Friday, April 26, 2013

My Story of Joy (Complete)

I grew up in the church. I used to joke with friends that I didn’t find God because He was never lost. I don’t joke so much about that these days. Though God is always there we get lost, often and sometimes thoroughly.

I accepted Jesus in to my life at a very young age, but it was at the age of 14 that the Holy Spirit pulled me out of my pew, walked me down the aisle and in a cascade of tears tell our preacher I wanted to be baptized. That day my life became more focused. I was not just trying to live right for me, but for God. It made life so much easier during the teen years. And when I started up a friendship with Tommy in college we didn’t stop to analyze whether marriage at such a young age was a good idea, we just knew it was. And though it was tough we stepped out in faith knowing that income, education and our vast differences didn’t matter. God could make all things possible.

And He did. We struggled, but we never faltered. Life was pretty easy for us. Never were we rich or successful in the eyes of the world, but we were happy, our bills were paid and within 6-months of marriage we were in the house we’d live in for 10-years. We made a lot of memories in that house, but sadly not a single one involved church. We had the mindset that we didn’t need a church home.
…and then the miscarriage came.

Having married at 20 we both agreed that we wanted 10-years to travel and learn about each other. So we packed up our car with just a map and a general idea of where we were going, but nothing really planned out. During those years we saw the 48-contiguous states and learned more about each other than many will in a lifetime. It was amazing and something I’d recommend to any married couple.
So at the age of 30 we decided it was time for children. It didn’t take long to get pregnant but at 8-weeks I miscarried and I’ll never forget a friend asking us; “Why would God do that to y’all.” And my immediate response was, “Because we’re not in control, and sometimes we need a reminder of that.” I wasn’t sure where that came from but knew it was time to find a church.

So we did, and a few months later we were baptized together; me for the second time, him for the first and life quickly changed. That same month I became pregnant with our now 9-year old daughter. Life seemed to be only getting better, especially when we moved into our dream house and my job had relocated to a nicer part of town. But then I prayed and instead of trying to get God to fit in to my plans He changed mine. The woman who never dreamed of staying home was told to.

I fought Him for 6-months but finally gave up one morning during my commute. My favorite song was playing when a tow truck pulled out in front of me with crossbars and a long red towel wrapped around it. Just like you see at many churches on Easter Sunday and his bumper sticker simply read, “Come Follow Me”. As Nichole Nordeman’s song Brave played… I cried. That day I would type up a resignation letter to my boss stating that God was leading me home. After 12-years with the company I was stepping out in faith.

Like many Christians I just assumed that as long as I followed God everything would work out. How wrong I was. Everything became tougher, bills harder to pay. Things we never argued about we started to argue about. People I loved questioned if I had done the right thing but no one ever questioned Tommy and if he was doing what God wanted.

Two and half years into our struggles he decided to ask God what his part in this change was and within a month he was leaving his job of 14-years, we were selling our dream house along with most of our belongings, and moving into our 27’ RV. We moved 3-hours away from our hometown, in the middle of nowhere, with just a promise of a job and plans we weren’t sure were ours or God’s. Leaps of faith don’t come with guarantees.

I call that time the Wilderness. One night, after about a year in the RV, we were talking in hushed voices, trying not to wake up our daughter; Tommy said he was just waiting for the boils. That life was so trying and everything falling apart that he knew he was being punished. I had just had a miscarriage that nearly killed me at 12-weeks and he was working 3 jobs, none steady. I joked that we must be in the wilderness just like the Israelites when they weren’t allowed to enter the city for 40-years. And then I went into hysterical laughter. Tommy thought I had lost my mind until in a fit of giggles I explained, “The Wilderness! Scrolled on the front of our RV in 12” letters it spells out the Wilderness.”

It would take a few more months, a husband who saw my depression and took over everything and yet another leap of faith. But today we sit in our tiny house, in our small west Texas town with our artistic 9-year old daughter and energetic 3-year old boy/girl twins and a new outlook on life. Without struggles we’d not know what joy is. We’d probably walk right past it thinking we deserved it or earned it when in fact it’s a gift. Something that should never be taken for granted and always cherished.  Joy is God’s reminder of what the next life holds.

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