Sprouts Farmers Market, right here in North San Diego County. In the meat department. And there was Paul, behind the counter, serving up fresh fish, beef, and fowl.
It had been a tough day for me. A tough couple of days. A tough month or couple of months... the tough all sort of bled together. I would have worn my big, dark Jackie Kennedy sunglasses if I could have seen inside the store. But I didn't, and so my puffy eyes were laid bare. Exposed.
Over the scallops and tilapia Paul asked, "What can I get you?"
"Salmon. A nice pink one, please. Just enough for two adults, maybe a little more since I'm trying to convince my children they are eventually going to like fish too." He laughed. I smiled.
"How you doing today?" The question came casually, as it was small talk. I realized then that he hadn't looked at me - not really, for he would have seen my having-just-cried, red-rimmed eyes. And in that moment, the one where you think "Am I supposed to say 'fine, and you?' I decided to honestly answer his question.
"It's been a hard day..."
Paul looked up from the scale, as he finished wrapping up a smidgen over a pound of Salmon in brown butchers paper. He saw me then, and I smiled and said, "It's just another chance to trust God more."
That's what I said. "...just another chance to trust God more."
Paul nodded, looked down at the floor, and then back up to hand me the fish. "I needed to hear that today. That's every day, isn't it? That's what every hard day is for... Why God allows 'em, don't you think?" It was my turn to nod.
Now here I am, looking at the quick link on the right-hand side of this blog page, seeing the one that says "The Hard Days." Knowing that's the link that has the most posts listed under it. Also knowing that the blog posts listed there are the ones most people send me emails about. The hard days. Their hard days. And the encouragement they received as I tell my stories and show them how I'm forced to turn my face entirely to God when it's hard, and commit to trust Him more.
I don't feel the need to share what was so hard that day, though I think that I will eventually... but the reason for the hard isn't nearly as important as the fruit of the hard. What happens to us, what becomes of us, where we go and what our lives produce, having been tried, is the main thing. It is the thing that remains.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
The work is not done, I will continue to know trials of many kinds until my last day this side of Glory. But I see clearly today, the conclusion that Paul and I both arrived at in the cool air of the meat department that afternoon: "That's what every hard day is for... Why God allows 'em..."
The sleepless nights? Turn to Him. The hard-to-communicate-to-the-one-you-vowed-to-love-forever days? Turn to Him. The moments where you've lost your sense of what you were made for? Turn to Him. The long stretches of joylessness? Turn to Him. The "I don't know why I'm crying" hormonal swings postpartum? Turn to Him. The days you wanted to love, but couldn't muster it? Turn to Him. The nights you felt to weak to serve your newborn? Turn to Him.
Turn to Him... Turn to Him. And praise Him for the blessed opportunity to see your need for a Savior today. A rescuer. A champion. A faithful friend. Yes, Consider it pure joy... you get to see Him come in His strength when we are weak. Let the hard days, the turning to Him days, pick you up and carry you to maturity and completeness. Not lacking anything.
Turn to Him, Paul. Turn to Him, Kelli. Turn to Him, Candy Turn to Him, Flora. Turn to Him, Allyson. Turn to Him, Sherri. Turn to Him, Patti. Turn to Him, all you who are weary and heavy laden. Turn to Him with your burdens, in your trials, in your puking from chemo frailties, in your incompleteness... And Praise Him for another chance, another hard day, another red-eyed-recognition of His Great Love for you. Turn to Him with me...
Categories: The Hard Days