If you know me, you probably know that about a month and a half from now will be the two year mark of when I nearly lost my mom to kidney disease. Actually, if I’m honest, many of you may not even know that. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months talking with my mom about opening up, and how I (we) don’t quite let people all the way in… a trait I most certainly inherited from her. Recently, we both have learned about the vulnerability God seeks for us. He wants us to open up. To share what’s happening in our lives. To let other people in so they can handle what’s happening with us. When we, any of us who have been transformed by Christ, tell our own stories, we’re telling the story of who God is.
Tragedy teaches us. A lot. It teaches us a lot about ourselves, about God and about the people in our lives and who we surround ourselves with. One of the things I’ve learned is that when things fall apart, there will be a lot of broken pieces… but those pieces allow for other things to enter — things like the presence of God, which we find both in stillness, but also in the love of the people we call our home team.
Everybody has a home team: It’s the people you call when you get a flat tire or when something terrible happens. It’s the people who, near or far, know everything that’s wrong with you and love you anyways. These are the ones who tell you their secrets, who get themselves a glass of water without asking when they’re at your house. These are the people who cry when you cry. These are your people, your middle-of-the-night, no-matter-what people. – Shauna Niequist, “Bittersweet”
Everyone’s home team will look different but if yours is anything like mine — they look like a team full of people from all different walks of life, some of whom have known me since the days I barely spoke & was the last player picked for the team (ironic considering my current sports broadcast career) and some I’ve only known for a short time but immediately became part of my team. It’s often said that one of the sure things in life is that people will disappoint you. While unfortunately the past couple years have proven there is truth in that statement, people will also amaze you. They will bless your life in so many ways, show you the heart of God and surprise you with acts of love you never expected. And sometimes, though they won’t be able to mend your hurt or meet your needs, they’ll still enter in. “And even though I realize I cannot always mend or meet, I can enter in. I can enter into someone’s pain and sit with them and know. This is Jesus. Not that He apologizes for the hard and the hurt, but that He enters in, He comes with us to the hard places. And so I continue to enter.” (Words Katie Davis’ Kisses from Katie, a book you MUST read if you haven’t)
I truly believe that nothing really good gets built when everything is easy. These two toughest years of my life have also been two of my biggest years of growth. I’ve been shown the most beautiful example of what a marriage full of true love looks like, thanks to my dad. I’ve seen a daily strength in my mom that can only be described as epic. Though I thought it was impossible, my sister and I have somehow become even closer. I thought I knew this before, but even more I’ve learned to fully, with everything in you, trust God’s plan. I’ve been taught that God is not at all concerned with our comfort, but how our circumstances can change us.
I’ve come to pray for the impossible and understand that God is offended by anything less. I pray daily for complete healing, for a new kidney for my mom, for someone I know (or even a complete stranger) to feel God calling them to be her living donor. My God is so big; bigger than my family’s problems, and I’ve learned to pray like it. Impossible prayers honor God. They reveal our faith and allow Him to reveal His glory.
I believe deeply that God does his best work in our lives during times of great heartbreak and loss, and I believe that much of that rich work is done by the hands of people who love us, who dive into the wreckage with us and show us who God is, over and over and over… When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow. – Shauna Niequist