Funks and Faithfulness

Is it possible to be in a funk for over two years?

I’m not sure exactly what I have been experiencing, but my life has changed in so many ways over the past several years that I am still struggling to find my new rhythm.

It all started with the opportunity to buy our own home. We had been living in our church parsonage and were quite happy there. But during the process of hiring a new associate pastor, we discovered that it made sense for us to look for a home so that the new pastor’s family could move into the parsonage.

In my forty-three years of life, only five of those have been lived in a home that my family owned. This move was quite significant for me. Having a place to truly move in to and make my own, a place that doesn’t feel temporary has affected me in deep ways. A few months after moving in, we made the decision to buy a puppy. Sadie has impacted our lives in wonderful and difficult ways. She loves completely and is a wonderful snuggler, but she has also reminded me of how selfish I can be (as I write this, she is sleeping in her crate, but when she wakes up, I will need to take her outside- and we are experiencing a snowstorm in April! Not the way I want to start the day!).

We were adjusting to life with a new puppy when it became clear to us that we needed to consider homeschooling our four children. The decision felt sudden and abrupt, but in retrospect, we can see how God was preparing our family for this decision. It doesn’t mean it was easy.

When we told our kids what God was leading us to do, their responses surprised me. The ones I thought would struggle with being homeschooled were excited and the one I expected to go with the flow was not happy with the decision. What surprised me the most was the responses of friends to our decision.

I didn’t expect to lose friendships that were important to me. I should have expected changes in relationships, but I didn’t expect to enter into arguments over differences of opinion and I certainly did not foresee friends walking away. Over the past couple of years, I have realized how important friendships are to me. In wanting to know why I have struggled so deeply in this area, I started exploring personality types in depth, being careful to maintain a Biblical perspective. I am an ENFP in the Myers Briggs scale and a 2 in the Enneagram system. There were two things that stood out in my research that made complete sense to me:  first, I love people deeply, but when I sense that someone has a strong opinion, but is unwilling to consider any other possibilities, I will fight back, not necessarily because I disagree, but because I believe so deeply that being willing to hear where someone else is coming from is more important than being right (to be clear, there ARE absolutes, truths in Scripture that we cannot back down from, but there can still be humility in discussion and love for the other person). And second, when I am unhealthy emotionally, my deep love for people is tainted by pride and I feel a need to make people love me and need me. Obviously, that doesn’t work.

As I have faced some deep hurts in my life, it has felt like the peeling of an onion, layers upon layers of heart work, sin being revealed and confession needing to take place. As the Holy Spirit has gently pulled back those layers, I can see the patterns in my life of trusting in my own gifts and abilities, instead of admitting that I am in desperate need of a Savior and the work that only He can do. This has been both painful and freeing. Hebrews 12:1 talks about the sin that so easily entangles, and I have experienced the veracity of this statement as I slip into selfishness and pride so easily. Seeing the ugliness in my own heart has broken me and what I have found in my brokenness is freedom. Freedom to mess up and still be loved by my Creator and by the grace-filled people in my life. Freedom to not be perfect, yet to be forgiven.

As this painful heart work was going on, we started homeschooling our kids and quickly discovered that we ALL loved it! My husband and I took great care with picking curriculum and discovered that knowing what our kids were learning brought a closeness to our family and a deeper connection than we could have anticipated. We started reading through the Bible as a family and continue to begin every day this way. We sing together, we read books together, we do art projects together, we go on wonderful field trip adventures, and we have the opportunity to work through personality conflicts. My child that was struggling the most was won over to homeschooling when we figured out that schoolwork could be done before the public schools were finished AND there was no “homework”- when you finish your work, you are done for the day. This might be the biggest blessing of homeschool- discovering that there is time to pursue passions and that learning is FUN.

Soon after our first year of homeschool began, my Mom’s health started failing dramatically. Her decline was sudden and there were several occasions when we thought that we would lose her. Because our kids were home with us, we were able to take a quick trip from New York to Kansas to help clear out her apartment and move her to a nursing home. While I am so grateful for the ability to do that, it felt surreal and wrong. We had said the final goodbye to my Dad only three years before and it felt too soon to even have to consider saying goodbye to my Mom. But God has blessed us beyond what we could have imagined. While her health is still not great, He has allowed us extra time with her and we are counting our blessings. We do not take this for granted!

New house, new puppy, homeschooling, relationship issues, heart issues, and facing the possibility of losing my Mom- they are all contributing factors to the funk I have found myself in for the past few years. I have felt stuck, unable to develop any type of rhythm.

How does one remain faithful in the midst of so many changes and difficulties?

This is the question that I have been asking lately. Life is not ours to manipulate and control. Rather it is learning to trust in a loving and faithful God as we walk through the trials and the joys He brings our way. Perhaps having all of my ducks in a row is an illusion. If that is my goal, to have my life look nice and tidy, the way I want it to be, then I am not trusting in God’s plan for me. He never promised that life would be easy. He never said, “Be faithful when everything is going well and when it all makes sense.” He did say, “Follow me!” 

That is what I am choosing to do- follow Him. And as Charles Spurgeon once said,

I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages.

Day by day, one step at a time faithfulness. This is what I am seeking. When I mess up or when I feel stuck, it’s simply a reminder to lean more fully on the One who is my refuge and strength.