Christianity,  Chronic Illness,  Community,  Emotional Intelligence,  Health,  learning,  Mental Health,  neurodivergence,  Self Awareness,  special needs

Purpose: what’s the point?

In January 2018 Jason and I sat down to coffee with a another couple… I was stoked. I wore my cute clothes and fixed my hair (I had a 6 month old, this was a big deal!) Upon sitting down with them and answering some ice breaking type questions where we were asked how we feel about our life… all of our vulnerability was met with “well, I want you to know that our life is a 10 out of 10, and your life could be a 10 also if you submit to the mentorship by such and such people, and do xyz. But first we need to see if you guys would be a good fit. Over the next few chats we will provide you some resources.” They were just getting started…

Wow… I thought I was just sitting down for a double date with new church friends… but it turns out it wasn’t a peer discussion at all. I came away feeling small… there are parts of our imperfect life together that I honestly wasn’t in a hurry to fix. Some “problem” areas were actually more of a matter of perspective. They caught Jason’s interest, because they had a job opportunity for us… but only if we both worked the job equally. I was in no position to play that game. At that time were being laid off from a job, I was homeschooling children with learning differences, I could barely walk without passing out due to my health conditions. I felt like the more they told us about this opportunity, the more my imperfection was just seen as laziness. I wept when we got home from that date… “Jason, they think I lack faith. Do I lack faith? Is that why I have these health challenges? Is that why our kids struggle? Are they right? I feel cornered, like admitting my sin is the only acceptable answer.”

By the time I fell asleep that night, I had realized that several manipulation tactics had been deployed over the course of our coffee date. First we were asked to be vulnerable, then we were knocked down a peg as they convinced us to grade our life a realistic 7/10… then we were presented with a solution— a way we could have a 10/10 life. The more I thought about it, we were perceived as easy— definitely targeted. And it made me feel sick.

The next few months while we managed this situation and did damage control, my health didn’t improve. I stopped talking to them cold turkey. This is when they began calling my husband and letting him know that the Lord would heal me if I wasn’t so closed off to healing. If I would just ask God to heal me, it would be so… the fact that I wasn’t healed, and why we weren’t living our perfect 10 life at this moment was my fault; because Tab wouldn’t cooperate. I was holding Jason back, I was stunting my kids… I was “choosing” to be sick and their phone calls were now bordering on rebuke-type language. No matter how hard they pushed I felt convicted that their didn’t have our solution, or my best interests at heart.

I began 2018 living the equivalence of a spiritual head on collision. Satan had pulled out all of the stops… 1. Make Tab question her faith, 2. Belittle their marriage, 3. Make Tab believe her illness is self inflicted, 4. Make Tab beat herself up for her children’s learning differences, 5. Have Tab shoot down this job opportunity while her husband is jobless so she seems like the bad guy.

I could go on, but what’s the point?

The point of this article is a tidbit thatI have been chewing on for 12 months now… purpose. What is the point of facing trials of various kinds? We always remember the part of the verse where it talks about considering it pure joy when we encounter trials… but we don’t really linger on the purpose of trials.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:2-4‬

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9-10‬

During this experience I realized a few things:

1. I was not content to be indecisive about my purpose in this season of illness. If I pray for healing and it hasn’t come yet, I have to believe it’s not time yet. God is not a malicious Father who sits back and withholds good things from his children while they beg and plead. He is a good father with good plans… and perhaps healing me isn’t the “best” thing he has up his sleeve right now. (Kinda makes you wonder what He has planned, right?)

2. I do not have to prove how strong my faith is to humans. You cannot open a book to the middle of the story and expect to understand what’s happening.

3. My husband lost his job and it was oh so tempting to have someone swoop in and tell us that they had a full proof plan; we just had to trust them. That scenario was the first time in our marriage when I truly let the spirit lead me; I single handedly derailed a “good” plan in favor of what was “best.” That plan was not right for us, and time has proven that holding out for “best” has deepened our relationship with Christ.

4. People’s true colors show when you tell them ‘n0.’ When people show you who they really are… believe them.

5. I have ministered to more people over the last 12 months through my sickness than I ever did while able bodied… let that sink in for a minute.

6. My children are now surrounded by an authentic community who loves them and supports them where they are… without hesitation.

7. My husband and I work from home now; for a company he co-owns. We’re doing work we truly believe in, using our gifts how they were meant to be used. We are thriving.

There are more gems we learned along the way, but I’ll save them for my upcoming project, “Lovely Resilience Book.”

I will not be ashamed of my illness or the persistent manner of my disability. I will not be ashamed that my journey doesn’t take me where other people think it should. We weren’t guaranteed perfection on this earth… we were guaranteed hardship!

To close, let me say this again, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬

It’s all pointless without Christ.

 

“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.” Steve Jobs

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