Holding Onto Truth When Life Disappoints
When Jared broke up with me in February of my senior year in college, I was stunned. Stunned because I didn’t see it coming. Stunned because my heart had fallen head over heels for him. Stunned because I had already pictured a magical future together. But mostly stunned because I had felt very firmly in my heart that Jared was the man I was to marry. I remember when I called my mom after one of our dates and told her, “Mom, I think he’s the one.” She could hear the excitement in my voice as I gushed about the details.
And then our relationship was over.
As the news finally sunk in that Jared was moving to the big city of Chicago unattached, footless, and fancy, I spent the rest of my senior year picking up the pieces and sorting out my disappointment with God.
My prayers went a lot like this: God, I trust you. I know You know what’s best. But I’m so confused. It seemed like everything was pointing to Jared being the one for me. How could it end this way?
During that broken-hearted season, I learned a lot about being honest with God. Each time I vulnerably opened up to Him, He met me in my raw moments. My mom encouraged me to look at these encouraging times as “God-cidences”—times that could be classified as coincidences but instead viewing them through the lens of God showing up in small and big ways in my life. As I opened my eyes to these experiences, I noticed days when the sun sparkled in the sky, timely conversations with my college roommates, freshly baked cookies from the dining hall and on and on. It was as if God was breathing love into the little events of life to remind me that He was right there with me and would provide for my every need. Slowly, as the days turned into months, my heart began to heal. But it was not without much soul-searching and praying.
You know the rest of the story. (Or if you don’t, it’s written in the My Story section of this blog!) God brought Jared back into my life and we now have been married for almost four years. But there was a FIVE (!!) year gap between when we first dated to when we went out for our “second” first date.
I have often reflected on God’s hand in Jared’s and my relationship. From the first day we met, I felt a tug in my heart toward Jared and had a strange confidence that he was the one for me. But it took five years before I would see my dream become a reality. If you would have told me two years after we broke up that in three more years Jared would come waltzing back into my life and marry me, I think I would have laughed and responded, “Not a chance.” But God had His hand on our relationship from the first day we met. He didn’t fall asleep during the five-year-hiatus, but was in the process of weaving our lives back together in His perfect timing. How I love that God works behind the scenes in our lives.
I think I wrote Jared’s and my story with the sole purpose of encouraging my soul today. Sometimes when faced with a disappointment, the best thing for me to do is recall how God has faithfully worked for my good in the past to remind me He will continue to faithfully work for my good in the future as well.
I’ve had a bit of discouraging week where some plans I thought were working out dissolved into thin air. I’ve spent the last few days being real with my emotions, a necessary step in the process of working through disappointments, I believe. After brushing myself off from my little face plant, I’ve thought back to the broken-hearted-episode ten years ago and what God has taught me since. I’ve been reminding myself this week that though I can’t see His hand and though I don’t understand what He’s up to, God is still working in my life, just like He was doing behind the scenes in my relationship with Jared many years ago. I am clinging onto four major truths of my faith as I wait and trust.
- God loves me.
Truly. Deeply. Even when it doesn’t feel like it. David Crowder’s song “How He Loves Us” began replaying in my head this weekend as I processed the week’s discouraging events. There is something powerful about hearing, “He loves us, oh how He loves us” over and over. As I was thinking about the lyrics, I felt transported back to another time when the song reminded me of truth.
Two years ago I drove down to the hospital for a follow-up appointment after my initial surgery when they removed my ovary. My heart was filled with fear as I waited to find out if the mass on my ovary was cancerous. I cried out to God to comfort my shaking heart, and soon after “How He Loves Us” came on the radio. I sang at the top of my lungs declaring the truth that God loved me no matter the outcome of my pathology reports. Since then, this song has become very personal to me because God has reminded me over and over that even when life doesn’t pan out like I hope, God deeply loves me. Not just on the good days when all feels right with the world. But on the hardest days when I don’t exactly feel much love from God.
- “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.” Psalm 36:5
- “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15
- “Put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption.” Psalm 130:7
- “The LORD disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.” Proverbs 3:12
- “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38, 39
- God is good.
I remember the first time I learned this lesson by heart was after Jared broke up with me. It was my first major time to wrestle with the age-old question, “If God is a good God, why would He allow this to happen?” In the last few years, He has continually reminded me of His good character, especially after my cancer diagnosis. I learned that even when life hurts and confuses me, God was still good and still had good in mind for me. Though I would never have chosen to walk through cancer, God has brought much good from my trial: restored relationships, a renewed purpose, a healthier lifestyle, and so much more. When I focus my attention on God’s good character when life feels out of control, I experience an unquenchable peace that no circumstance can steal. I have been reminding myself this week that being good is part of who God is and though my circumstances may not feel good, God is working them for my benefit in the way only He can. Sometimes it just takes a little time before we can see what He’s up to.
- “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1
- “Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him.” Psalm 34:8, New Living Translation
- “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”
- “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose…what then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but have Him up for us all—how will He not, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:28, 31, 32
- “Joseph said to [his brothers], ‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’” Genesis 50:20
- God is fully in control.
When life doesn’t make much sense, it’s encouraging to me to know that God hasn’t fallen asleep on the job but is totally aware and sovereign in all of His ways. I am studying Beth Moore’s Believing God right now and one of the points she makes is that we must believe God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. I am learning that truly believing God is who He says He is requires me to surrender myself to Him and allow Him to take the captain seat and do what He does best.
- “I lift my eyes up to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber.” Psalm 121:1-3
- “Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle.” Psalm 140:7
- “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17
- I must trust God.
As I reflect on the three truths highlighted above, I can’t help but realize what my response must be as a result: place my trust in the Lord. After working through the disappointing events of the week, Jared read an inspiring verse to me that has always been one of my favorites:
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
I may not understand what God is doing, but my job is to trust Him and keep my confidence in Him as opposed to my circumstances. I wrote this verse down on a post-it note in our kitchen and have been thinking about it all weekend. My prayer is that I keep my confidence firmly focused on God instead of my feelings or my circumstances. And I pray that for you too!
- “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:4
I am choosing to trust God is working behind the scenes in my life and am resting in these truths until the picture becomes clearer. Thankfully, God has proven to show up in the past. Even if it’s taken five years.