In the Storm and Afterwards

Storm Clouds

“What happened here?” our family asked ourselves as we drove into the driveway of our home.

A thick blanket of leaves and broken branches covered the driveway.

Upon examination of the garden, our family discovered devastation. Holes had bored into many plants’ large leaves. Some leaves that should have had rounded edges, were ragged and worn. Some of the trees had gaping wounds in their trunks where branches had broken off. Other trees had lost their fruit, while others had lost all of their leaves. Last of all, some plants had been knocked over and now lay completely lifeless.

While we were enjoying life in Zimbabwe and ministering there, a tremendous hail storm had ravaged through our garden and left its evidence of destruction. We had had no idea.

It’s taken a while to clean the garden up and dispose of the broken branches and fallen leaves. In time, everything will be sorted. But big messes never go away all by themselves, do they? There is always work to be done – to make things right, to bring things into order, to help us feel settled again.

But what happens when the mess or the challenges we face are more than just cleaning and tidying up a garden?

I can tell you that in the past 48 hours I have heard some incredibly difficult life stories that have seared my heart. They have left me broken, absolutely broken.

Holes have bored into hearts.

Souls are ravaged with grief.

Open, gaping wounds weep with suffering.

Broken, dispirited lives litter the land.

Devastation and heartache are not easily healed.

I grieve for these families and I don’t even know them. They have been experiencing a ravaging storm over the course of a year or more – while my life, although not perfect or pain-free, has been a full, productive, and pretty good year. While these families have been bombarded with a variety of emotional assaults, my life has been filled with homeschooling, dishes, cooking, cleaning, writing, and all of my other day to day kind of stuff. My days go on, while their days have lurched to a cataclysmic stop as they center their love, their attention, and every possible effort on their loved ones – and in the midst of it all, upon their God to see them through this barrage of emotion, pain, grief, and uncertainty.

How grateful I am that although my words of comfort, love and support are inadequate, the love and care of my Savior Jesus Christ are not.

He said this to his disciples before their lives would be shaken to their core:

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.  So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. New International Version, John 16: 20-22.

While some grieve, others rejoice.

While some cry, others laugh.

While some panic, others sleep.

While some care, others are clueless.

While some attend, others forget.

While some pray, others frolic.

While some rest, others strive.

While some see, others are blind.

In every corner of every country in the world, some one grieves while another person – perhaps even next door, rejoices. Unless we are aware of the needs of those around us – we just live on – focused upon our own set of circumstances. Until the time comes, and it will come, when we are ravaged by brokenness and pain due to a sudden, merciless storm. It will be our turn to grieve.

And when the challenges come, Jesus says this: So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

How do we go through tumultuous times?

With Jesus.

How do we endure the pain and loss?

With Jesus.

How do we grieve?

With Jesus.

How do we clean up the mess?

With Jesus.

How do we live on?

With Jesus.

Friends, I have found that in such times the only way back from a devastating loss is to be in the care and to rest in the comfort of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Hudson Taylor, pioneer missionary to China, once said: “I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize the Lord is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest positions He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult, His grace is sufficient.”

Hudson Taylor had reached the point in his life where he embraced that Jesus Christ alone, was his life:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. New International Version, Colossians 3: 1-4

Whether in times of grief or times of rejoicing, we can rest in the assurance that Jesus Christ who is our life is with us – come what may.

There is goodness, blessing, joy, rest, and purpose in all things in Christ – even in the storm and even afterwards.

True, my heart grieves for families going through the incomprehensible – things that bore, break, devastate, and could destroy. And yet, I choose to remember and to rest in this truth – in the midst of it all, is Jesus. Storms always come, but in time they pass on. Our Jesus, our Savior, our Friend and Comforter, and our Healer and Help remains throughout. His grace is sufficient.

It is my prayer that during our own times of grief and hardship, His love and care will enfold us and carry us through the storms and beyond. I pray that we will  embrace His life sustaining love and grace no matter what happens here.

May it be so. Amen and Amen.

