He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength~ Isaiah 40:29-31a
For the most part my son was a sweet and obedient little boy. However, there was one area he struggled throughout his childhood. Alex was (and is now) a kid who routinely spoke his mind, irrespective of the appropriateness of the situation.
When Alex was six my husband took him to a local home improvement store where he saw a man dressed as a woman for the first time. Alex stared at the man for just a second or two, gave a slight nod, as if he had made his mind up about something significant and then loudly declared that if men were going to wear dresses they ought to at least shave their legs. Alex charmed everyone within earshot with his thoroughly naïve but straightforward appraisal of the situation, including the man wearing the dress.
My son’s inclination to boldly speak his mind was not limited to the questionable wardrobe choices of others. Nor did it start when he was six. It started in early toddlerhood. To my utter horror, He would routinely ask total strangers the most personal questions imaginable. He also made a regular habit of informing the parents of other children when he felt their kids were misbehaving. He was notorious for correcting or contradicting any opinion he believed to be based on misinformation.
Regardless of the age or person giving the opinion.
As awkward, embarrassing and downright irritating all that was, nothing matched the level of humiliation I felt when my son would decide was ready to leave a gathering or a play date. Once he made-up his mind that he had enough fun for the day, he would approach me (he never once did this privately) and announce loudly, he was “done” and “ready for it to be over”. Once my initial inclination to hide under the furniture passed, I was typically overwhelmed with a very un-motherly yearning to murder my own offspring. For nearly a year of his childhood most of our outings ended with a lengthy lecture on the importance of not actually saying everything we think or feel (Proverbs 17:27).
Alex’s desire to be done with any situation he wasn’t enjoying anymore was maddening. However, I get it. Sometimes grown-ups are done with a situation or trial long before God has decided it’s time for us to move on.
Lately, I have found myself saying some things to God that sound remarkably like the things my toddler used to say to me.
It is not as if the trials we are experiencing have been the worst thing that’s ever happened to anyone. We have a great deal to be thankful for. We have a steady income, our kids are healthy, none of them are currently using drugs or openly rebelling against God, we have a roof over our heads and food on the table. My husband and I are healthy and our marriage is solid.
In other words all the stuff that really matters in this life is still okay in our world.
All that said, having a house sitting on a stagnant market for the better part of a year has been hard. Our lives are currently on hold. Our youngest is struggling emotionally. Living apart has been tough (to say the least) and after eight months of paying for two households and plane tickets for visits our checking account could use CPR. However none of those issues compare to the spiritual bewilderment we have experienced as we waited for God to act on our behalf.
There have been many times over the course of the last eight months when I have felt as if we were being tested (and failing badly). I now know I was wrong, at least about the testing part. We have been reading the situation all-wrong. It’s not a test.
It’s an opportunity.
Like any trial in life, the last eight months has been an opportunity to learn to love and trust God even when life is messy and complicated and the answers are hard to find (Romans 1:17, 2nd Corinthians 5:7). It’s been an opportunity to trust and to proclaim the goodness of God even when He has felt far away. It’s been opportunity to show my unbelieving friends and neighbors what faith looks like in action (Hebrews 11:1).
I know this likely won’t be last time I will be given an opportunity that feels like a test and a trial (1st Peter 1:6, 1st Thessalonians 3:2-4). I am hoping and praying that the next time an opportunity comes disguised as a misfortune comes around I will have the wisdom to recognize it for what it is sooner (James 1:2-4).