This is one of my most treasured pictures of my Mom and I. It was taken in Hawaii. Hawaii is by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It possesses the kind of beauty that makes you think how on earth could this place be created only by chance. Its scenery makes you slow down; it makes you want to breath in the beauty; it makes you want to press pause if only for a moment and say to the Creator of that place, “There is no such thing as chance. No, there is no such thing as random occurrence. You, Lord, you created this place, you created this moment.”
I wish I could go back in time and ask my Mom what she was thinking in this picture as she too paused at the beauty around her. Knowing my Mom’s heart, knowing her incredible kind and selfless nature, knowing her love for her Creator, something deep within me believes this moment signified her declaration to live, to parent, and to love in a way that was saturated in surrender. It was a moment perhaps where her heart whispered, “Father, I want my life to draw people to you. I want to be used to increase other’s dependence on you. I want my life to count for your glory and your honor in the way I live, love, and parent…whatever it takes, Lord. That is what my heart desires.”
2017 has been a hard year. It has brought tragedy and chaos and lots of questioning. Because if God is good and everything that happens in this life is for His glory, how do you reconcile this truth with the reality of sudden loss and the slow burn of tragedy?
If you were sitting across from me, you would hear the anger I am trying hard to fight against. You would hear my frustration with God, and you would see eyes trying to hope and see good when all they want to do is look the other way. You would see the regret of a daughter who for over a decade has loved at an arm’s length. You would see the remorse from not loving a parent well. You would see the heartbreak that has occurred slowly and steadily as I tried to live my own life free from the mess which I blamed so much of on my Mom.
I had grown lukewarm: the bad news, the sicknesses, the relapses, the hospital stays, they no longer affected me. They were just unfortunate facts that kept occurring to someone who, I thought, had brought it upon themselves.
Conviction can be brutal. But repentance is truly a beautiful thing. It is hard and messy and usually requires living in a way that is overwhelmingly foreign yet at the same time feels right at home. Every day is different-lots of mistakes, lots of anger, but most importantly lots of grace.
Over the past couple of weeks, the Lord has reminded me that this life we live is truly all about dependence. And as I struggle to make sense of the sadness, I am reminded again and again that the purpose of our lives, as believers, is to point others to Him…to draw people towards a dependence on a heavenly Father.
Hebrews chapter 11 is often referred to as the “Hall of Fame” for great men and women throughout the bible who lived a life of faith. Abraham, Isaac, Noah, Moses, Rahab (only to name a few), are all commended for living a life defined by their faith and the Lord blessed them because of it. He provided favor and provision in unspeakable ways. But then the author goes on to remind us of the following (Hebrews 11:35-38 paraphrased):
But others were tortured…some faced jeers and flogging. Some were chained and put in prison. Some were stoned and sawed in two and put to death by the sword. Some people lived lives destitute, persecuted, and mistreated.
For me personally, I am so quick to pray for the same favor of Abraham, Isaac, Moses, etc. Give me that, Lord. Give me the successes of these people.
But what God is saying in this text is a favored life is not marked by our world’s definition of success. Failure, poverty, persecution, suffering…these are also marks of God’s favor. Because in the end, it is all for His glory. And it is all about keeping the faith no matter what side you may find yourself on in this spectrum.
On Friday we hope to find out a little bit more about what is going on with my Mom’s mind. Is the dementia reversible or will it only grow worst? Will her life continue to have to be lived in a dementia center or will independence one day enter the picture again. At age 55 what will the coming years look like for her mind and her health?
To be honest, I am tired of praying for restoration. Do I believe God has the power to restore her mind, absolutely. But for almost 15 years now I have been praying to God to change her, to make her someone she is not, to heal her. I wanted Him to make her into the mother I wanted her to be.
Never once did I pray for compassion to love her well exactly how she is. Never once did I think she is/was perfect exactly as she was/is. Never once did I thank God for her suffering. Never once did I pause to think maybe all that has happened truly is for God’s glory and actually an answered prayer to my mom’s declaration to live a life of surrender: “Father, I want my life to draw people to you…I want to be used to increase other’s dependence on you… I want my life to count for your glory and your honor...whatever it takes, Lord. That is what my heart desires.”
There is an absolutely breathtaking statement at the closing of Hebrews chapter 11 as the author finishes out describing the suffering some of those faithful servants endured. He wraps up the section with these words (Hebrews 11:38):
…The world was not worthy of them...
I have no doubt when my mom takes her last breath and stands before her Creator, that these words will be spoken of her life. “The world was not worthy of you, Dianne, my love. Your life drew people to me. Your suffering, pointed others to me. You let me use you to create dependence. Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have done so well and with you I am well pleased.”
To those of you who are haunted by the pain of a tragedy; for those of you who question the goodness of God because of the pain of an unspeakable event, my prayer for you is that you would see and know your heavenly Father wants your dependence. And in a beautiful yet tragic way, He will pursue you and He will use you until it is on He that you depend.