Storm Cloud Photo from Google

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8 thoughts on “In the Storm and Afterwards

  1. Hi! I was just wandering through the homeschooling tag and I saw this. I’m not looking for an argument or a conversion or anything, I should said right off, so that I don’t come off sounding wrong. I’m just curious; why do you think that Jesus is the answer for all pain? I used to be a Christian and I tended to think the same and I felt god was a great support to me in tough times. But I have since left the faith and realized that this just doesn’t seem to be universally true. In fact, being far away from any sort of god is a huge comfort to me by now. My life is much better without it, and so is my personality, I think. I’m not going to assume that my story would apply to everyone else. I just figure that some people really find support and encouragement in spirituality or god and some don’t. So then it seems a bit foreign to me looking back and reading from people who believe, as I used to, that Jesus is the answer for everything. I’m just curious why you think that (no bible verses please; I can quote them all). Even if you believe that Jesus is god and the creator of all love and stuff like that, couldn’t it be possible that some people will physically be much happier without him or may find him extremely NOT comforting in bad times, just given the diversity of experiences out there? It seems strange to promise help and comfort from Jesus to ALL people, regardless of circumstance, when my personal experience at least seems to contradict it.

    Anyway, that was just my question, and I hope I don’t seem offensive. I’m just genuinely curious since I’m now so far removed from this belief that I have a hard time understanding it anymore. It might help me understand my family better anyway. Thanks!

    -Evan

    1. Hi Evan,

      Thank you for taking the time to write to me! You certainly could have just skimmed through the blog post and moved on to something else. I appreciated your thoughtful response.

      First of all, I’m not offended in the least by your words. I appreciate your question and I’ll answer as best I can. If there is anything you don’t understand or have more questions about after what I’ve shared, you’re welcome to keep the conversation going!

      As I read through your posted response, the first two words that came to mind were these: story and purpose. The story I want to tell in my life is that there is hope in Christ. The purpose of my life is to encourage others to pursue and enjoy (yes!) a relationship with Jesus that is real and authentic. How did I get here? Well, my life story has a number of experiences where I was offered a choice. Would I trust God, trust Jesus in spite of what was happening in my life? I had the freedom to choose to rely on Him or to seek some thing else to meet my needs.

      What were a few of those challenges?

      My ex-husband abandoned me after three years of marriage to pursue an alternate lifestyle.
      Later in life, after remarriage, my third born son was born with a birth defect that required a number of surgeries.
      Two of my children are on the autism spectrum.
      I developed breast cancer two years ago and although treated, some indiscriminate tissue has recently been discovered.
      I am an American missionary serving in southern Africa and have faced a variety of situations since moving here almost nine years ago.

      Of course there is much more to my life than these brief highlights. However, in each situation I chose to rely on my God and seek His help. In my experience, my God has come through for me every single time. He did not prevent challenges from entering my life. And He did not necessarily ‘make everything better or make things go the way I wanted.’ In my understanding and experience, faith and trust in God does not mean that difficulties do not occur. Faith in God does not mean I get what I want all the time. For me, and the reason I say that all people have the opportunity to experience the help, love, and comfort of God is because it is possible. Despite what has happened in my life, my God has been my help and my support come what may. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone else must choose to live as I do. They can find something else to work for them. For me, nothing else is sufficient. I cannot deal with betrayal, birth defects, neurological disorders, cancer or life in southern Africa without Jesus. My purpose and my story focus on the love and care and yes, the mystery of Jesus Christ. Why do I say mystery? Because I don’t know how it all works down here and up there. All I can do is share how God has worked and is working in my life.

      So there you go, Evan. I don’t know if I was helpful or not. I guess the two questions I would ask of you – whether you respond again or not are – What is your purpose in life? What is your story?

      Thank you again for writing to me.

      Take care, heather

      1. Interesting. Yes, that does help, at least I think, if I understand you correctly, that you do not think that Jesus is necessarily the answer to everyone’s pain, but it was for you. I can understand that. At times, believing in god was good for me as well. At times that brought me peace and encouragement.

        On the other hand, believing in god was also a terrible experience for me in some ways. My ability to enjoy and interact with the world was greatly diminished by believing that I was privy to Truth and others were not. Being around friends who did not believe as I did brought constant dissonance… how could I truly be happy with them when I knew they were going to hell? People who did not agree with me were tragedies. Leaving god behind meant that I could finally embrace and appreciate the differences in belief and opinion around me without fear or sadness. I could engage with others fully as equals in a way I never could before.

