Have you ever worked a large puzzle? A few winters ago, my mom and I worked a puzzle together for several months. It was actually fun. At first, I looked at all these random pieces, thinking How in the world is this pile ever going to make sense? As the weeks went by and we worked on the puzzle a little at a time, it came together. One day it was finished. It looked great. We both smiled and enjoyed a sweet feeling of satisfaction to see the beautiful scene we put together, with all the pieces in the right place.
I think that puzzle was a great analogy for my life—from Big Mess to my nodding head. I finally get it—mostly.
Questions and emotions
In today’s post, I’ll be sharing the answers I’ve found to The Big Why questions. Why me? Why now? Why so hard? Why did this happen? Why, God? Why, why, why and why? These questions are totally normal.
The Big Why questions can be accompanied by various emotions. Sometimes we’re angry at God about some things. Sometimes we’re confused. Sometimes we’re sad. Sometimes we’re all three—angry, confused and sad. And more. If you’ve read any of the Psalms in the Bible, you know that God isn’t offended or surprised by our questions or our emotions. King David and the other writers of the Psalms frequently asked Why?
Seeking and finding is another theme in the Bible. Seeking answers requires that we ask questions. These questions often begin with the word why.
As we reflect on current events or old history, sometimes we wonder why. Why did I get this family? Why didn’t my parents love me? Why are these relationships such a catastrophic mess? Why, why, why?
Truth in advertising
Now that’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one.
Here’s the deal. What I needed as a child was truth and love. What I got was something else. Lies. Control. The Façade. The Silent Movie.
T-shirt line #1
Speaking of advertising, let’s check out those T-shirts from A Story of Grieving, part 6:
T-shirts and labels
When I had [the dream about being covered with spiders] during elementary school, I had no idea what surrounded me. There were two narcissists in the house; but they didn’t get T-shirts made for themselves, did they. T-shirts would’ve been helpful. Something like this: “Best Narcissist in America!” “I’m Important and You’re Not.” “Worship Me or Get Punished.” Or how about this one: “Sit Down and Shut Up. Don’t You Know Who I Am?” Yep. That was my life.
Until it wasn’t.
And I’m the one who’s labeled The Problem Child, The One Who Doesn’t Play Well with Others, The Strange One, etc. That’s fine by me. Especially when you consider the people who are making up the labels.
The advertising messages on those T-shirts were written from a narcissist’s point of view. As we know, narcissists aren’t interested in what’s good for other people. They’re card-carrying members of The It’s-All-About-Me Club, also known as The I’m-The-Center-Of-The-Universe Club. Wait a minute. Narcissists couldn’t be in a club with other narcissists, could they. Why not? Because they’d all insist on being the president of the club. I can envision the slug-fest for control. That would be seriously entertaining. Where’s my camera?
T-shirt line #2
Oh well. Back to the subject of T-shirts. What T-shirt messages would have actually helped me as a youngster? I think these would’ve looked really good on my parents. “I’m the problem, not you.” “I may look normal, but I’m actually mentally ill.” “I won’t meet your needs. Don’t take it personally. (If I wasn’t so messed up, I’d apologize; but I am, so I won’t.)” “Seek truth from God. You won’t get it from me.” Or maybe this one: “You need good role models. Find healthy, stable, wise, Godly people who don’t remind you of me.”
That last T-shirt message—while true—is extremely difficult to live out. When you’re surrounded by mentally ill people, you don’t know how to assess what’s good, what’s healthy, what’s Godly. You only recognize or notice people who are sick. They’re the ones who feel like home.
Until they don’t.
The real thing
In part 3 of The Big Why, I reflected on what I wanted from my mom—important things that were missing.
I wanted my mom to see me. I wanted her to know me. I wanted her to love me.
In part 2, as I was going through all the blessings God gave me during The Season of Grieving, I wrote:
He sees me. He knows me. He loves me.
