2016 Unexpected Gift
when God restores time
2016’s unexpected gift arrived exactly seven months ago this week. You couldn’t have told me then Tom’s layoff was a gift — but it was. Amongst the chaos, a familiar presence of peace showed up — the same presence we felt 8 years earlier.
See, it was exactly eight years ago this week that familiar peace moved amongst us. The Kinder family prepared our minds for chemo and radiation in hopes to eradicate the cancer growing in Tom’s throat. The news of cancer felt like life had just lobbed a hand grenade into our family room and blew it into a million unrecognizable pieces. Now eight years later, under different circumstances, we were facing that same out-of-control feeling.
The emotional effects of cancer linger long after the disease is gone, and no one told us that they can manifest in ways completely unrelated to the disease. All we knew was, for the past 8 years, our family never quite felt whole and our new normal was a mess. Even after all these years, our sense of security hadn’t really returned. Now Tom’s job loss was shaking whatever stability we had recovered.
When you can’t see God…
Perhaps like us something in your 2016 brought back painful memories you thought you had moved on from. It’s hard to see why God would allow another life shattering moment to stir up all the mess we thought was behind us. At times it can be hard to see God in it, and I definitely relate to the feelings like God has us walking blind to His plans.
At the onset of Tom’s job loss we couldn’t see Him. Initially Tom and I thought we’d done something wrong. We wondered if God was teaching us a lesson in pride, or could it be a lack of faith that brought about these troubles? We didn’t know. All we could sense was that familiar peace hovering over us like mist hovers over still waters. Then one day God opened our eyes to His much bigger plan.
The unexpected gift…
As with all families, ours is growing in a lot of new directions. For years now, I have longed that things would slow down. Let me be totally transparent, our post-cancer family shows very little resemblance of the pre-cancer one. And at times friend it has simply broken my heart. Yet, God who knows the secrets tucked deep inside was about to do something that only He has the power to do — restore time.
The most unexpected gift was going to come through our situation called unemployement. God was giving us the gift of time. As our son graduated high school and started college, and our daughter prepares to marry and move away — God gave us six months to redeem what the enemy had stolen from our family over the past 8 years — time. And friend, we almost missed it. Had we continued to focus on our problems, we would have never seen the gift.
The gift of a restored marriage…
God healed broken areas in our marriage that we had just come to accept would never change. Cancer changes your perspective on life and not always for the better. I think we kept ourselves too busy, and used it as an excuse not to be intentional about the other’s needs. God used the gift of time to open our eyes so Tom and I could see each other, and really listen to one another, in ways we’d never done before.
The gift of a restored family…
God repaired this fractured family, and returned to it the wholeness we treasured most. We were always known as a tight family, but cancer tore that apart. I think we built up walls, brought on by fear, and pushed each other away. God used the gift of time to restore togetherness through late nights, long talks, a new found appreciation for one another, and a lot of forgiveness.
The gift of restored faith…
He simply met each one of us right where we were at spiritually. I think through the years, we placed a lot of “religious expectations” upon one another. I think the cancer caused us to mistrust God to some degree, and we weren’t allowing one another the space to figure it out. God used the gift of time to encounter each one of us, and is restoring our trust in Him again. He reminded Tom and I that His grace is what has carried and covered us for the past 8 years.
My Final Thoughts…
Friend, maybe 2016 brought you back to a place where life seems once again out of control, painful, and unexplainable. Maybe you’re asking God why you’re back here again. I understand how the pain can capture your attention. Let me encourage you friend, push past the pain and ask God where He is. I don’t want you to miss the gift, because the pain has your attention. Like the mist that hovers over still waters, His peace is for you. So lean into this season and look for your unexpected gift that He has prepared for you, too.
Keep up the journey my friend,
PS… Do you find yourself in a painful season? If you share where you’re at with me, I will reply to you with a personal prayer. You do not have to journey this alone.
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