A Steadfast Woman in a Shifting World: Lean! Lean! Lean!
by Tammy Maltby, Guest Writer
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. -2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV
Yesterday I closed the devotional with these words:
“No one person can give another a foolproof guide for surviving painful times in our lives. People are just too different—and the God who sees each of us individually deals with us in different ways. But over the next few days, I will share just a few of the keys I’ve discovered that seems to make a big difference in making it through a traumatic time. Perhaps one of them will help a fellow traveler recognize the God Who sees is ever-present in her life as well.”
I offer my journey as an open book as a means to offer help to others. Quite simply, I won’t and you won’t make it without a lot of help. It takes a certain kind of grace to accept the help that’s offered. Pride can be your biggest enemy here. Sometimes we don’t want to admit we need help. We’re used to being the one who gives to others, and needing help from others can be difficult to handle.
My friend Liza Kendall Christian, who lost her Oregon home to a wildfire started by a vagrant with a cigarette, tells me that this was a significant challenge for her. In less than an hour, she went from being an established homeowner with a home business to not even having a toothbrush or fresh underwear. She tells me that being forced to depend on other people for every necessity taught her profound lessons in compassion, humility, and gratitude—lessons that still resonate in her life today.
Liza also learned that help doesn’t necessarily arrive in the form we expected—or that we wanted. Many people who go through trauma discover, in fact, that their greatest help comes from unexpected sources. People you barely know may turn out to play a big role in your recovery and restoration. People you always counted on may disappoint you. The signs you always counted on to reveal God’s presence to you may not be there is a way you can perceive.
When this has happened to me, I’ve found it helpful to remind myself that all my help, ultimately, is from the Lord—but He sends it through all kinds of messengers. At various times in my long journey, I have found much help in the words of Scripture and the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. I have also been helped by pastors and spiritual advisors, by my extended family, by support groups, by churches I was a part of and loving Christians outside my particular community, by professional counselors—Christian and secular—as well as medical doctors, lawyers, people who sat next to me on planes, and authors who wrote life-changing books.
Should I listen equally to all these voices? Of course not. I have a responsibility to test the voices against Scripture and the Holy Spirit, to seek sound counsel, to be as discerning and wise as I possibly can. At the same time, I don’t have a right to reject God’s help just because it comes in a form that hurts my pride or causes me discomfort.
I would go one step further here because it’s not just a matter of whether we accept help that’s offered. I believe we also have a responsibility, to whatever extent we can manage, to actively seek help for ourselves and those we love. In cases of severe depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and other extreme responses to trauma, professional therapy of some kind will almost certainly be needed. Such help can be an invaluable gift from God, but only if we’re willing to accept it. Often it’s hard to accept God’s way of providing for us until we’re willing to let go of our expectations.
Over the next few days, I’ll share some of the disciplines that helped me experience God’s presence in really dark places. In my book, The God Who Sees, I include a list - What You Can Expect When Bad Things Happen. I’m hoping this list will help soften hearts to consider if what I am learning might help you as well.
- You won’t get your life back…but you will get something new, and it will be good.
- Healing and restoration will take time (and proceed in stages)…but there will be grace along the way.
- You will need help—from professionals, from friends, from each other…but you’ll find the help you need…and also be able to help others in a way that wasn’t possible before.
- God will do things His own way…but God will be there for you. He really does see you!
- Getting through to the other side will involve discipline, but you can also expect gifts…and beautiful surprises.
Adapted from: The God Who Sees You: Look to Him When You Feel Discouraged, Forgotten, or Invisible by Tammy Maltby; David C. Cook, 2012
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tammy Maltby is a speaker, author, and media personality with a heart for helping women live rich, authentic lives. Through the gift of hospitality, she mentors women to embrace community and connect through faith and food. Tammy empowers women to start simply but simply start! A ten-year cohost of the two-time Emmy-winning NRB-TV talk show of the year Aspiring Women, Tammy has been featured on hundreds of radio and television programs, including Focus on the Family, Family Life Today, Life Today with James and Betty Robinson, The 700 Club, Midday Connection and CBN’s Living the Life. She was the ongoing emcee for the John Maxwell’s international THRIVE! events. She is the mother of four grown children, two of whom are internationally adopted, and seven beautiful grandsons. Tammy makes her home in Colorado Springs, CO with her husband Jerry Melchisedeck Sr.
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