Trouble, Goodness’s wingman

It was dinnertime, and I heard her gasp as she opened the mail behind me. I spun around and immediately saw her face drenched in tears. I jumped up to hug her, not sure whether someone had just died or had just been born. Stunned, she mechanically opened up a card to reveal a large check. We both stared down in shock. I quietly began exclaiming “whaaaaat?” in a low key hum. Tears poured down her face, and I stood with her, mouth agape and frozen, then began collapsing into disbelieving laughter.

The kindness. We read the card. We never saw this coming. We read it again. We cried more. I laughed so hard as my mom through tears asked me, confused, “please tell me why you’re laughing.”

I folded like a lawn chair.

We had done nothing to earn this. Kindness had dislodged us from a week of hell so suddenly and love had drawn us under so deeply and rapidly that we couldn’t find our breath. We gasped, cried, laugh, shook, and stared. Stared kindness in the face.

Someone we didn’t know, someone who loved someone we loved, had invested so intrinsically into our family during a time of fierce heartbreak that we became liquid instantly.

I have one thing to say to you.

We can ask why when hard things happen. Please ask why if you need to. I have had several years of hell spent trying to drag myself ashore amidst several health crises. I have dealt with relational hell on several fronts. I have healed and healed from heartbreak more times in the last five years than I knew human beings could survive.

I have wept and cried and asked why, and I met the kindest, best, most loving alive God in the process.

But today, standing up from a sucker-punch that’s nearly left me and several people I love windless, I can say all that trouble, and heartbreak, and pain has done, has overwhelmed me with goodness and gave me more opportunities to be loved than I even knew how to be ready for.

Adversity has simply become an inflammatory fuel for love. I got introduced to goodness, the love of my life, by hell itself. That’s pretty embarrassing for hell.

There is far more beauty than there will ever be adversity, and there will always be a comfort for every pain.

There is nothing so ugly that he can’t make it beautiful. There is no heartbreak so profound that He can’t sweeten it, kiss it, or ease it.

I hated Romans 8:28. I kept asking “if He can make all things good, why can’t He just prevent the bad and nip it in the bud?” Now I don’t even care. When we learn that we’re resilient, and we see His goodness sweep into areas of despair, we see how much better things become than they ever could’ve been before evil gave love an opportunity to wow us.

I am staring at stunning beauty, at recreation, at hearts becoming whole, wrecked by the kindness of human beings. I see people learning how to give their hearts a voice, how to be validated, how to be beautifully weak. I see something that was so attacked being stunningly remade on the battle lines, carefully re-knitted and reformed into peaceful rightness. Right in the middle of war.

One of my all-time favorite quotes is from the Mockingjay. This plays over in my head on days when I need to remember that people are incredible and good.

“I’ll tell them how I survive it. I’ll tell them that on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I’m afraid it could be taken away. That’s when I make a list in my head of every act of goodness I’ve seen someone do. It’s like a game.”

There is goodness waiting to overwhelm you on all sides. In the seasons that are the hardest and most painful, there are incredible treasures tucked away in that time waiting to be found by you. Adversity’s just a teacher, pain is just a feeling, but goodness is eternal.

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