Monday, April 14, 2014

When You Just Need to Know {Spiritual Misfit Giveaway!} and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria!  This group exists to empower women to authentically share their hearts.  Want to learn more?  Click here to find out ways you can be involved here.
Some things to know:
1.  It's important to take some time to visit a friend.  SDG is about relationships.  If you decide to link up a post that reflects your heart, be sure to stop by your neighbor's place.  We want to make sure everybody at this party feels a little love!
2.  We are a safe place to be real.  I deeply cherish your involvement in the community.  Consider answering the question from "Let's get real" at the bottom of the post in the comments section.
3.  I'm slowly updating the SDG retreat page.  Take a second and check it out?
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My daughter took the house iPhone to school the other day for "academic purposes" (right!) and she texted me about an hour before I was to meet her down the street for pick up.  The text conversation is too long to post in pictures, but be sure, it was filled with all the possible sad emoticons that exist on the emoji keyboard.  (If you, too, have a ten year old daughter, you get what I'm saying.)

I watch her (barely) limp down the hill and I think to myself "This is no big deal."  And yet, when we make it inside the house, drama ensues.

Here's my disclaimer: I don't deal well with drama.  As much as you might think I am a compassionate soul, when I am confronted with irrational wailing, it just does me in.  For the life of me, I could not figure out why she was making such a big deal out of a non-swollen, perfectly fine-looking ankle.  And so (I basically shouted), "Why are you being so dramatic about this? Why must I rush you to the doctor?  Quit. Your. Crying."

And then she launches into this whole story about how her friend (just this week!) fractured her wrist on the playground and how her doctor said something to the effect of "If you had waited one more day to cast this, we would have had to put you to sleep and put in pins and needles."  (I'm sure the doctor only said "pin" but you know how things get lost in translation.)  After the whole diatribe, she concludes with "I just need to know if it's fractured. I just need to know."

Ah.  There was the fear.  The fear that if we don't catch this fracture RIGHT AWAY, she was going to have to undergo surgery and be put to sleep and "have pins and needles sticking out of my ankle!" (as she put it).

Once I understood the catalyst that set the drama into motion, I was able to become (a little) more compassionate.  The fear was real and if she could just know, she thought, the fear would be gone.  The thought of being able to absolutely know what she was dealing with was the only source of comfort she could entertain. No amount of trust in my words, opinions, or experience was good enough.

I've been there with God.  How many times have I said, "God, I just need to know and then I'll trust You.  Then I'll know it will all be okay."  I remember when I heard God tell me at a Christmas Eve service that He would provide if I stayed home with my daughter even though on paper it looked like Craig and I could not in a million years make ends meet for the long term.  I left that service with so much hope and faith.  And then a few days later, I lamented to God, "How are you going to provide? Can it please be in one lump sum so I can plan it all out?  I just need to know."  I actually entered an HGTV contest that was giving away $100,000 to a family that needed help paying the mortgage and told God He could provide through HGTV.

God laughed, I'm sure.

When I read this passage from Michelle DeRusha's new memoir, Spiritual Misfit, I identified with her so much.  She writes:
"When I thought about it, these lake-water images struck me as the perfect metaphor for my tentative floundering toward belief.  In matters of spirituality I often assumed that if only I knew for sure, if I firmly grasped the answers to all the questions if I saw clearly how it would all turn out, then I would be okay.  I thought if I could see under the surface of that murky water, glimpse what was hidden beneath, my faith would finally be secure, rock solid and steady.  On the other hand, my memory of yet another lake experience left me wondering if even that kind of clarity would satisfy." (page 91)
In the end, Michelle realizes just as the murky water was scary, so too, was the water that was so crystal clear she could see absolutely everything.  To see both nothing and everything are ends of a spectrum -- the black and the white.  And where I think God wants us to live is in the gray, where our lives are punctuated with light that sheds clarity exactly at the moment we need it.

