When I found out that we were moving, one of my good, long-distance friends (who finally lives close by!) sent me Susan Miller’s book, After the boxes are unpacked: Moving on after moving in. On a sticky note on the front cover, my friend wrote – “Someone gave this to me before we moved. I hope it helps you as you transition to a new season of life.” I tucked the book away and when we arrived on campus and had (relatively) settled in, I pulled the book off the shelf and began to read.
Not long after I started reading, I discovered that the seminary offers a support group for transitioning women. Their textbook for the class? The same book my friend had sent me. I knew I had to join.
The leaders of the class are two professors’ wives and a fourth year sem wife. The class started two weeks ago and there about 30 women in the class. We sit in a big circle with our books, notebooks, nametags, a complementary water bottle or iced tea, a homemade sweet treat of some sort, and scattered tissue boxes available at the ready. Nobody’s cried yet, but I can see it coming. I can feel it coming.
During the class, there are no chores, or assignments, or work to distract us from confronting our mixed feelings. There are no children to be strong for, there are no husbands to put on a game face for. There are just other women who understand. Sacred solidarity.
This past week one of the leaders, Sue, opened up with three questions that hit me very hard. 1) “Do you believe God created the world?” Of course, I thought. Next question. 2) “Do you believe God sent His Son to redeem you?” Again, Yes, of course. That’s why we’re here. That’s why I am desperately trying to stay hopeful. But then Sue asked the final, most convicting question. 3) “Do you believe that He can take care of you in ALL circumstances?” Wow. The answer in my heart cried out “Yes!” But I know that my actions, those occasional restless nights or those frequent worrisome thoughts reveal a different belief (or unbelief).
I sat there in my seat feeling ashamed but also in awe that God, the Creator, the Redeemer, is completely capable of taking care of our needs. Not only capable, but willing and desiring to do so.
After leaving a moment for silent reflection, Sue had us turn in our Bibles to Isaiah 43. She then highlighted a few verses to help comfort and encourage those of us around the circle. I will end this blog today citing a few of those verses, which I hope are an encouragement to you, as well.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (v. 1).
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (v. 2).
“Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you” (v. 4).
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (vv. 18-19).
“For I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise” (vv. 20-21).
“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (v. 25).