What am I? I have asked myself this question a hundred times in the past eight months. What am I? Who am I? Where exactly am I going?
I started off the new year returning from our family’s annual spiritual retreat ready to take on the new year. I had such plans and aspirations of where I would go and what I would accomplish. I had plans for the family, for our marriage, for our church and for myself. But just a few days after that trip and just four days into this new year it all changed. None of my plans even mattered. Instead of achieving my list of goals, I have battled through the most devastating and challenging circumstances of my life.
“Who am I, and what is my family in Israel?” – David
I buried a child. My marriage was pushed to the limit. My children faced emotional and spiritual demands of their own. I became pregnant again. We began adopting two children. We lost one of those children. We have faced financial loss. We have been slandered. We have been criticized. We have attempted to navigate a new normal all the while maintaining some sort of ministry to the church where we serve.
Then, the other night as I laid my head to sleep, I felt an old feeling that I used to know well. Peace. I felt peace.
I don’t even think I finished my prayer that night. I simply fell asleep. It’s been a long time since I simply fell asleep. As I felt the rest coming on, I just thanked God for his grace and his mercy and for the way he covers me with them even in my sleep. I thanked him for seeing me through these months. I am thankful that he’s revealed to me just what I’m made of. I am even more thankful that he has proven to me just what HE is made of.
And as I started to fall asleep last night, I realized a most important truth… my circumstances don’t define me. Where I’m at. What I’m doing. Who I’m with. None of it defines me. None of it determines my joy or dictates my peace. Not even losing a child.
If you find yourself struggling today to find peace in your circumstances, let me encourage you with one thing- look beyond them. Your marriage won’t fill you. Neither will finding Mr. Right, having a baby, getting a new job, having more money, finding a new church, moving to a different house, getting new friends… You fill in your blank. There is something that we all think, “If only_______, I would be happy.”
I have spent many moments with empty arms wishing there were a baby in them. But at the end of the day, scrape away all the children, the husband, my house, my support system and even my spiritual family. If I peel back all the layers I realize that none of those things fill the hole. None of those things truly fulfill me because my circumstances don’t define me. No, I have had to look beyond my circumstances and you do too. We have to look beyond them and focus on just one thing- Jesus.
Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb. 12:1-2
What am I? Only one person writes that story and he is the author of my faith and my fate. When I fix my eyes on him, I can lay aside all the things that tangle me up in this world. When I fix my eyes on him, I can look beyond my circumstances and see the joy that he obtained for me, the joy he died to give me.