It was Christmas Eve morning a couple years ago when my husband, John, and I were drinking coffee and watching TV in bed with the dogs curled up at our feet.
To some that may be no big deal but for me it was a morning I didn’t want to end.
Our dogs aren’t allowed on the bed (they’re not even allowed on that floor of the house) but I was feeling in the holiday spirit and convinced John this was a “special occasion”, so they could come upstairs.
I’m a morning person; John is not, so I’m almost always up long before the sun which really leaves no time for lounging around in bed drinking coffee.
We weren’t really talking, just enjoying our time together and laughing at our now snoring dogs who were clearly in love with our Sleep Number bed.
A commercial came on about the quickly approaching New Year and I made a comment about my excitement over seeing 2016 come to an end.
For us 2016 was a year filled with trials and I was emotionally drained.
Without hesitation, John looked at me and said: “I know 2016 was a rough year, baby, but as crazy as this may sound it was the greatest year of my life.”
That certainly stopped me in my tracks! His statement made me think and quickly I realized I knew exactly what he meant.
It was a tough year.
It was an emotionally draining year.
But it was our first year as husband and wife and we were closer to each other than we had ever been.
More importantly, we were closer to the Lord than ever before.
Proverbs 3:5–6 says: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
I clung to this verse throughout most of 2016 and even now I still turn to it multiple times throughout the week, sometimes multiple times in one day.
This verse quite perfectly summed up all the emotions of 2016 for us and I needed to hold on to it or I feared I might crack.
But let’s be honest, it isn’t easy, when you feel like everything good and right in your life is in jeopardy, to say, “Okay, Lord, you got this, right?”
Especially not easy for me.
I’m a control freak. I attempt to control every aspect of my life.
Funny, now I say I “attempt” to control but just a few years ago, (pre-recommitting my life to the Lord) I would have very stridently stated, “I control every aspect of my life.”
One of the first things I learned when John and I started our walk was that Elizabeth Grace does NOT control every aspect of her life.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
My days are meticulously planned and when the schedule doesn’t follow what I have written on the calendar it gives me anxiety.
Thankfully, the Lord has blessed me with a husband who is a very “go with the flow” kind of guy and balances me. He really is just the man I needed.
But no matter how “go with the flow” he is, and how much I have changed some of my controlling behavior, I still like to control things. It’s an issue I’m working on.
Well, 2016 was the test of a lifetime because I was smack dab in the middle of situations I had absolutely NO control over and I mean NO control. I couldn’t change anything about what was going on and, in fact, we are still very much in the middle of these trials and I still have no control over them.
The Lord knows what He is doing and we can never doubt that because He has a plan for our lives and it is a perfect plan, it just may not seem perfect to us all the time.
Through these trials, John and I have grown in our faith and our love for each other. I have been forced to put my full faith in the Lord and trust that it is all for the betterment of my life.
“And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee” (Psalm 9:10).
Trusting God is a choice we have to make and it is a choice we have to continue to make every day and in every situation. It is truly an ongoing relationship.
I wake up every morning and intentionally spend time in prayer and in His word because I know that the choice I’ve made to have this ongoing relationship with God has made my life the best it has ever been regardless of the trials I’m facing.
We will likely never understand how God’s good comes from the great pain we sometimes experience but please believe me when I say He does cause ALL things to work together for good.
I think Wayne Stiles says it best in his book, “Waiting on God”: “We will experience greater peace when we love and trust a God we may not understand rather than when we constantly try to conform Him into an image we have created in our imagination.”
John and I are still facing trials and we will face more trials in our lives but having a true and loving relationship with the Lord has given us a peace that passes all understanding and without that peace, I truly believe we would not have made it this far.