“Yesterday, life was so simple,
Today, it is so complicated,
and tomorrow, if and when it comes,
Holds something quite mysterious,
Possibly bringing with it, more problems, or complications.
Yet I will not fret,
But stand in faith in the Lord,
For He will surely guide me,
Through any hardships I encounter,
And through whatever troubles befall me.
So in His strength,
I will battle against
Whatever attempts to get me down;
and override it with love, joy, and peace,
Which I will receive, from the Lord.” –Belinda Mah
I have spent the last weeks moving to a new state and unraveling my old life out of cardboard boxes and brown paper, trying to make it fit comfortably into this new land of peaches and pecans. As I was unpacking, I came across some old journals of mine. In 1982, I had been so moved by this poem written by Belinda Mah, that I penned it into my journal. Now, as I read it, I was reminded of the comments my son had written in my previous blog post. You see, he had made some rather raw comments, and he also noted that he was interested in memories and thoughts that resonated with me as a young person.
I wondered then , if he thinks I led a rebellious crazy adolescence , riddled with partying and social experiences in my college years. Little does he know what a straight arrow I truly was, and how I was ridiculed for it in those years, and how it didn’t bother me in the least. I had sold my life out to Jesus in every aspect and I was not ashamed. Everything was so straightforward and simple. I saw what the effect of over-indulging in alcohol had on my older brother, and I was not interested.
I grew up in modest circumstances, and finances were a strain for my parents. We always had enough and we always knew that my parents loved us. We could depend on them to help us out when we needed; as long as what we needed was within reason and within the family budget. When it was necessary for me to apply to college after high school, I did not know what I wanted to do with my life, and deadlines for college applications were approaching. So, I did what I had learned to do; I talked to God, and I let Him know, that I needed to know, what I should do with the rest of my life. In my naiveté , I believed an answer to that prayer would come. Then, one day, my dad came home from the dentist after having his teeth cleaned, and he said, “That would be a good job for you, my dear!” That was it. I decided that was my answer, and armed with that, I made an appointment with my high school guidance counsellor and told him I was going to be a dental hygienist. It was a program which accepted only 12 applicants at each of three colleges in the province I lived in, and each college had 1500 applicants, so of course he tried to persuade me to apply to a different program. I insisted I had prayed about it, and this was an answer to prayer…I’m sure that poor man thought I was a nut case. I really did not take the time to understand how impossibly slim my chances were of getting into dental hygiene school were at that time. Miraculously, I was accepted at two of the three colleges I applied to.
Tuition for this program was not extremely high, but it was high enough that my parents could not afford to pay what was required to send me to school the following fall. My grades were good, but because I had applied to a community college and not a university, I had not applied for any scholarships, nor were any available to my knowledge. I was devastated, and I attended my graduation ceremony with a heavy heart, thinking I would not be able to go to school the following fall. Still, I continued to pray, hoping for a miracle. Imagine my surprise when I received two unexpected scholarships at my graduation ceremony; exactly the amount I needed to pay my tuition for my first year of college. God is good, and He answered many simple prayers for me in those years of my youth; these were just two examples. These are just a couple of memories that resonated with me as I read some of my early journal entries from years ago.
It wasn’t until much later in life, as an adult, when I was hurt by people who professed to love God, but later I learned were blinded by their own self -interests, that I started to question everything I had been taught about God by the church. I even questioned His existence, but blessedly , I have come to realize that He is real; He is just not who I thought He was, and He loves me. I don’t have to be perfect; I am screwed up, and He loves me anyway. That is where grace comes in and it is beautiful.
These days, I get tired so easily. This move to Atlanta. has just drained me and squeezed me in ways I could not have thought possible. I love to be here, but I just can’t imagine a time when every cardboard box and every piece of brown paper will be gone and everything will be in its place. In the old days, when our family re-lcoated in a move such as this, I think I can honestly say that everything was in its place in less than 2 weeks. What is happening to me? It has been almost a month, and I am still not done. The move itself was agonizing. Things are not falling into place as quickly for me as far as my job goes. I am tired. I am worn out.
“Today, it is so complicated”, but I will wait for God’s timing. I can use this time to pray, not just for myself, but for my children. It is a difficult world that they need to navigate, and I do not envy the blurry lines that separate right from wrong, that I could not even imagine when I was their age.
I love both of my children and I have a heart for young people, but today, I bless my son, and I pray for love, joy and peace for him, as he finds his way. I pray that he will learn to listen for the soft, gentle Whispering in the desert.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” -Isaiah 55:8,9
“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out-plans to take care of you, not to abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” -Jeremiah 29:11-14 The Message
*art credit J. Pieniniemi