I didn’t tie together those two, literally-identical lists until later. Hmmm. My mom couldn’t have given me the kind of love—God’s love—that’s described in part 2. If you haven’t read it in a while, it’s worth reading again. Chocolate. The painting. Birds. Roses. And much more.
From truth to peace
As God revealed truths to me, as he showed me answers to The Big Why questions, he healed me by replacing my anger with peace. He replaced it.
Writing this eight-part post for the last several months has helped me to embrace and reflect on many wonderful things about God. He is The Giver (part 2), The Healer (part 3), The Protector (part 4), The Truth (part 5), The Helper (part 6), The Revealer (part 7) and The Finisher.
I thank my God whenever I remember you…
being confident of this very thing,
that he who began a good work in you
will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:3, 6, New Heart English Bible
As a part of The Big Why questions and answers, I reflected on the generations in my family and how one generation impacted the next one. Abuse. Secrets. Trauma. Denial. Lies. Coping mechanisms. Roles and costumes….
You may remember this important thought from A Story of Grieving, part 5:
The denial and the lies led to life-altering, traumatic consequences
for at least three generations—my mom’s, ours and our children’s.
The reality and truth of this generational impact of sin can be found multiple times in the Bible, both in accounts of families through the generations and in specific verses.
The verse—from confusion to clarity
Let’s consider this verse.
The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
Numbers 14:18, King James Version
When I was younger, I didn’t like verses like that. I thought it wasn’t fair for God to punish children for the things their parents did. I felt confused. Now I read this verse very differently. It is a statement of truth. It is simply reality. The sins of our parents vastly impact our lives. Until they don’t.
Consider this important word in the verse quoted above—the word visiting. A visit is intended to be temporary. It isn’t intended to be a permanent residence. We don’t have to be “a chip off the old block.” We can unpack our traumas, do the work of grieving, take The Healing Journey and walk forward in peace. But how many people actually take the time to do that.
It is a choice. A very wise choice.
The light bulb
Last August our life group discussed Jeremiah 29:11, a very popular Bible verse. Shawn made a comment that rang true for me in a deep and meaningful way. I felt like somebody had just flung a huge lever and the light bulb in my brain popped on—finally. The verse we were discussing talks about God’s plans for us. It includes words like prosper, hope and future. Shawn felt that prosper didn’t have anything to do with money. He remarked that God prospers us by giving us children, grandchildren, descendants. Yes, indeed.
What if you don’t have children? The question is this. Are you investing in the next generation in a meaningful way, either with your time, your talents or your treasure? If you search your heart and the answer is no, consider sponsoring an impoverished child through Compassion International. It’s more than checking a box and making a monthly donation. You’ll write to your Compassion International child and the child will write to you. You’ll be a significant part of bringing hope, health, education and the love of Christ into a child’s life. And that child will impact others….
Why and if
Shawn’s comment last summer got me thinking and I found the answers to The Big Why questions in my life. Why did I get my parents? The mental illness in the family, the drama, the trauma, the mess? Here’s why.
If I’d felt loved by my parents, would I have ever given my heart to Jesus? I definitely wouldn’t have chosen my first husband. I got down on my knees and gave my life to God at the end of that disastrous marriage, affectionately called The Nine Years of Misery. If life was sweet and easy growing up, would I have ever done the digging and searching that I’ve done? Nope.
If I’d felt loved by my parents, I wouldn’t have lived my life. I wouldn’t have had these stories to tell. I wouldn’t be here today with Brandon and Logan. Things would’ve been totally different. I would be totally different. I wouldn’t have my friends. I wouldn’t live in this house. I wouldn’t go to our church. Everything would’ve been different. Everything and everyone.
Planned and purposeful
The time and place of my birth, my parents and my life… these things weren’t an accident. They were all planned by God. It was all purposeful. See Acts 17:26-27, one of my favorite Bible truths. These two little verses also explain one core truth about why we’re all here: To seek and find God.
