Rough Road Ahead

A few weeks back as we were traveling home from vacation, I saw a road sign stating “Rough Road.” Now, we were in South Carolina so that’s pretty much all of their roads. (Not sorry Palmetto peeps, because your roads are the worst, and that’s saying something from this Nashville gal) As we bumped along a bit I took a mental note of that sign, thinking more about it in response to life than to the physical conditions of the road.

Two years ago today, I was fired from my job with no explanation or reason as to why. Thinking back on some still fresh memories of that day and subsequent days, the road ahead that picture of the “Rough Road” sign came to mind once again. Because I started wondering if we’d appreciate knowing that a rough road was ahead in our lives.

If we could be warned of rough patches on the road of life ahead, would we want to know?

Would it make it any easier to bear? To live through and be on that road, knowing it was coming? I’ll be honest and say that no, it wouldn’t. In fact the knowledge of impending bumpiness makes it harder in many ways. We start to work in our means, (we do that anyways alot of the times) but we try to control the situation, the consequences or the people involved. The warning allows for preparation yes, but preparation on whose part? And what does that prep look like in our lives?

When rough roads approach us in life, do we grip the wheel and just endure it while we are on it, or do we lean in to see if there’s a change of course needed, or if we need to pull off and rest a bit in how we’ve been traveling that road? A rough road gives us the ability to see what’s lying underneath where we’ve been trodding, revealing to us what we are made of and on what/who we are relying. The signal of a rough road gives us false senses of reliance upon ourselves to avoid it or be able to get through it quickly.

Would I have wanted the warning of being fired? I have to say now, two years later, that while a warning of what lies ahead would be nice, I know that in it all I found that I was more trusting of God, not knowing how the road would wind and move, but I had to trust that it would move me more towards Him than anywhere else.

It was a rough road, and one that required healing, provision and trust beyond what I could muster up for myself alone. A rough road ahead doesn’t so much need a warning sign as it does a belief that the rough road is a part of our journey home.

Ripping the Bandage Off

Band-aid on hand isloated  white background.

As a kid, I think we can all agree, that taking a bandage off was kind of the worst. I think it hurt more than the scrape or cut sometimes when you would have to pull that off an arm or leg. In high school I had to have a couple of stitches in my shin and I can recall with clarity the bandage tape was more painful than getting the stitches out.

By far though I think emotional bandages are harder to take off. The pain and deep cuts underneath that bandage reveal our worst times of life. Times of loss, depression, addiction and brokenness. Pulling that bandage back means we are letting it breathe, we are taking the first step to acknowledge it is there and we are healing.

Sometimes it can catch us by surprise, and just like mom would say, “If I do it quickly, it won’t hurt as much.” I think that’s true to some extent. When we’ve been hurt or faced something that has cut us deep we need that initial time to bandage up and prevent infection in our lives. We tend to the wound and hopefully rest from life. We pull back and examine the events that led to the wounding.

But, just like our physical cuts and scrapes, if we don’t pull back that bandage and reassess, after a while the wound festers. It can get infected by the closing off of life. If we remove ourselves, bandaging up and dwelling on the wound for too long infections of life set in. Pride, ego, anger, bitterness, self-doubt. All these things will set up and spread throughout the person.

The anticipation of ripping off the bandage can be worse than it actually happening. Whether that means addressing the issue in yourself, facing those who have hurt you deep, or simply giving forgiveness it can be a difficult task mentally and emotionally to pull that off. I know for me, that if I hold onto unforgiveness with that wound, it will simply because such an infection that it pervades every piece of my life til there is no peace and simply an ugly, venom spewing existence.

Is it easy to rip off that bandage of emotional hurt?

Absolutely not.

In fact, I can say from very recent experience, that had I not prayed and sought wise counsel on it, I wouldn’t have been able to rip it off when I did. I am for certain that it would have begun to fester had the opportunity to address the wound and see the healing from it not presented itself when it did. We can grow anxious about pulling back the bandage or we can know that “in everything, through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, (we can) let our requests be known to God” and there we find peace that surpasses all understanding. (Philippians 4:5-7)

Let me also share that while you may pull back that bandage, there may still be the need for healing to continue. You may need to redress and rebandage, even after pronounced healing has occurred. It’ll mean being watchful that your emotions are not controlling you through that hurt, but that you are giving way to continued growth and renewal from the wound. It’s also not an overnight, or even in a few weeks, healing. For many it’s weeks, months, and years.

Sometimes that wound gets reopened and cut deeper. Each time it gives place for healing to come and peace to invade when we let go of the anxiety of the bandage coming off.

I Just Can’t.

As someone who is finding their writing voice, I want to write about Sandy Hook. I desire to process, grieve, and extend hope to those hurting. But today, as children head off to school, I can’t. I can’t find words to express my gratitude to those who stood in the gap for those children. I can’t give comfort to families who are hurting and grieving. I can’t even explain to my nephew why it happened.

I just can’t.

I want to rise up and scream at the people who are calling for stricter gun laws. I want to tell them I was raised in home where guns were prevalent and taught to respect the damage a gun can do. I want to tell them that my sister was mugged, not with a gun but with a knife. I want to tell them that gun laws aren’t for the mentally ill or evil, they are for the ones who follow the laws.

I just can’t.

As a Christ follower, I want to extend hope and love to those hurting in Connecticut. I want to run to them, extend arms and say “God only knows the purpose in this.” I want to tell them God is loving on their kids even now, holding them close and cherishing them. I want to tell them it will get better.

I just can’t.

I want to express my own fears, fears we all seem to be hiding as of late. As someone who works at a university, I want to know we are secure-that my own kids are safe when they come to campus. I want to put up a wall, a gate, and barbed wire to shield students from the confusing world that we live in.

I just can’t.

I want to bring awareness to mental illness, as it’s real and it’s prevalent among us. I want to cover those in prayer who deal with this daily. I want to lift up the families who grieve and cry out in pain at the loss of their beloved child from this illness. I want to pray for those who lost a child or family member on Friday, last week at the mall, in Colorado this summer, and many others who sit in the unexplained realm of not understanding the why.

I can do that.