So, today and maybe tomorrow I’m staying in Birmingham in the house I grew up in. My air conditioning broke in my car and I wanted to get it fixed by my favorite trusty mechanic man before the heat of summer left me in a puddle of sweat during my daily commutes. Not that I’ll have daily commutes for awhile, seeing as I’m currently unemployed LOL but a girl can dream.
But being in this house is particularly haunting, maybe especially because my mom is currently working and I’m staying away from my grandmother so as to keep her safe from the virus… meaning I’m here alone with nothing but the memories made in this house to keep me company. And I really do love this house. Who I am today was fashioned by the years I spent here, the tears I cried here, the people who lived with me in this lil’ house in Trussville, Alabama. The walls of my old room are still bright pink with coral paint and all of my books are still here in the chest (and on the chest because wow do I have so many) at the foot of my bed. The mirrors are still sticky noted with Bible verses because, oh yeah, body image stuff was still hard back then too… not to mention that the aforementioned sticky notes are bright blue with puppies on them because I guess the love for animals also isn’t new, hehe.
And while a lot of things are still the same, it’s so weird remembering the times that shaped me when my dad isn’t here on earth for me to remember with. It’s strange to be in this home where memories of him run rampant in my mind and not be able to call him to tell him how much I love him, how much I miss him. And this whole grief thing has been especially difficult for me, seeing as my dad was very much so an imperfect man. He left me, and others, with deep wounds that have (and will) take years and the grace of God to heal. But that doesn’t negate the very real sense that I deeply long to be able to call my dad with all of the craziness of my life and hear his voice tell me that I’m going to be okay, that he believes in me, that he’s proud of me for how I’m handling so many difficulties. I would sell my right arm to be able to hear his words of wisdom as I face unemployment and grief and confusion about my future and singleness and everything else I’m going through. I miss him more with each passing day, though I know that he’s much better off being in the arms of Jesus than here on this virus-ridden planet.
But this deep hole in my heart has left me with no choice but to run to the Lord, now the only Father I can talk to when my days are scary and my heart is low and my anxiety is rising. I’ve witnessed the love of God for the fatherless, for the broken-hearted, for the low in spirit. I’ve walked through a pain that none of my friends understand in a time of isolation and uncertainty… and though sometimes I do feel very alone, I’ve learned to cling for dear life to the promise of God’s love for me.
“‘For the mountains may depart and the hills may be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”Isaiah 54:10
I read this verse a couple weeks into the new year. As I was reading in Isaiah that day, it was like I could feel the Lord nudge me, marking that verse as the anthem of 2020. Before I even knew what this year would hold, the Lord promised me that He wouldn’t leave me in the valley, and that my life, no matter how dark or scary it may get, will always be marked by the faithfulness of my God who walks into the valley with me. About a week later, exactly one week before my twenty-fifth birthday, my dad passed away in an accident. I only had weeks to mourn before my city was hit with a tornado, which was also right before a virus cancelled my trip to Israel and left me without a job. And I can tell you that even still, even here in the valley of all the valleys, that Jesus is a promise-keeper… that this time in my life, while yes is absolutely not my favorite, is still abundantly rich with the goodness of God and the joy that comes from His presence.
I don’t know what you may be walking through… I’ve heard there are a lot of people in the unemployment boat these days and the pandemic around us is resulting in more fear and anxiety than most would like to admit, but I want to remind you that the promises of our God still stand. I want to assure you that even when the worst things happen, when we lose the ones we love or feel trapped at home or have no idea how God is going to provide, that there is still joy to be found in Jesus. The promise of God’s presence brings light to even the darkest of situations, and we will never walk a single day alone if we’re in Christ Jesus. He is enough for us, even here, even still. So let’s walk through our valleys with our eyes set and our joy found in the One who holds us, mourns with us, sets purpose into our home-bound (or work-filled) days, and gives us all the reason to rejoice in His loving kindness… even here.
All my love,