It really is amazing to me how much our hearts can hold all at once. The feelings, the stories, the memories, the hopes, and hurts. And it’s from there that God wants us to love Him.
As we sat around our living room Thanksgiving evening, I looked around at the faces of my family. My heart recognized those who were missing, those gone, those home sick, some who seemed only half-present or ready to leave. It felt like a room full of my deepest longings, my greatest joys, my deepest wounds, and a few of my grandest stories of redemption.
There was much for my heart to take in that day. Missing my mother. Holding my husband’s heart who still grieves what was lost with our almost-move to North Dakota. Those missing from our celebration. Words that were shared, some in tears. My Robin’s horrible back issues and my dad’s loving words for her. Places where I’m feeling rejected or not enough or even too much. My sister's words of gratitude for my presence in her life. And my “crazy” baby crawling over me because I’m the only one he wants it seems.
There was much I wanted to say, but it’s hard to know how when your heart is that full and feeling so many things all at the same time.
So, I thanked God for my husband. For how God’s plans meant us staying here in Texas. For my baby boy, even though he drives me crazy. For my loving husband and my home. For our friends and community and church. I cried some and felt flustered and wanted to move on. Not quite knowing how to express all that was in my heart - every range of emotion, the ambivalence, the anger, the hurt, the joy.
I couldn’t help but thinking all day as I spun through my house readying potatoes and setting the table that I wasn’t supposed to be here. Shouldn’t I be in North Dakota without my family? Snowed in and lonely and feeling desperately sad to spend my first holiday without them, without my little home and the life I know. Some days I feel tragically sad that it didn’t happen, wondering if we made a mistake. I was SO up for starting something new. Even though it meant arctic winters and learning how to make new friends and leaving everything here behind.
We were so close to something new and different and adventurous - and then? And then God changed His mind. Did we really hear God tell us to leave? And then I remember whose voice always starts with those doubt-leading questions and it isn’t that of my Savior, but of the deceitful serpent himself.
Because yes, God really did say, and we really did listen.
Most days I am overjoyed that we stayed put. Staying here means my relationships with my family can have the opportunity to rich and deepen and grow. That our children can grow up knowing and seeing their grandparents. Staying here means we didn’t have to leave a wonderful community of friends that make us feel cherished and included and loved on – friends we do stuff with and enjoy and do life with. It’s been one of the biggest blessings of our year.
But it’s been hard to sit in that disappointment with my husband. To watch his dreams be crushed and wonder what the heck God is doing and if He even sees his heart. Because what the heck is He doing with Todd’s story? I watched God show up for me in it all, but Todd doesn’t share in that. And I hurt so bad over this loss and over what I feel like I gained, and even now weep for it all. Because I don’t understand and I feel like He is missing my husband or left him out of something and I don’t get it.
Walking with the Lord is a heart-wrenching, glorious thing. And holding all of this reminds me of that very truth.
Aside from our non-move, life as we knew it was rocked by the birth of our second son this year. My precious Jacob is quite precious. His smile can quite literally light up a room. But he is clingy and needy and isn’t happy unless I give him my complete and full attention all of the time. He has worn me out and I’ve spent many days crying and discouraged and feeling like I suck at having two kids. Jacob takes so much from me that I feel as though Tommy gets the short end of the stick. Yet I can’t imagine life without his smile and loudness either. I’m both thankful and drained at the same time, and how can this be?
Todd is such a giver. He gives and gives and serves and loves and does – all the time. I won’t ever comprehend the kind of love that he has for me that is okay with taking bathtime and bedtime duty so I can sneak away to our room to write and just be for awhile tonight. This dream-crushed, seemingly missed-by-God man. He waits to be invited hunting and never gets to go. He drives a mini-compact car when a man of his stature and character is meant to be driving a big-ass truck. He waits patiently for me and my heart. He works hard and loves his children. I never knew such a man could be for real. But he is and he is my beloved and oh, how truly, richly blessed I am.
I wrote previously about it being a hard few months. It is. It has been. I’m sure there is more hard to come. But one thing that my 30 days of Thanks journey taught me was that if I sought out Jesus, I would find Him somewhere every time. If I go looking, He will be there. Some days He might be all show-offy and be there in gorgeous sunrises and autumn leaves and in my sunlit living room that makes me all swoony. And other days He might be tucked away, in the dark, quietly whispering, barely noticeable. But He is there.