I share almost all of these posts on Facebook. It's been so much fun to reconnect with the amazing people in my life, people we've lost touch with either by distance or by time (and sometimes both). And let's face it, I'm wordy. So those 150 character limit status updates are never sufficient for me. So I link to my blog. And many of my FB friends (who are all IRL friends past and present), have followed my story over here.
I've also sent friends links to the blog via email. I haven't done this because I am seeking praise and adulation. Rather, I've been forward about my blog because so many IRL friends and family have specifically asked how they might pray for us or they've wanted to understand our struggle better. Blogging and then forwarding the links or sharing it on FB seemed like the most logical way to do that.
I wasn't prepared for the overwhelming response, the outpouring of love, the tears on our behalf and the prayers. But the one thing that has really puzzled The Dad and I, is that people are reporting that they see Jesus in us, in our life, in our humility and in our ability to keep on keeping on, despite it all. Somehow, regardless of our humanity, we have been modeling Christ's love. We have demonstrated peace in the storms and we have shown others that in the face of adversity, it is still possible to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit. Sometimes it makes The Dad and I furious when people say, "just when I think I've got it bad, I recall what YOU are going through and I know that if you can endure what you endure everyday with a smile, then surely what I am going through is easy!" because gosh, no one wants to learn that their life is the plumb line for others' lives! But still, we accept that role too because if we fully take on the call of Christ, then our lives are created for HIS glory, never ours. (But I'll be first to tell you that it sucks rotten eggs!)
A mutual friend of ours from my college days who is working toward his PhD in seminary school (or theology? I don't know. He can correct me. ;P) left me the following message on FB:
integritysinger, I read your posts periodically and want to thank you for taking the time and emotional outlay to compose and post them. We are not within a million miles of relating, but it breaks my heart to know you suffer so much, especially when i remember your contagious joy and smile. Please don't take that in any way that would evoke guilt in you. I *want* my heart to be broken for you. I *want* to keep reading these posts. For i feel like when i do, i momentarily touch the heart of God, and each time i read a post, i am reminded to pray for you.
It may sound trite, but in many, many ways you are exemplifying Christ to all who have eyes to see, in ways impossible for most. You understand Jesus' love, and the *voluntary* suffering that love brings upon the lover, far more than most. Whenever I'm worried about what God might think of me, frustrated by what He tolerates in others, I will need only think of you and The Dad. You are being Jesus to these kids and to everyone you know, exemplifying his fierce love. You are living, breathing embodiments of Christ himself. You know his heart in a way few ever can or will in this life.
I have no doubt that you will someday hear the words "Well done, good and faithful servant... Enter into My rest." And until that day comes, whenever you and The Dad feel alone, spent, and hopeless, remember we and many, many others, who remember you, pray for you, and who, if we could, would take you both in our arms and not let go.
So thank you for allowing me to share in your life, be it in an ever so small way. Thank you for breaking my heart, and please, keep writing honestly, please keep breaking it. Thank you for being Jesus to not only your kids, but to me.
My reply and I fully reiterate the last thoughts:
These are such kind words. The Dad and I have often discussed this phenomenon: that despite the difficulty of our challenges, we know inherently that our story is helping others in so many ways. We hear so often that the challenges we endure have been so overwhelming to others and yet, they report to us, we still laugh and smile and praise God. And we immediately quip back, "what else COULD we do?!" when faced with such adversity, it is ONLY CHRIST that sets us free and gives us the strength.
yes, we wish it weren't so. We wish there was a magic fix to all of it but that's not God's way.
peace and blessings to you in return. Please use our story to minister to others. Send them to the blog. If I can't be an example of Christ to others as I endure this lifetime, than I have accomplished nothing at all.