I answered her call on the first ring, and for anyone who knows me, that in itself was nearly a miracle.
We hadn’t spoken in months which is completely normal. We are friends who need not speak often to know that our love for each other is always alive and well.
Her voice shook as she asked me if I could talk. She is one of the strongest women I have ever met so I knew something was seriously wrong. Quickly she told me she needed prayer, didn’t want to discuss the details but that she had just found out that her husband had had multiple affairs in the past few years. He had confessed, unburdened himself, and left her with a decision to make. She needed to hear from God and also from friends she knew would hold her to whatever it was He would say. We hung up and I cried. For her. For him. For Him.
I thought through the situation and her undeserved heartache before actually praying about it. I felt sick for her and a significant part of me wanted to call her right back to tell her that she could, no should, gather up her four little children and move in with us.
But that isn’t what she asked of me. She had asked me to pray so I finally did. Fervently!
I don’t recall how many days passed before she called again. I knew what she would say when she did because I knew what God had already told me. I also knew her well enough to know she would have heard from Him and she would obey. It wasn’t her decision but her reasoning that left me in awe.
She would stay with him. She would love him. She would forgive him and she would consider it her privilege. It would help her more deeply identify with what Jesus had suffered for us, for her. It was a gift God was giving her and she would open it, savor it, and grow closer to Him through it.
This is a story that God reminds me of often to get me to adjust my focus, stop saying something in my life isn’t fair, or choose to forgive an offense. He slaps me with the reality that whatever it is I’m dealing with, no matter how big or small, He can use it for His glory.
And while thoughts of this story have been continuously swirling around in my mind as of late, my attitude has not changed. I realized, finally, that it was because I could not name my struggle. I didn’t really know what it was I was fighting against. How do you battle the unknown?
I’ve been a bit unsettled and maybe even slightly confused. The world has changed so much in the last couple of years.
Finally in prayer the other day, God named my struggle for me. I wanted to deny it at first but He, of course, was right and everything started to make sense.
“God allows disappointment to occur on the threshold of every human endeavor.
“It occurs when the boy who has been enchanted in the nursery by stories from the Odyssey buckles down to really learning Greek. It occurs when lovers have got married and begin the real task of learning to live together.
“In every department of life it marks the transition from dreaming to laborious doing.” -C.S. Lewis
Disappointment is such a sneaky enemy.
One that can seem weak and of little consequence at first. Oh, it’s just a little disappointment in people or a circumstance. But she feasts on grumbling, complaints, sides of assumption, ladled with over-analyzation. For dessert, a big bowl of self-pity, and suddenly you’ve got an enemy that’s bursting out of her britches. She is big enough to take over every area of life.
Unbiblical thinking feeds disappointment but let’s be honest, the root or foundation is essentially pride.
Ultimately, isn’t being disappointed in anything actually a disappointment in God? I think it is.
We don’t like the turn he allowed our life to take. We wanted something different. Our plan is better than His? Such foolishness!
My friend did three important things right that stand out as I contemplate her reaction to her circumstance:
- She did not complain. Her words were few in fact and details limited.
- She wanted and asked for only prayer and accountability partners.
- She determined to glorify God with her response to her heartache.
I learn from this friend continuously but never more than through this triumph of hers. It helps to be reminded of a proper reaction when the world lets you down.