#7 Two Simple Words (one of the hardest things about faith), August 2017 (repost)

(Reposted from August 14, 2017)

I was praying today about something that has been bothering me for awhile.  Not knowing what to do about it has been causing me anxiety, nearly daily.  I talk to myself about it over and over again, sorting it out, looking for answers, for guidance, for help carrying the burden.


And in the midst of this mental struggle, I heard two tiny words.


Two tiny words from the very core of my mind, as though God was speaking them to me, whispering quiet comfort …


“Trust Me.”


That’s it … just “Trust Me.”  No other advice or direction.  No specifics.  No glimpse into the big picture.  No promises of anything in particular. 

Just “Trust Me.”


Too often, the future is not ours to know or to control.  The big picture is not ours to see.  The burden will not be lifted before its time. 

But it becomes lighter when we remember two words that God tells us over and over again in His Word … “Trust Me.”


And you know what?

We have the easy part.  We don’t have to know what to do or how to do it.  We don’t have to force things to happen or carry the weight of the world on our shoulders.  He will handle what we can’t handle.  He will straighten the path out.  He will work it all into good.  He sees the big picture and knows the steps we need to take even when the path is dark and unclear and shaky and full of obstacles. 

And all we have to do is trust Him and be still and let Him be God.


I know it’s not easy for broken hearts to trust and to be still and to loosen its grip on life, to get in the passenger seat and hand the wheel over to God.  Sometimes “being still” and trusting Someone Else to care for us is the hardest thing to do. 

And sometimes the problem isn’t that we don’t trust Him; it’s that we don’t trust ourselves.  We don’t trust that we will hear Him properly, that we will be able to discern the right thing to do, that we will have the strength to do it, that we will be able to accomplish anything worthwhile.  Sometimes we don’t even trust that we are worth His time and help and love.



But if He is big enough to create the heavens, to hold the sun and moon and stars in place, to fashion a fully functioning human body out of dust, to cause red tulips and yellow daffodils and delicate butterflies and baby robins to awaken from a barren frozen winter’s sleep every year, to redeem humanity and forgive our sins and invite us back into an eternity with Him in heaven …

then He is big enough to handle our concerns, to guide us in the right path at the right time, to open the right doors and close the wrong ones, to carry us while we carry our burdens, to make something beautiful out of our messes, to use our tiny pathetic efforts to accomplish something wonderful. 

And if He loved us enough to create us and die for us and pursue us all our lives so that we could have a healing, genuine, eternal relationship with Him… then we can trust that we are valuable to Him, that we are loved. 


The thing is … We are loved not because we earn it but because He is love and because He made us out of love. 

We are His … and He loves us! 

And in His love, He wants to guide us in the best life possible.  If only we will trust Him to do it.

    

Our part is to be His children, to wait on Him, abide in Him, pray our concerns over to Him, and obey when He shows us the next step He wants us to take.  

His part is to be God!

And until He reveals the next step, we need only to “be still and know that He is God.”


Sometimes the only instruction we really need from Him is summed up in two simple words:

“Trust Me”

And we don't need to know anything else.  Sometimes, it has to be good enough for us that He is who He is - a good, loving, faithful Father who can be trusted.

And so when I am tempted to panic and to say “But what about this?  And what about that?  And what if … what if … what if …?”, I am going to try saying this instead …

“Yes, I trust You!  I might not trust me, but I do trust You!”


            Psalm 46:1-3, 10:  “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though the waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. . . . Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”


            Matthew 6:25-34:  “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? . . . But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”


            Proverbs 3:5-6:  “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”


            Philippians 4:6-7:  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”


            Psalm 37:7:  “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…”


            Psalm 25:9:  “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way…”


            1 Peter 5:6-7:  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”


            John 15:5:  “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”     


            Romans 8:28:  “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”


            Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”


            Exodus 14:13-14:  “Do not be afraid.  Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”   


            Numbers 11:23:  “The Lord answered Moses, ‘Is the Lord’s arm too short?  You will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.’“  


            Psalm 55:22:  “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”


            Isaiah 26:3:  “You will keep in perfect peace he whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”


            2 Timothy 1:7:  “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love, and of sound-mind.”


            1 John 4:19:  “We love because He first loved us.”


            Isaiah 40:31:  “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” 




Update on my mom, 4/4/19:  My mom had been doing okay for the past week or so.  She seemed hopeful that the stresses that caused her to drink so bad were resolved.  But then this past Sunday, 4 days ago, I got a call at 1 a.m. from my step-father asking me to go pick her up from a hospital that's about an hour away.  She was taken there for alcohol intoxication.  I had no idea she was even in my state.

