This happens every time. Well, each time? I get back from Guatemala and I simmer like hamburger helper on the stove trying to reconcile what in the actual heck just happened.
When I got back in 2014, I felt as though I was floating on a little cloud of heavenly happiness. I remember walking around on July 4th like, ‘oh, hey americans all excited about independence … let me tell you about the freedom i just found!’ I was going places, I tell you. I had big plans and life changes on the horizon and then wham, I got hit by a man who felt it appropriate to take out my eight-month-old Subaru and by association, my right wrist. I forgave him (and actually got to meet and pray with him). But seriously, that was such a blow that I literally belly-flopped off of my puffy cloud and onto what felt like an empty pool.
This time? I found that doggone cloud again and it carried me all the way to last Thursday when I learned that a friend I’d met in Guatemala had been shot and killed the night prior. Why God chose to allow me to ride along with Manuel that day is a mystery. Only Mike and I really had much time with him out of our group of ten and I’m ever so thankful I learned more about the man that he was and the legacy that will continue in his precious name.
I want to talk more about Guatemala but I think I need more time. Both trips left my thoughts in a complete spin cycle and like any good load of wash, you gotta let that spinning thing happen and wait for the door to unlock before you can continue. I can’t wait to share the photos, though. Just like last time, I am so thankful that I brought my camera! 484 reminders of what my week was like to have forever and ever and unlike my writing, they’re easier to read.
But where I find myself is wrestling with something I think I wrestle often. It’s trust. I have a really hard time, I’m finding, trusting in people. In myself and sometimes in the goodness of the Lord. I typed that. I’m sorry.
The last several years have given me great perspective about people. I tend to be quite vulnerable in general (oh hey, it’s a blog), but that doesn’t mean I readily trust someone if I’m sharing a bit about my life. Believe it or not, there’s quite a bit you actually don’t know about me. #tangledweb I think my trust issues center more around if I choose to believe the feedback I get as a whole. Say someone says, ‘hey, i love your stupid face.’ My tendency is to let the little voices in my head respond with, ‘well, maybe they mean that but you know, stupid face isn’t really nice so maybe they’re actually just trying to trick you into thinking they love you but really they just think your face is stupid. and so are you.’
I mean, what? And by the way, if I ever tell you that I love your stupid face, I totally do love you; regardless of the fact your face might be stupid. It’s a term of endearment.
And then there are those little voices in my head. I could wake up everyday and literally negative self-talk myself right square into a puddle of misery. Thankfully, there are some really important people I’ve allowed into my tribe that speak over those critical voices and I believe them when they say they are speaking truth. Until my emotions start to talk over all that and I doubt my people. Which is dumb. And, much like swinging back and forth on a pendulum. Or watching a tennis match. You understand.
So, the Lord. He’s the only One left here. When I went to Guatemala in 2014, I was in a pretty heated argument with Him. I had been for a few years. I didn’t understand ‘why’ things go the way they do. And then I felt His forgiveness and we worked it through and I began to trust Him again. And I realized I didn’t need validation from the people (even my tribe) or from myself. Because I’m literally my own worst enemy (most of the time).
Within the past year, though, I’ve felt that trust eroding a bit as I’ve been witness to just way too much pain. Way. Too. Much. I maintained a tight relationship with Him, but I just felt off again. I was questioning His goodness. One of my very favorite verses is Romans 8:28 and if I’m reading it correctly, God works it all out for the good. But … sometimes, it’s really difficult to see that when people you love dearly are dealt such terrible blows.
And then I went to Guatemala again. I just feel closer to God in that country than I have elsewhere. I honestly don’t know why except for that I got my life back in 2014 so I have nothing but good associations with that place. And even after this trip, I felt renewed and so thankful for such an amazing week with my Father. And then Manuel was taken. And I asked him again, ‘why?’
Mike and I went to see The Shack Friday night. Now, I’m not looking for any kind of debate or argument about the film. I had read the book and my head exploded shortly thereafter so I was interested in the movie when I heard it would come out. On the way there, Mike and I were talking and I had tears (again) over what the past week felt like. It’s that belly flop thing again. Or like a punch in the gut. You understand. And Mike said, ‘it makes you wonder if it’s worth it.’
We watched the movie and as we walked out, I said, ‘yeah, it’s totally worth it.’ Manuel lived his life for Christ. It showed. He was the epitome of love does. And I have no doubt at all where he sits today. And his family responded with gratitude for the family he worked for and for what the Lord brought to them. His wife’s dad had actually passed just a week prior as well and this beautiful widow thanked God? It sounds crazy, right?
But, that’s who the Lord is. He is the one constant. The One we can continually place our trust in. He doesn’t change. He never has. It is I who change. I blow back and forth like the wind on my little pendulum of uncertainty. And He’s right there riding the dumb thing with me just like, ‘hey Stace, let me love you. let’s get off this thing. i’m dizzy.’
It’s taken a really long time for me to be even remotely close to this place of trust I’ve found. It’s not easy and I doubt it will get any more so as time progresses but what I do know is that I don’t have to implicitly trust people. They will fail me. I also know that I don’t have to trust myself. I am continually finding ways to be dishonest with my stupid face. But Him? He’s got me. And I know He’s gonna work it all out. How? Because He says so.
“For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5b-6 (NLT)