I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing. Exekiel 34:26
The wife of one of my long-ago pastors told a story about her rude and cranky neighbor. After a run-in with this neighbor, she reported being shocked at what had poured out of her mouth, finishing up her story with these wise words: You don’t know what is in your bucket until someone kicks it over.
Transition is good at bucket kicking. That in-between stage of “one foot in what will be and the other stuck in what was” is a stressful place. Uncertainty, impatience and anxiety spills out of our inside bucket, sometimes in a flood; sometimes in a trickle, but out it comes during times of big change.
My mother passed away in September 2017. Being without a parent has been a difficult emotional transition for me. There is no way to describe it except to say it is a very odd and disconnected feeling.
Settling my mother’s estate has been a long and challenging process, requiring me to meet and interact with relatives, lawyers, stockbrokers, real estate agents, estate sales managers, auction house movers and so on. Then, when her house sold, the closing date kept shifting around. I felt like I was chasing a broken egg across the kitchen floor. All my prayer appointments became maybes. (Thank you to all those I pray with for their patient understanding). My settled, predictable life became very unsettled.
When my mother’s house finally closed, I grieved it, unexpectedly. I had no idea what that house meant to me until I walked through it one last time. This was the house where I had visited my mother for 30 years. The house she loved. The house she died in.
So what did Sam and I do in the midst of this life transition? We bought a house! A big beautiful, sadly neglected house that we could in no way afford unless it had been sadly neglected. And guess what? That closing date is shifting around! AND the sellers are in bankruptcy, which was NOT disclosed at the time we made our offer. So, we don’t know for sure when we will be moving or even if we will be moving. And there is an enormous amount of expensive work to do on our new house. What were we thinking?!?
So here I am suspended in transition, painting the windows of our current house, getting it ready to go on market. And like a tired cranky child riding in the backseat on a too-long road trip, I’m asking the Lord: Are we there yet?
Here is how I’m handling TOO MUCH transition. Heads up: it’s not pretty.
What’s going on besides transition?
Help! Is there help with transition?
Let us pray together as we grow together, that our buckets will contain less and less of the nasty stuff and more and more of the good stuff. Because, while we are in this fallen world, our buckets will get kicked.
This time of big transition has been emotionally upsetting AND beautifully humbling. Any notion that I was a spiritual big shot full of faith and confidence is long gone. I still need a savior. And I have learned that when the challenge is big enough, what is in my bucket is going to spill out.
I bless your journey wherever you may be.
Please share this teaching if you found it helpful.
Written September 2015
Here is an excerpt from a downloadable teaching available for purchase at http://www.thepoolministries.org.
The subject of bitterness has always troubled me because no one has ever defined it or explained it to me. Actually no one has ever tried to explain it to me. I have been taught to avoid bitterness; to not be bitter; to not let a root of bitterness grow up (???????) … whatever that means … and so on, but I have never had ANYONE teach me what bitterness is. So here is a taste of what the Lord showed me about bitterness. (I pestered and pestered Him until He told me). 🙂
Mara means bitter. (Naomi means my joy, by the way.) I looked up the meaning of Mara in the Hebrew and its literal meaning is a bitter taste ranging from disagreeable (the taste of a walnut shell) to poisonous or deadly (the taste of an elephant ear plant). Applied to Naomi’s suffering I think it is safe to say that she was experiencing such extreme loss that recovery felt truly impossible.
I understand Naomi’s anger towards God. I have seen this tendency in myself, in other Christians and in non-Christians. It appears to be universal for people to blame someone when things go bad. And who better to blame than God who is omniscient and omnipotent? He could have stopped it from happening. Couldn’t He? We all think like this and it takes time working through difficult losses with the Lord to come to an understanding of sin, eternity and God’s plan for humanity. Certainly in the grip of a horribly devastating loss we tend to automatically rage at the Lord. I don’t think being angry at the human who has hurt us or even being angry at God, while we are working through our loss, results in bitterness. Bitterness sets in when we sink into resigned despair and accept that we will never recover from what that person/God did/allowed.
Picture a tree, its roots deeply planted in the soil of pervasive painful experience, the sturdy trunk wrapped around the belief that your life is ruined, and dangling from its far-reaching branches hatred, resentment, jealousy, cynicism, rage, judgmentalism, pride, hopelessness, depression, despair and unbelief. And probably other fruit I haven’t thought of yet. (The pride grows from our belief that we would NEVER treat anyone like God/person treated us. We are BETTER than them. Ha ha! Live long enough and you will see how true that is.) We will talk about the unbelief in a bit.
The complete article is available at http://www.thepoolministries.org. This is an excerpt. I am referring to Naomi in the book of Ruth.