As I rushed around getting dressed and finding directions, he called back and said she was insisting on taking an Uber back to her hotel room.  So I called the hospital and talked to her and, sure enough, she sounded somewhat fine and was insisting on just hiring a car to take her to her hotel.

Hmm?  Going back to the hotel where you are staying alone?  Where they just found you drunk and unconscious in the hall?  Where you probably have more alcohol?  Not a good idea!

But she insisted, and I was an hour away, and it was the middle of the night.  So I had to let her go.

Four o'clock in the afternoon later that day, I got a call from my mom's friend, who was supposed to meet her for dinner.  She said that my mom won't answer her phone or the door of her hotel room, even though this friend is calling and calling and banging on the door over and over again.

I agreed with her that the hotel staff needed to let themselves into the room, that there could be a medical emergency on the other side of the door.

And sure enough, they found her unconscious on the bed, surrounded by four bottles (a liter each?) of vodka.  Four empty bottles of Tito's vodka.

I drove to the hospital an hour away and found her unconscious, with a puffy face, one eye swollen shut, the other eye opening and closing rhythmically on its own.

With a blood alcohol level of 502!

How is she not dead yet!?!

This is at least the sixth hospital visit for alcohol in a few weeks.  One the night before, and four just a couple weeks ago, all within a week, one night after the next.

Her friend and I stayed by her side for a while as she started to come around - groaning, writhing in pain, squeezing our hands then pushing us away, listening to us pray, moaning loud and painful sounds, sobbing, crying "No, no, no" and other things we couldn't understand.

In the hospital, seeing her swollen face and vacant eyes which basically pointed in two different directions, watching her groan and writhe around in pain, sobbing and sobbing things we couldn't understand, I texted my husband "Pray that she dies."  I don't really want her to die.  I want her to have a good, enjoyable life.  But if the alternative is an endless loop of getting depressed, feeling horrible, drinking herself into unconsciousness to numb the pain, destroying her body and mind and her will-to-live a little more with every hospital visit ... then I'd rather God just take her when she's unconscious one of these times.  Why keep prolonging it?  Why let her suffer over and over again?  How is she not dead yet after at least 6 hospital visits this month?  With blood alcohol levels of 375 and 400 and 502?  All I keep telling God is "Why won't You just let her go!?!  She doesn't want to be here anymore!"

I just don't understand.

Anyway, so her friend and I went to her hotel room, gathered her belongings, dumped the rest of the alcohol, and got some dinner.  Then we went back to see her.  And she looked better.  More alert.  Able to talk.

"I just want to go home," she said.  I told her that I was taking her to my house the next day and that we'd find a way to get her home.  And I drove back home to get some sleep, getting home about 11 p.m.

The next morning, I woke up sick to my stomach - stress sick - and unable to eat.  I just wanted to cry.  I just wanted her to finally end it all.  I didn't want to face the day, to go through another summer like 2016.  I didn't want to have to make any decisions about this.  My neck and shoulders were tight from stress, feeling like a huge metal hand was squeezing the spot between my neck and shoulder and not letting go, making me unable to concentrate, wanting to throw up.  (This is when my cussing starts up again, and when I start playing my music really loudly as I drive, trying to drown out my thoughts.  Dang, I had just started getting my mouth under control again after 2016 ... well, for the most part, at least.)

But I finally put on my "big girl pants" and got in the car and drove to the hospital, more tired than I had ever driven before.  My eyes were literally rolling around in their sockets, trying to close, to get some more sleep.  But I got to the hospital around 9 a.m., and we waited to see if they would discharge her.  She was tired and a bit confused, but more and more like her old self (which kind of made me sad actually, feeling like "Here we go again!  It's all going to start all over again, isn't it?")

I told her that we already checked her out of her hotel room and that I was taking her home with me for the night.  I told her that my brother was flying up to escort her back home on the plane.  She wasn't too happy about that.  She tried to say she'd just take an Uber to a hotel room, that she could get on a plane by herself.  But I wasn't giving her a choice.  He already bought his ticket.  And I had already gathered her things from her room.  And I wasn't leaving the hospital without her.  I would stay until she was discharged.  So we made arrangements for the rental car company to come pick up her rental car from the hotel.

(I am writing all these details for myself, my own "record."  You don't have to read them if you don't want to.)

