Today’s post comes from my internet friend Sarah Torna Roberts, whose writing is honest, raw, and often shows me how to find grace in all the little moments. Her words today are an encouragement for anyone who’s looked for God in the midst of the messiness and business of life. Read more of Sarah’s writing at her blog.
Where I Found God: In the Scraping By
I wish I could write about finding God in art. Or beauty. Or nature. I wish I could tell you that I encounter Him most often in the laughter of my kids, or in the crisp fall evenings. That finding God in the unexpected has taken me into the wild world and that beyond the church doors, He is bigger, better.
But the truth is, it seems whether I’m sitting in a pew on a Sunday or not, finding God is hard. Life is beautiful, yes. But it is also very, very hard sometimes. Seeing Him, searching for His love, feeling it, is just not easy sometimes.
Life has been rough this year. The perimeter has grown small and I can feel it shrinking still. All the things I thought would happen, the ways I planned to watch God work this year, they’ve been one by one, plucked from my life. There have been so many disappointments to weather, so many battles to fight, so many fears knocking at our door. Friendships have disappeared; help has been difficult to ask for.
Finding God in the usual places has felt like an exercise in frustration. On the Sundays we’ve been able to attend church, I feel a bit frozen inside. When I close my eyes in prayer over my sons each night, it’s desperation that washes over me instead of the peace I’m craving.
Finding God anywhere has required an energy I don’t have most days. Don’t get me wrong, I’m trying. I am always trying. But the things that once moved me, the art and beauty and simplicity that spoke to me a truth I couldn’t utter about who God is and who I am, they’ve been luxuries our life can’t afford most days. Survival mode is like that.
And yet, I can’t say He hasn’t been there. It’s just that He isn’t there in the way I’d like for Him to be, or in the ways I’m accustomed to. He’s wading through the mud with us, not saying a whole lot at the moment. But somehow, as each crisis or stress arises, and as we attempt to sort it through, I find that it is in the scraping by, in the just barely making it, that I sense the hand of God.
It’s frustrating. Most of the time, I don’t want Him in the mess with me. I want Him to get us out of it, to just reach down and yank us by the arms, set us in a new season with less less to worry about. But there He is. And it seems that He means to stay.
It may not be my favorite way to journey through life, but I have to admit, the scraping by, the glancing to my left and right and feeling Him there, it’s building something in me. I’m not sure what yet, but I can sense a shift in my understanding, a yielding of my heart that wasn’t there before. I suspect this is all a good thing. It has to be.
During a year that has rocked us, I have found God, in places I didn’t know to look before.
I found God in deep breathing, in screaming into my pillow, in locking the bathroom door.
I found God in the relief of my son’s shoulders slumped into my chest as his tantrum ended, as his sensory world began to integrate again.
I found God in the dark of my bedroom, when our union could either cling tighter or fall away, with the love and the mysteries and the beauty and the fun.
I found God in the distractions, Giants baseball, “The Office” reruns, trips to Target.
I found God in saying out loud, “I don’t feel Him anymore. Maybe I never did.”
I found God in staying anyway.
I found God in expected bills, in unexpected checks.
I found God in the kindness and certainty of a doctor at Stanford. In burgers on the long drive home, weary and relieved. Uncertain and okay.
I found God in the familiar clear blue eyes of my grandpa, so much the same as they’ve always been, even as his body fades and he steps closer to heaven every day.
I found God in holding my baby nephew, in making funny faces at each other.
I found God in the decidedly not Christian therapist who is helping me gather the pieces after years of trying to pray away the anxiety and sense of failure.
I found God in the faithfulness of a few friends, the occasional e-mail, the rare phone call, the absolute, deep in my gut knowing that these are my people, the ones who will never let me run too far.
I found God on the day my beautiful friend died. In looking back on the handful of memories, in cooking dinner for my family in the crock pot she gave me as a wedding present.
I found God in learning first hand that He doesn’t mind a mess, that sometimes scraping by is a miracle.
I found God in beginning to believe that maybe, just maybe, it’s when I’m too tired to go looking for Him that all at once, I am found.
Sarah Torna Roberts is a writer who lives in California with her husband and four sons. She blogs at www.sarahtornaroberts.com where she digs around her in her memories, records her present, and is constantly holding her faith up to the light. She snacks at 2 AM with great regularity, is highly suspicious of anyone who doesn’t love baseball (Go Giants!), and would happily live in a tent by the sea. You can follow her at her blog, Twitter, Instagram, or on her Facebook page!