**This post is a rather pathetic attempt to put the blessings I received at church on Sunday into words. It is also being posted so that, in times of struggle, I can look back on it and remind myself to stop acting ugly.**
We are sort of in a lull between doctors for the rest of this month, so I am going to take this time to answer some of the most common questions I get these days.
First and foremost-- How on Earth are you maintaining this positive outlook and how is your faith in God surviving?
The simple answer to this is easy-- it's not me. I didn't understand this fully until church on Sunday. I very much felt God's presence with me, which (as I mentioned on Facebook) is virtually impossible to describe. First off, we sang "He Loves Us", which I referenced two posts ago (wave your donuts in the sky, people!). Secondly, we sang two more songs people have sent to encourage me-- "I Will Rise" (thank you Nesie) and "Blessed Be Your Name" (thank you Erica). To top it all off, the sermon was delivered by a guest speaker named Dean King. His daughter, Olivia, has been in and out of hospitals for 10 years with liver failure. He spent an hour talking about how the power of prayer has carried his family along... and suddenly everything clicked.
**I take zero credit for what you are about to read. It's all Dean King.... I just made some ridiculous drawings since you weren't in church to see his illustrations with real people**
There's a "hedge of protection" around people who live a godly life (Job 1). What's a godly life? Galatians 5:22 outlines 9 aspects of the fruit of the Spirit (thank you Margaret for the correction-- though I know better, I ALWAYS say "fruits"). These are things given by God, sort of like qualities of His "personality", that we should do our best to maintain and exhibit to others. They are love, joy, peace, kindness, faith, gentleness, goodness, self-control, and patience. We live our godly life, and outside forces can't hurt us.
**Yep-- There I am, in my fabulous purple dress and sunglasses. Completely protected from scary things like grief, fear, anger, doubt, etc. etc. etc.**
Problem is-- I don't know anyone who continually exhibits all 9 of these qualities all day every day. In fact, I'd say it's downright impossible. When any (or all) of those pieces fall away, we become easy targets for outside attacks. This is especially true in times of crisis, when it feels like the whole world is pressing in and we have no chance at all to fight back. Safe to say, we here at the Knoll house have a lot of holes in our hedges these days.
**Despite still looking fabulous, I am not happy here in the hole-y hedge. It's a scary place. Missing from this picture are my primary areas of failing--FAITH in God's plan, PATIENCE for that plan to get carried out in God's timing instead of mine, PEACE in God's provision for our family, and JOY in the blessings I forget to count.**
I know what you're thinking-- are those of us who allow holes to form in our hedges then left to flail about and let ourselves be destroyed? Hardly. Enter Ezekiel 22:30-- again, speaking of a hedge (around a city this time). This one, sure enough, has holes due to the people inside it letting the godly life slip away. God says that He searched for someone to fill in the gap in the hedge, so the city would not be destroyed. Translation-- when our hedges are weak, other people can step in and fill in the holes.
PRAYERS. Support. Phone calls. Text messages. Clicking "like" or leaving comments on Facebook statuses. Hugs. Babysitting offers. Chicken nuggets. So on and so on and so on. Suddenly, the Knolls are no longer easy targets.
We are surrounded by countless people. If you're reading this, pick a stick figure and know that you are part of the "human hedge" around us right now. Y'all are the reason we are carrying on, and the reason we can continue to see God's goodness. Your thoughts and prayers act almost like a blood transfusion, strengthening us and giving us the things we lack. Trust me, there have been times over the last several weeks that I have asked myself, "Why are you so okay? Shouldn't you be freaking out more? Where is your anger? FLAIL ABOUT AND SELF DESTRUCT, SELF!" Problem is... if there are holes that allow the darkness in, they get filled up pretty darn quick by others who are stronger than I am at that particular moment. Filled up by YOU.
And you know what-- any good Dawg fan can tell you, being between the hedges at Sanford Stadium is like being on holy ground. After experiencing first hand how it feels to be in the midst of God's protection, fortified by the love and support of so many, I can tell you-- between the hedges is a holy place indeed.