By Tamra Dalbey
What an unforeseen, trying time these past years have been. It has been a terribly wearying season of life… but one that has caused so much purpose and growth in both me and my husband. A priceless time of refining. Painful, but so valuable.
One of our daughters has a form of Asperger’s, which makes things challenging. And our other daughter has a really tough time living with her sister. They are such sweet kids by themselves, but often when their powers are combined it can go crazy wrong… real quick. Many moms can relate to this, but I feel like our girls are sometimes “next level”. (And we have a two-year-old boy. Ha! Believe me, he’s the easy one! For now anyway…)
I thought I had peace. I thought I had joy. I thought I was pretty patient. I had never been an angry person. The longer I live, the more I’m made aware of my multiple fails. The reality: I am a weak person who is unable to be loving or represent Love on my own.
I cannot tell you of the anxiety, fear, numbness and brokenness I have gone through. Seriously, all the stretch marks and varicose veins of motherhood have nothing on the deep seated wounds my heart has in raising these challenging kids.
We have a God who leaves the healthy 99 for that 1 lost sheep.
I have spent years of my Christian life as an emotionally lost sheep. I was saved but lacking in my understanding of Christ’s true character. In searching through the gospels, and through the Holy Spirit’s leading, I started to notice a different tone to the Lord’s voice. I used to hear His words with more disapproval and disappointment (a very man-made view from my earliest church experiences, no doubt). Now I see His unrelenting grace. One that is based on His performance, not mine. He loves when I’m fresh out. He forgives without limits (when I can’t even forgive myself). His kindness is overwhelming.
My first love with Jesus was something special, but pales in comparison to the Jesus I now know.
He has found me.
And He’s used the hardest part of my life to draw me closer and deeper. God has used my sufferings and weaknesses to do a work in me. Not only has He changed me, but he has changed the way I parent. Our kids kinda have new parents now. Never going to be perfect, but His grace is contagious. His joy is contagious.
He has the strength I can’t manufacture in desperate times, through panic attacks and strong spiritual attacks. All the hair loss, heart palpitations and anxiety that occur from living with chronic stress are no match for the work going on deep within my soul. Hell is angry. But Christ has the victory. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16).
I’m learning it is no longer enough to just lean on Jesus, I am now more aware than ever (especially through my trials) that I must be completely carried by Him. It’s not enough for me to “press in” – what I really need is a piggy back. When I cast my cares, my very self upon Him, His yoke for me is made easy; His burden made light.
We worship a God who is not content to leave us in our comfort. He isn’t afraid to have us sacrifice our comfort on the alter… much like Abraham was asked to offer up his son Isaac. How mind blowing it must have been for Abraham: the agonizing thought of killing his long-awaited son, and then how God supplied such complete deliverance at just the right time. I know that the testing of our faith through fiery times will provide us with something invaluable.
My life has been altered. When I come to His altar, where the Lamb was given, He who has overcome breathes in me His victory. All the garbage I endured that day becomes so small when my attention is on the Prince of Peace.
To anyone who feels like they are getting repeatedly hammered without a minute to regroup and heal: I encourage you to embrace your cross, just as Jesus did. Our crushing isn’t without his careful intent. I am reminded of Joseph in the pit and imprisoned. His suffering lasting year upon year… yet he proclaimed at the end of his trial that the evil done against him “God had intended for good.” Know that this time will produce in you a depth that cannot be taken. It is lasting and eternal… and so, so personal. Jesus has found you, you are His beloved. He will not leave you in your current state, but desires to change you into something more beautiful and God-glorifying.
Every Sunday afternoon my husband goes to an assisted living home where he leads a Bible study. He goes there because he knows that God wants to bring life to those who are weak and so close to death. That their eyes might be opened for the first time after a lifetime without God; or for those already believers, to go deeper in their understanding of God’s heart. Many of them are in the loneliest season of their lives. God has a heart for them, He is in a fight for them.
God wants to bring life to our dead places. Look what He did with Sarah’s barren womb, with Elijah and the valley of dry bones, for Lazarus. Through His goodness, He resurrects our dead situations. And not just to life – but to good life. He is the lifter of our heads, and countenances. I think of those healed by Jesus and how affected they were, “walking, and leaping, and praising God!”
When I feel lifeless… He alone takes this corpse and does a miracle. He is our hope.
Hallelujah for a King who has called us His children – yet gives these weak kids His strength to become warriors. The Resurrection and the Life, who is like Him?!