By Karen Booker Schelhaas
I have spent the majority of my adult life learning how to yank my fist down out of its lofty perch. I don’t lower my fist well, nor do I do it without a fight. You’d think the deeper damage to my heart, or even the sheer exhaustion from so much conflict, would make me evaluate this struggle with God, but I think I must enjoy being bull-headed.
But what if I lowered my fist when adversity came, instead of rising up in a screaming match with God over the circumstances He allows? When the winds of life swirl around me in a direction I don’t approve of, or when the weight of the world wilts my shoulders, what if I lowered my fiery eyes and let tears fall as they may. What if I softened my grip and asked to receive from him, believing that he doesn’t waste an ounce of the pain that’s been picked out for me?
I’m not saying I demand a pleasant life, but at least a controllable, reasonable existence. One that involves having my feet firmly planted on the ground and my loved ones safely tucked in to my nest. Funny thing is, the longer I’m at this life thing, the less I seem to be scripting anything.
I watched as my husband gradually lowered his fist to unemployment that stretched on for more than a year. And in the new posture of humility he assumed, he found facets of God he’d never really understood before. Like Jehovah Jirah - God is my provider. Not my provider when my skills are utilized, or when paychecks are routinely showing up on our bank statements, but my Provider apart from anything I bring to the table.
Eleven years ago, I was told eight hours before I delivered that my son would die after his umbilical cord was cut. I watched it all in slow motion, holding my ears so I wouldn’t hear anything as though it might make the whole horrific situation disappear. I’d told God, fist held high, to never take one of my children. I demanded protection and I got death instead.
Death that eventually brought life like I’ve never known and independence from a comfortable script. It was the loss of my son that also brought life to two orphans. The beauty came when I started focusing on receiving from God all that he had for me. I would have been angry and hurt and depressed either way for a while, no matter what. That’s normal. But eventually, lowering my fist to unimaginable pain to peek underneath it - or perhaps above it-brought me out of the blurry mire and in to a place of real clarity, and then hope, and then a life of joy I never knew existed.
I never thought I’d use the word “gift” in conjunction with my greatest heartache, but it really fits. Took me a while to unwrap it, but now I can’t imagine my life without it. I’m asking God to get my fist out of the sky these days - to change my first response to whatever is in front of me. I am learning to stand with upturned, softened hands ready to receive. Even when I can’t see two inches in front of my face.
Karen Booker Schelhaas is a wife, a mom and a woman making her way in this world. She loves red lipstick, eating healthy and being stretched as God calls her up into all he has intended her to be.