My life intersected with Brandon’s life at just the right time because there needed to be a Logan in this world. We struggled with infertility because there needed to be a Logan in this world who was born exactly when he was born, who’s in the grade and class that he’s in at school and church, and much more. Our child, his gender, the timing, the place—all were intentional and essential.
The Big Why. Why me? Why so difficult? Why so painful? It’s all about the Kingdom. I love how Shawn described Jeremiah 29:11 in class. It’s about our children, our grandchildren, our descendants. Prospering isn’t about worldly possessions. It’s about the future, our lineage. It’s about our Christian lineage.
The letter and the birthday present
In the Peaceful Closure post, I included some of The Forgiveness Letter I wrote to myself last September. Here’s the ending.
I learned a lot. And I’m sharing what I’ve learned with others. Lord, please share my writing with those who need it. I hope I can help other people journey to a place of peace.
I understand The Big Why now…. It’s all for the Kingdom of God. For him and for his glory.
For the Kingdom,
Last fall on my birthday, I journaled about the answer to The Big Why. What a wonderful birthday present.
Wednesday, September 12
My morning Bible reading was Genesis 36—all about descendants. That is my conclusion to The Big Why question. It’s all for The Kingdom and it’s about The Big Picture.
The cardinal and the crock pot
Don’t let that subheading shock you. I don’t eat neighborhood birds.
Tuesday, October 16
…Yesterday evening, I enjoyed watching a beautiful red cardinal eating from our bird feeder while I cooked. God tells me “I know you; I see you” when I see the cardinal (our state bird in Virginia).
While I was hand washing our big crock pot, I dropped and broke it. I was disappointed. Two broken ovens and now a crock pot. Then I was reminded of what I still have—a microwave, stove top, toaster oven, my medium-sized crock pot and my George Foreman grill!
The Lord helped me—because I felt sad some yesterday—to look at who and what he’s given me. Will I focus on who/what I don’t have (and/or never had) or on who/what I do have, by the grace of God.
Peaceful Readers, when we’re not in The Season of Grieving, that is the question for us all, every day.
Will we focus on who and what we don’t have
or on who and what we do have, by the grace of God.
Yes, when you find yourself in The Season of Grieving, you’ll think about the loved one you miss and/or the trauma you experienced. As we covered earlier in this series, grieving takes time. It also takes effort and the wisdom to do the work of grieving—to see this season to its successful conclusion—peace.
Before and after
Did something traumatic happen to you—either something you did or something that someone else did to you—that seems like a dividing line in the timeline of your life? Have you defined your life, cutting it into two parts: Before It Happened and After It Happened? I can totally relate to that. For decades, my abortion was the big dividing line—The Before and After Trauma in my life.
In this series, Grieving, we’ve learned about how to grieve loss and trauma. Based on all the truths that the Lord has shown me and all the ways he’s healed me in the last three years, I can say this with confidence.
Deep traumas that you thought would always define you can be transformed.
We are transformed through belief and faith in Jesus Christ—our creator and redeemer. On top of that, our deepest, darkest traumas can also be transformed—from a place of denial, pain and secrets—to a place of peace. See all six parts of The Trauma of Perfection for an example of How to Unpack a Trauma or Loss.
Drink in this deep, beautiful, powerful scripture from God’s word:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down and the snow from the sky, and doesn’t return there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, and gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing I sent it to do.”
Isaiah 55:8-11, New Heart English Bible
God is The Finisher.
Thanks for reading and for Choosing Peace. I’ve been richly blessed while writing this series and I hope that you’ve been blessed too.
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If you haven’t already read it, check out my story, The Machine. Pass it on….
Coming next: The next series on Choosing Peace will be Forgiving.
Healing through truth and music
Peaceful Readers, I’ve found great healing in my life through the beauty and truth of God’s word and through music. I hope the truths and songs that I share at the end of each post will bless you too.
Truth from The Word: Hebrews 12:1-2
Song for Healing: This song is ethereal and paints a vivid, sweet picture of heaven. Enjoy “Finally Home” by MercyMe.