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  • Writer's pictureRuth Sauers

An ode to life’s trials and Gods goodness

I turned 40 at the end of September and it’s caused me to look back and reflect on my life up to this point, especially the last 10 years. A lot has happened over the last ten years. My children have grown so much, a couple of them just about all grown up. I’ve grown up too. We’ve moved 5+ times, we’ve lived through some good and blessed times but we’ve also lived through some hard times, some desolate times, but also those times are what has deepened my faith and made me get honest with God in ways I never had to before. Before these times I was kind of able to live a life of doing a lot for God, a life of spending and being spent and hoping people were happy with me and hoping I was doing it right.

And then came financial hardship and isolation and an aloneness that Steve and I went through together that was awful and dark. Everything we touched seemed to crumble, everything we tried didn’t work out, we were only able to barely squeak by depleting all our savings, everything we had,  crying out to God, help us, help us, help us. Those were some of the most real and honest prayers I have ever prayed. Nothing was carefully scripted or beautifully written out. It was a cry of desperation. It was music to Gods ears.

And then my health failed. I had no energy. I had to stop cleaning the houses I had been cleaning. That was another loss of income. My adrenals were running on completely empty after the stress of not being able to make ends meet. My body started gaining weight even though I ate so healthy. It seemed to not matter at all. The scale just rose and rose.

I had to fight back lies of you’re not good enough and you’re fat and you’re letting yourself go. I just wanted to work out, but working out was the worst thing for me. I had to learn to let my body rest. I had to work very hard to unlearn lies I had believed since childhood that your identity is in what you look like and your worth is based on how thin you stay. I had to learn that I am a beloved daughter of God and my identity is in Him and the beautiful way He made me, inside and out, with less pounds or extra pounds.

Through these struggles in my 30s life was like I want you to meet someone, her name is Ruth and she’s beautiful. I had to learn to bless some things I used to try to change.

I had to learn who I was as a person, what gave me energy, what drained me, the unique ways God had made me that I had tried to deny before. I learned to bless the fact that I am an introvert, and even though I love people I have to get away from them sometimes. I had to learn to bless the fact that I am a creative and I have to have creative outlets that inspire me or I will wither away. I had to learn to bless the fact that I care deeply about justice and I have a deep desire to speak into some controversial issues. I started listening to a lot of podcasts and reading different books, coming alive to who God made me as a person.

I tried opening my Bible and reading, but it was incredibly hard for me for years. I felt so much anxiety surrounding the Bible. It had been used in so many ways to abuse me. I had to find God in different ways. I began praying all the time, talking to God about everything. I had always had trouble praying before but it was like the flood- gates had opened and I couldn’t stop. I would walk and pray, I would go for beautiful drives and pray. God met me in that time of isolation and desperation. Many of the books I started reading talked about contemplative practices. I read books by Ruth Haley Barton - Sacred Rhythms, and James Bryan Smith- The Good and Beautiful God, The Good and Beautiful Life, and The Good and Beautiful You; Dan Allender, Redeeming Heartache; Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak; Emily P. Freeman, The Next Right Thing. All of these books and more served as arrows to point me towards the beautiful, open, honest, intimate relationship I could have with God.

I began to practice some of the rhythms talked about in books: sitting in silence, lectio divina which is a 5-part contemplative practice of reading and responding to a passage, retreats where I would just get away to spend time with God and still all the outside noise so I could hear him more clearly. And these rhythms carried me. They became a balm to me, a connection to God that I could access whenever I needed it, which is all the time.

And then some really big things started happening in my family and a lot of past trauma was brought up, some memories I had been able to push aside, and some horrors I had never known about. I began to see a counselor because I needed to work through and start to heal from these things from childhood. I had seen a counselor before but had never really deeply worked through my story. So I began meeting with my counselor, Lauren, over zoom. We talked about some very hard stories. She had me go back and write about eight different stories. She had me look for myself in the story and for God in the story and for how that story impacts the present. It was very hard to write these stories and try to find God in them. I talked to God about how I could not find him, where was he. Sometimes we have to look so hard to find God, sometimes He is almost impossible to see and to find, but He is there. Sometimes He lets us see obviously and sometimes we have to look so hard, and sometimes we have to beg him to show us. Sometimes he doesn’t show up in our stories in the way we desperately wish that He would, or in the ways that we think He should, or in ways that seem to make any sense, or in ways that give us what we think we need. But He is there. And we can come to Him as often as we need to, asking Him to show us where He was, asking Him to show us where He is now, asking Him to heal us.  We can pound on his chest and yell.

Until this point in my life, I don’t think I had ever yelled at God. I didn’t think it was allowed. I couldn’t imagine what He might do to me if I yelled at him - strike me dead? Or maybe completely remove his hand of blessing from my life. I didn’t realize that whether I gave voice to what I was feeling or just let the anger and emotions well up in my body, I was still angry. I wouldn’t be able to heal until I let myself feel. God can take it, He sees inside my heart anyway. So when I was finally honest with God I could finally begin to heal. We can’t heal from things we don’t acknowledge, we can’t heal from things we don’t name. And God is a very safe place to acknowledge and name the things that have hurt us. He helps us carry these things that are too heavy for us. He doesn’t just help us carry them, He takes them from us and He puts the burden on his shoulders and He says, take my hand, I’m not leaving.

God has made me weak enough that I need him desperately, I need Him to help me breathe, I need him to help me think, I need him to help me act and respond to others, I desperately need him to show me each next step I need to take. I am no good without him, I’ve lived with a head knowledge before, and I can’t live that way ever again. He has to touch my heart, every day, we have to have real conversations. This is the only way I know how to survive.

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