When God Says Wait

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Spoiler Alert: My new book, Holy Doubt: Finding Hope When Faith is a Struggle is available now on Amazon. If you or someone you know is struggling with God, this book will be a huge help along the sometimes dark and painful path through doubt. The digital version is only $0.99 until May 11th (find out more and snag a copy here).

Many of you started following this blog almost three years ago when I first began writing about some of my experiences with doubt and what I experienced as a missionary in India. I shared personal stories about the way God was working in my heart as I tried to process what I saw, felt, and heard during our four years in missions, and many of you shared your stories with me as well. I counted it an extreme privilege that my story connected with you in some small way, and I started to wonder if maybe God could use my story in other ways too.

So I kept blogging and started writing Holy Doubt with the intention of helping people like me who were struggling with doubt and shattered faith.

But the book was terrible.

There was a lot of “then this happened, and then this…,” and the manuscript turned into one long list of events. Ugh! Essentially, it was a poorly written memoir instead of the helpful guide for the dark journey through doubt and questions that I hoped it would be. It was about as interesting and useful as reading my grocery list. Not. Helpful.

So I rewrote it.

After that second rewrite, I submitted it to a national contest and Holy Doubtt was among the top 10 considered for a publishing deal with Tyndale Momentum. That time I thought, “This is it! This story is finally going to make its way out into the world.” But as the date for them to choose a winner got closer and closer, I didn’t feel excited. Instead, I hoped they wouldn’t pick me! Feeling terrified and overwhelmed by the thought of sharing the story with the world and the many ways I would feel exposed and vulnerable, I wished I’d never submitted it to the contest. I finally felt more confident in the manuscript, but I wasn’t ready to be an author.

As it turns out, I wasn’t ready and neither was the book!

So I rewrote it again.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that rejection was God’s way of saying “Wait!”

Somewhere in the middle of the third rewrite I realized God had replaced some of my pain with purpose, exchanged my mourning for joy, and hidden hope for me to find in the dark places. That’s when Holy Doubt finally became a story worth telling.

With each rewrite the meaning behind what I experienced sharpened and became clearer, until finally it became what I had hoped for all along—an easy-to-read guide for hurting people stumbling through the soul-crushing agony of doubt.

I don’t know what you’re facing right now. Maybe God is saying, “Wait!” and you just want to charge ahead, bulldozing every roadblock in your way. I know exactly how that feels.

But God has a beautiful story to tell with your life. It might not feel like it right now. But as someone who has sat where you are (and will likely be there again in the future), can I urge you to trust God’s timing? It made no sense to me back when I didn’t get that publishing deal, why God would ask me to wait, but years down the road, it makes perfect sense.

What is God wanting to rewrite in your life? Where is he wanting to replace sorrow with joy, despair for hope? While you contemplate your story, make sure to check out Holy Doubt on Amazon. I’m praying it will help you see the beauty in the story God is writing with your life.

Unexplained

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underground cisterns beneath the incredible city of Istanbul

underground cisterns beneath the incredible city of Istanbul

I’ve started a new blog at www.droppingtheact.com. Check it out for the latest content.

For those of you who have been following the “beauty in the brokenness” thread and have been left hanging all summer…sorry!!  I’m back now and the saga continues 🙂

If you can’t remember where we left off start here

Upon arrival in Turkey I was overwhelmed by how Western it felt.  To my surprise, they even drove on the same side of the road!  I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it shattered all of my expectations, and was a much welcomed respite from our life in India.  It was gorgeous!  And the history!  And did I mention, it was gorgeous?  Oh, but I digress.  In case you can’t tell it’s one of my favorite places.

Almost from the moment we arrived, my children no longer had diarrhea and my daughter didn’t have any more of the frightening spells that terrified me beyond words.  After six long months of constantly battling mystery illnesses that no doctor could explain or treat all traces of their sicknesses ceased.  Seemingly overnight.  No explanation except the hand and goodness of God.  All I felt was an overwhelming sense of relief.  But little did we know we were about to be introduced to a new reality upon our return to India…

Helpless

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Beautiful Turkey!

Beautiful Turkey!

I’ve started a new blog at www.droppingtheact.com. Check it out for the latest content.