        Furthermore, I suffered significant emotional abuse at the hands of my religious family as well as various church members, all in the name of god. I have pursued what I’m guessing you would call an “alternate lifestyle” (can we please not call it that?). I am married to a woman and I have transitioned from female to male. Unsurprisingly, my very Christian parents were horrified when they found out about my attractions and gender and, in their attempts to change me, they very nearly killed me. And god was nowhere to be found. You see, it’s very different seeking help or comfort from god when everyone around you tells you that god is going to send you to hell, you’re an abomination to him, you are a disappointment to him, you grieve him, your sin makes him sick. Even though I did not believe these things, my family isolated me, abused me, repeated the same messages over and over until I started to believe them. I wanted to die. I prayed for hours, I couldn’t eat or sleep, I cried over my bible while I tore my skin open asking “why did you make me like this?” and anytime I thought I had an answer, there was always someone else there to tell me “no, that’s just all in your head. YOU cannot know what god says. I know what god says.” And we could banter scripture back and forth for days, we could study Greek and Hebrew, we could interpret things differently, and both of us still could believe that we knew what god was saying and the other was wrong.

        In the end, I escaped before it was too late. I did not immediately give up on my faith, but I realized that believing in god was just a shot in the dark. How was I to know whether my idea of god or my parent’s idea of god or anyone else’s idea of god was the right one? How is anyone really to know if the comfort they receive or the condemnation they receive is god? And if god actually wants to be known, why does he not make himself known? I could only assume that either he was not there, or he did not care, or he does not speak to us. So I stopped speaking to him and I stopped believing.

        And the world is such a better place for me because of it. I can finally truly engage with other people as equals, I can truly love myself without feeling that I am worthless and disgusting, and because I can love myself, I can love others so much more. Quitting on god made me a much more giving person, a much more outward-minded person. I use the strength and courage that I gained to encourage others, to help others, to inform myself about the world, to offer what I can to people who need, to make a positive difference in others’ lives. And I guess that’s my mission in life. Part of it anyway.

        My personal goals in life are to leave a positive impact on as many people as possible. I am a physicist and an educator, and I want to inspire others to advance in Physics and to be truly passionate and excited about the natural world, like I am. I also want to be a positive force in my community. I want to work with others to help break down barriers between people, to reduce hatred and prejudice. And sometime in the next few years, I want to adopt a child that I can raise with the same values. I want them to live without fear of rejection and with a genuine love for others. I want them to see the world with an open mind and to feel safe making their own decisions and choosing their own beliefs as an adult. Those are my goals in life.

        So yeah, I guess that’s my answer to both of your questions, and thank you for answering mine. I don’t expect other people to feel the same way about god as me. This is just my experience. I also realize that there are many progressive versions of Christianity which would probably agree with a lot of my values. I believed that for a time, but it still just didn’t seem worth holding onto when I had no real reason to believe it. So that’s where I’m at.

        Anyway, thank you for the discussion and for sharing. I do appreciate you taking the time to answer in such detail! 🙂

        -Evan

      2. Dear Evan,

        Again, thank you for writing to me! I appreciate your honesty and your transparency. Thank you also for sharing part of your story with me.

        I just want to say how sorry I am for the hurt you experienced and I imagine you still experience in different ways.

        The God and Heavenly Father I know and love I am sure grieves and grimaces by how we misuse and abuse His name. However, things being done in His name whether good, bad, or evil have gone on for centuries and centuries. As a missionary in southern Africa, I confess that I grieve and grimace over what has been done over here in the name of God – people who thought they knew what God wanted and unfortunately in their zeal – blew it.

        I want you to know that I love God, love people, do what I can, and celebrate failure. These are our family values and the values we are attempting to instill in our three boys. We do not force our sons to choose God or choose to love Him. There is freedom in any relationship where love is the center. They must decide for themselves. I cannot expect them to have the same kind of relationship I have with God and Jesus. Why? Because every relationship is unique – even one with Jesus Christ. Just as every relationship I share with my family, my friends, and acquaintances are unique.

        I also want to say something about hell. Evan, on this side of earth, no one really knows who is going to hell and who isn’t. We are not the Judge of that. At our very core, only God knows who really and I mean really knows Him, trusts Him, loves Him, and lives for His glory. Do I believe that I am living for Christ? I have lied. I have cheated. I have deceived. I have been self-centered. I have been jealous, angry, and bitter. I have experienced worry and fear. I have even felt lost. If you look at Scripture, none of these behaviors are condoned. In fact, we’re told to rid ourselves of all of these things. Yet, I still struggle with them – especially with worries and fears for my special needs kids and their future. So, do I believe that I am living for Christ? Yes. I give it my best shot. When I blow it, I ask for forgiveness from my family and my God. I am a broken, fallen woman in need of a Savior. I have truly found peace and salvation in Christ. Evan, it would be my hope at some time in your life that you find the peace and joy I have found in Him too – not based on your past or some kind of manipulation to make you do something you were not ready to do – but with a real encounter with Jesus Christ – an encounter that will blow your mind that He is real and that He loves you – for you!

