I received a text message from a dear loved one yesterday. He and his wife are thinking about selling their beautiful home in order to move to a smaller, one-story home. With their increasing health issues, they are becoming unable to maintain the property and live comfortably. After putting so much love, money and hard work into the home, the decision is gut-wrenching for them both. The memories and the joys of living there have blessed them richly. Their grief is immense.
His text reminded me of the decisions Jim and I had made after my cancer and his open-heart surgery. We eventually made several difficult decisions, all related to simplifying our lives: leave our ministry positions, sell our home, reduce our belongings, move to a different state, and rent an apartment. For me, the grief was less about selling our home, but more about ending my ministry. I had finally received the opportunity I’d dreamed of for so long: serving as the youth and education coordinator in our loving congregation, teaming with Jim, who was serving as pastor. Less than a year later, I learned I was ill… and a month later, Jim learned he had an aortic aneurysm.
There is an extra heartache when we make decisions or life changes that aren’t freely chosen; those decisions made because of circumstances beyond our control. What might actually be a “happy choice” in a different situation becomes a “what do we do now?” choice… and we feel as if it is unfair. Even if it is good. Had Jim and I decided to make these changes as healthy people at retirement age, the choices would have felt right, good, and even exciting. The timing and the reasons for our decisions are what make them bittersweet.
I’m trying to learn to embrace what is… and to find the blessings despite the reasons. My friend, Lisa, says, “It is what it is… and it’s all good!”* We have experienced many joys and blessings since our move. We are content and happy. We remember our previous life with tears and smiles, holding the moments in our hearts forever. But I have been incredibly surprised by this new joy and peace I have- joy and peace beyond my imagining, beyond the potential good we had even tried to anticipate!
Life is often difficult. Choices are difficult at times, too. But in all things, God works for good. Today my heart is grateful for all of the good I have seen, experienced and felt during some very challenging times and difficult decisions. If we embrace it all- every life moment of joy or grief, challenge or ease, health or illness- and allow “what is” to bless us, we will find God working for good.
Even on our darkest path, there is always light ahead. There is always beauty to be noticed. There are always companions to be found for the journey. There is always an inner GPS saying, “recalculating, rerouting” for our detours. There are always discoveries to be made.
There is always hope in our hearts, perhaps yet to be uncovered.
There is always God, our very-present help.
Peace and joy to you today.
*If you haven’t read Lisa Schuster’s book, Just As He Is Right Now: A Mother’s Memoir on the Price of Freedom and the Power of Hope, I encourage you to do so! (www.matthewdrakestory.com.)