Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"Will You Trust Me to be Your Provider?"

New Year's Day--a time of retrospection and reflection as well as a time of looking forward with hope and a bit of trepidation.  Our world has big problems and there does not seem to be a simple or easy solution to any one of them.  From the fiscal cliff, which I guess we have now gone over in this country, to famine, wars, genocide, disease and natural disasters--it is easy to face this New Year with fear and anxiety.  On a personal level, continued unemployment with its attendant financial concerns as well as being a newly divorced woman gives me legitimate reason to face the future with hesitancy.

But for as long as I can remember, anxiety and fear have been constant companions.  I was not raised in a family that generated a sense of well-being and a belief that I would be cared for.  Chaos, conflict and neglect were the norms in my family of origin.  Love was conditional, acceptance based on performance and provision for basic needs erratic.  Family rules dictated that I ignore my own needs, keep secrets and work hard for love and acceptance.  When they were given, I rejoiced; when they were withdrawn, I accepted full responsibility.

These conditions set me up to marry a man who could not possibly love or accept me, though I believe he tried hard to do both.  His unnamed and hidden disease made it impossible to have a truly intimate physical, spiritual and emotional connection.  He was unavailable to me, much as my parents had been.  But shortly after our marriage, we negotiated a contract of sorts:  as a couple we would focus on his career while I would focus on making and maintaining a home and caring for our children.  For a while, the contract worked.  His career flourished and our children grew up to be responsible, hard-working and loving individuals.

But then, the marriage broke due in great part to his addiction and disease.  But I still had a firm belief that the contract we made would serve me well in the divorce process.  I was eligible for permanent maintenance (alimony) due to the longevity of the marriage and the fact that for most of it he was the primary breadwinner.  Unfortunately, this was not the case.  The judge ruled against me in the financial settlement, citing the fact that my ex-husband's arrest had destroyed his career and any hopes he had for a return to full-time employment.  Our assets were roughly split 50/50 but in actuality, his take was greater than mine due to my exorbitant legal fees.  At one point, my ex-husband snarled at me, "I earned this money so it is mine."  I guess the contract I thought we had was one-sided.  So in middle age, I am starting over--remaking myself, and my old friends--fear and anxiety--have been constant companions.

Several weeks ago in church, I heard God whisper gently, "Will you trust Me to be your Provider?"  This does not normally happen to me, even in church. My heart's reply was an immediate and firm "Yes!"  This was new for me because trust is so hard, even of God.  I have thought of that whisper much in the past weeks and ask myself, "What does it mean to trust?  Who is trustworthy? What does provision mean?"  This is an attempt to flesh these questions out.

What does it mean to trust?

Webster defines "trust" as a "firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something."  Trust involves two things:  a personal belief in someone as well as that individual's ability, strength and reliability.  When I cross a bridge, I believe that the bridge is strong and safe and that it won't collapse under its own weight as well as that of the cars and trucks traversing it.  But my belief must be based on a set of facts about the bridge-- that it has met minimum construction criteria, that it has been maintained adequately, that the engineering was sound, materials of good quality and inspections thorough.

Who is trustworthy?

Again, my friend Webster has something to say in response to this question.  Someone is trustworthy who is "able to be relied on as honest and truthful."  I thought my ex-husband was trustworthy but have since learned that he is not honest or truthful.  From the beginning of our relationship, he misrepresented himself to me.  Deception destroys the foundation of any relationship and creates enormous anxiety and fear.  We see it in our culture, in families and in politics.  Who can we trust?  Who is entirely honest and truthful?  Distortion of facts, biases and airbrushed photography are routine in our world.  How could this not infect our relationships?  How could they not make it nearly impossible to trust?

What does provision mean?
Grandpa's wagon

To provide is to "Make available for use; to supply."  The Latin root of the word means to "attend to"  "Provision" calls to mind wagon trains stocking supplies of food, drink and equipment in preparation for the long journey West.  It required intentional thinking and planning to supply the provisions needed for such a journey--it required "attending to" the details of the trip and the potential for unanticipated needs.  Provision involves planning but also requires relying on the ability of another to supply what is needed.  Even the independent pioneers acknowledged that they could not possibly provide for themselves everything they needed for the arduous journey.  They had to rely on outposts where they could re-supply, or on the blacksmith to re-shoe their horse or help repair a broken wagon wheel.

So I face the New Year with a resolve to believe in the reliability, ability, truth and strength of God; to ever remind myself that He can be relied upon; that He is trustworthy to attend to me and supply what I need for the journey.  Obviously financial provision is a key concern but there are many other needs that I anticipate in the days ahead--spiritually, emotionally and relationally.  My heart whispered "Yes!" to the question--yes, You are trustworthy.  Yes, You are able to provide.  Yes, I believe you will.  I must remember and remind myself of this resolve when the white-knuckle days arrive--when I sense the provisions are getting low, when I can't see a re-supply outpost on the horizon or find a blacksmith to fix my broken wagon wheel.  Yes.  He is able and I can trust Him.

During the early hours of 2012 when I knew my marriage was over, I named the year:  "Never Alone 2012."  I regularly reminded myself through the long, lonely hours of grief, trauma and adjustment that I was not alone.  And I wasn't.  So this day, the first of 2013, I am naming my year "Provision."  I believe there will be enough for my journey and that a completely trustworthy and capable Higher Power provides for me.  This is my Year of Provision.

2 comments:

  1. I too am looking for a job. And yes it is hard. But I am certain of God's trustworthiness and his desire to love us unconditionally. I have found comfort in Matt 6:25-34 during this time.

    ReplyDelete