Five summers ago, I visited my sister Abby and her family in Fort Worth, Texas. It was an unusual and wonderful visit because I was there along with my twin sister, Beth, and our brother, Dan. The four of us are rarely together for long stretches of time, so it felt special.
My husband and I had just gone through a really tough time with my 18-year-old daughter, BethAnn. We had discovered that she was deep into drugs, alcohol, and other self-destructive activities. BethAnn went through rehab, barely graduated from high school, and had come through on the other side, seemingly on the mend. But it had taken a toll on my heart and soul and my marriage. I was still aching from the days and nights of terror, wondering if she was going to make it (literally and figuratively). Her crisis had consumed all of our time and energy. I was just starting to come up for air that summer.
On Sunday during our visit with Abby, we all went to church and sat together during the service. It was so fun sitting there with my siblings, and it was super special for me. The soloist sang “Blessings” by Laura Story. I wept as she sang about my life and how God is faithful even when all seems dark and silent.
Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if your healing comes through tears
What if the thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near
What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise
I had just lived through a world of raindrops, tears, sleepless nights, and trials. I had slept with BethAnn at night to prevent her from running away or hurting herself. I had worked full time as a teacher and then attended rehab with BethAnn in the evenings. I had collapsed every night from mental and physical exhaustion and dragged myself out of bed every morning, heavy with the burden of the present and the unknown of the future. That world had consumed us for many months.
On top of that, I had divorced my first husband seven years before that, which meant that I only got to see my kids half of the time. My son Joel had moved out after high school graduation, and I was feeling the weight of all the days that I had missed with them.
As I walked through the days of rain and tears, my prayers consisted of “Help me, Jesus.” That’s all I could muster. And He did. For years before that, my pride had kept me from truly crying out to God, but I was finally utterly helpless. I felt God’s healing, nearness, and mercies in ways that I had not in a long time. I felt them in ways that were so deep and strong. God had given us strength to carry on and wisdom to make decisions for each day. I had lived the words of that song, and I wept as I melted into God’s spirit as He sang over me that day in church, sitting there with my brother and sisters, feeling so safe and loved.
At that moment I thought, this is why I’m here today, to feel God’s presence and healing through this song.
But God had more.
The pastor’s message focused on The God Who Does the Impossible. He had us write down three things: one thing that is fulfilling in life, one hope/dream that we have given up on, and one thing that has disheartened us. Then we filled in those phrases into a letter from God. After filling in the blanks, this is how my letter looked:
Before I created the universe, I had you in mind. You were exclusively created, and I love you more than you can imagine. It brings me great pleasure to see you fulfilled and enjoying life. I love it when you spend time with Joel and BethAnn.
I know life isn’t always easy; at times you’ve found it tougher than you expected. Some of the dreams you’ve had, like having more babies, now seem silly, impossible, or too late. Life isn’t over yet…I know the plans I have for you.
I know you’re disappointed about Winter/Spring 2011 (BethAnn’s drug addiction). But don’t worry, — I’m greater than that frustration or anything you’ll ever face. Since death can’t hold me, then you know I can help overcome your hurts, disappointments, and failures. Trust in me.
So here is what I want to say to you. Come to me and I will carry you. I really mean it. You don’t have to do this on your own.
Through the sacrifice of my one and only Son, your past failures can be forgiven, and your future can be different – for all eternity. The empty tomb serves to remind you that nothing is impossible when you put your trust in me. If you’re ready, I’m ready. Just let me know. I love you more than you can imagine.
The God Who Does the Impossible
I have carried that letter in my Bible ever since that day. I knew that God was speaking to me to NOT GIVE UP on the dreams and desires he placed on my heart. I knew that He was going to redeem those broken and hurting places in my life.
Since then, BethAnn has struggled off and on, but is now in a good place with a wonderful husband and precious baby boy. That little boy, Trey, is filling that empty place inside me where secondary infertility had left me 18 years ago. Even though he is not my baby, he is still my own flesh and blood, and I love him fiercely. He loves his MomBecky, too (that’s what my grands are going to call me.)
Today, Sunday, June 26, 2016, Joel and his wife Grace, BethAnn and her husband T.J. and baby Trey all came over to swim in our backyard pool. At that moment, I realized that God had fulfilled all those promises to me from his letter. As I looked out at the sight of a circle of water containing the people I love most in this world, it hit me that God had redeemed those hard, broken, painful places in my life. I was hanging out with my kids, BethAnn had turned her heart to the Lord, and my arms were no longer yearning for more children because they were full of baby Trey.
It seems that life would be easier and more rewarding if we didn’t have to weather any storms. But through sin (our own and others’), frail bodies, and an imperfect world, we are guaranteed to be tossed about by many of life’s storms. When Jesus is our anchor, we can weather those storms with hope, knowing that God sees how He is changing us through the wind and the rain. Through my storms of secondary infertility, divorce, and my daughter’s drug addiction, I had a greater thirst to know God, to feel his arms wrapped around me, to hear his still small voice. And some days God’s voice is loud and clear, sung by a beautiful soloist and wrapped up in a letter inside a church that I had never been in, in a town that I had never visited, listening to a preacher whom I had never met. Redeeming my broken places.
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted. He saves those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18
Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story. Psalm 107:2
“Blessings” by Laura Story, INO Records, 2011