by Alyssa von Helms
February 19, 2020
“Do you have words for us?”
I got the reminder in email-form on Monday in the nicest, kindest way. My blog post was due. Did I have words? I couldn’t help but laugh to myself at the timing. Oh yes. I had words. Very few of them fit for public consumption, a symptom of having no words at all just a couple days before. I thought, I do have words. My words are: I am tired. I have nothing new. Every story I tell is the same—that I am waiting, practicing patience, looking for lessons.
I’ve said before that my life does not look the way I planned. In many ways, it in fact looks better—I’m far more interesting and have experienced many more things than I would have, had my life gone according to my 18-year-old self’s plans. Or my 23-year-old self’s plans. Or my 29-year-old self’s plans. Each time life doesn’t go according to plan, I end up being glad for it. But I won’t lie, each time I’m a little more tired, more jaded, more hurt. Maybe you feel the same way about whatever it is in life that you’re hoping for, whatever change you’d like to see. For me in this season, it’s relationships.
Last year my friend sent me a podcast about a woman’s search for a husband. The woman’s name is Mia Fieldes and her story is a remarkable one, chock-full of boldness and stubborn hope and, yes, a happy ending. I listened to it for the first time months ago, when I was in a relationship of my own. Last week I listened to it again, in the aftermath of returning once more to singleness, and was struck by a part near the beginning where she very honestly recounted a moment when God convicted her.
“God,” she protested, “it’s not You I’m disappointed in, it’s men.”
“No, you’re disappointed in Me.”
“I’m not. God, I’m not. I’m disappointed in men, just guys in general. I could never be disappointed in You.”
“No. You’re disappointed in Me.”
And that was the truth. I know it because that’s something I’ve wrestled with myself when I think about the way certain areas of my life look. My lack of faith is not from the belief that God can’t provide, but that He won’t. I carry more than disappointment; I carry anger fueled by fear, the seeds from which bitterness will grow if I don’t root it out.
This is not a new struggle for me—or for any of us. I have friends wrestling with returning cancer, with divorce, with finances, with children. I know what it’s like to see only barrenness in places where you’ve prayed for green growth. I know what it’s like to want answers for why certain things come to pass and other things don’t, why some things are given and others are taken away. I know what it’s like to feel deserted—desert-ed, left alone in the sand, not a living thing in sight.
But even with all that, I do have words and they are these, provided like manna to the Israelites, enough to satisfy each day as long as I keep returning to the source for more.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters
He restores my soul.
I am very aware that God is all-powerful. I neglect to remember that He is also good. But it’s His goodness that encourages me, that softens the bitter parts of my heart and reminds me that my Shepherd cares very much about the state of my soul and what it chooses to grow: bitterness or hope.
Alyssa loves getting coffee with friends, finishing puzzles, and Salt & Straw ice cream.