I wanted to be Nicole Thompson. I envied her long blonde locks, and the perfection that was her handwriting. I can still remember how she munched awkwardly on her apple at snack time; avoiding getting pieces of fruit lodged in her braces. I pleaded with my mom to pack me an apple for snack time too, and every day, attempted to eat mine in the same fashion.
I was her best friend.
The only problem was, so was Emily!
Nicole often enjoyed pitting me and Emily against each other; taunting us with the most miniscule reasons why she was going to play with one of us, and not the other…
“I like Emily’s shoes, so today I’m going to play with her on the monkey bars instead of you!” she would say, leaving me alone to drag my feet in the bark, and contemplate what was so wrong with my shoes.
Many years later, and after I had just recently gotten married, the first couple I – so nervously – invited over for dinner, spent the first few bites of the meal I had made , bickering back and forth about whether the pasta she makes was better than the one I had made!
She savored another bite, and then looked to her husband. Both of them nodded in agreement. Her’s was most definitely better, it seemed.
Mine was ‘missing a little something’ she would go on to say, resting her fork on her plate and graciously asking my husband to pass the bread.
Around this very time last year I posted a request for prayer on Facebook; specifically for me and my extended family in a time of great need.
I had someone contact me privately and tell me how inappropriate it was for a Pastor’s family to reach out for prayer like that.
Whispers then began to circulate; speculation spread about why I had asked for prayer in the first place, and our moment of desperation as a family was met with a wealth of malicious rumors and lies!
Months later and completely unrelated to my plea for prayer, my husband got a job in New York, and we were surprised to find that our decision to be obedient and follow God where He had called us, was met with unwelcome opinions openly declaring that we were making a huge mistake!
Some even laughed, as if to say God wanting us in Manhattan was a joke…
Many others, wouldn’t even say goodbye.
Haters. Haters. Haters.
Now I know from the title of this post, it would be easy to assume that I will be addressing those haters, and no doubt use verses like “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths”, or how “a dishonest man spreads strife” in an attempt to put those haters in their place…
but that’s for another time!
It’s much more valuable instead, to address the nature of the Lord in situations like these.
Because around that time last year, when I found myself overwhelmed with grief and betrayal, I also found myself captivated by a verse; a verse that as a lifelong Pastor’s kid, I had never heard before.
And I will restore to you, the years the locusts have eaten…
This verse spoke straight into my current heartache, and every hurt proceeding it.
Because not only was God accepting the fact that there will be times in life where swarms of locusts will come – devastating our crops and stripping them of all life! He promises even then, to restore them!
He promises to restore us!
How long have ‘haters’ (aka locusts) been cutting down everything you have worked so hard for? Eating their fill of everything you have labored endlessly to protect, the very crops that we have spent our entire lives tending to -the very person we have worked so hard to become!
Locusts, leave us feeling defeated, and lifeless; laughing in our face, and spreading cold hearted lies, until they move on to the next crop that they want to destroy.
Especially when upon returning, I noticed a few people still shuffling awkwardly to avoid me in the church lobby and struggling to maintain eye contact through half-hearted inquisitions of how my husband and I were adjusting to our new life in the city.
I was discouraged – but only for a quarter of a moment! Because just as quickly as the pain of rejection was felt, I could hear the Lord’s still strong voice reminding me, that even without the ‘blessing’ of others, that I am indeed still a blessed person in spite of it!
How thankful I am that the Lord doesn’t rely on majority rule to determine the level of blessing He will put on my life! That He wont withhold His blessing just because others have!
He is bigger than the people bringing you down!
And He will see us through our hurts, and bring us back to a place of immeasurable blessing!
Just as Jesus who was beaten beyond recognition and who looked to be defeated on the cross, had come to life again just 3 days later – so can we rest in the fact, that the same power that brought His spirit back to life, is at work to do the same on our behalf!
During my trip back home – just as my past heartache came back – so also did my eyes open to the Lord’s amazing power of restoration in my life!
The flood of people who have seemed to leave my father’s church in a frenzy, have now given way to a crowd of others who have found their place amongst the same seats; finding Christ come alive, awakening their souls and calling them to life change, just like the previous people had!
The same friends who walked with me through the darkest of days last year; meeting me for coffee at random hours of the night and holding me as I cried, can now chat about more light hearted topics, such as mice eating brownies off my counter and Tom Selleck sightings!
And in just a year, the family that I requested be lifted up in prayer, has now taken giant strides – with or without the prayers of others – thanks to the Lord’s unfailing love and restoring power!
No more hiding behind fake smiles, of past hurts. No more shielding ourselves from the extreme ill will of others. Instead, we laughed over banana waffles, and participated in group hugs until everyone screamed out in frustration. I went on a lunch date with my dad and went shopping with my mom, and made nearly every effort I could to embarrass my little brothers.
And Just like the emerging blossoms from a tree after a barren and bitterly cold winter,
Or a loved ones embrace after too many months and miles have seperated you.
Like a heartfelt apology that mends the deepest wounds,
And the first laugh after a season of sorrow,
So is the restoring power of Christ
Available to each of us!
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace… will Himself, restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1 Peter 5:10
*** And to all the Haters: Quit being a locust. It’s not a flattering look on you!