Almost 7 months ago, J lost his job. He has been searching and applying furiously since then to no avail. Our backup plan was moving in with my mom for a little while if he didn’t have something by June. We never expected to actually have to use that backup plan. Along the way, we have had friends, family, & acquaintances show tremendous kindness to us. And we have had others that have made me extremely angry.
If you have followed along for any length of time, you know that the past 3 1/2 years have been far from easy for us. In fact, they have been the hardest few years of my life. Trying to reconcile that with my faith has been a challenge at times. And having to face the realization that our days may forever be difficult (by our extremely selfish, American standards) has been even more of a challenge. I walk around on the verge of tears everyday now. We just can’t seem to catch any kind of break. This has caused me to think a lot about how you can still love Jesus and love other people, even when you’re homeless. Even when you literally have no idea what tomorrow will bring. I have walked through moments of extreme panic during this pregnancy because I just expect our lives to be plagued by hard things for the rest of our lives. I literally laid in bed, barely moving, for 2 days early in this pregnancy because I thought I was miscarrying. This anxiety is new for me. I have never been a very fearful person (except when it comes to snakes). I have never struggled with not knowing what’s to come. I have always been a very go with the flow, whatever happens happens kind of person. But then I have had 3 years of bad news over and over again and suddenly I can’t shake the feeling that I need to constantly look over my shoulder for the next bad thing.
We have had to give up so much in the past few years and we have had much just taken from us. And it is hard. And it is extremely lonely. I have honestly never felt so alone. So what do you do when you are in the trenches of life and it seems that you will be there for quite sometime? I’m not exactly sure, if I’m honest. I have looked to my favorite people who are honest, even when it’s hard and I still feel directionless.
And here’s why: I love Jen Hatmaker. I turned the Today Show on this morning just so I could watch her 20 seconds of fame (my anxiety level rose 45% watching her have to talk so incredibly fast, my brain does not work that fast). She is hilarious and honest and I think we would be great friends if we ever met in real life. But she has a bad day, she goes out and buys herself a pair of boots. She floats off to NYC or Rome or wherever. She has an HGTV renovated home. And all of these things are lovely. They are not bad things and they do not make her a terrible, greedy person or Christ follower. I have done a lot of soul searching and this is truly not coming from a place of envy. But more of a place of hopelessness and lack of guidance. She can’t tell me how to still love Jesus & love other people when you’re homeless and forced to go to the only OB in town who accepts Medicaid because she hasn’t been there. She can’t tell me that serving Jesus & serving other people is still worth it because she doesn’t honestly know. And it’s not just her. It’s any of the talking heads in the Christian world. Last I checked, no one is banging down the proverbial door of the weak & needy to hear what they have to say. No one wants to hear what they have to say because no one wants to end up like them.
So I find myself sitting here, extremely lonely on this journey we’re on. Wanting someone to tell me how to do this whole thing right. How do I love Jesus & love other people when I don’t have a whole lot to offer. And then I’m reminded what Jesus says about His Kingdom. The first will be last. The weak will be strong. Those who lose their lives, will find life. Pick up your cross & follow. It’s so backwards. Jesus takes our “white picket fence American good life” and completely flips it upside down. If we want to have life, we must lose our lives. If we want to follow Jesus, we must carry the cross. If we want His Kingdom to come, we must lose our American Dream.
I was filling up my car with gas the other day & this guy asked me for a dollar because he had run out of gas. I brushed him off and I got so angry with God in that moment. Really?! The person with no home, living with her mom, with no income, and really no end in sight of these “hard things” – that’s who God has this man ask for money? You have got to be kidding. This is some big joke and God is having a good ‘ol laugh about this one. Then it struck me, I have never known what it must feel like to not be able to fill up my car with gas. I have never known what it must feel like to not be able to feed my babies. I have never known what it must feel like to not know where I’m going to sleep at night. So I put some gas in the guy’s car. I didn’t do anything great or life-changing. I just put a little gas in some dude’s car. Sometimes God has to drag me kicking and screaming into His service. Ok, a lot of times. I am so selfish and self-centered.
How do you love Jesus & love other people even when you’re technically homeless? You die to yourself. You set your pity party aside and think of the person to right & your left. You get up out of the muck you have been wallowing in, put your big girl panties on, and keep loving the unlovely, the least of these – even when you think you have nothing left to give. You cozy up beside the widow and ask her how she still trusts Jesus. You scoot a little closer to the truly homeless man & ask what wisdom he has to share. You befriend the fatherless and learn from their faith.
Because, dear ones, these are the ones Christ promised His Kingdom to.
His Kingdom come. Not mine.