Gideon was born with a bucketful of quirks, more in touch with his thought processes and emotions than anyone I’ve ever met.
For instance, he often talks about the “pictures” behind his eyes…
“Do you have pictures behind your eyes, too, Mom?” he asked me one day. “What do you mean?” I replied. “Well,” he said, in his teacher voice, “You just think about something, and then a picture of it will go behind your eyes and you will see it.”
I then realized he was trying to identify imagination, yet another thing that I always took for granted and never thought about analyzing or defining.
But none of his quirks can compare with the monster-sized temper that entered this world alongside him. I am amazed at the work God has already done in his little heart, and if you had told me 5 years ago that in half a decade, Gideon would be a pretty easy-going and reasonable kid, I would have laughed. Like super loud. And I would have thought you were a little on the crazy side of optimistic.
Still yet, his temper flares up randomly, and once he dives into the depths of despair, he has a difficult time coming back to the surface.
A couple of years ago, he began to identify that fine line between normal crying and a total loss of self-control as “the hard part.” Thus, sometimes when he is on the escalating side of a fit, he will cling to me desperately and proclaim “this is the hard part!” as if he is literally wrestling an inner demon and trying to come out the victor. Which might be the case? I dunno…
This makes me laugh a little, as it is so utterly dramatic and kind of unreal, and so absolutely “Gideon”…
but then again, I think my thinking boy might be on to something, identifying a process that many of us fail to define.
The hard part.
In the last couple of years, I have seen a rhythm to the conflicts and trials that I have faced. When bad news or an uncomfortable conflict comes my way, there are always personal heart choices to be made: I can run away (either literally or mentally), leaving behind the situation that is plaguing me. I can stay put, but find distractions to keep me from dealing with the pain, keeping my mind occupied until I go to sleep at night…
Or I can, like Gideon, dig in and meet my struggle head-on and wrestle the living daylights out of it.
Of course, Gideon’s pain usually revolves around not getting to do something he wants to do, like eating a 4th cupcake, or watching a movie before bed, while his Mama’s consist of those deep heart issues concerning friendship and sickness and death and sin and discontentment and bitterness, and chiefly, my never-ending struggle to believe God’s Word and that He has brought hand-crafted suffering to me for a purpose and for my good…
But, regardless of what makes us upset, Gideon is right. The hard part is really, really hard.
You say you trust God and believe in His sovereignty, but your heart hasn’t caught up to the truth. You have the right and idealistic (and Biblical, even!) answers to every problem, but life won’t line up with them…yet. You can recite Romans 8:28, but hindsight has not yet revealed what is “good” about your situation. You want heaven on earth, but the curses of the Fall, including your deceptive heart, interfere and steal your joy and your peace.
And so the hard part is not about the situation, really. Its about what your heart really believes about God and the specific trial He has allowed or placed in your life.
It provides a visual picture to sanctification, a metamorphosis of sorts as you lie in your bed at night, waiting for peace. Waiting for joy. Waiting for “all things to work together for good” or for your heart to at least believe that it will happen someday.
You cry rivers of tears. You pray. You fast. You cry some more. You might even writhe a little in the process.
But when you force yourself to go through the hard part, praying for grace while combating your struggles with the truth of the Word of God, something beautiful happens.
And even if He doesn’t change your situation, He changes what was the most messed-up piece of the puzzle in the first place: your heart.
You realize once more that, yes, that was another really difficult situation, but the true hurdle was in overcoming the pride that thought you were better than that, the entitlement that thought you deserved more than that, the discontentment that thought life was supposed to be different than that…
And the depth of peace and hope that God plants in your soul after you’ve gone through the hard part is like a never-ending feast that you wouldn’t trade for the greenest pasture on earth. Through your unspeakable pain, He brings you a step closer to Him, unraveling another strand of the mystery of His Word…
If you’ve been there, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Dear friends. If any of you are going through the hard part today, I want to encourage you. I’ve been there. Perhaps not in the same capacity, but the thing about trials and conflict is that, regardless of our situational differences, the sadness and pain we experience as a result is the same. No man or woman is exempt from human suffering, and I’m sure that when Gideon is going through the hard part, even if it is concerning a cupcake or a movie, he can’t imagine anything hurting worse or being more difficult.
Dig in. Face your struggles. Hang in there. Beg for God to help. And repeat the truth of Scripture over and over and over and over again.
When the hard part is over, you’ll believe it with more of your heart than you ever have before.
Joy really and truly does come in the morning. Cling to that hope while you wait, and know that Mrs. Gore is rooting for you.
Gideon most definitely is, too.