The pictures that played in my head as I decided that the nudges I had been feeling (and continue to feel) where wonderful visions with happy endings straight out of a Hallmark Channel movie. I envisioned my words bringing comfort to others struggling on their journeys. God wants ME to share what is in my heart and my experiences with others to encourage them! Show others that with God all things are possible and we can overcome anything. Just look at me!
And that is exactly what I am doing today. Looking at myself. Humbling myself. Unfortunately I don’t think I qualify for the role of encourager of others. I am not even an encouragement to myself. So maybe as usual I confused the messages I was getting. I am not supposed to be a light to you, but have you walk with me as I continue to flounder trying to figure out this thing called life.
Have you ever felt like you are caught in the middle of a perfect storm and the winds aren’t letting up? That is me. After years of being married, with both of us working full-time jobs, we still struggle just to get by. There are no savings accounts or investments, very rarely do we splurge on expensive extras (like a massage or new bath towels), and we do not live the American dream in a home that we own.
In fact it is the very opposite. We are renters living in a tiny trailer that is older than both of us. That is what the fruits of our hard labors have afforded us. Fortunately we seem to be able to pay our regular monthly bills on time these days (in the past that hasn’t been the case), but there are definitely no extras of any kind. My student loan debts, taken on under the delusion that my schooling would result in a better tax bracket for us, are constantly looming over our heads.
Drowning in my sorrows sometimes can overshadow me for a couple of days at a time. I wouldn’t say that I am depressed and can’t cope, just down trodden and struggling to find the hidden blessings because I am too busy desperately trying to find a light at the end of this never-ending tunnel.
It never fails. Just when I believe we are on the cusp of gaining at least a piece of security I am swallowed in the storm clouds again. Once upon a time we owned a home, but a six month period of unemployment caused us to lose everything in bankruptcy and we have spent the past ten years trying to recover from that. Last week it seemed like dreams of owning a well-built, comfortable home might soon be a possibility for us again with the help of the Rural Housing program through the USDA. This week that dream is once again threatened. I found out that the portion of my student loans that have been in voluntary forbearance are once again going to go into repayment, and the monthly payment amount is more than the amount of what the mortgage payment would be on the little house we had set our sights on. What’s more, I have exhausted my forbearance, and going forward the loans are no longer eligible for voluntary forbearance.
Granted, in the grand scheme of things, my troubles are small. I am fortunate to live in a country with religious freedom where I am not persecuted and can provide food, clothing, and shelter to my child. I do give thanks for all of the blessings I have received in my life. I really do have a lot to be thankful for and remind myself often. However, in the midst of fighting to survive pay check to pay check I am swept away and overwhelmed. To paraphrase from Anne of Green Gables, I am drowning in the depths of despair. I need a Marilla in my life to remind me that to despair is to turn my back on God, so therefore I should not indulge myself in sulking.
Today I read as part of my morning routine the daily devotion emailed to me by Proverbs 31 Ministries. It was written by Lysa TerKeurst and entitled If You Ever Feel Lonely, Read This. I must admit that I could identify whole heartedly and see myself in this post. I often feel alone, and sometimes even lost in a crowd, especially when I am struggling with the latest saga in trying to find a secure financial path for us. Whether it is a family gathering, a work event, or a church function I can feel oblivious and totally without friends in a room filled with people. Below is the link for this devotion if you are in need of it today as well.
Perhaps what most grabbed me, besides being able to identify with these feelings, was the verse Lysa chose to begin her post with (below from a different translation) that I had never really noticed before. I ache with the Psalmist, seeking the same relief from my own inner turmoil. All these ages later, that cry is the cry of my heart today. I am seeking comfort from the ultimate Comforter and grasping to cling to hope and stand strong in my faith as my world seems to be in chaos again.
So perhaps what is on my heart for you today, my dear friends, is to let you know that you are not alone in your struggles. We are all going through our own set of troubles. In the midst of these storms of life, I am here, praying for you as you row through the crashing waves. Sometimes we just need to know someone is thinking about us to help us press onward, and remember that God never leaves us. We are never truly alone if we live our lives with the help of our Father’s guiding hands. He will captain our ships as we sail through each storm and find calm waters.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart, and bring me out of distress. (Psalms 25: 16-17 – NRSV)