Josh gave me a necklace with 'Joshua 1:9' engraved on it last month.
He reminded me that Joshua 1:9 was part of a benediction he gave at a military ceremony a few years back. And while I've read the Bible from cover to cover (took me 14 months) and have taken part in lots of Bible studies over the last few years, I really stink at memorizing and recalling scripture, so truth be told, I didn't have a clue what Joshua 1:9 even said.
So I told myself I'd look it up the next day, but I got busy and didn't.
The day after that, I had a feeling that I really needed to look up that scripture, but I got busy and forgot about it.
And I thought it was quite odd that I had the same feeling the very next day, and the day after that as well, but I just told myself that I'd look it up in the evening when I had more time, but that time never came.
And then I got some really crappy news and spent the whole day reeling from it.
That night, Cole came to me and asked if I could check to make sure he had memorized his weekly Bible verse correctly. I said, 'yes' and when he handed me a copy of his verse, I looked down to see it was Joshua 1:9 and realized that God had been trying to prepare me for the news that was about to come, but I wouldn't listen.
So now, he was trying to comfort me with those words instead.
This morning was one of those mornings where I just wanted to crawl back into bed, put the covers over my head and pretend that life wasn't happening.
We've got a blended family and that means that we periodically struggle from some of the natural consequences of divorce and multiple parents, all trying to raise the same child.
And while it's not my intention to be vague - the details aren't mine to share publically and even if they were, doing so wouldn't improve the situation, so there's no point.
Suffice to say it was a crappy morning though and my mind was so distracted that when I left the house, I forgot about two important things I was supposed to drop off for two different people after taking the kids to school.
When I got back home, I received a text from one of those people. (Sorry Diane!)
So I washed my face, threw on some pants, told her I was on my way, grabbed both of the items I was supposed to drop off earlier, set both of those things down while I was looking for my keys and then left the house without either of the items I was supposed to drop off (again.)
When I (finally) arrived at the first drop-off location with the item in tow, she asked me if I was ok and if I wanted to talk.
I said 'no' because quite honestly, I've just found over the years that when it comes to problems that there are no solutions for, talking about them just feels like needless complaining that doesn't serve any purpose other than to get me unnecessarily worked up - so I've just found that the only constructive thing I can do with those kinds of problems is to pray about them and to try to let God settle them in my heart.
When I arrived at the second drop-off location, I was thrilled to see that the front door was locked, which meant I could just drop the package off on the front step, without having to talk to anyone.
Just as I was about to successfully sneak back into my car without being seen though, an acquaintance opened the front door to retrieve the package and saw me.
Since I had been spotted, I felt I had no other choice but to put on a (pretend) happy face and to greet the package-retrieving acquaintance.
She asked me how I was doing and without the least bit of forethought, I blurted out, "It's really been a crappy morning." and that's when I could feel the first tears welling up in my eyes over what had occurred earlier in the morning.
She immediately responded by saying, "You know, my life is kind in shambles right now too." and went on to say that God is teaching her that she has to be willing to die to herself and her plans and her agenda, and what she thinks is fair every single day.
And she said she's learning that her children and her grandchildren belong to God, her friendships belong to God, and that every relationship of hers, both good and bad, belong to God too - and therefore, she has to be willing to hand each and every one of them over to Him and to trust fully in His plans for them.
What stuck with me most though was when she said she's learning that she can't even trust herself, because surprisingly, she had failed recently to stand up against something she new was wrong.
So all of her hope had to be in God. Not in her family. Not in her relationships. Not in other Christians (because even sheep are known to bite). Not in the world. Not even in herself or her own strength.
Just in God.
We talked for a few minutes through our tears, without sharing any specific details about what either one of us were going through, hugged a few times, and then said our goodbyes.
As I walked away, I knew that God was trying to comfort me through a woman I barely even know, yet I was trying to sneak away from His comfort.
You know, if I'm being truthful, things were easier before I started following God. (I believed in God since I was a kid, but I didn't fully understand what it meant to obey Him and what it meant to have a relationship with Him until a few years ago.)
I considered myself a moral person, who tried to make every decision with the intention of not hurting others and with the knowledge that I'd have to be able to look at myself and my decisions every day in the mirror.
And therefore, I made lots of good decisions.
Within months of deciding to follow God though, one of my kids was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome (to be more precise, Coprolalia, which includes sudden outbursts of profanity), one biological parent of one of my kids was institutionalized with a serious mental disorder that is worrisomely genetic, the relationship between myself and my best friend of 30 years completely dissolved (I still love her and she still loves me and I feel quite confident that we'd do anything for one another, but we rarely talk anymore), my husband was deployed to Afghanistan, several relationships that I had never had any serious problems with all the sudden became painful and problem-filled, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Sometimes God has to completely break down already broken things in order to help build them back up correctly though.
Once the rebuilding process began, I became acutely aware of how much I sin.
Again, I was 'moral' so there wasn't a whole lot of outward sin by the world's standards, but I became aware of areas where I was holding onto pride, areas in my life where there was unforgiveness, areas in my life where my thoughts were hurtful to myself and my relationships, areas where I had accepted the morals of societty over the truth of God, areas where my motives were to protect myself rather than to help someone else, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. (Ignorance truly is bliss because life was much easier before I became aware of all of these things.)
And I began to understand that you can make 'good' decisions for 'bad' reasons.
And just the same, you can also make 'bad' decisions for 'good' reasons.
I also came to understand that following God is not for wimps.
Its fraught with problems, it's tiresome, it's worrisome, it's painful and it's filled with unanswered questions.
I'm guessing that slogan wouldn't draw too many people to Christ though.
The clincher for me though is in the fact that life itself is tiresome, worrisome, painful and is filled with problems and unanswered questions and I simply can't bear the thought of going through all of that without God.
Because He's a comforter (even when you're trying to ignore and avoid His comfort.)
And though it may have seemed 'easier' before following Him, it also felt lonely.
And besides, He gives you these really cool, God-colored glasses that make life appear less burdensome, more hopeful and more joyful no matter how crappy your morning is.