The testing on our daughter’s ears didn’t reveal any problems.  So we steadily moved through a battery of testing, each test designed to eliminate yet another possibility.  Each more terrifying than the next, as all of the simple things were being eliminated.  We had x-rays, EEG’s (that’s what the picture from the last Missions post was), and at the end of it all we still had no answers.  While it was a relief that the tests didn’t reveal anything serious, it was unspeakably frustrating to experience these spells and wonder what could possibly be going on…

When we moved to the Delhi area I thought I was going to be able to breathe–catch my breath.  Wrong!  Almost from the first day in our new apartment both of our kids started having diarrhea from the wee morning hours until they went to bed at night.  This went on for six months.  Never. Missing. A. Day.  Between our daughter’s symptoms and both of the kids’ diarrhea it felt like we lived at the hospital or in the bathroom.  And we could never pinpoint the source of the diarrhea either.  Clearly, we were under attack, and my weapons were prayer and ampules of electrolytes!

As a parent, nothing gets to you like something happening to your child.  So to say I was stressed didn’t really scratch the surface.  My children were suffering and I couldn’t help them.  I was helpless, and it was not a good feeling.  A few days after our daughter’s EEG test we were scheduled to fly to Turkey for a conference.  With leaden hearts, and our eyes on the nearest bathrooms, we boarded the plane…

 

You Know You’re a Missionary When…

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Top 8 Ways You Know You’re a Missionary:

8.  It’s only 10 AM and your power has already been cut–twice–and you’re not sure if it will come back on again, or who you should call if it doesn’t.

7.  You’ve spent way more time discussing your bathroom habits than you ever thought possible.

6.  You know that a family of 6 can (and does!) fit on a small motorcycle!

5.  In the process of learning a new language you’ve forgotten how to read your own.

4.  You’ve had to ask either a visitor to your country or a new missionary if food actually tastes good, because you’re pretty sure your taste buds are failing you.

3.  Your definition of clean has changed dramatically, and your personal hygiene now includes something called a “bucket bath.”

2.  Your stuff has been stolen, not by people, but by animals that you’ve only previously ever seen in cages.

1.  While home on itineration/furlough, someone asks you if you’re having a nice vacation!

Holy Doubt

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I’ve started a new blog at www.droppingtheact.com. Check it out for the latest content.

Note:  Before I begin, I want to say that I know that everyone’s experiences are different and I’m not speaking for every missionary–I’m just sharing my story in the hopes that it helps someone else.  I write this to remember all that the Lord has done, and is doing, for me.  I don’t ever want to forget.  The Missions/India portion of the blog will be posted in a serial format, come back to read more.  Trust me, you would be completely overwhelmed if I tried to post it all at once!

With that out of the way…

Holy doubt–I know this is probably a controversial title, but it aptly encapsulates the way that I feel about the subject.  I don’t feel that doubt itself is holy, nor does the Bible support that theology, but when God works through something as painful as doubt and uses it to create something beautiful in my heart I have a tendency to view it as holy.

So, I would like to bring you along on the journey and share how God took me from doubt to holy doubt, and India (and a little bit of Thailand, but we’ll get to that) is the scene where it all played out.  Without India I would have had a much cheaper experience with God, and I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to learn the wonderful, painful, life-changing things that God taught me there.

We arrived in India in late July, along with the monsoon rains, and by the end of October I was unraveling.  In the short span of three months, the small thread of sanity that had been relentlessly pulled at by a constant barrage of spiders, snakes, sleeplessness, monkeys, lack of running water, and the final straw–rats, was slowly being yanked from my hands and I didn’t know how to get it back.  Before sending us overseas, our missions organization had put us through a battery of tests that would put the FBI to shame, all designed to certify that we were mentally and physically fit to be on the field (we always joked that they were checking to make sure we were crazy).  But by the end of our first three months in country, I was sure they had made a mistake when they approved me.

A few days before my son’s fourth birthday I found myself wandering along a deserted mountaintop road, the damp air clinging to me like an unwelcome spirit.  Staring down the steep cliffs, punctuated by towering, ancient evergreens, I wondered if anyone would ever find my body if I decided to jump, and questioning if, maybe, my family would be better off if I did.  At that point I had ceased to be the independent, fully-functioning woman that I had been accustomed to being, and that was where I found my value as a wife and mother….(more to come tomorrow–to follow this thread go to the “Holy Doubt” tab and scroll to the bottom and work your way up)