by Carol Longenecker Hiestand
I was sitting in my chair mending the lace insets in my bras because I could not afford to buy new ones. Without warning, I burst into tears of frustration and anger. I’d always been frugal but this was outrageous.
Seven months earlier, I retired from my twenty-five year career. I had every reason to expect a good regular monthly income from this work for the next decade when my dad fell and broke his hip and his days of independent living were over. We had barely begun planning how to bring him home with us and hire help to care for him when just two weeks later, the unthinkable happened. My former employer declared bankruptcy and it soon became apparent there was no assurance how much, if anything, we would receive in a settlement with the creditors.
At the same time, I was emerging from a season of deep grief after the deaths of my only living sibling, my mother, and my husband’s job loss at the church he’d served. In the midst of yet another life-changing round of devastating news, initially, I did not express anger toward the company or even God. I was determined to maintain a peaceful, spiritually-victorious demeanor.
The day I broke down while mending my old bras, I began to see the “peace” and “grace” I’d been exhibiting for what they really were – ways of denying my feelings about what had happened to us.
A few weeks later, I was at Goodwill. I always liked searching for treasure there. Now I was resentful because I was shopping there out of fiscal necessity. Rooting around in the pile in the “Women’s Bin”, I uncovered three new name-brand-still-in-the-boxes bras for $1.50 each – and they were all my size.
I froze. As I stood there, I sensed God speaking to my soul: “I can take care of you in ways you never thought you’d need.”
This was about more than God providing some new bras. It was the beginning of a long journey, learning to own my feelings of fear, doubt, despair, and anger, and trust God with emotions that didn’t feel “spiritual.” There would be a counselor and friends who walked with me through these emotions as I came to a place of learning to trust doesn’t mean there is never fear. I discovered my fear, even my anger, can drive me to my faith, even in the midst of fear and uncertainty.
It was the first, but not the last time I allowed myself to express negative emotions to “God. The surprise to me was this: expressing to him what he already knew defused the intensity of my emotions. With time, I was more able to listen to him and what he might have to say. All of me – even the seemingly-negative parts of my life – is safe with him. This knowledge gives me the freedom to be real, and to receive the real comfort he offers me, his beloved child.
Carol Longenecker Hiestand writes when inspired about things that often go unnoticed, and sees herself as a storyteller. She’s a wife, mom, grandmother, and friend living right in the middle of the second half of life. She’s passionate about writing to and for her grandchildren about her life, passing on the things she’s learned. You’ll often find her immersed in making photo books for her family, working to keep her scattered family connected. She’s a lover of all shades of purple and rose. Lilacs, waterfalls, any body of water, porch swings and Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi (when she can find it!) make her happy. She writes at www.carolhiestand.com
Great article. I have been there. God blesses us in different ways. Funny, we need each way, don’t we?
yes, God speaks in each way – and he is right there with us in all these hard things. I love the words, ‘God doesn’t promise a life without hard things. He does promise us his presence.
I’m so grateful for each post you’ve shared here, Carol! Both my mother and I used to work for the same company, and we’re so sad about the way the loss you’ve experienced after the good work you did with them. May God continue to meet all of your needs with abundance.
Tamara, how good to connect with you. When I saw you had connected last month, I knew you must have been part of that life. I meant to connect with you…so glad you are back again – that you found this site. I met Michelle Van Loon a year or so ago – she lives here in the area. Learning to know her has been a gift in so many ways. Thanks for letting me know you were here.
Morning by morning…new mercies!😃
I have been learning to wake up and say “good morning, Jesus, It’s another day, what do you have for me today?” It’s been a way for me to connect with Jesus early in the morning. Well, early for me, that is!
For decades I thought it was okay to admit I was hurt but not to admit I was angry-then I discovered that anger stuffed down leads to depression. What freedom to realize all that I think and feel is safe to be honest about with God!
Oh Elizabeth, how did we get it so messed up? I think it’s still messed up for some and that makes me sad. Yes – to the safety and freedom that comes from being honest with God.
You caught me at Goodwill. I love thrifting, and so I read with curiousity and then total agreement and kinship. I, too, have been in places when I’ve been afraid my true hurts and fears to God. And what a sweet relief it is when we break down and realize He hears and sees our innermost secret pain and needs. This was really a blessing and reminder to me today. Thank you!
Jamie, Had to smile at the “you caught me at Goodwill.” It’s my first shopping destination when I am looking for a specific item. I can always go from there.
and yes, “sweet relief” when we understand, he hears, sees and is present with us.
Carol, thank you for your honest thoughts (and frustrated tears). The church has a long way to go in knowing how to express our disappointment with God when He doesn’t orchestrate our lives according to the score we have written for ourselves.
Yes, we do have a long way to go. I am grateful for the help I have had in this area. and why I want to tell the story, to maybe encourage others.
Thank you so much for this piece. I love that line, “learning to trust does not mean there is never fear.”
Beth, Yes, that was a big thing for me. I will never forget the day my counselor helped me understand it. He said “Fear drives me to my faith.” It was a profoundly freeing thought for me.
This is so good – a needed reminder that we don’t have to censor or filter our feelings before God. He has broad shoulders.
Jeannie, Yes and yes. I always knew he knew, but figured I was in the wrong for having the emotions. You know – keep it all pressed down. So glad to know he knows and has big shoulders.
Carol, I felt a balm in my own soul as I read these words from your own journey. I’m guessing God will use your story to comfort many others, too.
I especially liked this phrase, ” learning to trust doesn’t mean there is never fear.”
Jody, thank you. I already had someone message me who felt comforted she said. I was so glad to hear from her, knowing some of the things they have been through. God does things like that, doesn’t he?
I’ve so been there. I love how God provides for us, exactly what we need, in ways we never would have thought. Thank you for sharing your journey.
Barbie. It’s always good to hear from others who have “been there.” Thanks for joining me here.
Thank you for sharing your story! As a young woman who was blessed so richly by your life, example and teaching, I am doubly grateful this popped up on my post. It is amazing how richly God provides for us-even when we are faithless, He remains faithful. I am honored to pray for you and will continue to do so in the days to come. I love your phrase, …”all of me is safe with him.” Blessings on you precious friend.
Kathy/ I have never forgotten how you so sweetly reached out and prayed for me at convention. I can’t trmrmbrt the exact occasion. But I have never forgotten you did it. How sweet tonhear from you today.
I love this! I’ve been there, both in financial need and using the concept of “peace” to avoid dealing with my negative emotions. God has met our needs in countless ways but I’m always amazed when He does. Why should I be amazed? He promised He would take care of our necessities if we would trust in Him. Thank you for reminding me that He wants us to run to Him in every situation with every emotion. He can handle it.