This week I met an old woman named Ellie. She was almost 90 years old and she was very, very sad. She expressed how she no longer had a place in the world and she just wanted to scream. She could not be happy with less than what she used to be able to do. She can no longer work because of several health issues, and even if her health gets better, no one will hire an 80-something yr old woman. She felt helpless, hopeless, agitated and so sad. To comfort her, someone chimed in and said, “Ellie! We all feel that same way... You think you’re the only one?” She mentioned how her phychiatrists say that she is upset because of anxiety, and they try to label what she is feeling. This makes her upset, but not nearly as upset as when everyone tells her to get over it.
The people around us started to feel bad for me because this woman was venting for a long time... Instead of feeling awkward, I saw it as a divine appointment.
I looked at her and sighed.
I told her I cannot imagine what it is like to be in her shoes. I can however, speak to what helped me when I was in a situation that made me feel the way she was describing. I explained that believe it or not, I had had a terrible accident. I was dauntingly told by professionals I would never be able to have a job due to accident reprocussions. I was unable to read after 5 minutes due to double-vision and dizziness/nausea, and had many physical limitations. I went on an described the limitations that I had, and the lack of hope that’s doctors had in my future. I had worked so hard, and it was all gone. The worst part was that according to some doctors, no amount of work I put in moving forward would change the situation. I was stuck and felt like I was suffocating. I shared some more details about that time in my life when I looked at the past (what I used to be able to do) and the future (what I will never be able to do (unless there is a SHOCKING MIRACLE which there WAS - see blog post “Healing”)). I remember wanting to scream. I remember wanting nothing to do with my life if it would not look like how it used to, or how I envisioned it to look in the future. For me, and evidently for Ellie, our purpose in this world was gone. Our worth to others was taken away.
Realizing that was a lie saved my life. The truth is that as long as God has me on earth, I have purpose and infinite worth, no matter my condition. I do not need what I do not have in order to fulfill God’s plan for my life. I do not need what I used to have in order to fulfill God’s plan for my life.
Looking at the past or looking at the future that that time was daunting, frustrating, saddening, depressing, shocking, heartbreaking, and many other negative emotions. I prayed and prayed for God to take the injury away. Instead of taking away the injury, He traded anxiety for peace making the situation much less difficult. How? By calling me to live moment by moment.
Matt left this devotional on my voicemail at 3am on January 9, 2014. Little did we know, this would lay a foundation for the following years and potentially the rest of my life...
From the Jesus Calling devotional on January 9:
“I am with you and for you. When you decide on a course of action that is in line with My will, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop you. You may encounter many obstacles as you move toward your goal, but don't be discouraged--never give up! With My help, you can overcome any obstacle. Do not expect an easy path as you journey hand in hand with Me, but remember that I, your very-present Helper, am omnipotent.
Much, much stress results from your wanting to make things happen before their times have come. One of the main ways I assert My sovereignty is in the timing of events. If you want to stay close to Me and do things My way, ask Me to show you the path forward moment by moment. Instead of dashing headlong toward your goal, let Me set the pace. Slow down, and enjoy the journey in My presence.”
(English Standard Version)
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
(New King James Version)
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah (It is well)
(English Standard Version)
For nothing will be impossible with God.
I learned the way to have purpose in trials is to not worry about the future or the past. Instead, ask God what He is asking me to do RIGHT now, making the most of every opportunity. This forms a trust bond of faith that God will walk me through the future in peace, as He is in this moment. Some days the only thing He asked me to do was pray for someone that He put on my mind. Some days He asked me to do things that were wayyyyy out of my comfort zone. As I acted in obedience, God spoke into my life affirming my purpose and worth.
I believe that when we get to heaven we will see that our purpose was a mix of 1,000s of little strokes that create a big picture, rather than one big glob of paint.
Moment by moment dependence on God is so valuable, and I do not want to get out of that mindset. It gives me a solid foundation because life can change in an instant. Even though it is easy get excited and start planning my way through life again now that I am miraculously healed and doing well, I am trying to keep a healthy balance. This poses an interesting idea when planning my future career-wise, where I will live, planning a wedding, etc. I LOVE being able to make plans with Matt about our future together, but am trying not to let that take precedence over the purposes of today.
Planning is necessary, but too much dreaming of the future (or looking back) pulls me away from daily impact and growth.
I was already writing this post before I met Ellie. Through our conversation, I saw how a very intense lesson I learned from God, was able to touch the lives of others. Ellie’s comments of how my story healed her “greatly”, reaffirms the call I have continue to follow Christ moment by moment.
I am prayerfully planning for the future without derailing the purposes of today.