I was holding my mother’s hand the moment she died. I’ve mourned the loss of children I never named or held. I’ve felt the sting of losing a job. I’ve known the ache of betrayal. But there was one loss that lingered for years, one I couldn’t name at first, a sense of imbalance I couldn’t right, a futile pursuit that exhausted. It greeted me each morning with every sunrise, and gripped me with a pressure that bruised and suffocated–oh, how ridiculous it seemed when I named it: the loss of expectation.
It shamed and embarrassed me–how it tormented me–how could something so shallow (compared to death or destruction) sink me into a depressing heaviness of heart whose tablemates were rejection and mockery? I wanted to shake it off. Every day I determined to be bigger than it, toggling between pretending none of it mattered, and raging at how it dared to touch the tender places I couldn’t protect. It created such a fracture in my heart, that my life is marked by that time as before and after.
It was a spring in the after that God stuck a verse in my thoughts, a steady repetition of the words “I will give you back the years.” I was working in the yard that day, and stopped to get to a computer and search the scriptures for those words. They led me straight to Joel (In more than one way–we purchased this land from a man named Joel.).
The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost
to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts,
the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. (Joel 2:25a, NLT)
The next sentence was totally unexpected. I stopped short.
It was I who sent this great destroying army against you. (Joel 2:25b, NLT)
And suddenly those years before made sense. The loss made sense. I was humbled and awed, truly, but above all, I was grateful.
Thank you, God, for showing me what life can be like when I lay down my own pursuits and seek your will. Thank you for bringing us here. Thank you for healing and hope restored. Thank you for changing my heart. Thank you for these five full years. Thank you for saving me from an even greater grief.
In life before, I never imagined that I would ever find myself grateful for heartache, dashed dreams, or loss of expectation. But in life after, I’m thankful for God’s intervention and the very hard heart work that changed my life.