When Life is a Whirlwind
It started mid-June of this year, a new season in my life that I am jokingly calling my “whirlwind season”. Life has been a flurry of activity and stress and incredible joy. Stress and joy, you ask? How is this possible?
Prior to whirlwind season, my husband and I walked through a season of healing and rest. It was a time of recovery, of learning to trust again, a time of not allowing our schedules to be driven by the expectations of others, but to truly seek God’s plan and his desires for us.
I liked that season. A lot. But here’s the thing about seasons- they come to an end. I believe we walked through that season, because we serve a God who knows exactly what we need, one who lavishes his love on us in personal ways. I believe we are walking through this current season for exactly the same reasons- God knows what we need and his love is still being lavished on us.
The season of rest has become a solid foundation for whirlwind season. While life swirls around us, we are able to see God’s hand at work and we are constantly reminded to rely on him. He has proven himself trustworthy and faithful.
Here are some of the lessons I am learning in whirlwind season.
1. Hold expectations with open hands. On our anniversary in June, my husband and I took a trip to a gorgeous state park with the intention of using my 40th birthday gift certificate to take a hot air balloon ride over waterfalls. Dream come true, right? Except it wasn’t, because we woke up to horrible weather which made flying conditions impossible. To make matters worse, it was our only free weekend of the summer. It is not an easy thing to plan getaways when you have four children. So here we are in October and our hot air balloon adventure is postponed until next summer. In my disappointment I must not forget the amazing gift of being able to complete one of my Dayedreams!
2. Perspective is a gift. On our epic road trip this past summer, I had an epic meltdown between Alabama and Texas. My husband’s rational and reasonable nature and my spontaneous and make-memories-at-all-costs nature collided, but since my husband was behind the wheel (and because even in my worst moments, I love my husband dearly), he won. And I was mad. When I am angry, I need to spend some time alone to think and to pray, but where is one to go on a road trip? So, I climbed in the back with the kids and watched a movie- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. By the time it was over, I had regained perspective and I could once again appreciate my husband’s logic. Even at the worst moments, if we look hard enough, we will find the good.
3. Criticism will come unexpectedly, so expect it! In our season of healing and rest, it seemed like the critics in our lives had been silenced. I now realize that this was God’s grace and I am so grateful for that time of respite. But criticism is a part of life. Realizing that we will never make everyone happy all of the time and understanding that it is not our job to please people, but only to please God (Galatians 1:10) is crucial to a life well lived. That doesn’t make it any easier when criticism comes especially when that criticism is unfair and harsh. But I have found that when I expect criticism to come, my response turns to trusting in God much faster.
4. I should be proud of my children without being pompous. My children have amazing moments that make me proud, but they also have awful moments that leave me feeling like an absolute failure. I am learning to celebrate the successes with wisdom. Both the amazing moments and the awful moments should keep me running to Jesus, to praise him for both because both are from him. When my children accomplish something amazing, I can be proud of the fact that they are living out who Christ has made them to be. And when they fail, I can use those moments as a teaching opportunity, to remind them of their need for Jesus. Neither the amazing or the awful moments are about me. I’m learning to get over myself!
5. Sometimes dreams come true. At the beginning of June, I saw a listing for a home for sale in a neighborhood close to us. At the time, we were not considering buying a house. At all. We bought a minivan instead, but there was always the thought in the back of my head and in the secret places of my heart that someday it would be awesome to own our own home. When I saw this particular house, I fell in love. Perfect neighborhood, perfect size, the right number of bathrooms- all of the things we could have hoped for. Over the course of the summer, buying a home progressed from maybe someday to we need to consider this right now! It was a surprise that left us scrambling. On a whim, I looked up the old listing and to my surprise, the house was still for sale!!! We went to see it and I fell even more in love. We took the kids to see it and they fell in love too. When dreams move to reality, there is a period of time when my heart needs to transition. I find it easy to trust God with my dreams, but trusting him when my heart is completely sold on something and I have to wait is excruciatingly hard for me. In this time, there was a period of surrendering my timeline, my dreams and my plans. I had to be willing to say that if this house was sold before we could make an offer on it, I needed to be okay with that. I surrendered and the peace that passes understanding flooded over me. Funny how that happens! We waited for God’s timing and were absolutely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and generosity from people who love us. We were able to make an offer that was accepted.
And so, the whirlwind season continues. Now we are preparing for a move and making plans for our future home, while trying to stay sane with all of the craziness of life. Through it all, we see God’s hand and his goodness so clearly. What would we do if we didn’t trust in him? How could we not be blown away by the whirlwind if our feet were not firmly planted on our Rock and our Refuge?
When life is a whirlwind, I will trust in my firm foundation.
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
(John Rippon, 1787)