Though I don’t always admit it to him when he is leaving dirty diapers on our dresser or giving Miranda a time out (I know she needs them, but they break my heart a little), my husband is a wise man. And one of the wisest things he said to me is something he taught me long ago: We all adjust to our own realities.
I believe at the time our conversation was a debate about paying $10 versus $40 for a haircut (you’ll NEVER know!). However, those words have followed me through the last several years as my life has changed at a seemingly breakneck pace. Fortunately for me, most of my changes have been wonderful (addition of husband, stepkids, college degree, miracle babies, …) and some perplexing (loss of friendships, career changes), but there have been tragedies around me… some happening to people I know, some to people I have only “met” online. The thing about tragedy that always strikes me, though, is how it unites us.
Example: I just get my e-newsletter from a family I will probably never meet who happens to have their own series on TLC. They recently suffered the loss of a very close family friend, and something in this letter brought tears to my eyes. Why is it we are able to feel the pain of others? I believe it is simply one of the unique characteristics that makes us human.
Getting back to that wise nugget on reality… I often wonder how it is that people suffer through their tragedies. I used to think the worst thing that could happen to me was not getting married. Then I got married and decided it would be losing my husband… until I gave birth. Now I wonder how anyone could possibly live through the loss of a child. I know that faith in the Lord carries us through… and I personally know people who have been in these awful, wrenching circumstances and lived to tell. And through them, I have watched how reality shifts might be devastating, but God makes them as a natural part of our lives, and He equips us to adjust.
When Rod was picking songs for the new CD (coming ANY day now!), there was one that I listened to over and over again. It’s called “You’ll Make It Through,” and its message is so simple, yet striking in its power. I know if someone just listened casually to this song, she might not feel as touched by it as I did. However, when I was listening to it on ‘repeat,’ two sets of circumstances were occurring around me. One: a relative was diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis seemed very grave. Two: a couple with whom Rod and I are close was inevitably divorcing, the decision was not mutual, and hope seemed lost. (We won’t talk about the third circumstance, which was me being nine months pregnant and a wee bit emotional).
As I thought of these loved ones, the song became a prayer for me. Its words, penned by Tim Chandler and Lana Chandler, spoke directly to those situations and my own sense of helplessness: “Hold on my weary brother, the morning’s coming on…. His joy will give you strength to make it through.” I admit, I am not exactly a prayer warrior and sometimes I need and do use music to get me in the presence of God, to get me to a place where I can openly and passionately bring my cares and sorrows to that wonderful throne of grace. And when I listened to this song, wow, did I ever pray for those two situations.
Flash forward five months. Situation one: that same relative has responded wonderfully to some experimental treatments, and tomorrow he will undergo surgery that is much less invasive than the option he was initially given. And the couple inevitably breaking up after over 25 years of marriage? They are together, and the last time I saw them, they looked happier and more comfortable together than I’ve ever seen them.
That doesn’t mean the in-between of January and now was all roses, nor that the road ahead will be covered in Hawaiian white sand and flanked with free burrito stands (I think those types of wonders are reserved for Heaven only!). However, the reminder to me in this song, in these situations, is that God always, always has a plan we can’t see. When tragedy strikes, be it to us, to a friend, or on the news to someone in a distant land, we often ask “How can God let this happen?” And I admit: when I see thousands killed by a weather anomaly, when I hear someone lost her baby in a freak accident, when I see the awful stories on the news about murders and abuses, I ask God the same question. The answer is surely too complicated for our earthly minds, but I know that I know that I know that one outcome of these kinds of “reality shifts” is surely part of that answer: God wants us to lean on Him in all things, He wants us to grow in Him, and He wants those who don’t know Him to see His comfort, love, and kindness even in the storms, so that they, too, might receive it.
Indeed, He wants us to know that we will make it through.