My life is in boxes again
We’ve moved. A lot. For many varied and valid reasons, but I would say we are well above the median for our age and generation. Many of those moves have provided incredible growth and life experience and I treasure those times when we’ve made a location shift and have gained so much.
This time is different, though. This time we are not moving because we want to; we are moving because we have to. COVID-19 has impacted our circumstances and the best strategy to manage the fallout is to relocate but even with the rationale being solid, the emotional impact of moving when it’s not your own choice is quite palpable.
I am sure that many people are in this situation right now, and probably a lot more than would normally be within the same period of time. Whole regions are experiencing mass change across the world and this is just one of the challenging and upsetting things happening to so many.
It’s the unexpected grief, the letting go of the familiar, the low motivation and the anxiety about relocating somewhere we know nothing about, know no-one and have no idea if we will even like living in.
It’s the feeling of displacement. The frustration of having to put our lives into boxes before we are ready to do. It’s the physical and mental fatigue of having to stop all you’re doing that is worthwhile and recalibrating that on the other side of the move.
Regardless of how little the location might change, it makes me feel like I am on a rudderless raft atop an ever-increasingly stormy sea with no land in sight.
Yet I feel a sense of peace I cannot explain despite all the chaos and turmoil going on around me and today I want to share why.
Earlier in the year, January 12th to be exact, I had an experience of God’s presence that has been shaping my capacity to manage this time of intense and unwanted flux. I was at church. Worship was happening and I was just settling into that, enjoying the moment of pausing and spending time focussed on God. Nothing was unusual or special about this day but when I felt a familiar prompting run through my mind, I pulled out my phone and opened my notebook. Here is what I penned:
This will be a year of breaking through the desire for predictable and safe conditions in your life. You will learn to ride My wave and it is one that takes you in many directions.
Like a water raft you will sit on top of the rapids and not be dumped by the tumult but will stay on the surface skimming it and not being caught on the rocks.
Feeling that God had given me a word for my personal future, I put it aside and let it be, thinking that I would just keep it in mind. I had recently lost my job and was currently helping someone else in a time of change so thought it was more related to unknowns like these. The year certainly had not begun like I anticipated but I had no idea how much was about to change.
I could not have anticipated the relevance of this simple encouragement and how crucial it would become in just a few weeks from then. Nor could I have foreseen the need for a word like this to share with others going through the same experiences, which has become a global time of uncertainty, flux, and yes, tumult.
A word in season is like a honey balm to the soul
I will admit that I have kept this word to myself and only really shared with a handful of people over the past couple of months because I didn’t realise the impact it was having on my own feelings of security in God. But I am seeing it now.
At a time when the chaos of an unplanned and unintentional house move would normally upend my mental health, I find myself feeling very little emotion. At first, I thought I was feeling numb, given the lack of emotional reaction to this situation, but I am starting to see that real peace is supporting my mind and heart and helping me navigate a normally challenging set of circumstances.
I am definitely struggling in the motivation category, but the driving emotional current isn’t anxiety for once (not that it has completely gone, just for the record – it’s just more manageable than normal), and I feel confident to now say that I think hearing that word of encouragement in January has become the scaffold that is enabling me to traverse this time of chaos.
I have come to understand that God works in mysterious ways: that he would speak to us, to me, in small ways, about the things that have the biggest impact on our lives; that he would go out of his way to give us direction before we need it – these are the things that confound me about him.
They are the characteristics that make him real to me. For without this supernatural exchange in January – because that is what hearing from God really is: he speaks, I listen, I speak, he listens, and so on – I am convinced that I would be struggling so much more right now and the mental health fallout on the other side would be significant.
I could go into a number of different experiences and share more about how God has directed my life over the years but the simple fact is that in this time of terrible global loss, great fear and worsening anxiety over the future, I feel relatively calm.
It’s not that I am not experiencing anxiety – in fact, there has been a surreal feeling of grief coupled with anger and dislocation running through most days – but it’s that I feel aware of these negative feelings, and am able to circumvent them because I have this supernatural antidote healing my heart and mind at the same time, cutting off any longterm negative mental health problems.
God said to me that day that I would learn to ride the waves of uncertainty in this season – it wasn’t an ‘if you do this, I’ll do that’ statement – it was a promise. I do believe that I have an active role to play – to listen, to spend time with him in prayer and worship, to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit for continued direction – but this world was a promise that I will get through this in a way that will transform my life. And it is this promise that I have held close to my chest since then.
Now is the time to give God a chance to prove himself
Our world is in total disarray. Many are questioning their life choices, their beliefs, their sense of the future and many are turning to God for answers. And he is listening and responding.
I want everyone who reads this to take hold of that promise. God often gives one person a word that directly relates to their lives and equally relates to the lives of others. Now that I have seen how applicable this word of encouragement is to every person who is ready to receive it, I feel it’s time to share it with you.
If ever there was a time in history to give God a chance to prove himself, it is now. If you’ve never experienced God’s provision, or haven’t for a long time, why not ask him to provide what you need today?
It might be emotional or personal needs, or it might be something more practical and external – whatever it is for you, I can say with confidence that he has the provisions for you, ready and waiting to give them to you. He just wants you to ask him for it.
If you were to ask God one thing today, what would it be?
If you would like to share your answer below, know that I will be praying for you to see the fulfilment of that question and praying that you will have a new encounter with God that will undergird you through this unprecedented time in history.
Stay strong, live well, love much,