From A Place of Joy

I’m writing today from a place of great joy, not happy circumstance….a place where I’m rediscovering the truest treasure of my heart, my life found in Christ.

This has been a year of great loss and extreme disappointment. More times than not, my faith has floundered and my heart has sunk as one by one, my hopes have been dashed upon the rocks by storms that have entered my life.

After a year of consulting doctors about the exhaustion, joint pain, sore throats, rashes and other symptoms, I was referred to a specialist at a local hospital. He was able to finally deliver a diagnosis…Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I am still reeling. I have great dreams, deep motivations, big plans….and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The relentless winds and waves of this illness have taken my physical health, energy, and stamina. The road to recovery may be long.

Some days, I can be productive for three hours at a time! But if I push too hard and don’t take breaks, there is payback the next day with the need for an extreme amount of rest. Yesterday, I needed two naps totaling five hours, just to recover from a half day of work on the previous day. These limitations are very hard to handle for a woman with vision and motivation as strong as mine.

And yet, through this trial, I am rediscovering the true treasure of my heart. My life is found in Christ only, not my accomplishments.

In the wake of the diagnosis came another storm cloud. I had resigned from my teaching position based on a verbal promise of a job in another county. Finally, I could move to the city where my boyfriend lived so that we could spend more time together instead of seeing each other only on weekends. I had also received an amazing offer for housing. I was to rent a gorgeous, half- million dollar home near my new school for only the cost of utilities. My boyfriend and I were discussing a timeline for our future engagement and marriage plans, and were thrilled with the job and housing offers. Everything was falling into place so nicely. It seemed that the sun was shining down on us at every turn.

A door opened for me to finally take an acting class with an amazing teacher I had been wanting to work with…another dream come true. I had been spending so much of my energy on my young students over the past years that I rarely had any left over for my own creative pursuits. My excitement could hardly be contained.

Having waited on God and prayerfully having followed His path regarding my career choice, relationships, and where He wanted to invest in people’s lives through me over the years, I was overjoyed that at this time in my life it seemed I was receiving some reward for my patience in regards to some of my dreams. That is not to say that I believe I had earned any of these things. I strongly believe that God gives good gifts to His children simply because of the love in HIs heart. Yet it did seem to me that many of the dreams that had had to be put on hold in my life in order for me to lay certain foundations were now coming to fruition. I was in a place of perfect peace and thankfulness that His plan seemed to be unfolding as it should.

After many years of singleness, God had brought a wonderful Christian man into my life who wanted to build a life together. We enjoyed providing hospitality to others, loving people and ministering grace and encouragement to them as a couple. We thanked Him for providing a job for me so that we could continue on in the journey together with our community of friends.

After sorting through all my belongings in preparation for the move and the new job, I received news that the job offer was being withdrawn. There had been an unforeseen need to provide a position for a displaced teacher who was already working for that school system, so though they wanted me to teach there they had to give the job to her. On the heels of that news, in a way that I cannot fully explain for I have yet to find words for it myself, my relationship with my boyfriend unraveled in a way that I cannot being to wrap my heart or head around. He is a wonderful man, gifted and compassionate and a blessing to many people. We had trusted God all along the way with our relationship. And suddenly we were both in agreement that it was time to take a step back to platonic friendship.

In the midst of these events, I had to have a lumpectomy and am awaiting the biopsy results. My mother also received news that her recent lung scan was abnormal. She is awaiting an appointment with a lung specialist. We are so grateful for all the people praying for her health. All of these things have taken place within a matter of just four weeks.

In the aftermath of these storms, there has been a flood of unanswered questions and self-doubts about my ability to discern God’s leading. Yet with the encouragement of my friends and their prayers, I have come into a new place. In this place, the questions have been overshadowed by THE ANSWER. Not answers to my specific questions…I may never receive those answers this side of heaven. But THE ANSWER, I can say for certain, is JESUS HIMSELF.

Will I ever fully recover from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome even if I follow my treatment protocol diligently? Will I ever be able to teach full time again? Did I persevere through graduate school for nothing? How will I support myself financially?

….Silence fills the heavens in reply.

What about all the creative ministry ideas in my heart? What is the point in continuing to pray for open doors when they all seem so tightly sealed shut?

…Silence again.

Will my writings for children appeal to a publisher, or will I simply write in vain? Will the hours I’m investing, precious limited hours of energy and focus given to writing, ever amount to something beneficial for others to read?

…There is only stillness.

I’ve long believed that earthly marriage is a gift, and is designed to be a reflection of the great love relationship we have with God Himself. I was receiving, with a heart full of peace, what seemed to be such a gift. But will I ever wear that lovely wedding dress which, as we speak, is in the hands of the seamstress who is adding special touches to make it uniquely mine in preparation for that day?

…No answers.

But THE ANSWER remains. There is a river that runs deeper than all of this. JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF, our LIFE, remains true. In the mystery of loss and pain, HE IS the same.

I’m writing today for those who feel as if they have missed the trailmarker. I’m writing for those who feel as if they keep getting to the train station, tickets in hand, just in time to see the train pulling out without them. For all the broken dreams, for all the tears we have cried, for the pain of having our hopes shattered…this is part of our journey, but this is not the final destination and is certainly not the whole picture. There will come a day when we will say with confidence that He truly picked up the broken pieces and used them all for good. Let’s give Him our disappointments and receive His life in exchange for it all. Our life is not found in these temporal things anyway. JESUS CHRIST IS OUR LIFE. In the midst of whatever storm you may find yourself facing today, know that HE is your life, peace, and all the hope and love that you will ever need. SELAH!

Tasha