We're just emerging from a rainy season that spanned much of the calendar year to this point but I'm also simultaneously emerging from a drought. A spiritual time of no rain.
Mostly I think the honeymoon just ended and I didn't notice. I was still cruising through my days expecting blue skies and a cool breeze and instead found the terrain was rough and the region inhospitable. Not the geographical region, of course, but rather the place where my expectation no longer matched my reality.
And so I did what any self-protecting person does ... I protected myself. I did so by inching away from the One who was walking me through such unfavorable conditions. I believe they call it the Refiner's Fire and I wasn't too thrilled about getting burned.
We'd spent two years in Thailand and while it had been challenging at each new level, we were largely shielded from hugely significant trials. We obviously didn't feel that way but we clearly see it in hindsight. God had walked us through trials for two years in a foreign land in order to prepare us for what felt like a time of no rain.
Early in the year we got hit with covid during the period where the government was still heavily involved in every case. We were locked down on our property, not even allowed to leave for food or water. We were lectured by the schools and our Thai kids weren't allowed back for 5 weeks. We felt like criminals for contracting a virus that everyone in the known world was coming down with.
From there we quickly slid into one life change after another. The number of people living on the property changed drastically as we took in more children. We started the year with 11 Thai kids and now, almost 11 months later, we have 25. We love every single last one of them but I'd be lying if I omitted the truth that the whole thing has taken a toll. We've watched the slow erosion of ourselves, and each other, as we've tried to navigate the mess of continuous change.
And for me personally, I responded to all this by progressively slipping away from God because I was frustrated that He was giving us more than we could gracefully handle. I'd have a few weeks, or even a month, where I'd regain my footing without realizing that it was by sheer grit and determination rather than genuine surrender. And so weeks turned into months and months have turned into almost a year and I'm finally seeing things for what they are and I'm not liking who I am.
Because this me is the one that hasn't been clinging to Jesus.
So I got back to the basics. I started getting up earlier again and sitting with the Word, fighting to get something from it by begging the Holy Spirit to give me ears willing to hear. And then I slide into my sandals and slip out through the still-darkened morning to prayer walk our property. With my prayer journal in hand, I have started purposefully (quite literally) walking with God again.
It's a hard road back. There's been a lot lost over the past year. My marriage has taken a hit and it'll take intention to recover. Our family has changed in the process and time will tell if we ever go back to what we were or if God is just moving us into something new. I want to be fine with either. I want desperately to learn contentment and the dissolution of self.
The reality I've been hiding from is, the hard times actually do us more good than most of the easy ones. But who among us likes that truth? We want to grow but we don't want growing to hurt. We want to be disciples but we don't want the training to come at a cost.
If we want to truly represent Jesus, we need to be willing to pay the price!