My brother and mom spent the night, and my husband drove them to the airport the next day.  And I am relieved to know that she is home, back where she belongs.  Back where I don't have to make any decisions about her or to be called to come pick her up from the hospital.  But unfortunately, it all falls on my brother now.  And step-dad, who kind of keeps his distance from it all.

I have no idea what to expect after this.  My guess is that by Friday - tomorrow - I will get another call saying she's in the hospital or a call from her, drunk and sobbing.  I hope not.  I pray not.  But I ... well ... I don't know what to think.  What to hope for.  What to say or do.

And so I reflect on this repost, on the funny timing of this repost (it was already scheduled to be the next in line in this numbered series).  This "Trust Me ... again" from God.

I can't trust her.  I can't trust myself.  I can't trust life.  But I can ... I will ... trust Him!  Even if I disagree with how He's handling it, even if I wish He'd just do what I want, to let her go, to let her be at peace.



What does a life of faith look like sometimes?

Sometimes it looks like this:

Staring out the window one dreary Saturday, not knowing what to pray or how to pray anymore, feeling like too many things go wrong to care anymore, so you finally decide to pray one simple prayer: "Lord, please send some encouragement.  Just a little encouragement.  I could use some encouragement right now," leaving it open-ended enough that God could answer it with any little thing.

But instead, you get a call at 1 a.m. the next morning that your mom is unconscious in the hospital after being found on the floor of a hotel hallway.  And later that day, you're at her side, holding her hand, watching her sob and writhe in pain, and you're praying that she dies so she can be at peace, and you're listening to the heart monitor, waiting for it to flat-line every time she stops moving around, and you expect it all to happen again sometimes soon if she makes it through the night.

But you still choose to cling to God, to say "I trust You, God.  I don't know what's going on anymore.  I don't know what to do anymore.  I don't know what You're doing or why You're doing it.  But I trust You!"

A life of faith isn't always pretty or exciting or polished.  Sometimes it's messy.  Sometimes - like life itself - it's broken.  Sometimes it hurts.  Really badly.  Over and over again.  Sometimes you wish you could just chuck it all and walk away.

But the thing that keeps me going in faith is knowing that this life isn't all there is, that the best is yet to come, that God will work it all towards a glorious ending.  That He can take all the messes and turn them into something beautiful.  Maybe just not on this side of eternity.

Sometimes, I don't have to know what to do or how to do it or how to fix it.  I just have to fall down on Him.  Or maybe get out of His way and let Him do His thing.  I have to stop expecting life to be a certain way and just take it as it comes, one day at a time.  One moment of clinging faith at a time.  One moment of humble obedience at a time.  One moment of reaching out and encouraging another hurting person at a time.  One moment of vulnerable, painful, compassionate, grace-filled love at a time.

And then get up the next day and do it again.  Until God calls us home.

There is so much more to life than the things we can see, than life on this earth.  And all the bad will one day be worked into good.  All the messes will be molded into masterpieces.  All the pain will be healed.  All things will be restored.  The best is yet to come.

I believe that it's true because our Heavenly Father said that it's true ... and because I trust Him!


One of my brothers, the one who flew up, is desperately trying to figure out what to do for her, even sacrificing his job for her, willing to watch her 24/7.  And some of my brothers won't even talk to her right now.  Not until she changes.  And I can understand that.  They are protecting themselves, probably even "punishing" her.  But I don't think it will work.  And I don't think it's right or good to further hurt someone who already hurts so bad that they are trying to drink themselves to death.

I can't fix my mom.  But I can be there for her.  Be a shoulder to cry on.  Make her feel loved and listened to.  I can pray.  I can offer words of support and encouragement.  I can let her know she's not alone, that I understand pain and hopelessness and fear and brokenness.

My advice to my brothers, who are trying to figure out how to deal with our mother:  Find a balance between protecting yourself and doing what you can for her.  Don't shun her or shame her or punish her, but also don't let her take you down with her.  Don't let her problems destroy your life and your family too.  But don't hurt her.  She hurts enough as it is.  She hurts herself more than she hurts anyone else.  And, yes, she needs some "tough love," but she does also just need some regular love right now.  Some "I am here for you, I love you, you matter to me" love.  So if you can help, help.  But if you can't help, then at least do no harm.  Just be there for her.  Be a shoulder.  A listening ear.  A pair of arms to pick her up when she falls again, to hug her, to hold her.  It's not our job to fix her.  In fact, we can't fix her or make her want to do anything she doesn't want to do.  But we can let her know that we love her and are here for her, whatever she chooses to do, even when she makes the same mistakes over and over again.

Isn't that what grace is?  Isn't that what God does for us?



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