Thank you so much to everyone who read and commented on The Ripple Effect last week. I love you guys. Even those of you I don’t know. I am absolutely AMAZED at God. He’s just so beautiful. The way He uses our stories in ways that we couldn’t even imagine. How He can take something tragic and turn it into beauty. Who He chooses to let it speak to. Then, how He uses us as vessels, even at our weakest points, to pass it on. I am so glad He can take me, who was thinking on my drive home from Waco, that I ran the most boring and at times depressing blog ever, and maybe I should just stop it. Then He lets me see you, reader.
At our weakest point is the most surprising part to me, I think. This year is a huge weak point for me. How many times are we thinking, ‘Yeah, I want to do this and this for God, but I just really need to get my act together. I need to be, basically, perfect, before I can do anything for Him.” How backward thinking we are. In our weaknesses, He is strongest.
I also noticed a lot of people talking about what happened to me being their “worst fear”. Yes, yes. Yet another story…ahem.
I had struggled for months last year with the feeling that God was going to “take away my family”. I don’t know why I put “take away my family” in quotes. I just did, and I’m not removing them. Anyway. In the forefront of my mind, I told myself that was silly, because there was no REAL chance that could happen. I mean, nothing bad had ever happened before to me. It’s just that we were sooooo happy. Blissfully happy. So happy maybe it couldn’t or shouldn’t last very long.
The day before Nate died, we went to church with his dad. The lesson in Sunday school was about God’s discipline. How we should look at His discipline as a blessing. He loves you so much, He would put you through the fire. Well, I don’t usually spout off to God. In general, I think that is a terrible idea that one day I will have to answer for…But that day I spouted off to God, “God, I am perfectly happy right now with Nate and Jack. I want your blessings…but I don’t want them if you’re going to take my family away from me.” I was sitting next to Nate in the pew, holding his hand as I said. That was 24 hours before he was taken.
After we had found out about he and his friend’s boat capsizing the next day, and they hadn’t found Nate and were still looking for him, I knew he hadn’t made it. It was just like there was no hope of his being alive for me. I think I threw up a few prayers asking for him to have made it, but, really, for whatever reason, my main prayer was, “Lord, help me to be okay with whatever you are giving me right now. Whether he is alive or with You, You are still good.” People were calling me all day long for updated information, and they would say things like, “Nate’s so strong. Strong men like him don’t just drown. He probably swam to shore and passed out or something…” And they would wait for me to agree with them, like I was going to give them the hope that the worst was not true. But instead, God completely flipped my heart to where I was just telling them, “Whether Nate is alive or dead right now, God is still good. God is still good.” And we would breathe out slowly together, and quietly hang up. How does a 24 year old widow say on the day of her husband’s death, while they are still searching for his body, “God is still good”? I don’t know, but whatever it was, it wasn’t me. On the day that my worst fear became my reality, God broke me of its control.
The miracle He started that day is in so many ways continuing now. I am very content. Yes, I want Nathan back, but He has done so much good in my life and in others through Nate’s death, that I am thankful for it. I think, “Maybe in the long run, when I get to Heaven and see Nate again, this will all have been worth it. Because I cannot see the bigger picture from down here.” And, the most ironic part, I feel more blessed than I did when Nate was here. He chose to give this to Jack and I, because He wanted to make us stronger through it. How stronger? By letting us see our weaknesses and our vulnerability that only leaves room for God’s strength and protection. Ha. But, really, Nate, Jack, and I were equally as vulnerable before November 27th last year. We just didn’t know it.
And, so, yeah, I’ll admit sometimes I worry about things. But, really, my worst fear already happened, and I see that God is bigger than my worst fear. He can turn the worst into good beyond my dreams. Will God take Jack away from me? I fervently hope not, but it’s been brought to my attention that with Him is the safest place there ever was. Will we go homeless one of these days? Maybe. That’s not really the worst thing. Whether I had a home or not will not matter when I die. Jesus was homeless. Will I never marry again? That’s not the worst, although I hope I marry again (and, please don’t make me wait a really long time, Lord). He’ll be my Husband, and Jack’s Father, and provide and protect us no matter whether there is a man in our lives or not. It was just an illusion that Nate ever did.
I remember Nate fearing the last month that he was not significant in his job, and he was not doing a good enough job at providing for us. Yes, God did use him to provide for us. But that was a dumb fear now that we have hindsight, wasn’t it? Whether he made enough money or we even had a house doesn’t even matter now. And it was a dumb feeling to waste enery on when it was always going to work out anyway. Let that be a lesson to those of you who are brought up in our culture to think your worth comes through your ability to provide and your importance is in a stupid job.
Fear. It has no power over us, when we realize it.
Thank You, God.