Michelle's whole memoir is testament to this.  She doesn't have a Saul/Paul moment of conversion.  Hers is step by step, moving from doubt to faith.  She lets you in on her own analytical mind, showing us how she regularly clung to her logic as a three year old clings to her favorite lovey.  But we also see God gently prying her fingers off, one by one, eventually setting free the lovey, clasping each finger fully onto His, the very definition of love.

And isn't this how faith works?  Whether you've been a Christian forever or you are still entertaining the idea that He might be real, there are still worldly ways and worldly things onto which we cling because we just need to know.  The fear of the unknown, we think, is too much to bear.

It's by living that we trust, by giving Him opportunities to work in our lives, opening our eyes to seeing His involvement, to feeling His touch.  It's there.  If only we allow ourselves the time and space to see it.  Michelle's life is testament to this.

It's a beautiful, funny, poignant, wrestling life where, no matter what your journey, you will find some common ground on which you can grow.

Let's Get Real: Is there something you "just need to know?" Is there a place where you think, "If I could just see the grand plan..." OR have you had an experience where you trusted and let God work?  Let us know in the comments. 

Convergent Books has graciously given me a free copy of Spiritual Misfit to give away to one reader. (Full discloser: I was given an advance reader copy of this book as well, but my opinions here are entirely my own and I was not instructed to give a positive review.)  Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter to win a copy of Michelle's book.
Click here to order
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Time to share what's on YOUR heart. After you link up, please visit your neighbor and leave and encouraging word for her.

22 comments :

  1. Knowing if certain people in my family are saved.

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  2. I'm so eager to read Michelle's book. Excellent review, Jen.http://www.findingheaventoday.com/logout?d=http://www.blogger.com/logout-redirect.g?blogID%3D4954510256113883250%26postID%3D5053977187653173154

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    1. And I have no idea where that http address came from...so sorry. :-(

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  3. I have little moments of wanting to know NOW throughout my life, but the biggest one was wanting to know when I was going to be pregnant. After two years of asking God, he gave me an answer that looked nothing like I expected ... and, yes, it was a better answer than the one I would have gotten two years earlier had I had my own way. Those moments of realizing I don't actually have to know, especially not right now, are the moments I realize God's got a grip on my heart in a way that rescues me over and over again. I think I should read this book. :)

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  4. I too would like to know if my children find Christ. I just ordered Michelle's book today -- can't wait to read.

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  5. I am trying to think if there is something I just need to know . . . I think I like not knowing all the details about how things will work out, though. . .I get myself in the way too much otherwise. I pray He rids me of fear and helps me seek only His face.For I do struggle with taking the big steps where I can't see the whole picture only He sees. I love your story of your sweet girl, Jen. I can picture the whole scene. You are just lovely, you know. And Michelle's books sounds so good.

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  6. Jen, this is a great review...I can't wait to read my copy (Amazon says it's in the mail!).
    This sentence in particular really spoke to me, "And where I think God wants us to live is in the gray, where our lives are punctuated with light that sheds clarity exactly at the moment we need it."
    I've been walking with Jesus for over 40 years and there is never really a 'clear' answer, it's just trying to find our way out of all our shadows into the light.

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  7. A few years ago, I walked through a teen challenge with one of my sons - and God led me to trust Him, to believe - not what I was seeing, but that He had the plan - HE wasn't surprised. I stand today in faith that He will lead them to Him when I cannot - and because of that I am able to love them better! It's a battle - the skirmishes don't stop - and, yes, I want to read the end of the book, too - to know how it all fits together - but He's teaching me to live a different way! It sounds like Michelle's book puts that all in perspective! (BTW - all 10 year olds come down with a bad. bad. bad case of the blues - they work their way out of it around 13 - and then they go into another stage:)

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  8. I used to think I needed to know about everything, but then I realized I would have never thought I'd make it if I knew what was coming. Now I'm thankful God only tells me what I need to know, when I need to know it.

