Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Happiness & Contentment

This is not an adoption related post nor an orphan advocacy post.  This is more of a personal nature.  Something that I have been wanting to share for a few days.  Something with which I am certain every human struggles.

Those of you that know our family in "real life" knows that our family went through a difficult time beginning last April.  Eric had been the Associate Minister/Family Minister at our church of over two years.  One Friday he got a visit from some elders and was told that he had 30 days left in his position.  Not 30 business days, 30 calendar days.  It boiled down to a lack of money at that church and they really could not sustain two full-time ministers.  While I think at some deep level we knew our family's time there was ticking away, we had hoped that somehow we could make it work.  We wanted to be a positive agent of change there.  Our family is full of life, love, happiness, and a desire to serve God.  We wanted that to overflow onto that church family.  That was not God's plan for our family or for that church.

Upon the end of Eric's 30 days we packed up our home which we had sold before all of this went down and moved into my in-law's one bedroom garage apartment in a little town about 20 minutes away from where had been living.  We were grateful to have a place to live but it was uncomfortable for all involved.  Eric and I had no idea what the future held for us and we were grieving.  I can honestly say, however, that I am so proud of my husband.  That man was determined to get a job, anything, to provide for his family.  Every morning he would get up and begin the search.  He would make phone calls, meet with various people from the Baptist Association, and he worked extremely part-time as a Workplace Chaplin.  In the end he went from being a full-time minister to the driver of an 18 wheeler.

Eric is now gone 3-4 weeks at a time, drives at odd hours in all sorts of weather, gets little sleep, eats out of a cooler, and he misses out on his family; seeing his boys grow up.  My husband has two master's degrees and is not a mechanical guy (sorry honey, I love you!).  Yet he went to trucking school, learned everything, exceeded, and got a decent job with a reputable company.  While he is on the road he still preaches and ministers to fellow truckers.  My husband never gave up.  Was it easy for him?  No way!  He had moments when he questioned God, God's plan, what did God want from us, and just why?

And me?  Wow.  What a hot mess!  I cried every day for several months, felt like a prisoner in my little apartment (no reflection on my in-laws), put my children in public school after being a homeschooler, had no privacy, did not like having to make new friends or joining a new church, and just felt so alone.  Isolated.  My best friend was gone.  Sure, we get to talk on the phone but our conversations only last minutes at a time and are usually disrupted by children, dropped calls, bad timing, or just a mere lack of time.  Is this what God really intended for our family?  How could God do this to us?  We served so faithfully at our previous church and adopted a child with special needs for goodness sake!  How could God choose to "punish" us?

Or did he?

Maybe He was shaping us.

Molding us.

Refining us.

Because we are not yet perfected.  Not yet.  Not this side of heaven, anyway.

It hit back in early December.  My "lightbulb" moment.

(I bet God was waiting patiently while I threw my toddler-like tantrums in my prayer time)

Happiness.  Contentment.  They are not always emotions that we just feel.  Sometimes we have to choose to be happy and content.  For someone who was once a minister's wife it is rather embarrassing to admit that I was miserable and struggled.  But I claim Romans 8:28 and receive my Father's gentle correction:

For we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

What good came out of our trial and pain?  How is it good that Eric is gone much of the time?

For one I have become more resourceful.  Do you know what it is like to raise four boys essentially alone a majority of the time?  Oh my goodness!  That is another entry for another day.  No, make that a novel!  So often my friends tell me, "I sure don't know how you do it!".  Well, neither do I.  What I am certain of, however, is that if it were not for God and His grace and mercy we would have all been sent to the loony bin months ago.  I am also learning the ins and outs of trash collecting, plumbing, vehicle mechanics, electrical issues, and lightbulb changing.  Boy was I spoiled over the past 11 years.

Another positive is that my husband is employed.  It is difficult to find a job these days.  It almost does not seem to matter the field, the economy is just rough.  Yet my husband has found a job in a field that was way out of his comfort zone and he is doing well and providing for us.  We have our own home, we have a fridge full of food, and clothing on our backs.  The bills are getting paid.  While we may not be rich in the literal sense, compared to a lot of other people in other parts of the world, we are so, so, rich!

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  So very true!  I enjoy the anticipation of Eric's return every few weeks and the time that we all have together is so special.  It is especially wonderful to watch my boys' eyes light up when we pull into the parking lot of the truck stop to pick up Eric.  It is even more fun to watch them climb into Eric's truck and be wowed by what their daddy does.

Preparation.  I honestly believe that God is using this season in life to prepare our family for something else down the road.  Who knows what that may be, but one thing I do know for certain is that God never puts us through a trial in vain.  He has a lesson that He wants us to learn.  It is my hope that I continue to be a studious pupil in His teaching and training so that I can be a blessing to others.

Happiness and contentment.  Once I made that decision to just get over myself and be happy life became much more bearable for myself (and probably the boys, too!).  We have a daily routine down and I know that it is going well since when Eric comes home it throws us off (in a very good way!).  I am thankful for a God who loves us even when we are not making the choice to be happy and content.  His patience for us is immeasurable!

Finally, I also know that God cannot bring about positive change without us being content where we are at.  If Eric is to ever go back into ministry or another profession how can we make a healthy transition if we are angry, bitter, and miserable?  We would never find satisfaction in anything, even if it is something that God intends to bring us happiness!  Think of all of the blessings we would miss!  So until the next chapter, our family will continue to to be faithful to the One who has been faithful to us.  We will delight in what is now.


Farm School Marm said...

Thank you for sharing your struggles - and your faith in the Lord. This was a very encouraging post!

The Peterson's said...

Very glad to hear a monier family update. :)