Thursday, September 07, 2006

Strength to Endure

Just recently, Shalee over at Shalee's Diner did a great post called I Can Do All Things Through Christ and then challenged us to share how God has given me the strength to endure.

Well, I'm sure it comes as no surprise to you, that my largest, most trying time was when we were battling with infertility. Many times throughout those years, I often questioned where God was, why wasn't he answering my prayers, why wasn't he close beside me, comforting me, guiding me? Why would he allow abusive people to get pregnant and have babies, or teenagers to get pregnant and abort their babies when I would make a great mom! I cried out to him so many times ... didn't he hear me?

Well, as I look back now on the many, MANY years we spent wanting a child, I see a few things that really stand out loud and clear:

1) I was such a terrible wife the first 8 years we were married. Hateful. Mean. Bossy. Independent (that doesn't really work too well when the two are trying to be one!). Cantankerous. Argumentative. Stubborn. Selfish. Fighting depression. A Christian by name, not by action. I had not allowed God to change me inside out. I was ugly on the inside, and it would have made for a rocky relationship with a child.

2) Our marriage would not have lasted the added pressure of having a child.

3) I would have been a "good" mom. But now, I am much more patient, mature (both spiritually and emotionally) and I have learned many parenting techniques by observing my friends raising their children. I posses the tools to be a "much better" mom than I would have been earlier on. (even though due to my age and weight, I am literally exhausted by 9:00 p.m. - lol!)

4) I came from a semi-dysfunctional home, with a father who is a recovering alcoholic, a grandmother and aunts and uncles (and cousins) who are/were active alcoholics, and none of them could communicate effectively. This affected me greatly, and I would have surely passed on some form of dysfunction to my children in some way had we had children in the early stages of our marriage. God has broken and molded both myself and my husband. He has taken us through the fire, refined us, and changed us. We are different people now (praise God!). We are much "prettier" now, and we are starting with a clean slate with this child! The curse has been broken!

5) I am not perfect. Nor do I control my life. I acknowledge that. I accept that. I no longer strive for perfection or control as I did in the past. And, that knowledge will help make me a better mom.

6) God continues to change us, but through all these years, I have developed a much higher level of appreciation for the gifts he has given us: marriage, friendship, child. I don't take as much for granted now!

God's timing is much, much, in fact always, better than ours. He knew our need. He knew our desire. He knew our wants. But he also knew what our futures held. He knew that we would eventually work hard to keep our marriage healthy. He knew we would eventually seek counseling to learn how to communicate. He knew we would eventually open our hearts to him and allow him in ... to do a deep, deeeeeeep cleaning. He knew we would allow him to change us into who we are now. And looking back, I can see that He really was there ... right beside me ... holding my hand, and giving me the strength I needed to endure.

I am not what you might call an "overly-externally-emotional" person. I can count on my two hands the times when I publicly displayed overly excited emotions ... One was when my dear sister-in-law (Sunshine) announced she was pregnant. I was so happy for her. One of them was when I had a miscarriage on Mother's day ... the day that the Pastor prophesied that I would be pregnant next mother's day (and I was ... with Hunter). One of them was NOT when I found out for my self that I was pregnant. Odd, huh? But ... I do get emotional when I look back and think of the many times God has saved my hide from sure disaster ... I do get emotional when I look back and see how much he has changed me. I do get emotional when I look back and see what a wonderful man he has molded my husband into.

Yes, God has given me strength to endure. He has been with me. He has held my hand. Even when I did not feel, see or hear him, He was there.

Shalee has another wonderful post (no surprise there) called Do You Ever Wonder where she uses a story of a mom and daughter conversation about things going wrong in the daughter's life to illustrate how several bad things by themselves look, well ... bad. But when they are all put together in God's order, they always work for the good. The post is excellent, but here is a small excerpt directly from Shalee's post for your reading pleasure... It is the mother responding to the daughter (she's referring to individual ingredients for a cake mix):

"Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves. But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake! God works the same way. Many times we wonder why He would let us go through such bad and difficult times. But God knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good! We just have to trust Him and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful."

And then a comment from Shalee: "Too often we are looking at the ingredients instead of the end results."

How true is that?! The end result of all my "ingredients" is wonderful, but I sure didn't look at it that way when I looked at them individually... but I endured. It wasn't through my own strength. No. It was through the power of the Holy Spirit, the anointed Word of God, a strong and believing husband who prayed for me daily, friends that prayed me through my many storms, powerful worship music that I literally CLUNG to, and God holding my hand. That's how I endured.

So now, I extend the same challenge to you. How has God given you the strength to endure? Can you write a post about it? Have you already written a post about it? I encourage you, if not urge you to do so, then go to Shalee's post and add your name to Mr. Linky so others can benefit from your story and your encouragement. Old posts are welcome!

So far, you can read the following posts: Power of Prayer, by Shalee; Master of the Wind by Heather Smith; The Doctor is In, by Morning Glory; Faithfulness by BooMama; and Ken has a post, but I'm not sure which one it is, but you can go to his blog here: The Voice from Forever

I just want to close this post with my "anchor" scripture ... it's what got me through to the very end... here it is, both in the NIV version and the Message version:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. " Phil. 4:4-7, NIV

"Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. " Phil. 4:4-7, Message

Blessings and love to you.


Shalee said...

What awesome and truthful insight you have about yourself, your husband, your marriage and God. My heart is beating with a feeling of excitement as I read your post. How great is our God to lead you from insecurity, anger, doubt and fear to a woman of wisdom, love, truth and beauty. I cannot WAIT to read the stories from the others!

And Phil 4:7 is one of my favorite verses. So is Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

I can't find it but another favorite of man is the one that says man's wisdom is only on par with God's foolishness. And we all know that God is not foolish, so what does that say about man's "wisdom"?

Thank you for sharing your insight and heart with us.

Susanne said...

Wonderful post, Gibee! We so don't know the whole picture when we are going through some things do we? Aahh, but hindsight, there was the hand of God. I so need to remember this, that God knows what He is doing!

Morning Glory said...

Just beautiful!

Stacey said...

That was great GiBee! Thanks for sharing what was on your heart. It's so true that we often don't look for the big picture but focus on what's going on right then.

I left a comment on Shalee's blog of something I often say... I can only see the snapshots but God sees my whole scrapbook!

kpjara said...

I swear sometimes I get swallowed by the mouth of the fish before I even see the surrounding environment.

Thanks for sharing. I love your story each time I see any part of it. It reminds me to keep hope!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Gibee. I've already posted today, so I think I'll use this for tomorrow. Come and check back for my answer, OK? My story is similar to yours only it involves my hubby, not a child...


Tammy said...

Wonderful, insightful post!
I love your honesty and I was truly blessed by reading it.

Lauren said...

I love when we can look back and see God's finger prints in everything. I pray one day I'll look around and see them too.

momrn2 said...

Did you hear the air being knocked out of me as I read the verses you posted? God is using those for me in a very personal way right now.. those exact verses in those exact versions. I spent about an hour last night working through them. And this is not the first time recently that I've been processing them. Stay tuned at "My Quiet Corner" as I'm sure I'll be sharing this journey soon!!!

Isnt' it amazing how the middle of situations look so unbearable, yet when we look back we see how had it been any other way we would have been even more miserable?

God truly does have all things worked out in His timing, His knowledge, and His sovereignty!

Thanks for this!!! What a blessing!

Chappyswife said...

I so enjoy reading your posts, Gibee, because you are honest and aren't afraid to show your heart. This ministered to me this morning. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I posted... it's up. Thank you for sharing with us and extending the challenge!