I was sitting in church smiling to myself; no one around, just me, my coffee and this smile. I can hear them now. “Honey, you know that girl who comes by herself every weekend? She’s sitting up there, just smiling like a fool.”
For me, 2011 was the year of curve balls. More unexpected events came my way than miles I could possibly run on the treadmill. I had more nights of confusion than chocolate in my cabinets, believe me, I checked.
I like being prepared but pitches were thrown while I was still putting on my helmet. I would have practiced if I knew He was going with the curve. My days and nights would have been spent in the batting cages, getting stronger, preparing. That’s what I do, I plan and I prepare.
I wasn’t prepared though, not for what was coming my way. Two of my grandparents became sick, one with dementia and another with cancer. I had a relationship end in heartbreak, two of my dearest friends were diagnosed with cancer and my best friend moved away. It felt like I was drowning, like waves were crashing on top of me, one after another tossing me around as I fought to regain my footing.
I sit in the same spot every time, right of the stage, seventh pew back, against the wall. That’s my spot, reserved for me and my thoughts and my curve balls. When I first started going to church on a weekly basis, I was in the thick of it, desperately trying to keep my head above water, trying to keep it together, doubled over like I took a punch.
I’m a good person- I eat my vegetables, always have freshly painted nails and never swear in front of Grandpa, so why me? Why did He choose to bring me through this storm without my raincoat or Hunter boots? Church seemed like the only place that could possibly clear up my confusion so that’s where I went. I went and I sat in the same spot every time, right of the stage, seventh pew back, against the wall. Weekend after weekend I was there, trying to make sense of it all.
I wish I could tell you it got better over night. I wish I could tell you that everything makes sense to me now. I wish I could tell you that He FedEx’ed me a raincoat and my very own pair of Hunters, but I can’t and He didn’t. I realized I wasn’t going to be rescued from this storm, but rather navigated through it. Week by week, in the midst of the heartbreak, I felt my faith growing and my heart trusting.
I can’t tell you that everything is better now, but I can tell you that faith is strengthened in desperation, hope is the only thing stronger than fear and character is built through those times of heartbreak and setbacks.
I know now that God was building something in me, something new, something strong and unmovable; He was building my faith. I was under construction and He was my contractor. I was getting a renovation and renovations take time. Walls get torn down and a weak foundation gets replaced with a stronger one. A skylight gets installed, and the once dim room is filled with light.
Now that I’m renovated, I couldn’t be happier with what He’s done to the place. He got rid of the old, dirty and outdated things that made it ugly– things like worry, anxiety and excessive pride. Things have been made new and now they’re shiny and clean and I want everyone to come over for wine and see how pretty it is.
I don’t know what’s being renovated in your life today, or how many times you’ve struck out recently, but I do know that it gets better. You’ll get stronger and when you look back you’ll see that life is bittersweet. Just because you lose something doesn’t mean you won’t find it again. Having faith isn’t recognizing that He can, but rather knowing that He will. I’ve been given a piece of peace. I now know that beautiful things can emerge from the broken; things like faith, hope, and a shiny new place to call home.
I sit in the same spot every time, right of the stage, seventh pew back, against the wall. That’s my spot; reserved for me and my thoughts and my curve balls. But now I sit there, smiling like a fool, trusting God’s plan for me, waiting for the next pitch.