I’ve been practicing gratitude for years. I’m an optimist, so gratitude, seeing the good, is a tool I can implement. Receiving, on the other hand, is harder for me.
I’ve mentioned we grew up without a lot. Lots of love and community, but not a lot financially. We often were on the receiving end of many kind people’s donations – clothing, food, Christmas, etc. But as a result of that, by the time I was in my 20s, I felt strongly I never wanted to be on the receiving end. I’m more than happy to give, but if someone even wanted to buy me a cup of coffee, then I sought the opportunity to buy theirs the very next time.
At the worst of this struggle with receiving, it was almost like I kept a scorecard in my head so I wasn’t “taking.”
The past couple of months have taught me, and my husband, a lesson in learning to receive.
The outpouring of love and provision has honestly overwhelmed us.
I was voxing my best friend today because I was so overwhelmed I didn’t even feel like I could ask God for anything else because we had been given SO MUCH. She and I started discussing how we can both use these times in our lives when God rains down generosity in the hard seasons to testify to His goodness while simultaneously recognizing that is not everyone’s experience.
Everyone does not have a community to show up. Everyone does not have test results answered as they cried out for in the middle of the night. But she shared this as we talked: You have to be careful not to diminish God’s goodness or His ability to do something powerful in your situation just because there may be other people who are not getting the miracles that you are. Because the reality is that happens all the time. We saw miracles with Isaac [her son] and then we didn’t. But we saw miracles after his death too… If our story of God’s goodness and God’s love can draw people to Him, then it’s an honor to be able to walk that path.
So I wanted to write this down. Here. To lay down a marker and a reminder of His lavish goodness. To remind myself, when the miracles don’t always look like this.
I know not everyone has these answers to prayers. I recognize there is such suffering and prayers called out that don’t see answers like they had hoped (I know because that’s been me too). So I pray for others as I sit in hospital waiting rooms, lying on hard tables in operating gowns.
Here, today, I mark the goodness of God in our situation.
From the beginning, in December, people showed up. We had a pan of enchiladas from neighbors, a bag of items specially selected for me and the kids from law school friends who had polled survivors, we had flowers from parents of kids friends, and we had cookies, oh mercy did we have cookies (and bread!) from friends near and far.
And I was doing fine, better than fine, I was managing. Juggling. Doing the things. Until COVID hit. January 10th I fell apart. That’s when community utterly covered us in love and help. Before, we had affirmatively been turning down offers. Now, I weakly replied, “okay, thank you…”
For seven straight days, provision arrived. Baskets on the front door. Meals and meals. Treats to cheer. Parents from the kids school, colleagues, friends, neighbors, it was insane. On one day, we had delivery from our favorite Mexican spot, a bag full of frozen meals from a neighborhood eatery, cards, and two bags full of fresh fruit.
We were so completely covered in prayers and kindness during the double-C whammy last month.
Life normalized last week, then this week there was so much to pray over. I was particularly focused on yesterday’s COVID test coming back negative. It seemed insane that everyone in my house could have tested positive for COVID and I could have escaped it. Miraculous.
There’s a story in the Bible where a man asking for a miracle says, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” I felt like that. Lord, I believe this test can come back negative and heavens know so many are praying for that result so the surgery can proceed, but please help my unbelief…
People planned meals to cover us for the rest of this week. A dear friend is taking the boys on Friday to keep things a little less hectic on my first day post-op. All the moms from the kids grade delivered a gorgeous care package full of items that I’ll need for the reconstruction recovery. My best friend and her daughter are counting down the days until their arrival next week.
Bray and I even got an incredible surprise last night when our date night at one of our favorite spots and the check was covered by someone.
As I laid in an operating gown today, waiting for a dye injection so the surgeon could find my lymph nodes tomorrow, I didn’t even feel like I could pray. Tears leaked out of my eyes, ones I wasn’t even prepared for, and I said, God, it’s been too much. Too much goodness. Too much care. So many answers. I feel guilty. Greedy. I can’t even ask for this dye test to take on the first round because it seems insane to receive any more answers to prayers.
The good news is, God isn’t up in Heaven counting out blessings. Oops, seven for you this week – that’s too many. Need to make sure you don’t get any more… or Darnit, I can’t help Ron today because I took such good care of you…
I think sometimes that’s how we see Him though. We see everything so finitely.
But I’m learning. Tonight, three incredibly beautiful Godly women showed up on my back patio to pray over me. We’ve been in a discipleship group together since the fall. They are so precious to me. They laid their hands on me and prayed for God’s mercy and healing and for his blessings on my family and medical care team too. As we prayed, this wind blew through us and the wind chimes sang. The Spirit saying, I’m always enough. I have infinitely more than you need. Or ask. Or imagine. Let go. Trust me.
So I thank Him for his lavish provision. And I thank you for walking alongside me down this bumpy fork in the road.
We are reading through the Psalms as a family. Tomorrow is Psalm 23. Another gift. From a God of infinite mercies.