Why So Serious???

Life gets in the way.  Things happen.  

The other night, I started to have a pity party.  Not a huge, mega, the world is ending pity party. More of a “I’m over this malarkey” kind of pity party.  

Let me take a couple of steps back, and explain.  Because a lot of things have been going on…

  • My brother has issues with alcohol, and his marriage dissolved, which has created some drama.
  • I was getting ready to start school to get my Master’s, and the day before class starts, it turns out that I really shouldn’t have been going down that path.
  • My aunt disappeared from life, and refused to continue helping out my grandma.
  • School (my job) started.
  • Trying to figure out what God’s plan for my life actually is.
  • Being compelled to keep telling my story.

There are probably more.  But the main thing you need to take away is…many, many things have been going on.  Things that compel me to be a sponsible redult. And I don’t always want to be a sponsible redult.  

So the other night, I started having a pity party.  I left for my walk (which was abbreviated, because I also had to mow my lawn).  And I just didn’t want to be the girl with the bad back story. The one where I’m always and forever the girl that was abused.  It’s a tough story to tell. So there I was, walking along. And all of a sudden, my heart hears “WHY SO SERIOUS?!?!?!?!”

I admit, amidst everything else that has been going on, having fun has taken a bit of a back burner.  

I know that my writing recently hasn’t really shown this, but…I’m kind of a goof.  Because, you can, in fact, be a goof AND a responsible adult at the same time.

True story.

So even though I’m still feeling the stress of everything else, the weight seems a little lighter today.  

Which is an awesome thing.  

I’m exhausted today, and have been all week.  Plus, tomorrow is Friday the 13th AND an almost full moon.  Which in the community of teachers is one of the absolute most terrifying things, ever.  But last night started a new chapter. I have been a high school youth leader in the past.  But between leaving a church, and being burnt out, I took a year off. But God has opened a wonderful door.  And last night was our first session. And these kids are awesome. And I’m really excited about the new opportunity to work with these kiddos.  Because even though I get to see them every day at school, there is a huge difference between the conversations Ms. Hooks gets to have with them compared to the conversations Johanna can have with them.  And it’s just going to be awesome.  

Ok, so I’m still not being a goof.  I get that. So let me tell you what happened last night…before youth group started.

We have been doing a lot of functional things around the farm, to make things work better.  Burying electric lines to the machine shed. Widening the entrance to the driveway, that ended up being a 6 month nightmare.  And long story short, the farm is a complete disaster. But, we are finally making progress. So last night, the dad calls me and asks if I’m going to be home for a while, because a load of rock is getting delivered, and the guy wasn’t quite sure where he was supposed to dump the rock.  Seriously, right next to my driveway is a huge area of dirt that has been cleared to widen the driveway. The dad told him that’s where the rock needed to be dumped. But the guy gets there, and I had to basically point to the exact spot where to dump it, because he just really wasn’t sure where it needed to go.  

Lord love a duck.

I guess common sense just isn’t that common anymore. 

The Angels are Bowling

I am not fan of storms.  Never have been. Especially at night, when I’m trying to get to sleep.  I cannot count the number of times that my parents sat up with me, trying to calm my nerves as a child.  So I would just go to sleep.

They tried everything.

Singing.  And praying.  And talking. So much talking.

They finally came up with the reason there was so much thunder.  It’s that all of these angels in heaven were bowling. And someone just got a strike.

Ok, I get that heaven is this super fun and awesome place to hang out.  But do you seriously need to be bowling when a little kid is trying to get to sleep?  

I.  Do.  Not. Think.  So.

It isn’t the rain that I have an issue with.  It’s the violence of the storms. The massive lightning and thunder.  When I get woken up by thunder, that is entirely too loud and ridiculous.  

But still, storms happen.  

For me, one of the more recognizable parables of Jesus is when he and the disciples were on a fishing boat, heading across the Sea of Galilee, when a storm blows in.  All of the disciples start freaking out because they were in danger from the storm. And there is Jesus, fast asleep. Finally, the disciples wake him, and Jesus immediately jumps into action.  He commands the storm to chill out. And voila, the storm complies.

Do you truly understand some of the great things about this parable?  First of all, Jesus and the disciples were heading to the other side of the Sea of Galilee for a little rest and recreation.  They were on this fishing boat, on their way for some peace and quiet. And instead of getting some peace and quiet, they end up in the midst of this major rager of a storm.  Second, the disciples, many of whom were fishermen by trade, were not unused to storms. And despite that experience, or perhaps, because of their experience, they were freaking out.  I don’t blame them. I would be freaking out too. Luke describes the disciples as being in “great danger.” Matthew and Mark both described the storm as “furious.” So this was not some teeny, tiny little storm.  Realistically, they all could have died.

But they didn’t.

The disciples had ran around, doing the things that they knew to do to protect themselves.  They took down the sails. And were doing whatever else it is that you do on a sailboat in the middle of a storm.  I’m no sailor, so I have no idea. The point is, they did know. And they were doing it. And nothing they were doing was working.  

So finally, what do they do?  

