Hills, Valleys, & Everywhere Between
Within four years, I made more money than I’d ever thought possible and lost it all.
It’s not that the money was lost in the sense of not knowing where it went. In fact, I know exactly where it went; the pursuit of The American Dream. A picture perfect wedding, an out-of-pocket surgery, failed business decisions and a drained 401k with a drug problem to cope. We carried the weight of mountains and barely crawled our way through the valleys.
Whether exceeding sales quotas or soliciting strangers in sketchy neighborhoods to score narcotics, the desire for more has been both a driving force and a crippling handicap. I’ve stood tall in boardroom presentations and succumbed to carpet safaris while searching for cocaine crumbs. I’ve held estates in sought after instagrammable downtown lofts and lived in near-trap-house-like sober living situations. From feeling in control to being completely out of control, I’ve held my head high and walked in shame. Like Britney Spears’ 2007 salon breakdown experience, I too have shaved my head in moments of insanity. And although I wouldn’t wish for anyone to walk in the path I have, I am grateful for every step I’ve taken. Because with every step, whether one forward or two back, God’s grace has carried me. It’s carried my family. And whether you agree with me or not, your steps and missteps have carried you, too.
Regardless of ability or performance, His grace is unmerited … without compromise.
From rags to riches and back again, the Lord has been beyond faithful to Kaitlyn and me. When we could no longer support all of our financial obligations, the Lord was quick to provide in His own timing. Was it uncomfortable? YES! There were times when our account was negative and we had a week before the next pay day. With credit cards maxed out or in default, we were in over our heads. Yet we continued to step out in faith, believing God would provide. Although that period of life was grueling beyond belief, He was faithful to provide our every need. It certainly didn’t look like we wanted but it was what we needed.
Through His grace:
He provided free groceries through soon-to-be expired premade meals from my barista job.
Miraculously, someone put $500 towards our rent when we were $500 short (we hadn’t told anyone of our need!).
On another occasion, friends sent a VENMO payment in a substantial amount of money just because. Though they knew our lifestyle was different, they had no clue how much we needed a break. It came at just the right time. #billsbillsbills
On the heels of a financial windfall, we’ve stood under the Tuscan sky and watched the sunset. In financial ruin, we’ve been denied ATM withdrawals due to overdrafting our accounts from dollar menu item purchases. With the type of energy charging atmospheres, we’ve led teams of hosts for mega churches. Broken, we’ve fought with one another at our lowest and buckled under the weight of stress.
in the church parking lot or at home…
However, everytime we thought we could no longer go on, the weight of the cross carried us through the valleys.
when revealing a drug addiction to a clueless spouse
when getting kicked out of a church for causing discord
when financial stability and spousal faithfulness was a thing of the past
when we were discouraged and when we were afraid
When all hope seemed lost
He personally went ahead of us and prepared a way back to Him.
8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)
Though we felt like captives induced by self inflicted suffering, chained and bound by mistake after mistake, the Lord made Himself known in our darkest hours. Like the Israelites miraculous delivery out of Egypt and inevitably into the promised land, He delivered us through muddy waters and set our feet upon solid ground (Psalm 42:2). But because of the difficulty of our situation, many times we desired to go back to what we had known. Instead of following in the footsteps of Jesus, like the Israelites grumbling in the wilderness (Exodus 16:2-3), we wanted our old lives back. In moments of defeat, we were willing to sacrifice the unfamiliar for the familiar. We wanted to give up, yet God still rained down manna. Again, it wasn’t what we wanted, BUT it was what we needed.
This season taught us NOT TO depend on our ability to make things happen, but to depend on He who makes all things happen according to His plans. The desert feels isolating because it is. But in the desert, dependence is cultivated. He proved time and time again, that on our own, we do not have the power to overcome the world. But through His grace, we have life. We can endure, we can be content in all things and even flourish in the desert.
10 Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. 12 I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. 13 I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]
Philippians 4:10-13 (AMP)
Though we may not see Him, He is still there. Through a new path, He is making a way (Isaiah 43:19). If you feel like giving up, If you want to throw in the towel, know that it will get better. In the pressing, He makes new wine. In our suffering, He is forming us into the likeness of His son.
In the word’s of the famous theologian Drake, “Just hold on, we’re going home. It's hard to do these things alone…” With the Lord, we are never alone. Though the world may feel like it’s pressing down on us, in Him, we can allow the cross to carry us another day. No matter what your circumstances may be, I encourage you to shift your focus to the one who makes blind men see.
In Your Corner,
p.s. This song has been an anthem when I felt like I could no longer go on. I hope it blesses you as much as it has me!