By: Christine Fishel
At the end of 2016, I was exhausted from the distress of helping to move my parents into an assisted living facility. At 48, I was struggling to keep my energy level up to continue my mothering of 4 school-age children, keeping the house together while my husband worked, and maintaining my job as a childcare provider in our home. I had heard of the Kickstarter product Passion Planner, and was eager to order mine. I’d been a big fan of Steven Covey back in the day, and this approach to identifying and integrating life goals into daily calendar planning sounded right up my alley.
I loved the goal-planning portion at the beginning of the calendar, and while I had several medium term goals identified, my lifetime goal of completely rely on Christ in every situation was the one that I desired most. I knew the health, financial and career goals would come in line if I first developed habits toward establishing that first goal.
I came up with several action items to help me move in that direction. Looking at it now, I see how naïve I was just a year ago.
Because God took my desire very seriously. He drew me into Him. Just not in the way I expected.
First, my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Next, my little brother was shot, arrested, and publicly exposed as a voyeur. Then, my grandmother died. Immediately after her funeral, my older brother emptied years of rage onto me and made it clear he had no intention of ever having a healthy sibling relationship. I was just beginning to recover my balance from all of this when my father died suddenly and unexpectedly. Later that month, my younger brother was sentenced to 6 months in jail for the crimes he committed earlier in the year. Two weeks after my father’s funeral, my sister and I helped our mom sell the family home and all of its interior tangible goods. Just this month, my 10 year old son’s mental disorders have reached an all-new high level of difficulty for him and our entire family, resulting in him participating in a two-week partial hospital stay.
Frankly, it’s been a really crappy year.
It’s not lost on me that I made it very clear to myself and my God that I wanted to spend this year learning to rely completely on Him in every situation.
I’ve heard people warn: Be careful what you pray for. God will honor your request.
And ain’t that the truth.
And knowing that, I wouldn’t change a thing that’s happened this past year. How could I when I know He’s been in the driver’s seat? He’s been in charge, not because I showed the wisdom to step back and let Him take over, but because I was too overwhelmed, too distraught, too hurt and angry and confused to do anything remotely strategic. Here’s the only thing I did: I held on. I cried tears when they caught up in my throat. I screamed angry words into my pillow when they were ready to burst out of me. I told myself daily that I trusted God and just simply held onto that belief.
I look in the mirror and see the layers of puffy bags that have taken residence under my eyes, the deep wrinkles that have changed the shape of my lips, the 40 added pounds that have brought me an aching back and feet. I try to see the heart within me that has changed, too. The can’t-do-anything-else-but-rely-on-Jesus heart that is growing stronger.
I know this is the gift I’ve desired, and it’ll serve me beyond what I can imagine. I wish I didn’t have to sacrifice the superficial things to get it, but I do know it’s more valuable than any of the other. And I want to remember what I learned this past year: Be careful what you pray for. Make sure you pray for something big. Something that will change you. And when it does, hold on.