Somewhere in the middle of the desert, on our way to California, there are a bunch of palm trees that had their tops blown off in a lightning storm. I have often wondered why they didn’t remove them because they really are unsightly. I read something today saying that now these remnants of palm trees make a great habitat for swallows, starlings, barn owls and great horned owls. (Chrissy Kelly)
I read this, and my soul let out a big yes.
This really is what life is like
Sometimes things look bad or ugly or even disastrous, but there is always something beautiful coming next.
They could have removed these “trees” after the beautiful parts were ripped off by the storm. I would have. But they didn’t. But because they didn’t, the remnants were turned into perfect homes for birds in search of refuge.
Maybe you feel like you’ve suffered a great loss
A job, a dream, a relationship, a loved one. Maybe you feel like the remnant is ugly and beyond redemption. Maybe you feel like your life cannot be recovered. I’ve felt like that too.
But I want to remind you that that is not how God works. The thought that because of a loss, this is the end for you, is just a lie.
It seems that our brains are wired with a negativity bias, meaning that loss is more painful to us than gain is delightful to us, roughly twice as painful. In other words, we are typically more upset about losing $20 than we are happy about finding $20. This is a phenomenon referred to as loss aversion. We hate losing things. And we all know this.
However, God is the master of taking our ugliest circumstances and turning them into something beautiful. Sometimes they are beautiful just for us. And sometimes they create a beautiful safe place for someone else.
And then your focus shifts
11 years ago, I gave birth to our 4th daughter. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her. Soon after she was born, she was diagnosed with a rare genetic syndrome, and I was told she would live 7-14 years.
The next few years were really a daily struggle to try to live in what I call the in-between—taking care of my medically fragile child, while also trying hard not to allow the anticipation of death to devour me every day. That is truly a hard place to live.
One particular day I remember well, we had returned home from a hospital stay. I was exhausted, physically and mentally. I was barely holding it together. I got on my knees and cried out to God. I remember asking him why. Why had he given me sadness? Why had he given me a heavy load to carry? And I really, really wanted to hear his answer. No matter what it was.
I sat in silence, waiting.
All I heard from him was she is my mercy in your life.
I have never forgotten—partly because it was so clear, what I heard. Not out loud, but such a clear knowing deep in my mind, in my soul, in my spirit, and not at all something I would have come up with on my own. And partly because I really wanted to know what he meant by that. Because our struggles really seemed like the opposite of mercy.
What I’ve discovered since that day is that because of our daughter, I have found a safe refuge too.
I have found a great habitat, hidden with Christ in God. I have found a new perspective on…really every single thing in my life. I have a relationship with God that I’d never known.
I see wonder and beauty and amazement in every single child. I was stripped of my judgmental nature. I was humbled of my certainties. I was stopped in my pursuit of things that really don’t matter that much to God. And most days are filled with more love from her than my heart can actually contain.
And I’m sure there are so many more that I have yet to uncover.
But for now, I want to help you see that when we live a life with God, even when we lose everything we think we need or want, He will create something beautiful as a result. I said beautiful. Not just OK and cleaned up. But beautiful.
You may see the palm tree stumps as ugly. But I bet from the inside, from the perspective of the swallows, the starlings, the owls and their babies, it is the most beautiful home they’ve ever seen. I’m just guessing, because I know that God works like that.