When the Nevers Come
From Psalm 123
Several years ago, while driving to work, I passed a church with the words “Divorce Recovery” on their sign. I remember thinking, Those poor kids, and having no sympathy whatsoever for the parents trying to raise them. All I could think was, They didn’t try hard enough. They gave up. And now their kids are paying the price. That’ll never be me.
Be careful what you say you’ll never do.
I drove on all smug and arrogant and condemning, not realizing that just a few years later, I’d see that sign again, but this time, I wouldn’t pass it. I would pull into that church’s parking lot and join a handful of other parents, struggling to hold their hearts and lives together during one of the hardest transitions of their lives.
Until I walked the road myself, I had no idea how hard many parents do work, how much many spouses do try, yet sometimes, we still find ourselves broken.
I’m learning this lesson again right now with my weight.
Several years ago, after finally losing the baby weight, after finally getting to a place size-wise that I’d wanted to be my entire life, I settled into it with a smile—and smuggled arrogance. I’ll never go back to where I was before, I thought as I proudly got rid of piles of old clothing. I’ll never let myself get back to that number.
And yet, here I am—shopping for the size that only a few years ago filled my closet. Despite my best efforts to eat well and exercise, I lost the fight.
Or did I? Because I can tell you this: divorce is one of the hardest roads I’ve ever walked, but because of it, I’ve gained a closeness to God I didn’t know was possible. I’m stronger in my faith. I’m humbler. I’m more trusting, more open, more loving, and infinitely more compassionate toward others going through the same thing.
This weight journey is drawing me closer as well. I’m learning all the same lessons, just from the seat of another classroom.
More than anything, these challenging seasons are teaching me how little we control and how dependent we must be on the mercy of God. “To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us” (Psalm 123:1-2 ESV).
We can do our best—and I hope we do—to keep our lives and careers, our marriages and families, our bodies and futures together. But maybe you’ve learned the hard way too: even our best, sometimes, just isn’t enough.
Romans 3:23 reminds us what we too often forget: this is all of our stories. So rather than be smug, rather than be arrogant, rather than assume you can control the different things you fear—and rather than assuming others can too and those who are suffering or struggling have simply given up—let’s remember the nevers come to the best of us, to the least of us, to all of us.
We’re all lost and broken.
So why not put our arms around each other in compassion and lift our eyes to the Lord?
Next week’s reading: Psalm 126–132.