wimpy to me. I’m so stinkin’ black and white). I basically asked them to speak life AND truth over me, and I practiced receiving correction. I got used to the idea that I’m busted and broken even WITH Jesus, and I learned to guzzle grace. I’m still working on the “extending it others” part, but the Lord is kind and gentle while he teaches me.
And so here we are. The actual bottom is trying to fall out, and I’m still standing. There is healing here. This is a story of redemption. A few years ago when things got rough, I wanted out. Out of my marriage, out of motherhood, out of this world. And this time, I’m smiling (weakly, tightly sometimes) and whispering under my breath that this is not a drill.
I can take heart. He’s already overcome the world. And I’m not alone. God looks at some of these worldly circumstances of mine and he enters into the pain with me. It ought not be, he whispers. I get it. This is bad. But can we go back to all of those things I promised you? All of the things you’ve read about me in Scripture, bragged about me to your friends and people online? Let’s camp out on those. Stand on my promises. The bottom never falls out here.