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  9. Jennifer, thank you, thank you, thank you for this beautiful review. I love how you relate the black-and-white vs. grey of faith with your own story of your conversation with your daughter, and what that taught you about fear and trust. I am SO very grateful for all of your help in promoting this book, but most especially for your friendship and encouragement along this whole long way. Love you, dear friend.

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  10. Jen,
    This is a great review...Thank you...hope your daughter is okay.

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    1. Hi,
      This is Dolly...having trouble signing in.

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  11. Jen - a beautiful review but then this was such a great book to review :) I love that you made suggestions to God as to how He could meet your need. I have so done that. And at the time, I was dead serious in making my suggestion & thinking it was a better idea than any He could possibly have to remedy my situation. Just thinking about it makes me both shudder & grateful He did not strike me to show me His greatness. But then, isn't this what our journey in faith is truly all about? In those very moments of doubt, of arrogance {ouch}, of weakness, He shows us another facet of Himself to meet us right in that very moment. Michelle has written a beautiful and powerful memoir. Hope your daughter's ankle is doing better!

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  12. The more I get to know God, the more I trust in Him and His plan. He keeps showing me that if I just wait on Him He will display His glory in ways I could never even imagine in my own strength, let alone carry out. My job is to get out of His way, let Him increase while I decrease.

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  13. I love this line: "The thought of being able to absolutely know what she was dealing with was the only source of comfort she could entertain. " And it is so true that God wants us to reach to Him, not to 'knowing' for comfort. This struggle and the hope both resonate with me.

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  14. I am looking forward to reading Michelle's book.

    Our family still laughs at girl drama when we remember one of my daughters saying something hurt as if "1,000 bees had stung her." I skew very low on mercy.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

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  15. I'm horrible at wanting to know how things are going to turn out. I beg God "just show me a glimpse," but of course that would take the fun out the journey :)

    Oh honey, I've got a 13 yr old whose middle name is drama queen! I can relate!! :)

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  16. Wonderful post and look at how fear creates drama and how God develops trust in life through these dramatic exchanges :)

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  17. Jen, love what you shared here. It is hard to accept the "unknowns" and wait -- especially when you are a control freak. I really struggle with this -- I know that God is able to answer my requests, but I wonder "how" and "when" He will show up. Sometimes, it puts me in knots.

    I am so excited about Michelle's book. She is one of my favorite bloggers.

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  18. I "just need to know" what God has for me outside of motherhood (which is my favorite calling for sure) but I want to offer even more to Him!

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  19. I have learned to trust God in all things. I know that He has a plan for my life. Even right now is a part of that plan. Rest is a part of His plan. I would love to know exactly what God wants me to do, but really, if I look into my life, I can see it. Here is a simple part of trusting God. This September I prayed and asked God to help me get to She Speaks if it was His will for me to go. I promised to do all I could to get there by spending wisely and putting away what I could. It was the first time I really spoke my desire to write for His glory out loud. He responded in a big way. When registration opened up, thanks to gifts from a few friends, putting coupon cash savings in a jar, and even collecting cans, I was able to register and get a hotel room. My next step is my flight. God is AMAZING!!!! And to top it off this all happened in a year when we made $7000 less than we did the year before (and that is not small change to my husband and I). When my father did our taxes, he told us the news, and we were shocked. We had no idea we made less. We never stopped our child sponsorships or giving. God just out gave us. That is how I know that even what I don't know, God does, and he will take care of it.

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  20. Without a doubt, the area where I struggle with *not knowing the outcome* the most is in the lives of my adult sons. Oh, I thought after they left the nest, I might settle my anxious heart as they launched on lives of their own. Nope, I've found myself sometimes more worried than before - because I have no control over their decisions or choices. If I just knew that they're going to be OK in life, I'd be OK, too.

    But God asks me to trust Him day-by-day (and more often than not, moment-by-moment). I'm still learning. I'm glad I'm not alone...

    GOD BLESS!

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