        I thank you, Evan. Thank you for taking some time to write to me. I’m here – not sure where you are – but I imagine we’re at least a continent away! If you ever want to write me again sometime, you are most welcome.

        In His Generous Grip,
        heather

      3. We are a continent away. I’m in Minnesota right now, bracing myself for a brutal winter while you’re probably on the opposite side of the cycle. 🙂

        Thank you for being kind and respectful… I admit I get very little of that from most self-proclaimed Christians since I have left the “right” path. It is refreshing. I have only one question after your reply. You say that you hope I will have a real encounter with god that will show me that he is real and loves me. I want to know what that’s supposed to look like? See, I have had many “experiences” with god, at many different times in my life. Several of them were mind-blowing and felt very real. They ranged from speaking in tongues (my family was Pentacostal when I was younger) to feeling that god intervened and prevented me when I was planning to commit suicide. Some of these experiences were so powerful, I felt overwhelmed. Some of them shaped my life for years after.

        And yet I don’t believe they were real anymore. Why? Because I see that everyone wants to see god in the events, feelings, and circumstances they experience. Everyone can have those god moments, if that is how they choose to interpret an overwhelming feeling or a fortuitous circumstance. But they cannot possibly all be god. I know that, because I’ve had many people feel “god” in my situation when I knew what they were feeling was false or seemed very wrong.

        I hadn’t intended to make this comment long, but I want to make sure I’m clear, so let me offer an example or two. I went to church one day, shortly after I’d had a horrible phone conversation with my family (I was living overseas, so long-distance communication was our only communication). They had said some very hurtful things to me and told me that they didn’t even know who I was anymore because their child would never be gay. I was still reeling from this when I got to church and, halfway through worship, I broke down crying. Another member saw this, and kindly asked me if I was okay and if I would like to talk to the pastor’s wife. I agreed and steeled myself to try to explain my situation to her. Speaking was a struggle because I was still crying, but I began explaining the hurt I was in with the admission “I am gay.” The moment those words left my mouth, she looked away from me and opened her Bible to Romans 1. I continued trying to explain what was happening, but she stopped me to tell me that my life was disgusting to god and he was disappointed in me. I stammered out that I didn’t believe god felt that way about me and she just smiled pityingly and said “no, you know exactly how he feels about this. Otherwise you wouldn’t be crying. You’re crying because you’re guilty.”

        At that point, I shut down and didn’t say anything else while she continued to explain my faults and how disgusting I was (but that god loved me anyway, even if I was disgusting, yay!). But I realized that she was seeing god in something that was not god. She saw my tears, she viewed it through her lens, and she saw a person who was being convicted by god. She did not see someone who was reeling from the cruel words of their family. Hell, because she was the pastor’s wife, I actually started to believe her that maybe I was crying because god is angry with me rather than because I was being despised and disowned by my own family. It’s amazing how hard it is to trust your own feelings and experiences when you and everyone else are trying to read god or satan into them! And over and over again this sort of thing happened. My parents could be emotionally abusing me until I wanted to die and simultaneously say “god has really come through for me to show me how to handle this situation in a loving manner.” My sister could say “god gave me a vision” and interpret from it “god is giving up on you”. My father could say “the holy spirit gave us a feeling of intense HATRED to warn us about your girlfriend.” And, you know, I really do believe that they genuinely believed that. All of these things could seem wrong to me, but all of them were truly, deeply, genuinely believed by others to be From God, and whoever hears from god is the Ultimate Authority on Truth.

        I even had moments where I thought I had “heard from god” and they turned out to yield rather destructive results. So does it make sense why I’d be rather disillusioned with the idea of having a real experience with god? How would I ever know which ones are real and which ones aren’t? How does anyone know? Each individual person will claim that their experience is the Real Thing. I would have defended my own experiences to my last breath some years ago. Because I HAD deep, meaningful, fulfilling, amazing, awe-inspiring experiences with “god” but then I learned that everyone does, and they can’t all be real. They contradict, they are colored by our own lens, our prejudices, our experiences, our expectations. And they often just become a form of confirmation bias: sometimes they tell us what we want to hear, sometimes they tell us what we expect to hear, rarely do they seem to confirm for us something that is completely out of the realm of our previous speculation or experience.

