It’s fine. I’m fine. It is the canned reply I give when encountering a casual acquaintance who has asked me how I am doing. In response, I inquire the same about them and usually receive a similar acknowledgement. Small talk ensues, and then we both move on with our day. For those who know me at a deeper level, when asking the same question, will hear my I’m fine and know I am really NOT fine. They will likely dig deeper to discern what is really going on in my life. Recently I scored a mask (to add to the supply of masks for daily COVID-19 prevention), and it reads, “I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything‘s fine.” I wear it as a way to be somewhat tongue and cheek with those whom I meet. But it’s more than just for fun. Wearing it also assists in convincing myself of the validity of its message. You see, everything is NOT fine. I am NOT fine.
It is a strange time in which I find myself. My life has changed so much this year, as have the lives of many. The pandemic shows no signs of slowing. Racial tension continues to spark protests across the globe. Political polarization in an election year is forming divides between family and friends. And, I continue to find myself in this time of isolation, with grief just at the periphery of my being. All of these result in my being anything but fine. Oh, how I long to be fine again. But I realize that I am now living in the new normal of my life, and things will be less fine then they were pre-pandemic…..before my husband died.
What am I to do since my life is no longer fine? How am I to cope when I long to scream at the world, nothing seems right anymore? How do I pick up the pieces of this new life I am living, and make it fine again? The best I can do is find my personal center. It is the place where the Creator dwells, and where I find rest in the shelter of God’s arms. There are times though, that I first try to deal with these hard things all on my own accord. Most times it doesn’t work out very well, and I am left in an even more difficult situation. Eventually I return to the Creator, once I have realized I cannot muster enough strength on my own.
There are times though, that as I am navigating the challenges by myself, that I turn to the secular world. Watching television shows seems like a good escape. Then I realize the neat and tidy storyline will be resolved by the end of the episode, and my life continues to be a mess. So I seek out the wisdom of social media and again, am disappointed. I find I get stuck by the shallow platitudes of faith that float across social media or are spoken person to person. Even when my heart knows that people speak these things from a place of love, the words grate on my psyche, like fingernails on a chalkboard.
One of my least favorites is, “God only gives you what you can handle.” Does anyone else think that is a whole lot of malarkey? Thinking God really gives us these hard things? Or do these hard things just happen, and God calls us into a deeper level of trust to get through the issues that are too difficult to manage? I tend to believe that God doesn’t make things happen to me, punishing me for some indiscretion. Rather, I believe the Creator shows up in the arduous things and guides me through them. The alternative is this, if I start to believe that God deliberately dumps awful things on me, then it will lead me to losing my way again.
In my work and daily life, I have found some people have lost their faith during this difficult time. I can’t help but wonder if they have lost it because they have forgotten where to put their trust. I wonder, are the things that are not fine overwhelming them so much, they don’t know where to turn? The learning curve for me has been steep; the only way to really handle all that comes at me is to ask the Creator to come alongside. To guide me through days that weigh heavy on me, and lately, seem to be getting worse, not better. So I choose to cling to the rock, and it has made all the difference.
“Those with sound thoughts You will keep in peace,
in peace because they trust in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord is a rock for all ages.” -Isaiah 26: 3-4 (CEB)
The bottom line is, I will be fine. It won’t be due to my own efforts, but because I know where to place my trust. The Creator cares for me more deeply than anyone else, and will journey even through the hardest days with me.
Friends, I realize the things going on in your lives may seem like they are too much for you. You may feel like you have lost your faith. I challenge you to “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord is a rock for all ages.” (Isaiah 26: 4) The Creator’s presence is never-ending. Simply turn your heart towards the God of Love, and allow God to walk with you through the trials and tribulations of your life. The Creator won’t wave a magic wand and make everything perfect, just like the Creator doesn’t bring on the awful things. However, the Creator does promise that if we trust, we will experience God's peace from moment to moment. Open your heart to the One who wants to journey with you, and bring you peace and hope.
Creator God, thank You for bringing me from yesterday to today, even though there have been some challenges along the way. I pray You will do that every day. When my trust begins to wane, please nudge me back into Your presence so that peace and hope will permeate my days. Amen.
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