Perhaps like your dad may have, my dad used to swing us when we were little. He’d make a swing seat with his arms and begin that slow increase of motion until… WHEE! In a woosh of release, out goes the body and I’m shooting towards space. Dad’s got my ankles, and after I go vertical, there’s the rush back towards earth and through his knees.
Then, wooWEE! Back up again.
I find this life of faith akin to being swung like that.
I don’t know how long it will last, and I honestly can’t say I’m dying for it to last at all (though I see it’s where he wants me for now, and, who knows, perhaps for always).
I doubt anyone who has not experienced “not knowing where money will come from next” will have a clue what it’s truly like. Just as I have no clue what it is like to not know where my next meal is coming from. My situation hasn’t gotten that dire, therefore I haven’t experienced the corresponding feelings.
But I find that, in difficulty, I can’t help but mine for truth. It’s not complaint, and it’s not a a lack of gratitude. It’s processing. And it is probably the “Thank you’s” I get for being honest that keep me writing. Perhaps, in some small way, it’s a piece of what I have to offer.
Tammy and I are so tired. Often one of us falls asleep (for the first time) on a kid’s bed during putting them down. But the other day I fell asleep on my steering wheel in the driveway after getting home from work. It’s a too-little-gas-for-too-long-a-time-yet-here-comes-tomorrow-look-out!-you’ve-got-teens-and-little-ones-and-you-gotta-get-up-anyway kind of life, that’s all. Millions have worse.
Do you remember being swung as a kid? It was fun.
And, if you can recall, if it was someone other than Dad offering the swinging, it was never quite the same, certainly not the first time around. Sometimes that first time never took place, as kids have second thoughts about risking so much with just anyone.
Some aspects of our family economics in 2017 I would compare—to continue the metaphor—to what it might feel like to be swung against my will by a stranger. In other words, not fun at all.
Not that God is a stranger to me, certainly not. But that requirement to trust so fully with so little beneath me has been frankly that new to me. Most of our closest friends, other international workers, probably learned to walk these paths years ago, but we’d always belonged to an organization where you didn’t raise your own support. And I’ve found my feelings stuck and unable to follow what I said I believed. They’d never acclimated to having to have that much real, practical, grocery-money faith.
Oddly, our “swinging” first became more comfortable when we lost our paychecks on January 1. I guess there was no longer any future kaboom to be afraid of. That loss was upon us.
And then we saw him provide. Miraculously. For the whole month. Big gifts.
Well, here goes. Eight people is still a whole pile of people to be responsible for, and next month is coming. I’m holding on white-knuckled here, but maybe this won’t be the total end of me.
Like a new family friend had me. I accept the swinging, but I’m apprehensive and waiting for it to end.
February we were provided for in littler ways, but still provided for.
Wonderful. Perhaps a little less of a shock. Like a familiar uncle had me, now.
Thanks, Uncle, for the swings. But just sit-swing me, OK? I’m still going to hold on to my ankles.
March came and not much else—some of the former fears rose up again.
But then, a job.
And five months, now, I’ve been there (long enough to have health insurance, yay). And we’re pretty clear on its inadequacies to put enough groceries on the table. [In fact, I just figured out: since my start date, 2/3 of the money that’s come in our door has been from paychecks, and 1/3 has continued to come from God’s provision through people, with the balance of our needs covered by savings.]
Someone mailed us a check for almost as much as my job provides in a month. We’d just made a trip to speak at their church after many years away, and they wrote a sweet letter reminiscing about Enoch (now 17) and Haddie (15) in their church nursery.
“God told us to make a provision for these children.”
Then someone gave us $500. We got gift cards for groceries. Others have given $100 or $50, $20 or $25, all summer long. Sprinkling joy over dread and difficulty (what life with a kid coming out of trauma can feel like every single day, though our whole family knows absolutely this is what God has called us to). A Mainland Chinese friend (not wealthy in the least) truly humbled us with a gift of $1000. Someone else gave more.
Then a guy gave me his motorcycle. Someone gave me a motorcycle.
Now, a motorcycle is not a need. Not even close. But owning one has been a dream of mine since I sold the last one, and it touches core values deep within me like freedom, independence, adventure, solitude.
WOW. GOD! You’re providing wants?
And what’s happening is this: I find my feelings catching up with what I’ve always said I believe:
There Has Never Been Anything to Fear.
Even when Fear knocks on the door yet.
Will these gifts stretch enough to pay this massive family dental bill?
How much of that special summer money is going to get siphoned off by these hearing aids?
Do we ever get any mail that is not a medical or other bill?
Will this kid’s fears drive him to eat 3x the amount of an adult man forever?
Wait A Minute.
Dann, it’s Me. You’re not being swung by some stranger. Yes, all these people showed you kindness, sent you money, but it’s not friends or family running this show. I AM swinging you, don’t you know?
It is beginning to get drilled down. I’ve always known it, of course, but deep down, now, it’s becoming enough to affect me at the knee-jerk level. My first-response thoughts.
This life of faith is the best way to live. Though clearly in the world and to the world it makes no sense. It’s nonsense. But it’s…dare I say, fun? It’s life.
The hard and the harder. The bad and the good.
And if that’s true, doesn’t that mean I want more of it?
I want to not know how he’s going to pull it off?
I want him to build in me more and more and more and more and more trust?
So…even though I’d pick stability (if I could pick such things) and a salary that feels like a better match to my age/education/experience/abilities/whatever (or at least one that could support my family)…I find this competing desire within me as well. At least sometimes. At least when I started writing this entry. I think.
‘Cause—however rapidly towards earth I hurtle—I really do know who’s gripping my ankles.
So…more, Dad, more! Swing me more.