By Becky Shultz
Curriculum Developer, FamiliesAlive
Homeschooling mom of 6
Here I am. Again. Sitting in a similar place I was sitting in one year ago. Only this time, I already know the Lord’s reply. He has given the same patient reply every single time I go down this road. Every time I think these thoughts, He gently whispers the same thing. He has not wavered. He has not backed down. He has faithfully spoken hard words. And these hard words have been words of healing to my heart.
The first time I heard these hard words:
One year ago, it was morning. I was spending time with Jesus. I sat in the very spot I am sitting this morning on our Colorado deck. We had just spent a whirlwind of a summer: Ministry work, travel to General Assembly in Michigan, the death of our elderly neighbor-friend, camping, bridal shower for our daughter, climbing a 14-er, soccer tournament in Steamboat Springs, East Coast family filling up our house for two weeks, our daughter’s beautiful wedding. It was a wonderful, memorable time. A time filled with joy and laughter.
But just underneath the surface were thoughts of our other daughter. Our sick daughter. Gratefully, the Lord gave her more than two months’ reprieve from her seizures, so this time was a calm-er time for all of us. Hannah had a few infusions over the course of the summer, so she was able to enjoy many things, including dancing at her sister’s wedding. These infusions are so life-giving. We praise the Lord for them!
And as happens often, that whirlwind of a summer came to an end. The wedding, which was the culminating event, had come and gone. Our overflowing-with-family house was now back to its regular fullness. Those family dinners on the deck with 25 people quickly became a distant memory. We were back to 9 under the same roof, which seemed like a quiet house in comparison.
I suddenly had time and space to think. That morning, my thoughts led me to Hannah, her illness, her journey (our journey), her dreams of being a surgeon and serving in poverty-stricken lands.
Facebook had spent the past few days showing me all the students heading back to school. Timehop sent me back a year (to August, 2015…which was less than a month before Hannah’s illness struck), reminding me that she had already been back at school as a team lead for Jumpstart, working with preschoolers from low income families. And as a mama walking this road, no surprise, the tears began to flow.
Lord, Hannah SHOULD have been back in California now, ready to start her junior year!
Those thoughts entered my mind and left my mouth. I sat there, desperate for some reassurance from the Father. Some word that Hannah would soon be back in classes, and headed into the medical field. But the words that came were no reassurance of that. They were hard words from a loving, good, faithful Father…
There are NO should haves with me.
I’ve learned over the years that when the Lord speaks to my heart, I really shouldn’t argue. I’m a slow learner.
But, Lord, what if she had never gotten sick in the first place? She’d be…
There are NO what ifs with me.
But, Lord, if you would only heal her completely…
There are NO ifs with me.
But, Lord, think of all the GOOD she could be doing for you.
Think of all the good she IS doing for me.
But, Lord, she LOVES those little Jumpstart kids! She could be meeting a need again for those little ones who only speak Spanish.
That was for a season.
At this point, I was getting worked up. Frustrated that He was not telling me what I wanted to hear. Tears falling down my face. I was on the deck, so no way would I yell out loud. But I was yelling in my head…
LORD! YOU HAD BIG PLANS FOR HER!!!!!
I HAVE big plans for her.
In that moment, the Lord filled me with a sense of peace. He gave me an understanding that what I had planned, what she had planned might be very different than what He had planned.
He pried open my hands in a kind of surrender that has been a healing salve to my grieving mama heart. His words were loving, yet firm. He knows what He’s doing. I’ve learned that part of those big plans is the work He’s doing in her heart (in all of our hearts). Drawing her near as only He can. Giving her assurance He is here, in the midst of her illness. I must sit back and trust Him with Hannah’s life. I need rest in His purposes, which can never be thwarted.
One year later:
As I sit here this morning, the same old thoughts begin to run through my head…
Lord, Hannah SHOULD have been back in California now, ready to start her senior…
I stop short.
There are NO should haves with you!
Friends, I don’t know what you’re experiencing right now. All I know is that with our sovereign, and able, and working, and faithful, and good, and righteous, and merciful, and loving God, there are NO should haves. There are NO what ifs. There are NO ifs. There is only what is. Surrender the should haves and the what ifs and the ifs. Ask Him to take those from you. They don’t actually exist, yet they consume our thoughts far too often. May He continue to pry open our hands and remove the should haves, the what ifs, and the ifs. By His grace, may we be a people who trust Him with the what is.