Children believe right down to their very core and sometimes adults just “want” to believe but can’t. The Bible says in Mark 10:15, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” But sometimes, something happens to us adults and we become jaded; changed by a hard life, a disappointment, a betrayal. I was that child who believed. For a very long time, I was as idealistic as they come. I believed with my whole heart that love was forever. I believed that all things were possible with God. I believed that if I followed the Lord and had a sincere heart in everything I did that He would bless me. And my life was charmed. My life was a shining success. I believed in Prince Charmings who rode up on white horses to save the day. I believed that loves conquers all. I knew there were road blocks, I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I was like that character in the book who would not give up despite the odds however dire or unlikely. I was like the kid who goes to Disneyland wide eyed and in wonder at all the magic that life holds.
I lived my entire life that way. Believing. And when things got tough, I became even more inspired. “Bring it on!” I would say. “We can win, we will win, we have already won!” With my friends, with my family, with my resources and my skills and with the LORD…we will conquer all! And then the big battle came. My closest confidant betrayed me and I was in a battle I had not expected. One to save my life as I knew it. My armor was on everyday. My childlike enthusiasm for life’s challenges gave way to pain, loneliness, and a heart ache that I had never known before. I clung desperately to my ideals, my hope, and my belief. As it speaks of in Ephesians 6:10-18
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
I did it and I believed in my core that fighting for the Lord was the only place to be in this battle for my marriage.
The only problem was I was fighting the good fight with an expectation that God would restore my marriage. And in the final days of the war, it became very clear that my efforts had not produced restoration. I was devastated for about 8 months. I truly did not understand why God would allow my children to suffer from living in a single parent home. Our financial picture to suffer as a result of having to sustain two households. I didn’t understand how my husband’s rejection of marriage and of his family obligations could ever be a good thing.
I have said before that something died the day he walked out on us. And more than my belief in him…I think it was also that childlike belief that anything is truly possible. Now when I see Tinkerbell fly across the crowd during the fireworks show I don’t think about the beauty of it but the fact that she is on a string and it’s not really real. When I’m riding Space Mountain instead of getting caught up in the joy of the wind rushing curves, my eye catches the exit signs glowing along the walls and I wonder how many times they’ve had to be used when the ride broke down. Instead of giving Goofy a hug, I wonder if the person in the suit smokes, or drinks, or leaves his wife and then I don’t want to hug him at all.
It’s all smoke and mirrors. It’s a sham. You don’t get what you want therefore you can’t be happily ever after. I realize now looking back that the child in me did die.
But if you’ve read my blog you also know that I have met a great guy in the last few months. And he has that childlike enthusiasm but he is not naive either. He has enthusiasm for Lord but also for life. And I think God has brought him to me for more than one reason. He is like a mirror image of my former self only wiser. And when we are together I smile bigger than I have smiled in years. His idea of a good time is what I would have dreamed up for myself if I had that perfect friend who would do whatever I wanted to do. And then he doesn’t just dream about it but he actually does it. And I sit with him and watch this man so happy, singing, dancing, cooking, laughing, talking or simply just breathing; and I am in wonder. We go to church and he just soaks things up. All of it. The music, the prayer, the message and the application. He sees all the possibilities and he believes in his core. But when I challenge him on his enthusiasm and remind him there are hurdles and obstacles and life is not always rosey, he simply agrees with me and chooses to be enthusiastic anyway.
He looks at life and sees the good in it. He looks at me and sees good in me. He sees someone who has been hurt and is struggling and all he wants to do is lift me up. “Whatever I can do to help, I will do.” he says. He is back home after his second trip here. And he is as determined as I have ever seen him to see this through. He has seen me lose it during a conversation with my mother, panic when I’m late, grumble when other people are late. He’s seen me forget things and do my internal boxing match on myself as punishment. He’s seen a lot. Despite this, he is full steam ahead.
He has also wondered out loud why at times I’m almost trying to talk him out of getting a job transfer and moving to California to be closer to the church and closer to me. The adult voice in my head smacking down the childlike hope that has been revived by his enthusiasm. But there are no red lights ahead of him. No even yellow lights from what I can tell. And yet I find myself giving him reasons why it won’t work. I’m testing I guess. I’m giving him an out. I’m lifting the curtain behind the magic, exposing the possibility that living happily ever after just might be a fairytale. After all, I’m speaking from experience. And his response to me is nothing short of extraordinary. He says just very simply and succinctly, “It has to be true for somebody, why not us? It’s about who you are and who you are with, not what happens along the way.”
He is more than someone I am attracted to. He is more than a person who is fun to hang around. He is teaching me to believe again.
I thank God everyday for his faithfulness. Like the man who asked the Lord to heal his son in Mark 9, I too am saying to Him…”I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” I don’t want to be jaded. I don’t want the battle I fought in for so long to be won by default because I stop believing in the victory of Jesus. Help me. And God is helping me. I see it.
It was Corrie Ten Boom who said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” She also said, “There are no ‘if’s’ in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety – let us pray that we may always know it!”
And she would know more than many of us that life brings tragedy. It brings pain and heart ache. But knowing that reality does not mean that you can’t live happily ever after. Because happily ever after does not mean a life without problems, disappointments and pain. It means realizing that true happiness comes from seeking the Lord and His will each and everyday. It means embracing the joy He has placed in your life instead of being afraid of when it will end. And ultimately it means that the worst possible scenario is dying and going to heaven. How much more happily ever after can it get?
And while I am learning to have “childlike faith” again. I have realized something in the last few days. And that is, that these trials and challenges that I have faced have caused me to grow more than all my successes put together. The idealism I hung onto before was shallow and meaningless because it hinged on me getting what I wanted.
So maybe the child did die. But maybe it was a good thing. Because now I am free to want what God wants for me. To trust him first. And to take what comes with that trust not as a child but with childlike enthusiasm.