Last night I did something I haven’t done for a long time. I stayed up late writing. It feels like its been ages since I’ve allowed myself the time to sit in front of an open page, with no prompts or deadlines, and instead search inward to see what has been living beneath the surface. But last night, with the Christmas light glowing and me inside of our dark and quiet home, I felt like I needed to write. Like there is something the Lord in doing deep in my heart that is slowly making its way to the surface in a way that only writing can induce.
I’ve said it before and I’ll always caveat these thoughts by saying it isn’t my first nature to “feel” things. I’m embarrassingly goal oriented or as a dear friend put it “passionate and focused”. I get tunnel visioned towards possibility and dreams and unless “feeling things” is on the list of tasks to get me towards the goal, it ain’t happening. But over time, I find that all of the little things I feel start to compile. The disappointment I face in work. The frustration I face in business dreams. The challenges that come with doing life with others. They all continue to get pushed out of the way (for the sake of the goal) and pile up.
This whole thought train started because I recently had something disappointing happen to me. Without realizing it, I had put a lot of emotional eggs in this little basket of possibility and when things didn’t turn out the way I thought they might, I felt super bummed. And then I ate 4 brownies and watched Gilmore Girls all night. And it wasn’t just that disappointing thing that bummed me out, but weeks and months of feelings all compiling together at once. It’s continuous nights of fear of raising a child in a world that doesn’t always reflect the love of Jesus. It’s sadness about lack of shared resources globally. It’s frustration in my own personal want list and allowing myself to be sad about the missed days with my daughter. It’s broken relationships in families and miscommunications with people we love. It’s all of those things, slowly and quietly being put on hold for another day, and then realizing that a lot of days have passed and those feelings haven’t gone anywhere.
And then when something disappointing happens, regardless of how big or small it may seem, it feels like an avalanche of crushed dreams and sadness. I remember this feeling almost 5 years ago when I applied for a job that I thought I was the perfect fit for. I had prayed for an opportunity and this job seemed to fit exactly what I had been praying for, but I didn’t get it. I didn’t even get an interview. And now, knowing more about that position and the type of schedule it would have required, I see that the Lord was protecting me from what I really thought I wanted. That job wouldn’t allow me to be the type of parent I want to be, or to have a business with my husband, or lot of other things that have become incredibly important to our family. It is the perfect fit for someone else, but not for me. But in the moment, it crushed me.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a difficult relationship with disappointment, but at the beginning of this year, my husband Dillon and I started a “List of Favor”, determined to focus more on where God was showing up for us than to dwell on areas where we couldn’t see it. We have a little notebook in our home that we use to write down moments when we saw or experienced God’s favor. It might be “free drinks at a restaurant” or “we made it though winter without all being sick on the same day” or unexpected opportunities for our business. It’s been a good practice for us to name and claim favor when is experienced and has helped remind me of a big God who is for me.
I don’t know why, but sometimes that is a really hard concept for me to grasp. My brain naturally thinks that you work for what you have, but Jesus flips the script when saying that regardless of what I accomplish, I’m already worthy of His kindness and favor. God already is working and stirring on my behalf, regardless of my achievements or work ethic. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. I can be independent to a fault and don’t often turn to others for emotional support. I troubleshoot most of my personal problems with a quick google search or a call to my mom. It’s hard for me to accept the fact that God is not only is supportive of me (and around when things go wrong), but that God actually conjures scenarios in the world for me, on my behalf.
Favor reminds me of that.
Words and photography help me do that. They help me look deeper beneath the surface at what story is being told in my midst. And that’s what this journal space is as well. Its a reminder to me, maybe days or maybe years from now, that God was up to something in this season, and even when I didn’t always see it, but will be a reminder that God was for me and for our family in ways that we really needed.
So, even in the midst of uncertainty and disappointment, I’ll still continue to write the words, take the pictures, and search for favor with the belief that God is up to something much bigger and this is not the end of the story.
Not by a long shot.
**This post was written by guest author, Ashley Sider. More of her writing can be found at www.kinfolkcompany.com/journal