Remember “back in the day” when people used to post notes on Facebook? It was a precursor to or perhaps a weak competitor with the blogosphere, I think. My how social media has developed. Well, I came across something I wrote in January 2009. An eternity ago, I’m a little astonished I had such thoughts.
Reflecting on the last several years, some blend together in ebbs and flows barely able to be discerned. Year builds upon year. Challenges and trials fade. For example, 2005 was stable, fairly smooth, and without major valleys. It’s labeled by no remarkable events but by the stage in life- grad school. I file it away as a peaceful year that must be consciously meditated upon to recall specific details. 2008, however, is not likely to be one of those years. Or maybe it will be. Perhaps it’s just a matter of perspective that will change with time.
But for now it’s black and white, in a word, volatile. An honest statement, yet without malice, regret, or bitterness. On the contrary, my heart swells with thankfulness because I see God’s hand moving in distinct ways. Loss and brokenness are the catalysts to something greater.
Most of us don’t wish for sorrow. Rather, we want life to come wrapped neatly in a package with a shiny bow on top. We want everything to go according to the dream plan we have so thoroughly imagined (and in some cases worshiped) that it seems it will surely become reality.
But God who loves his children more deeply than we can fathom, wants us to cling to Him, to the cross–not the “plan.” And sometimes the dream plan must be shattered for us to see beyond ourselves. Loss and brokenness. They are words that often fill with dread and fear, but they are also words that have potential to represent life, love, beauty, repentance, and vision.”
I was writing about the biggest losses I’d experienced to that point. Let me just sum it up for you. There was the loss of a desired GPA (even then I knew it was a trivial thing.) With it was a ridiculous student teaching experience, loss of confidence, and the death of the “star student.” As it turns out, employers don’t really care about a 4.0. I digress.
Later there was the unexpected loss of a job. And then there were the three big ones-my brother’s death, my grandmother’s death, and a broken engagement. These were my first experiences with grief.
Seems like a lifetime since then. And I was right. Perspective does have a way of changing things. 2008 was a difficult year, but it has blended more into the ebbs and flows. And on the heels of 08, came the most lovely years of my life.
Here’s how I concluded that note.
The result time and again was brokenness. And that is the point. For Christians, loss, suffering, and pain drive us to the heart of our Father (if we let them, of course). We seek Him in ways we never would if life remained smooth and peaceful.
In our rebellion, we naturally incline toward independence from our Creator. You see, we all desire to be in control; we just try to do it by different means. We make our own little gods. It is through suffering that we learn obedience, and obedience is a manifestation of love.
Therefore, brokenness is that marvelous place of submission before God. I can’t do this. I need you. Forgive me. Break my plans, and help me to desire You above all. It is the place where we come to the end of ourselves and cling to Him. What a wonderful place it is when we finally say “Ok Lord, my hands are open. Do with me what you will. Loss and Brokenness. Two themes I would never have chosen to mark a year, but also two I would never trade. God desires me to love Him first. Therefore, I’m learning to willingly let go of my own plans. I trade my desires in for His. And He is faithful.”
Who knew 2008 was merely a pebble in the wake of an avalanche? A fracture before the shatter. Yet, I can’t help but praise God for truths that took root even then. How sweet it is to look on words from years ago with deeper experiential understanding and stronger clarity.
Brokenness is submission, but it’s also a saturated, profound realization that God’s plan is better. Even amid times of sorrow, how much JOY there is in God’s better plan.
How marvelous the heart of my Father who shored me up for what was to come! That is matchless grace. God was indeed preparing me for something bigger. Yes, it included deeper sorrow, but it was also the “something bigger” of deeper love and deeper happiness. He is still faithful.
Sometimes dreams must shatter. But He builds better dreams.