        So then I want to know, what do you think constitutes a real experience with god? How would anyone ever be able to know for sure that they’ve had one? To be honest, by this point, I think it’s too late for god to “have an experience” with me; that ship has sailed. I simply do not think I am capable of trusting in such things anymore after everything that happened. If he’s out there, he has not proven himself trustworthy to me.

        Again, your thoughts would be appreciated, and thank you for writing! 🙂 All the best.

        -Evan

      4. Wow.

        Evan, just wow.

        I am touched beyond words that you are entrusting me with so much of you!

        Again, I am sorry for some of the truly heart-wrenching things you have endured all in the ‘name of God.’

        You are correct in saying that everyone has individual experiences with their God. I affirm that word.

        However, I contend that if a ‘word’ comes that is hurtful and promotes the bias or selfish motivation of another, then the word of the Lord has been twisted for self interest or perhaps because of fear. I agree that anyone can take a word from Scripture and spin it in a way that serves them – rather than bringing glory and honor to God and his Son, Jesus. It happens way too often.

        As I write to you now, I am very conscious of the fact that whatever I write to you reflects upon my God and upon Jesus. I am writing to you with my God in mind. I am not writing to you to defend a position or influence you one way or another. I am writing to you to answer your questions as best I can. It’s up to you in how you choose to respond.

        You asked about why I would write about the hope I have that you would have a real encounter with Jesus and experience His love and grace. Thank you for sharing your experiences. It is apparent to me that you have had some previous encounters with God that really meant something to you. I am glad. The reason though, that I would like you to have another experience with Jesus some day is that I am not certain you really understand how much you are loved by God. Yes, you! It seems to me that people in your life who had a significant place of influence have clouded or even perhaps distorted the reality of God’s immense love for you.

        I have a really long story I’d love to share with you. However, the constraints of this communication mode don’t lend me to be able to do that. Let me just say that there was a time when the Lord revealed a truth to me about Himself through a lion. It was the year that Lion King hit the movie screens. I had been in Europe and having an incredible, jaw-dropping set of Jesus encounters – one after another after another after another. I hadn’t heard a thing about Lion King.

        When I got back to the States, I was encouraged by my counselor to go on a ‘lion hunt’ to a place that held some very painful memories. My counselor wanted me to reclaim that land and be set free from the emotional pain that I associated with that place. He asked me to find a lion like I had in Europe. Again, this is a really long story, and one that even had a miracle in store for me later, but the long and the short of it is that I dutifully (I wasn’t excited about this trek) returned to this place and did look for a lion. How surprised I was when I found one! And then, when I entered a Disney store a little later in the day and discovered the place was top to bottom, left to right filled with stuffed lions – I literally dropped to my knees. You see, Evan, when I see a lion now (and I find them all over the place – I dare you to look!) I see a physical manifestation of God’s love for me. In the middle of that Disney store, 20 years ago, I literally was bombarded by lion after lion after lion after lion saying, “I love you, Heather. I love you, Heather. I love you, Heather.”

        I gulped in acknowledgement with tears streaming down my face in the middle of that store, “Dear Lord, you love me so much. I don’t think we understand how much you love us. I don’t think any of us understand how much you love us.”

        Evan, this was one of my experiences with my God. I could give you all the Scripture that came with those set of experiences which dealt with fear – I was really struggling with fear at that time. However, what my God wanted me to experience was His all-encompassing, jaw-dropping, incomprehensible love for me. He loves me – just as I am.

        And there is no doubt in my mind or in my heart, that God loves you too, Evan. You are not disgusting or awful or whatever ugly word has been slung at you over the years.

        Forgive me please, but a verse that means a lot to our family comes from Psalm 139:14

        I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
        your works are wonderful,
        I know that full well.

        Evan, we have special needs kids. They certainly do not act or behave as the world expects them to. They have had rocks thrown at them. They have been teased and taunted. They have had people emotionally abuse them. They have been misunderstood. However, that doesn’t mean that they are not fearfully and wonderfully made by God, Himself. He has a plan and a purpose for them – because He created them. He loves them just as they are – and so do we!

        Again, you asked how I know an experience is really from God and not something just made up to suit my personal, self interest. When that experience brings honor and glory to Him and demonstrates His love – that’s how I know. In addition, I choose to look for my God and ask for Him to show up in my life. I choose to do that daily.

