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Today’s Joy Dare:  Give thanks for three things that are difficult…

It seems to have been in my experience that when I have gone through difficult times, or been faced with difficult challenges I have grown, both spiritually and as a person/minister.  Seriously I suspect very strongly that the spiritual growth fueled the personal professional/ growth.  For that reason as I give thanks today I am focusing on things that have changed me as a christian, person, mother, and minister.

  1. Marriage to an alcoholic:  Wow was that difficult.  It was like being in Spiritual War all the time.  The hostility, the fighting, the abuse, the nail gripping fear.  But after a particularly nasty party in which every thing I thought I had hidden just fell apart in front of the most important people in my world, I found Al Anon.  I learned so much about myself.  I learned how to control my reactions.  I learned to have confidence in myself and my abilities.  I gained the courage to leave.  Years later the lessons learned have proven to be helpful as I volunteered with Victim Services and the Help Line.  
  2. Unemployment:  I did not enter unemployment happily.  Most of all I was angry at God for not taking care of me.  I applied for every vacant position in the church to no avail.  (Yep I was trying to control God…..AGAIN)  I even contemplated a career where I would repeatedly use the phrase, “Would you like fries with that?”  In the end, this time was a gift.  I lived with my daughter and her husband, moving in with them a month after their wedding.  What an opportunity to observe that she had married a good man, who treated her with respect and tolerance and humor.  What a joy to see a relationship between them of strength and trust.  Thank God she did not repeat my mistakes.  I am blessed in my son-in-law.   During that time, I did end up working in a call centre, and wow was that another world.  It was horrible and stressful, and I thought I’d never learn how to do what needed doing.  I called it The job from hell.  But I made friends with people, with whom if I had passed them on the streets of a major city, I’d have avoided making eye contact.  I gained an understanding of people who didn’t fit the “NORM” in my little world as I knew it.  We in the church can be so isolated from the world.  We tend to associate only with those who are “like us” and after a while we can believe that we don’t know anyone who needs to hear the story of Jesus.  What we need to do is to open our eyes and see the world of people on our doorstep who are waiting to hear about Jesus.  We can do it, but it will mean getting out of our comfort zones.  My favorite experience of life on the floor there came late one night when one of the young men, moved to the station beside mine as the number of people on the floor was reduced to a bare minimum.  Once he had set up he turned to me and he said, “There’s a rumour going around here that you are a minister.  I told them it couldn’t possibly be true because you are so normal.”  After I confessed that yes, I was one of those abnormal clergy type people, we settled down to have a deep discussion between phone calls about real important life issues and his struggles with work, life and marriage.  Would we have had those conversations if I hadn’t been willing to be a representative of Christ? Perhaps, but not with the same depth and meaning.
  3. Finally, I am thankful for the June Joy Dare:  I am thankful because it has challenged me in my desire to be a person who prays and grows spiritually.  Some days I have had great difficulty in finding ways to be thankful for the things on the list.  And as I look ahead I see other things listed  that will require a lot of thought and discernment. This challenge has made me so aware of the many ways in which God fills my life, and of how many of his gifts I miss by my sheer lack of attention.  God is found in the details, and all too often we seek to find him in the big picture.  We only see the majestic moments and not those ways in which God blesses us with those seemingly insignificant things. Early on in this blog’s life Sandy commented that she had read a statement something like this:  What if when you woke up the next morning and all that you had was the things for which you had given thanks the day before?  This Joy Dare as difficult as it can be has pointed out those things that I don’t think to give thanks for, but if they were missing the next day, boy would I notice the empty spaces in my life.

What about you?  How have difficult moments shaped and formed your lives?  How have they informed your faith?  What about them has lead you to say with confidence, God is good all the time.  All the time God is good.  Praise be to God.