The fog is lifting.
I can see a few more feet ahead of me on this journey I've been on. My steps feel more sure. More natural. More...dare I say it? Normal. I've found a rhythm that fits our new life and things are good. The dark doesn't seem quite as penetrating. The ground isn't as unsteady. What lies just around the corner isn't nearly so menacing as it once seemed in all its mysterious unknowns.
No, things are not perfect. The circumstances I find us in are not what I wanted or ever would have chosen for us. Not at all. And yet, things are good. So very good.
Every now and then I start to sigh with relief that surely, surely, I've learned all there is to learn about divorce and navigating life as a single parent. Surely I've reached the end of some aspects of divorce. Right, God? My journal is full of documented lessons and summaries of some of the things I've come to understand.
And yet there are still so many lessons God has yet to teach me. One of them being this one: BE. STILL. AND. WAIT.
Perhaps the hardest lesson of all for everyone, I suppose.
In the last four years, I have taken every opportunity I can find to tell my daughters what Jesus says about us. Namely, that we are valuable, prized daughters of God, regardless of what other names we bear. Star softball player or just the girl on the bench? Great. Straight A student or straight C student? Okay. Successful healthcare administrator or working nights at a fast food joint? Doesn't matter. Miss, Mrs., or Ms.? Of no significance.
None of these matters, I tell them, because our circumstances, our titles, and our standing with society does not make one hill of beans difference in how Jesus delights in us. It's just like so much wrapping paper on a gift. Might look nice and make for a good presentation, but really it can just get in the way of the actual gift.
And WE, you and me and all those who call Jesus Lord, are the gift. By some mysterious, unbelievable reality that I can't comprehend, WE are the gift that the Lord delights in. Not because we're anything special or because we've just been so adorable He couldn't help but love us. Nope.
Because He just wants to.
This Easter weekend is a different kind for me than I've ever experienced as a parent. I'm having to remind myself that my circumstances do not my value dictate. It will be the first time since becoming a parent nearly 14 years ago that I won't have my children with me. There won't be any Easter baskets waiting on Sunday morning for eager young girls to discover. No worshiping and celebrating together at a Bible-believing church. No sharing of this most special of holidays with my girls by my side and surrounded by other believers as we remember His glorious victory over our sin and death.
(look how small they were!Easter 2009)
I'm grateful to be able to truthfully say that I'm not distraught, not in despair, but definitely still waiting to see how God will continue to redeem this story. He's not finished with us yet, I'm convinced. But this year I feel a bit stuck in the day before.
The day before Jesus came out of that grave once and for all, that is. The day when the tears and confusion of Jesus' followers were all that could be seen. How could any of them make sense of what had happened? This was NOT the plan. What were they supposed to do NOW? Had everything been for nothing?
Yep. The in-between can really stink.
I have some awesome friends. One of them, who has also experienced the road of divorce and single parenting, reminded me that we often try to skip over the day before. We just want to get to the good part of the story. We want the resolution without really stopping to reflect on the pain of the day before. We don't want to think about the devastation Jesus' followers must have experienced. Who wants to imagine how very dark and hopeless and lost they must have felt? Not me.
I have another awesome friend. This one is walking thru what I recently experienced - the weird, somewhat surreal occasion of knowing that somewhere, her ex-husband is getting re-married. We're talking DECADES of being married to a man and now having to imagine (as much as you desperately try to avoid it) him promising to someone else what he promised to her. It's weird. It's sad. It's like hearing the finality of dirt being tossed onto a coffin in the ground. The one thing you thought you couldn't survive actually coming to fruition.
That's the day before, my sister.
And actually, we are ALL living in the day before in some ways. We're waiting to see how God will redeem things that seem beyond hope. We're wondering if He really meant all those things He said. We're watching for the first sign that there could be another part of the story yet to be told.
What if Jesus WANTS us to sit here, in the day before, and just be still? Will we rush past it to get to the good part?
The longer I walk this road of single parenting and healing from a painful story, the more I am convinced that we HAVE to sit for a while in the day before in order to more fully be enraptured by the miracles of the coming day.
The day before. It's dark and lonely and scary. It can seem endless as the weight of all the brokenness feels as if it will crush us into powder. It causes us to sit still, motionless because there's nothing we can do to speed things up.
And that's when we hear it. We hear the faint whisperings of the One who has been with us in this dark day before all along. We feel the gentle breeze on our faces as we look ahead, straining to see if there is hope in the distance. And suddenly, even in the darkness and heavy weight of the day before, we find rest.
Because Jesus IS there with us in the day before. We just can't see His face or touch His hands and feet. But He IS there. And He is waiting, oh so eagerly waiting, for the moment when the Father turns and says to Him, "it's time. The day before is over. Go get 'em and bring 'em home."
What in your life feels like it's still the day before? What are you still waiting and trying to believe and wondering if you really heard Jesus right? Where are you trying to feel your way thru the dark and stumbling and trying to get ahead of where He has put you?
Let's sit for a while, friends. Someday I know the day before will be no more in our lives.There will be no more getting out the calendar to figure out when a mother or a father get to have their children with them. There will be no more sitting in a room for hours as a toxic chemical is put into your body in hopes of fighting a cruel disease. No more tears of disappointment because someone deeply wounded you. No more lies from the enemy telling you that you aren't enough. No more regret over poor decisions. No more hiding of the same of addictions you just can't overcome or carrying painful secrets.
The promised hope of perfect peace and acceptance and fulfillment and healing will be reality. Oh, it will be better than we can dare to imagine.
But we don't get there without Saturday, the day before. So for now we sit here with Jesus,Who understands and sympathizes with us in every way and encourages us to keep going. One step at a time. Cheering us on so enthusiastically that we can't possibly deny His love for us. So let's hold to what we know is truth and lean into the One Who never leaves our side as we walk our journey in the day before.
He often does His best work in our hearts in the day before. In fact, He ALWAYS does His best work while we're sitting, waiting and trusting that He's up to something. Because HE IS. So we will just carry on with wherever He's put us for our good and His glory.
If the grave was no match for Jesus, what possibly could be? Nothing about our day before circumstances, whatever they may be. We can count on it. .