        People get disillusioned with God. Something happens or something doesn’t happen and people decide that God doesn’t really care or that perhaps He never was there in the first place. They stop believing. They stop asking. They stop engaging with God. They do their own thing and rely on whatever helps them. And it seems to work for them.

        For me, no way. Even though some terrifically awful things have happened in my life, I choose to lean hard against my God to help me through those things. Even if I have cancer again (my next appointment is in December to see what that strange tissue is) I will trust my God. I am not ready to die yet. I’ll be honest with you. However, I’ve come too far with my God not to trust Him now. I love Him and I know He loves me.

        That’s what I would love for you to know, Evan.

        I don’t know if you’ll ever choose to look for Him again or even see if you can find a lion in Minnesota (I bet you will!). If you do, remember this, “God loves you. He really, really, really loves you, Evan – just as you are! You are fearfully and wonderfully made!’

        Everything counts in this life. Even the ugly stuff counts. It can all turn to something hopeful and good as we give it all over to Jesus. I really believe that.

        Okay, sorry. I wrote a book. If you want to write back – anytime – you are welcome to.

        With love, heather

      5. It’s okay… I wrote a novel too! And thanks again for your answers. For me, I don’t think I will be looking for god… at least not for a while. Who knows in the future. After all, 8 years ago, I would never have guessed that I would eventually abandon my faith and lose my family and everything I’d ever known, yet here I am. And I’m happy, even if there are still emotional repercussions. Holidays are a little rough when you can’t speak to anyone in your family.

        But I guess, even if I’m not looking for god anymore, I do still want some closure. I think that’s why I talk to folks like you sometimes, looking for other perspectives, other opinions, maybe some answers that make sense. After all, god was a very, very meaningful and important part of my life for most of my time here on earth. For a very long time, I felt I could talk to him, listen for him, have a relationship with him. And finding that perhaps all of that was fake, was nothing, was just a sham… it sort of feels like betrayal. I have to laugh a little because I know many Christians who say that atheists are all “angry at god”. I do not find that to usually be the case among my atheist friends. But I sometimes feel like I fall in that camp. I guess I AM angry at god, at least as much as one can be angry at someone you don’t really believe exists. I’m angry because I believed something and counted on something that turned out to be nothing. I’m angry that I thought I had a friend and that friend disappeared, abandoned me, never even existed. That hurts, even if there’s really no one to be angry at since I don’t believe in god. Still, the thought of god sometimes makes me angry because he was the one that I trusted, I believed in, I dedicated my life to, I leaned on in hard times, until I realized he wasn’t even there. I haven’t yet found my closure for that huge chapter of my life that ended in such an unsatisfactory manner. But I keep looking, and I think eventually I will either find it or it will no longer have as much meaning to me.

        But thank you again for your thoughts and perspectives. It was good to hear and consider and I do appreciate being able to talk this out with someone who will probably have a different perspective on things but also isn’t trying to beat me with a bible or drag me to the alter. 😛

        One thing that I can utterly agree on is that ugly stuff counts. Even though these things have brought me a lot of pain, they also taught me to see the world a new way, to grow a backbone, to learn to understand myself, to appreciate my body for the first time, to feel and recognize my own emotions, to trust myself enough to care about myself, to set my own boundaries, to become more giving, to become more involved in the world, and many more things. This struggle has helped make me who I am and I can’t really regret it, even if it still hurts. So yes, whether or not Jesus is involved, horrible things can still turn hopeful.

        And I will be hoping the best for you when you go to the doctor. While I cannot pray to anyone, you will be in my thoughts. Thank you!

        -Evan

      6. Thank you Evan!

        It has been my pleasure to converse with you the past few days.

        The door on my end is open. If you ever want to hash some things out again, just drop by.

        I don’t have the answers you seek. What I do have is the assurance and the peace that my God exists, that He is active in my life (even when I don’t always hear Him or see all that is going on) and that He loves me. I have no doubt that if you decide to re-engage with Him at some point in your life, you’ll see He is not fake – but very real. And like I said, if you ever come across a lion in your day to day life, let it be a reminder to you that it is a concrete representation of God’s love for me (and for others in my life who have heard my story).

        Thanks for your good wishes for my doctor’s appointment in a few months. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

        Take good care, Evan.

        Now that I know a bit about you, I’ve written you in my prayer journal and will be praying for you.

        In Christ,
        heather

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