On This, the Anniversary I Never Planned to Have

One year ago today was a good day.

My husband and I were joyfully serving a church we love. We were within 3 months of adding a third child to our family via adoption. We had rich, deep relationships we believed would last a lifetime. Our kids were thriving in an environment they greatly enjoyed.

We spent Sunday School one year ago today talking to a group of teens about how we can glorify God in our trials. Little did we know the hours of preparation and discussion were actually for us.

The next evening, on Monday night–to our total surprise–we lost everything listed above.

Why it happened and why it happened the way it did are no longer answers I need. That isn’t the point of this post. I share these things to tell you this:

Over the past year, I have struggled with the deepest, darkest trial of my adult life.

 

 

Confession

I can understand how–to anyone who has experienced far bigger griefs–my story might seem like the knock-off version of a real trial. Certainly people I know and love have endured harder, more permanent loss. But–as I have learned over the past year–many people have been wrecked by far less than life’s worst case scenario.

And I certainly became a candidate for the wreckage yard.

In my case, the trial touched every aspect of my life–spiritual, physical, emotional, mental–so that I identified with Charles Spurgeon who wrote–

There comes a time in most of our lives in which we no longer have the strength to lift ourselves out or to pretend ourselves strong. Sometimes our minds want to break because life stomped on us and God didn’t stop it.

 

 

 

Spoiler alert

As a rule, when reading a book, I refuse to flip to the last chapter first. (And, frankly, I realize the last chapter of the story I’m telling you now has yet to be written.) But without lingering in the messy middle of the past year, here’s an update. Five months ago, God graciously moved our family to a new state with precious brothers and sisters who have welcomed us wholeheartedly. We have been transparent with them–and they with us–and God is doing a good thing.

And because perfect pots prohibit the glory of God from shining, I pray daily that the deep, recently formed cracks in my heart and life will eventually become beacons of light for the glory of God.

So why write about the past year?

I understand the question.

Surely there are more pleasant topics–ones that wouldn’t require me to lay my most personal recent hurt on the table for public consumption and potential criticism. To be clear: I have no axe to grind, no dirty laundry to air. Not at all. What I desire to write now is less about what happened to me than it is about what happened within me as a result. The last year, after all, could be filed under a tab with 6 words: But for the grace of God.

In his classic work, The Cross of Christ, John Stott wrote–

“The fact of suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith, and has been in every generation.”

During the past year I have met more people with hurting hearts than I can recall meeting in previous years combined, and I have come to better understand how each of us carries burdens of which the world is unaware. And I am now ready to write about the past year because I know what it is to have my faith challenged.

And, more importantly, I know what it is to be held by God.

 

 

The anniversary I never planned to have

One year ago tomorrow I entered a fog that has only recently begun to lift. But tomorrow I’ll not dwell on that.

Instead, I’m going to celebrate that one year ago tomorrow God began a necessary (though initially unwelcome) process of change in me. I’m going to celebrate that–in spite of my weaknesses–He has been faithful beyond measure, and that He makes all things new.

I identify with David who wrote–

“I had fainted unless I believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13).

Tomorrow I will celebrate the goodness of God Who graciously upheld this faint-hearted girl and rooted her in the land of the living. (And planted her amongst a group of kind-hearted folks in Northern Michigan.)

And on Thursday I’ll be back to share about the day an entourage of police showed up and why I believe grief is a threat to faith.

Whatever you are facing today, believe with me that the Good Shepherd will never lead us down the wrong path.

 

In pursuit of joy–

Trisha Signature

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  • As I read your post my heart broke that my niece and family would have to go through that difficult time, yet I celebrate the heart wrenching lessons God has lovingly hand picked for your family. Thank you for being transparent. Being broken before God is a good place to be for He along can heal. If we look we will see hurting people all around us. Trusting God will use you to bring glory to Himself through the lessons He is teaching you. Until He calls us home, may our heart’s desire be for Christ alone.

    • Sweet Aunt Vickie,

      Thank you for your note. I, too, celebrate (yes–great word!) the reality that God isn’t finished investing in my growth. Transparency isn’t easy or comfortable, but the older I get, the more I am finding it is the only way to live. Love you very much. You and your steadfast commitment to the sovereignty of God are a great gift to me.

      –Trisha

  • My husband and I just finished reading your trilogy. I hope you are busy writing more. I can’t imagine what has happened in your life recently but you certainly have a lot to live for and contribute. I remember you as a student at Tri-City. I think you were in one of my Spanish classes and maybe even Journalism. Maybe this time next year your blog will be about the positive things that have happened during this coming year. I pray this will be the case. Mrs. Julia Hansen Mynock

    • Senora!

      YES! I was in your Spanish classes. I hope your memory is poor enough to remember me as your best and most committed Spanish student. 🙂 And I certainly took every writing class I could get my hands on. Thanks for your investment in my life and education. Thank you, also, for reading the trilogy. That means so very much.

      God is good, and I praise Him for what He will do this year. Thank you for your kind note. I hope you are doing well. I believe my friend, Bethany, married your nephew, Erik. Wonderfully small world, isn’t it?

      –Trisha

  • We too have an anniversary coming up and exactly one month from now! This article hits the nail right on the head! It is exactly what I am going through! Yes, God did not fix it and I do not understand why. I don’t even know if I’ll ever know! You’re right everything in our lives has changed…. greatly! So thank you for this article it has helped. So for now I just rest in God’s arms for that it’s all I can do and have the strength for.

    • Thank you for this precious note. I have prayed for you often over the past year and remember the absolute kick to the stomach it was to read the news from your daughter. I can’t pretend to understand what you are feeling or facing on a daily basis, but I am grateful for your perseverance. I sure wish we could sit down for coffee (or more specifically Diet Coke, in my case) and just talk. I feel like I could learn a lot from you. I hope we have that opportunity someday.

      Love you much … and, with you, I look forward to seeing him again when there are no more hard goodbyes.
      –Trisha

  • Thank you for being so honest yet holding on to hope. It seems like no one adequately warns Christians of those seasons of brokenness, but maybe no one could. May God continue to restore your soul as he has been restoring mine.

    • Daniel,

      Thank you for your kind words! I agree with you that we do not discuss seasons of brokenness like we could (and probably should). Especially since brokenness easily creates the crossroads at which we choose to persevere or walk away. With so much hurt in the world, it’s strange we work so hard to avoid discussing it. Regardless, God is good and faithful, and that is our best hope in heartache.

      So good to hear from you again! Thanks for leaving a comment. Thank you, most of all, for your prayers–and know that you are in ours as well.

      –Trisha