Norah is starting to get her first teeth, which has me thinking about about teeth a lot. Teething must be such an incredibly painful process, and it seems a bit crazy to me that my poor sweet baby has to go through that process! I feel so bad for her imagining the pain of it, and knowing that it will be like a 2 year process is nuts! The truly crazy thing I have been thinking about though is that I have teeth. I have teeth, and I can’t remember a time that I didn’t have teeth. As painful as the process may be, it is not a lingering pain. The memories of it are not even lingering.
This cannot be said for every pain that we experience in our lives. Certainly there are things that seem to linger in our hearts and souls for a long time, things that affect the very fiber of who we are and how we approach our lives. But for so many things that feel so painful and so all-consuming in the moment, the pain of them does not linger. How gracious of our Father to heal up our broken hearts and bind our wounds to a point where we can look back on things and only see His faithfulness, not be consumed with our brokenness.
As I have been thinking on this, it has been a challenge to me to try to shift my perspective each day. It can be very easy for me currently to walk under a dark shadow each day. Postpartum has been a bit difficult for me, and it is tempting to let that define my days. But I am being challenged to have hope. I can look back over past seasons of my life that have been very difficult, and I can still remember distinctly how difficult they were, but the pain is there no longer. I am able to look back on those things and see the Lord’s hand in them. I can see things worked out in His sovereign timing, I can see unexpected blessings that came out of difficult times, and most of all I can see the refining and sanctification that has happened in my own heart through them. Thinking back on these things helps me reshape my perspective for today. There is hope, you guys. In a conversation I had recently, I was challenged to talk back to myself when I feel my thoughts getting out of control. I can talk to myself, and remind myself to think on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise.
Being in Malawi for a second year is different. Things that were very frustrating to me last year are now more understood and expected. I do not find myself getting irritated with cultural differences as much or longing for America quite as much as I did last year. I am able to look on things here with joy and find happiness in the beauty of this country. Whereas last year I used to quite literally have fantasies of walking through the aisles of Target, this year I am able to be more content with what is in front of me. And I count that a huge blessing. Last year it didn’t feel like I would ever be in this place, and yet the Lord is faithful. He has given me grace for this season and this place, and in that I am able to count it all joy.
We have had a lot of new opportunities open up to us this year, and it has been really fun to walk in those things and see God’s plan playing out. We have been able to step up in ministry roles and have had a lot of opportunities to be stretched beyond where we may have thought we were able. But it is so good. God is faithful to bring us through hard times, and to shape our stories into something so good that we could not have authored it ourselves. I am feeling thankful for some of the painful times, because of the beauty and more complete picture that they bring. And hey, if we never went through teething, we would all be walking around still smacking our gums and eating pureed veggies 😉