Alabama weather: you really just never know. I'm sure folks in other parts of the Deep South feel the same way, but let me give you an example...Saturday and Sunday, I had a photo shoot each day. I wore shorts and t-shirts each day and was as comfortable as could be. Sunday, I was even sweating a little. It was warm, but the weather was picture perfect for this photographer!
And then Monday showed up...
It rained all night Sunday night and into Monday. I wore long pants and a pullover to work on Monday. Today it's even colder. But the rain--oh my gosh--it rained so much!
A friend of mine posted a couple of pictures on Facebook Monday with this as the caption, "I just want to splash in the puddles!"
It gave me pause.
Isn't life so much like our infamous Alabama weather?
We're rolling along, whistling, "Zip-a-dee-doo-da-zip-a-dee-aye-my-oh-my-oh-what a wonderful day!" and then all of a sudden, the bottom falls out.
It's raining cats and dogs and we're stuck in a downpour!
Or are we?
Are we stuck?
Or is it really all about our perspective?
I think we've forgotten that this Christian life never promised to be all roses and kittens and a cotton candy.
Jesus told us in the book of John, Chapter 16, verse 33, "In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”
The very Son of God gave us a promise that life wouldn't always be a cake walk, but that in fact we WILL continue to have bad days, hard times, and that it won't always be easy.
Life, this side of forever, sucks sometimes.
Poverty is real.
Racism wasn't left behind in the 60's.
There's the quote you need to put on your next little E-card, "Jesus loves me, this I know, but shit happens."
It makes me think about some valleys that my Lindsey and I have walked through in our life together (we started dating eight years ago, yesterday, and I can truly say that I am more in love with her than I've ever been!):
- After Ben Thomas was born, my Lindsey spent two weeks in the hospital. Read her story here. Here's part of what Lindsey wrote, "Realize that you can't separate anything from God. Healing comes in many forms...and you are not your diagnosis."
- You can read my experience during that time here. Here's an excerpt, "Random moments during those weeks, it seemed like Satan was winning the battle for my mind. I have never been more scared or sad in my entire life. Would I be living the life of a single Dad? Would she be permanently “damaged goods”? Would I be providing long-term care for a crazy person? These were very real fears that I tucked away, hidden in the shadows of my soul."
- Of course there's the stories of my chilldhood. From that post, "Being real is so freeing. Setting aside the mask of religion and regulations, I am now free to love others and myself with the grace of God that is radically transformative."
- There's also the story of my suicide attempt. Here's a bit from that post, "Some people will not understand your struggles. Some will never understand your pain. Some people can never “get” your decision to try to end it all. I pray that they never do. Your story isn’t for everyone, but don’t let the ignorant words of a few silence your song of deliverance. Your story must be told, because once you couple that story with the Hope and Freedom found in Jesus Christ, you can overcome any obstacle! It’s your story. Own it."
Like I said, Mrs. Lindsey and I have been through some STUFF, but so have you. We've all had our ups and downs, been thrown curve balls, and felt all alone in the middle of a downpour, but the good news is that we have NEVER been left alone! Jesus said we would continue to face hard times, but that He's already won and that in the end, when we see Him again in Heaven, it will all be worth it.
John 16:21 and the verses following says:
When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you.
That is exactly what it seems like we are experiencing right now! Caroline Grace Austin was born two weeks ago and her name means "Free Grace" (how fitting, right?). Lindsey and I see her as such a gift--she's just one more example of God's never-ending fountain of second chances.
We all have choices in life.
Stuff is going to come our way that is less than desirable, but we choose our response.
We choose to wallow in the mud or splash in the puddles!