They wake Jesus up, and are all like, “hey dude, we have this little storm raging around us.  You think you could help us out a little?”

And Jesus was like “yeah, bro.  I got this.”

Instantly, the storm calmed down, just because Jesus commanded it to do so.  And the disciples jaw hit the floor. Because even though they had been with him, they did not think that he was powerful enough to calm the storm.  

Let that sink in for a second.

The disciples.  The guys that had been following Jesus around, seeing the miracles he had been performing.  They didn’t think he was powerful enough to take care of them, and keep them safe through the storm.  

But.  He. Was.

Inevitably, we are going to experience our very own major rager of a storm.  It isn’t possible to get through this human life without experiencing some kind of trial or struggle or challenge.  What that specific storm is will look different for each and every one of us. But we will all experience that storm.  

Now, our logical and pragmatic human brains are going to look at this storm, and have a very human, very logical and pragmatic response to such a storm.  

It’s even possible for us to think that God has abandoned us during this storm.  Or even worse, that our storm is far too powerful for God to handle. He has just lost all control, and he’s left you behind to deal with this storm all on your own.  

It isn’t true.

There is nothing that is too powerful or too strong or too awful that God can’t handle.  

NOTHING.

But let me just throw this out there…

God is not always going to stop the storm in our life instantly.  In fact, that will rarely be the case. We may wish for, and hope for, and pray for God to calm our storm instantly.  And it can be really tough when we turn to God for comfort and peace. And he just doesn’t handle the situation how we want him to handle it.

I mean, I can’t possibly be alone in this.  

Right?

But just because God doesn’t resolve and calm our storm how we want him to calm it, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a plan.  Just because he has the power to do something, doesn’t mean that calming our storm is in his plan for our life.  Ultimately, there is a purpose and a plan for everything that happens.

We may not understand or see what that purpose is immediately.  Sometimes, we may never fully understand why we experienced that storm.

But then there will be other times that 8 years down the road, we have that lightbulb moment of realization.  And everything starts to make sense.

No matter what, we need to rest in God’s peace in the midst of our storms and that no matter what, God has our back, and he will get us through.  

One of my current favorite songs is Sleep in the Storm by Unspoken.  The first time I heard this song, it hit home.  Hard. At first, just because sleeping through a storm is something I find challenging.  I mean, praying to be able to learn to sleep in the storm. How preposterous. Especially because of the chorus.  

Let the thunder be my comfort
Let the lightning be my guide
Let the waves that rise around me
Hold me gently through the night

How ridiculous of an idea is this?  Thunder comforting me? Being guided by lightning?  All of it just seems like a ridiculous notion.

But then I started thinking, and listening.  

Ok, God.  What is it you’re trying to tell me here?  

Well, let’s continue with some of the lyrics…

For the winds that seem against me
Push me right into Your arms
Teach me how to sleep in the storm
How to sleep in the storm

See that right there?  Did you read that line?  Did you hear that line? Did you understand that line?

The winds that seem against me, push me right into Your arms.

So when those storms are raging around us, and we feel like we’re being battered and beaten, and like we are all alone in this world, with no safety net to save us.  Those are the moments that we are being pushed directly into God’s arms.

Like the parable we talked about earlier.  When the storms in our lives are raging around us, and we are having a very human, and very logical, and very pragmatic response.  Those are the moments that God has our back, and always has the ability to carry us through the storm.

Now, I understand the struggle of storms in life.  Every single day there is something that I struggle with.  

And every single day, I rely on God to get me through those struggles.  

Some days, it seems like I can manage them easily.  Other days, I feel so broken and alone, and near rock bottom that I don’t see how I can possibly move forward.  To be completely honest, those days suck. I know that God has a purpose for those days. Whether it is a test of my faith.  Or a blatant attack by Satan (that guy is a jerk, and juts needs to go away). Whatever it is, those days hurt. And I feel exhausted by yet one more test of my faith.  

I’m over it.

I don’t want those days.

Ever.

But God knows that sometimes I need those days.  Because clearly, there is a lesson for me to be learned.  Maybe that it’s simply that I need to rely on, and turn everything over to God.  Maybe it’s a consequence for something that I have done wrong. The cause, the trigger, whatever you want to call it, can be different every time.  

But one thing remains true.

God has my back.

There is one final line in the Sleep in the Storm that just hit so hard.  

How will I grow, if I never get rained on

Now, I’m a good farm kid.  

You know what farm kids know?  

Farm kids know that rain is vital and important to the growth and development of crops.  Crops will not grow if there is no rain.

Humans are the same way.  We grow, and become strong and healthy, because of the rain in our lives.  We grow as Christians. We grow as friends. As partners. We grow with the rain.  We may not always agree with the timing of all of those storms in our lives. But as my mom (because my mom is a very wise woman, and no matter how old you get, you always need your mommy) continues to tell me: God’s timing is perfect.

Are you currently experiencing a storm in your life?  You are not alone. You are loved. And you are blessed.  And you are understood. It will be difficult to get through some days.  But know that no matter what, God will be there to wrap His arms around you, and comfort you, and give you strength.  

You can sleep through the storm.