Last year was a season of emotional whiplash.
My husband Chris and I were certain that God was leading our family to move across the country, and we made several permanent steps in that direction. But then we had to face a hard truth. We weren’t going anywhere after all.
We were so baffled. We had been so sure this was God’s will. The decision had been confirmed through Scripture, songs, circumstances, multiple advisors, and even a dream! God seemed to be inviting us to take a giant leap of faith into a season of transition.
It made so much sense. It felt so right. We were so certain. And then it didn’t work out.
Do you know that feeling? That feeling of following God or your instincts or what makes perfect sense on paper and in your heart—only to watch doors slam closed, to see opportunities vanish, to be jerked back into the situation you thought you surely were leaving behind? That feeling of surprise, of confusion, of disappointment, of grief ?
This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced this. Far from it! I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve found a solution for a problem, pursued it with everything I have, and been smacked in the face with a completely different outcome.
Sometimes the whiplash is unseen and internal, making it especially difficult to manage. This is one of the hardest things about grief, pain, and suffering. It can feel so jarring and disappointing when things seem to be getting better, but then you’re slammed with another wave of pain, depression, and anger.
But even when our world is spinning or we’re spiraling in a storm of confusion and disappointment, God’s goodness and his love for us remain constant. And yet, while I know that’s true, it often doesn’t feel that way.
This season has been a wild ride of faith with twists and turns we would never have imagined. By the time we realized we were not, in fact, leaving Nashville, we’d already sold our dream house. So instead of heading out on a grand adventure across the country, we moved into an apartment just up the street from what had been our home. And while we know it’s just a thing, we deeply mourned the loss of that home. We were especially sad to leave behind our front porch.
That porch saw a lot of life! Community happened on that porch. We celebrated birthdays and grieved deaths on that porch. We ate a lot of chips there, and we laughed so, so much. Time seemed to slow down on our front porch.
Saying goodbye to the daily aspects of community life we spent years building in our neighborhood made me so sad. It took an enormous toll on my mind and body, as well as my daughter’s mind. Anxiety, depression, illness—in the wake of our season of uncertainty—all flared up and knocked us flat. Not a single thing happened the way we expected, and so much of what God was doing simply confused and angered me.
We were walking in the wilderness, weary and weighed down with so many questions, though we still held on to the belief that God was with us. Even as we spun in circles, trying to find direction or explanations or just a little peace of mind, he was with us. And just like every other time we’ve been forced to a sudden halt, God remained our constant.
Though the world around me changes at a breakneck speed, God never does. And that is the only thing I can hold on to. As the words of the hymn say, “When sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’”
Have you ever looked at your life in disbelief, not even recognizing the mess it’s become? Have you questioned God, asking why he let you run in a direction, make a change, or simply hope for healing when that wasn’t his plan?
So many of us are living lives drastically different from the ones we dreamed of and planned for. And the balance between being realistic and remaining hopeful can be precarious. When our foundation is constantly shifting, it can even seem unattainable. How can we possibly be steadfast while also hopeful?
After disappointment or unexpected changes, in the midst of confusion or exhaustion, we must choose to lean on the Lord our God if we’re going to stand back up. Recalibrating our understanding and expectations to accept the season we’re in, the direction he’s taking us, and the life we have now requires tremendous faith and courage. Our world changes with the winds, but I believe with all my heart that God does not. No matter how many times we’re pushed in a new direction, we can remain confident in him. I know, easier said than done, right? This level of deep trust in Jesus takes practice. It’s okay if you don’t get it right every time. I sure don’t.
Dear God, I do not know what’s going on! I thought I was headed in the right direction; it made so much sense. But now? Now I’m completely unsure because nothing is working out like I expected. It’s disorienting and discouraging. I don’t know what to do next or how to even process everything.
Will you help me, God? Will you hold me steady, calm my frantic heart, give me the peace you’ve promised? Guide me, Lord. Show me where to go and what to do next. Please be my firm foundation.
I trust you to stay the same today, tomorrow, and forever. Thank you, Lord, for being the one I can always count on. Thank you for being my constant. I love you so much. Amen.
Lindsey Wheeler is the author of Sacred Tears: Simple Reminders That God Sees You and Loves You and the founder and curator of Bottle of Tears, an online gift retailer dedicated to sending small tokens of hope and encouragement to the hurting, Lindsey lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with her husband, Chris, and adopted daughter, Eliana.