Straight from a Balancing Heart
By Lisa Elliott
Hope for the best. But prepare for the worst. This was our mantra the year my son, Ben battled leukemia. It’s becoming my mantra all over again during Covid-19. For instance, in my personal incubation period, I’m hoping to visit my daughter and welcome my new grandbaby into the world in September. But I’m preparing my heart to not meet him\her live and in person until he/she’s in Kindergarten. I’m hoping that our entire family (all but one) is able to join my son and his fiancé to celebrate their holy matrimony in November. But I’m preparing my heart in the case that we aren’t able to gather together. As I gaze at an unknown future, I’m hoping things will turn out alright. But I’m preparing my heart just in case they don’t.
The reality of it all was weighing deeply on my heart. So, I finally allowed myself to have a good sob about it. Letting it all out and pouring my aching heart out in my prayer journal to the One inviting me to the graveside where I could openly mourn and grieve my losses. Being honest with the Lord about my deep disappointment—knowing that if I didn’t, I ran the risk of getting stuck in my despair and spiralling downward from there. I opened His Word, hoping beyond hope that He would speak to me—and He did.
Then, in order to better come to terms with accepting my reality (like it or not) and find a balanced perspective, I resorted to my own words, recorded in The Ben Ripple. And discovered I could re-write it all the same amid my present circumstances.
So much is out of our control. I’m seeing more and more clearly just how much control is important to us. And more and more I’m seeing how little control we have … Lord, our lives are in Your hands. You are sovereign. You hold the future. You know the beginning from the end. We want to make plans. We want to know what lies ahead. Lord, help me continue to take life one minute at a time. (p. 8, 9)
As our journey unfolded, there was a growing interest in how Ben was doing, how things were going, and how we, as a family, were handling it. We kept as upbeat as we could in spite of everything, and we were all doing as well as possible under the circumstances. However, we didn’t want to tell people “all is well” when in truth all was… “well?” I didn’t personally see the point of sugarcoating. Call it self-preservation—or even a coping mechanism, if you like—but I had learned over my lifetime that expectations are premeditated disappointments. It’s better to be happily surprised than gravely disappointed. I can’t imagine the crisis of faith I might have if God chose not to answer my prayers according to “My will being done.” Don’t get me wrong. I believe that God is a big and faithful God. However, I also believe that putting my hope in happy endings means putting my hope in hope itself rather than in the One in whom my hope is found. (p. 20-21)
So, how do we find the balance between optimism and pessimism, hope and despair? How do we win this battle we’re all up against? Here are a few balancing acts I’m putting into place even as we speak:
- Get into God’s Word vs. getting lost in everybody else’s words—keep informed in the news, but more importantly, spend time reading the Good News. It’s amazing how His Word speaks into our everyday moments using real-life people and situations to validate us in our pain, encourage us in our sadness, and strengthen us in our weakness.
- Be honest with the Lord about your fears and frustration, anger and sadness vs. keeping it all inside.
- Record lessons you’re learning rather than wishing circumstances away and missing out.
- Focus on the good and the blessings. At the same time grieve your sorrows and losses so you don’t run the risk of getting stuck in grief.
- Live fully in every moment—in whatever shape it takes. “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other” (Eccles. 7:14).
- Connect with friends who let you be raw and real rather than isolating yourself completely. There are so many ways to connect in these days of excessive forms of communication: phone, Skype, Facetime, Facebook, Zoom, etc. And finally,
- Hope for the best. But prepare for the worst.
For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you (2 Chron. 20:12).
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org