grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

Puzzle-Box Trust : My Story

on April 23, 2014


{About a month ago, I was given the incredible privilege of telling an 8-minute version of My Story to a beautiful group of women gathered for an annual Spring breakfast. I pray that by sharing it here, you will see Him and the stroke of His pen not only in my story, but in yours. Because we all have a story.}

For as long as I can remember, I lived a fear-based life. Partly due to how I’m hard-wired and partly due to growing up in a chaotic environment. (Thankfully, neither of those factors were a surprise to God!) Living from a place of fear has been at the root of many choices I’ve made in my life and some of those choices have had not-so-good consequences.

I believe that tendency to be fear-filled led to several health challenges for me. From 1999-2010, I was diagnosed and treated for endometriosis, a wonky case of autoimmune hypothyroidism, appendicitis, knee problems requiring double knee surgery, achalasia (the loss of nerves that control movement in the esophagus) that required testing and surgery at Mayo Clinic, and two separate cancer scares that required surgeries, but were thankfully benign. During those years, and all those issues, I worked hard to handle them and figure them out in my own ‘power’ and ‘knowledge.’ And you know what? I had some success and found some great medical professionals and learned a lot of things. But, through it all, I remained fearful…I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

In the spring of 2010 – almost exactly four years ago – God began to shake my world. In ways that, had I been able to see them coming, I know I would have run the other way! Things were not going well in my marriage, some long-term friendships that had been precious to me ended abruptly, and in July of that year, they found cancer in my left breast during a routine mammogram. Aggressive cancer. The kind the pathologist used the word ‘bizarre’ to describe. I didn’t even know that was a considered a medical term!

After the struggles in my marriage and the loss of friendships that marked the first half of that year, you’d think I would’ve crumbled when the mammogram tech said, ‘I shouldn’t be telling you this, but there was something there I don’t think they’re going to like. You’ll probably get a call from your nurse practitioner who’ll probably want you see a surgeon.’ But I didn’t crumble. I was ready for that news. Not because I had felt a lump. Not because I ‘had a hunch.’ Not because of anything I did, or said, or was. I was ready because, as I was folding my clothes in the changing room just before that mammogram, God whispered to my heart, ‘They are going to find something, but you are going to be okay.’ Instead of being freaked out, I can honestly say that, in that moment, I felt peace. I believe that God whispered those words to me because He knew my tendency to fear. I believe He whispered those words to my heart because He knew I would need something to hang on to over the next weeks, months, and years.

I also believe that God stripped away some things prior to that diagnosis because He wanted to prove HIS sufficiency to me. Things like any sense of control I had over my health, in my marriage, in those friendships. I’m able to see how I had let those things become more important to my heart than my relationship with Him. That habit of doing things on my own, my need for control, my turning to those friends before I turned to Him. He wanted me to TRUST Him – first and foremost.

In late 2012, I was introduced to the concept of choosing a Word of The Year (versus making a list of New Year’s Resolutions). After serious deliberation, the word TRUST won out as my Word of The Year for 2013. I was hoping for a glamorous, exciting, fun, flashy word because TRUST was a scary word to me (maybe it is for you, too?)…it seemed big and foundational to so many things in my life. And it felt like the opposite of fear…I was used to fear…I was not used to the idea of TRUSTing. One of the things the Bible says about TRUST is in Proverbs 3:5-6 – ‘TRUST in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’ I found there are a many times TRUST is mentioned in Scripture. And, while I didn’t journal or write on my blog about it as much as I would’ve liked, I can say without a doubt that I have been forever changed by that one word.

For me, TRUSTing God means whenever I feel anxious or am tempted to ‘borrow trouble’, I need to remind myself that He is TRUST-worthy and that things are unfolding exactly the way He has planned – even when the things He’s UNFOLDING sometimes feel like a piece of folded paper that’s been through the washer and dryer…you know, stuck together, seriously creased…and the it’s true that the UNFOLDING isn’t always comfortable. That’s not always easy for my heart to accept. Practicing the DISCIPLINE OF REMEMBERING also helps me to TRUST. Something I’ve taken from the story of the Israelites and how they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness is that it seems to me their rebellion and disobedience were the result of them not REMEMBERING…they didn’t REMEMBER Who God was, they didn’t REMEMBER who they were to Him, they didn’t REMEMBER what He’d done for them, they didn’t REMEMBER all He’d promised them. I know for a fact that I’ve found myself wandering in forgetfulness at different times in my life; and it is a frightening, unsettled, lonely place to be. So I work to REMEMBER. When I look back at difficult things that have happened, and REMEMBER how God worked things out, it reinforces the fact that I can TRUST Him. When I REMEMBER to use the lens TRUST offers me, it’s possible to see grief and losses in ways that don’t defeat me. As my girls are now growing up and moving away – to South Dakota, or Virginia, or New Zealand, or wherever in the world they venture – when I TRUST God with their safety and well-being, REMEMBERING that they are all really His to begin with, I can TRUST that He is much more capable than I at taking care of them.

As a stay-at-home-mom these past 23 years, I’ve come to understand that the TRUST I am able to place in God and His care and provision and protection of me and my family leads my heart closer to a place of CONTENTMENT. For me, TRUST is foundational to CONTENTMENT. Our family has never been ‘rich’ in ‘things’…and sometimes that’s been hard for me – especially as the girls reached middle school and brand names and schmancy make-up and salon haircuts became The Thing!

I have learned, slowly and over time, that there really is no CONTENTMENT found in things…or even in people (both break, fall apart, go missing, let me down…and not because they are bad or mean or ‘out to get me’, but because that is the nature of all of us created things…we are weak, easily distracted, tend to be self-focused…) CONTENTMENT, in my opinion, is found in TRUSTing God and Who He is and that He knows your name and your needs and your heart.

My struggle with CONTENTMENT happens most when I let myself get anxious. Being anxious is a signal to me that my TRUST is not where it should be. And I probably haven’t been REMEMBERING well. Believing that I am unworthy of good things can sometimes mar any CONTENTMENT I might feel…then I have to TRUST what I know: when Jesus sacrificed His life for me, I became worthy because of His worthiness and I can rest and TRUST in that.

When they were younger, I told my girls that only God has the cover to the puzzle box – the part of the box with the picture on it of how the completed puzzle will look. We each get a few pieces at once – and most of the time we’re stymied by the how oddly-shaped they are, convinced that they’ll never fit together right. We can’t make sense of them. But they make sense to God…we make sense to God, you and I…and the cool thing is, we get to decide when we’re going to TRUST Him and discover the CONTENTMENT comes from that. I am grateful that I am changed by all that’s happened in my life – on the outside and also on the inside – and I’m beyond grateful that God is using all the different, strange-looking pieces of the events He’s allowed in my life to complete The Puzzle of Me. He’s got the cover of my puzzle box – and yours, too – and we can TRUST Him.

{Linking up with Holley Gerth and Jennifer Dukes Lee again this week, friends. Sure hope you have time to click through to find hope and strength in all the beautiful stories shared in those special spaces.}

Coffee for Your Heart 

4 responses to “Puzzle-Box Trust : My Story

  1. dukeslee says:

    “only God has the cover to the puzzle box …” It is so comforting to know that we have a Maker who sees the whole picture. Thank you so much for sharing your testimony with us at #TellHisStory. Happy Easter … xo

  2. Melissa says:

    The truth of your story really hit home for me. Fear, anxiety … yeah. Yet God’s was through it all. I especially like the illustration of unfolding a paper that’s been through the washer and dryer.

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