The inspiration for this post came from four places: First, from a series of messages my pastor, Paul Trentacoste, preached this summer. My processing of the truths and insight he shared over several weeks changed the way I view life, and it boils down to what I share in this blog entry and in its “Part 2.”
If you want to hear the series for yourself, you can find it on our church website, www.thepom.org (click Media tab and scroll until you see “The Waves and Wind Still Know His Name” and others after it). If you’re local and looking for a place where you feel safe and where you’ll always know you’re welcome, join us at 625 Lotus Drive North in Mandeville on Sundays at 10:30 am.
Next, I thought about my high school English and Choir teacher, Lisa Pierce, who not only taught me the alto part for the old hymn, It Is Well with My Soul, but who also taught me that I should never settle for giving less than my best. Ever.
My mama. Her words are on a loop in my brain. I’m sorry I made you repeat so many of those words, but today, I am so thankful you didn’t get so tired of saying the same things over and over that you stopped speaking into my life. I needed you then, I need you now and I’ll always need you and your wise words.
And finally, the inspiration for what I’m sharing today came from the pure and gentle and beautiful and anointed way my sweet friend and fellow mama, Veronica Pellow, leads us in worship every Sunday.
So far, I’ve kept my writing light and fluffy, and I’ve considered this post for a few days before deciding to share it. There are pieces of it that made me more aware of some of my vulnerabilities, and I’ve found it’s generally easier to laugh about things than to really acknowledge that I am sometimes vulnerable or that things aren’t always sunshine and roses, but I finally decided, that’s real life, and that’s ok with me. So, for what it’s worth, here it is…
It can be easy to look at others’ pictures on Instagram or Facebook and deduce that their lives are perfect because they appear that way on social media. I post the picture of my child’s smiling face as she walks into a new classroom for the first time without thinking anything else about it, but what that picture doesn’t show is the tears I wiped away moments earlier because she fell and scraped her knee on the way in the door. I’m not saying that the smile on my angel’s face isn’t real or that the moment was staged or that the picture isn’t absolutely adorable. I love to see pictures of my friends and their kids and families smiling, happy, and having fun. I’m just saying that although a picture is worth a thousand words, there are probably more than a thousand words that could be used to describe what is sometimes really going on behind the smiles.
I’m acknowledging that, while I really am so blessed and so thankful for the life God has given me to live, I simply do not have it all together, and there are definitely days that all I can see is a big mountain in front of me (and I don’t just mean a big mountain of laundry). We all face obstacles in our lives that, at first glance, appear to be insurmountable. And, if I’m not careful, I can forget to see past my friends’ smiles and ignore the silent screams that can come with feeling like a situation is hopeless.
My hope with this post is twofold: I pray that if you are feeling hopeless, you will be reminded that God’s Word never fails. His promises are true. Always. He hasn’t forgotten where you are, and you matter to Him. Also, be encouraged to reach out. If we judge people based solely upon their social media postings, we may never know when they might need someone to ask them if they’re ok.
Bethel’s It Is Well has been on repeat for me lately, and not just because I’m a little bit obsessive about learning the alto part since we’re doing it with our worship team at church. If you haven’t heard it, it’s worth a listen, especially when my girl, Veronica, is leading it. The lyrics of this updated version of the old hymn have resonated with me and given me peace when I haven’t been able to see how God was going to work out the details of my life.
Our faith can falter when we can’t see how God could possibly turn around the situations in which we find ourselves and work them for our good. Doctor after doctor tells us x, y, and z is wrong with us, and we try a, b, and c, and nothing works. We apply for job after job, and our resume just keeps getting chunked into the trash. All we want is a baby, and we keep getting invitations to everyone else’s baby showers. We’ve searched and searched for years for a mate, and that rose just isn’t unfolding. We’ve got more bills than dollars and nothing else is due to show up in the income column any time soon. When situations like these persist, and when our faith runs dry, it can be hard to keep believing. But, through it all, no matter what happens, we always have hope. We always have help.
Psalms 121:1-2 says, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord…” Don’t focus on the current situation. Don’t focus on what seems impossible. Don’t try to figure out how you are going to solve the problem. Lift up your eyes. Look unto Jesus. The words that my mama has repeated to me in situations ranging from “should I major in Nursing or do Pre-Med?” to “is this the guy I should marry?” sometimes echo in my mind as I am trying to figure out what I should do in response to some of the junk I encounter. She often says, ”When you don’t know what else to do, stand still. In the absence of clear direction, keep doing what you know to do, and wait on the Lord to open the right doors and close the wrong ones.”
Stand still. Don’t look to the right or to the left. Look up. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and remember He cares where you are. If your eyes stay fixed on Him, it doesn’t matter what the water all around you does. You won’t sink.