My family and I just moved from Central Illinois to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Despite knowing for weeks that the move was coming, the actual process of uprooting our family and re-locating felt like a whirlwind. What began as careful, organized packing (including labeling and numbering each box according to its contents) turned into a race against the clock–throwing anything and everything into boxes a.k.a. Supermarket Sweep.
You can’t imagine the depths of my relief when I discovered the box with my toiletries inside.
Note: The box was labeled “basement”–on track to be opened before a garage sale in the year 2024.
To my shock and awe, I’ve only discovered one casualty in my unpacking so far–a little ceramic cat given to me by a dear family friend who died of cancer over a decade ago.
The irony of this fractured cat
… is that it arrived in the Upper Peninsula much the same way I did–broken and headed to the heap. The 7 months leading up to our move were some of the hardest months of my life. Luke and I had been happy serving God where He had placed us. We were committed to digging deep and staying the course … and then we were done.
Months of hard questions and painful conversations took their toll. When I wasn’t in the Word–literally Book open, nose down–I was drowning. Never before have I been so acutely aware of my framework as dust.
But back to the cat.
A few days ago, I bought a bottle of Gorilla Heavy Duty, Super Glue Gel, and I went to work.
Here are 5 ways your grief (and mine!) is like my fractured cat–
1. It began with a disaster.
I don’t know the specifics that led to my shattered ceramic cat, but I’ve been told–and am apt to believe–it involves one of my children and a plethora of suddenly-ardent apologies. Likewise, I don’t know all of the specifics that led to the difficult valley my family and I were called to travel many months ago. But with regard to grief I am certain of this:
God writes hardship into our stories to strengthen our faith and increase our reliance on Him.
2. It (only) makes sense with a design.
There is zero chance I could put the ceramic cat back together without the knowledge of its design. When it comes to hands-on projects, I am hopelessly lost without a picture.
Thankfully, we have a picture for life’s disappointments. James tells us that “the testing of our faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:3), and steadfastness leads to greater Christlikeness … which leads (by God’s design) to better usefulness.
3. It hurts.
Note to the next crafting enthusiast: Gorilla Heavy Duty, Super Glue Gel is straight from the Devil. Specifically, it adheres to everything–including your skin. I was stuck to the table at one point, and I was genuinely convinced I would never write again for the damage it inflicted on my hands. Italy could correct the Leaning Tower of Pisa with one tiny bottle. It is evil. And it hurts.
So, too, the past several months have been wildly painful. And yet, in all of this, I continue to ask myself one question:
What if we have the phrase “beauty from ashes” all wrong? What if the trial is actually the beautiful thing meant to wean me from the ashes of my stubborn self-sufficiency?
4. It will be resolved.
I finished putting the cat together. Important to understand–it isn’t the same piece that once sat on a shelf in my old home because I couldn’t glue the dust back together. It is fundamentally changed. The cracks are painfully obvious. But I love it more than I did before because of what it survived–and how close I came to losing it.
I doubt I will ever be the same person I was before the painful event(s) of the past few months. Trials have a way of changing who we are and who we are becoming. But daily I am learning that is OK … and even more than that, it is good. The goal isn’t to leave this life the same person we were when we entered it. And, unfortunately, there is no quick or painless path to growth.
Bottom line: Either on earth or in heaven all painful circumstances will be resolved for the child of God.
5. It serves as a reminder.
The ceramic cat now sits in my office. Over the past 3 weeks especially, God has clarified and strengthened my desire to encourage women who are experiencing the shattered seasons of life. I don’t know how or when (or even if!) if will happen, but I am willing.
I’m certain when the Scriptures talk of Joshua and the stones of remembrance, it has something much more sacred in mind than a broken-but-horribly-repaired-ceramic-cat, but for me, it serves as a reminder that God is wholly sufficient.
In pursuit of joy–