Have you ever been lost? Separated from loved ones, unable to find your way. Have you ever felt that something was taken from you, not able to be found or replaced?
Maybe you haven’t been lost, but maybe you feel that something is missing. Maybe there has been something (or someone) in your life that is absent.
I turned 40 in January. On that same day, my daughter turned 17. I started thinking about all of the good in my life: my husband, my sons, my daughter, our dogs, our home, our health, our jobs, our family and friends near and far, and I felt blessed. I was grateful to God for all of these things and much more.
Last week I started to feel dejected. I was trying to work from home, adjusting to a new normal when normal is so not a typical word used in our home. Our normal is not the normal of our neighbors, per se, but the normal of some other military families who may have a loved one that’s gone to war and come home a bit changed.
The baby had a fever for a couple of days and was unable to go to daycare. Add in trying to navigate a job at home, a teething baby, and no set routine for work or daycare at home, and I was bummed. I wasn’t feeling like myself.
I saw a post on social media about bible journaling. I’ve always loved writing, scribbling, doodling, and pens, pencils, and highlighters…and I thought “that would be a good project.”
Then I laughed to myself and said, “when was the last time you pulled out your bible and really studied and read it.”
That sort of shook me as the kids say.
I frantically began to rearrange my bookcases in the office. If I was going to work from home, they were going to be organized, and if I was going to start this bible journaling task, I was going to find my bible.
I found three. A Precious Moments bible from my parents (with my name on the front), a gift on the day I was baptized, a student bible that accompanied me to church camp, FCA at school, and more from my grandma Wilma, and an NIV study Bible. The NIV study Bible looks brand new.
I just sat and stared at them.
I told friends via chatting that I was in need of a new bible or time to read my bible. I made comments like “I haven’t been to church in a month of Sunday’s!” (and sad, but true, I really, really wanted to physically plant myself in a church seat/pew)
Last Sunday I had a few moments to myself. Sam and Oliver were sleeping. I made myself coffee. I opened my phone and began the usual “morning phone routine” of checking email, weather, news, social media, and the like. I am really glad I hopped on Facebook that morning.
My friend Melissa shared a watch party of a church service. Not one for passing up a video, or some good worship music (live or not), I joined in. It was a prerecorded worship service from the Southern Illinois Worship Center, literally just down the road from our house.
I caught the song near the end, but I was captivated.
Then the momentum changed in the video. Gone was the worship with only the worship team members (appropriately distanced from one another by the way), and it was a shot of the two pastors, Jason and Melissa, in their home.
I did not know these people. I have never stepped foot in that church. But there I was, coffee in hand, sweatpants on, with messy hair and glasses, watching.
I learned a few things in the watch party of the video Melissa shared. 1. I missed church. 2. I needed to connect with people and if the technology was that way, so be it. 3. I liked these people I’d never met. 4. I felt as if their message was meant for me.
I heard Pastor Melissa say, “some days are a struggle.” And it was if my ears perked up, my brain said, “Cathrine, are you listening?”
Then she quoted a verse. I made notes of that.
Then Pastor Jason began to talk about prayer. I thought about how many times I had prayed and how many times prayers were answered. I also thought about how many times I prayed, begging God to help me in certain situations.
Just last year I prayed to God to save my life and that of baby Oliver. I cried and I cried, I prayed for miracles and just comfort–being away from the big kids, my family, it was a struggle. I was hospitalized four times prior to an emergency c-section with Oliver. And that struggle carried over into every day life more than I realized.
I sat with my coffee, my air pods, and the phone in tears. What happened over the last few years to feel so lost, so distant, when I actually knew God, needed God, but yet felt like a newbie to church and to God…
Pastor Jason spoke about Job. You know Job right? He suffered like you wouldn’t believe. Maybe you’ve felt like Job–you are a good person but all the bad things keep happening to you. I think we’ve all been there in one way or another. Our world starts to crumble, nothing makes sense, and God is silent.
I am nodding my head as I type, because, yes. I. Have. Been. There.
Job asked God all the questions all the time. “Why?” He went through cycles, emotions, and asked more questions. I started thinking, “I have asked those same questions of God.” “Why? Why did I have to lose a baby?” “Why have I been tested with a pregnancy?” “Why did (insert loved one, family friend name here) have to die?”
So, as I listened to this message on Facebook I began to think. This makes sense. We are going through something not only as individuals but as a nation. Every time I think about going to the store, I slightly panic. Every time I talk to my dad and hear him say he’s going to pick up medicine (prescriptions), I get a little nervous. Each morning when Sam leaves for work, I say a prayer that things will be okay and he will come home safely.
And then Pastor Jason said it, “it is okay to ask God the tough questions.”
Yep. We get to do that. We do not understand. We get to be confused. We get to be frustrated. We get to be worried and nervous.
And in all of that, we are loved and cared for by someone who loves us no matter what.
So, with all the questions, with all the uncertainty of this virus and pandemic, with the challenges of working from home, homeschooling and teaching, we have to have something called faith.
Faith over sight.
That is a hard pill to swallow. That is something hard to keep in mind.
But 2 Corinthians 5:7 reads, “We live by faith, not by sight.” (NIV translation)
So we’ve got to have faith, we’ve got to believe, and we have to practice these things like social distancing, hand washing more than ever, limiting our visits to the store, and even social distancing from cars, through screened in porches. We have to believe that it will get better.
And all of these thoughts were going through my head on a Sunday from a small Facebook watch party.
So this past week I have practiced more grace. More laughter. I have learned that sticking to a schedule is good, but sometimes you just need a little Disney Plus in your curriculum. Sometimes you need to cuddle on the couch with your kids. And sometimes, prayer might be the only thing that gets you through.
I don’t know what time I will get to tune in to the SIWC message tomorrow. I hope the early one so I can begin my day with some positivity, music, and love.
I don’t know what my week looks like, but I hope it is taking some time out of the day to get back into a good book and go through those notes.
I don’t know about you, but knowing that there is a plan, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel makes me feel at ease.
I am okay with being 40 and still having the tough questions go through my head.
I am okay with being 40 and still learning the bible.
I know I am going to be okay.
We are going to be okay.
Here’s to a peaceful and relaxing week–following the stay-at-home-order, and social distancing!