I said earlier this week that I was having a difficult time of late. And so I am. But, you know, the past five years have been harder than any I think I've experienced in my lifetime. I had different expectations of where I'd be just now, of what my life would look like, of who I'd be. Need I say that my expectations were apparently very far off target? In fact, the past five years seem to have been all about subtracting out every single element of what I thought. Being obtuse, I didn't begin to take the hint until this year when those mountaintop experiences began.
I have been ready for a positive major life change for years. You name it and I've dreamed it. This past year, in that first experience on the mountain, I laid down my dreams, my plans, my wants and told God I'd be, do, whatever He wanted. That was scary enough all in itself. There's that old thing I hear from so many, "But what if God asks me to go to Africa?" Well... what if He didn't?
I thought I'd done a decent job, giving up. In May, we took our vacation in St. Augustine where I was miserable beyond words. When we came home, we took one of our remaining days and went to that mountain once more. We sat on the stones overlooking the valley and as we prayed, I began to cry. One of my dreams, one that I've held onto for a number of years now, was that I might live in the St. Augustine area. I stubbornly held onto that even when the economy collapsed and our personal economy slipped a bit, too, enough to put that dream of living there a greater impossibility than ever. I held onto it even after that 'laying down' of my dreams before God. Truly I didn't see that it was something I should have given up because it had been abundantly clear that if we were to live there, God would have to be the author of it. I realized that this, too, had to be put away. It was so hard. Ultimately I had to trust that what God wants for me is far better than any thing I can plan for myself. I'm too limited by my human-ness to see what He can see.
And so I determined to be content. If I couldn't have the dream life I wanted, I'd just learn to love the life I had. I'd make this house my dream home. I'd make this life my dream life. I'd fashion myself a cottage and a garden and try new things.
So here we are and it's nearly August and I've accomplished nothing. It's rained buckets, gallons, waterfalls of rain. The yard filled with water and the plants stopped growing, even the grass slowed down. Well all the plants except the massive amount of weeds in the flower beds and the little trees and privet hedges and briars and poison ivy which flourished in all the places they oughtn't and pretty much took over.
Our economy sank a bit further and it affected our personal economy though we've been frantically bailing out the boat. All the things that got tossed out of our boat was that margin that would have allowed me to begin to do anything that might have promoted the cottage farmhouse I thought we'd make our home. John planned a major project and it took weeks before my carpenter brother showed up to see what we wanted. It's been weeks again and we've yet to get a quote despite our determination to go ahead with the work. I began to feel depressed as one obstacle after another sprang up to prevent me doing even simple things about the place.
Alarmed at my own state of mind I began to keep track of the trickle of blessings that were coming into our lives. Every single day I've written out a gratitude list, reminding myself that I was a blessed woman, no matter my circumstances.
But this week I couldn't see the mountain from the Valley at all. I couldn't find the blessings hidden amongst the weeds. I could only see the shambles. Determination rallied me. I had an opportunity to begin to aspire to that person I was sure God wanted me to be and I was pretty certain a positive change was about to occur. In the end, I was shattered. I realized it wasn't what God wanted at all, it was MY thoughts, not His inspiration. I felt broken beyond repair, I did truly. I was frustrated beyond measure, I wanted to cry out and scream and shout. I wanted to blame others. I wanted to kick the walls. I wanted MY way after all.
The valley is where I live and strain though I might for the mountain top, I am firmly planted at this time. Right here in this valley. You know what I feared most? That God would demand I stay here. Right where I am. In this place, seeking Him amid the every day, looking up at the mountaintop where I long to be. And so I shall. I'll trust Him.