I’ve been reminded this fall of something that I already knew – that life truly is a mix of sweet and bitter, good things and hard things. We want life to feel good, all the time. But rarely is life just sweet and good. Thankfully though, it is also rarely just bitter and hard. Rather it is a mixture of both together, all at the same time. I’ve seen this play out over the years in so many people’s lives, and this fall, I was reminded of it in my own life when I got engaged to my wonderful boyfriend, Dylan, on a Monday night, and by Thursday night, we had found out that the mill where he has worked for three years as an accountant, would be closing down in three months time. We had barely had time to celebrate the decision to spend the rest of our lives together, and we were quickly reminded that we aren’t always given the luxury of life going exactly as planned. While we were still excited about our future together, it definitely put a damper on things, as discussions and decisions had to be made, and it added stress to our lives, as we plan and save for a wedding, while he also transitions to a new job. This wasn’t what we planned – we wanted the certainty of his job for at least another couple years! And it sure didn’t make our lives any easier. But I truly believe that God is good – even when circumstances may be hard – and I’ve chosen to trust and see the good in our lives, instead of becoming bitter over the hard or the unexpected. Through it all, I have this man beside me – and for that I am grateful.
Also this fall, I was given an opportunity to read and review another book, ‘Made Well’ by Jenny Simmons, and being reminded of the truth, that it’s often through the process of the hard and bitter things that we can eventually experience healing and wholeness, made me think that this book may offer some good insight, since that’s what this book is exploring. The subtitle, ‘Finding Wholeness in the Everyday Sacred Moments’ seemed fitting, as I’ve tried to learn and live that out over these last several years. All of life is sacred, not just moments in church, and especially not just the big moments – but everything. Last year, I had read another book by Jenny Simmons, ‘The Road to Becoming’. I enjoyed it, and I had similar expectations for this book coming in. And while I also wouldn’t deem this my favourite book ever, I do feel like it gave me some valuable ‘food for thought’ during this season of my life.
This book was relatable and real – and through Jenny’s stories, I was reminded of the times in my own life that I have experienced healing through things like friendships, nature and music.
One of my favourite quotes from the book was this:
Healing doesn’t always come right away, or right on time for that matter. It certainly doesn’t always show up in big, flashy brushstrokes like front-row concert tickets. But sometimes it does. The important thing is to keep your eyes and heart open, knowing that healing avenues are at work all around you; they belong to you if you claim them. When we begin to live with a holy awareness, believing that God is at work around us, we unlock a wealth of healing at our fingertips. Simple treasures in creation and the everyday kindness of another person can serve as healing balms. The best prayer I can pray is “May I live with holy awareness.” (pg. 94)
I love that idea – may I live with a holy awareness of all the ways that God is at work around me. And may I always remember that while things may be hard or circumstances less than ideal, that there is goodness to be found around me, should I be willing to keep my eyes and heart open.
I also loved this quote that reminded me of the beauty and sacredness of everyday things, often simple things that may get overlooked because of their ordinariness:
Healing looks like disciples gathered around the table, finding life through community. Like jumping on trains, going to concerts, planting a garden, befriending a homeless man, or taking a morning walk through winter woods. It comes in wave after wave of faithful never-ending mercy. Tiny shoots of grass poking through thawed winter ground. A kind word reviving a weary heart. Food arriving, laundry disappearing and coming back clean, a bird perched on your finger, an amazing hospital chaplain, a helpful human on the other end of the medical bills phone call, a letter in the mail, a stranger buying your coffee, the beauty in your grandchild’s eyes, watching the sunset and knowing you are loved — realizing your heart is still faithfully beating. (pg. 187-188)
This book reminded me to look for the good things, even amidst the hard things. To not become discouraged when things might not work out exactly as planned – but to trust in the journey that we’re on, and the process we’re undergoing, and to look for God’s hand through it all.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.