For when they’ve left you all alone

Loneliness opens up like a sink hole in my chest. It sucks in everything; my joy in the small moments, my hopes for the future, the lessons I have learned from the past. It turns my whole body numb with longing and the desperate question—does anybody see me?

Suffering can be one of the loneliest places; there are many reasons for this; enough in fact that I could do a whole blog series on it. (And maybe I will, let me know in the comments below if that’s something you’d be interested in.) There are many reasons why the sufferer herself might be the cause of some of her own loneliness, but in this post I would like to examine what I believe is the central reason why other’s pull away from the sufferer in her hour of need: unbelief in the goodness of God, and the fear that comes from realizing the depth of our own unbelief.

The reality is that it is excruciatingly hard to look in to the eyes of someone tortured by the terrible illness of a child they love, when there is nothing they can do to make it better. It’s hard when they don’t know what to say, and the silence gapes wide like a chasm. They know if they stand of the porch a second longer and look into your soul-haunted gaze, they will have to reconcile some things in their faith that aren’t currently matching up.

Standing with those who suffer is sometimes like signing up for a weekly wrestling match with God. Because when you love them, and you look in their eyes, and you hear their hearts beating and breaking—you will howl right along with them: Why God?

These questions can be scary, and I believe they are the very reason that many shy away from sitting with someone who is deep in the midst of suffering. The greatest relief I have experienced though, as someone who ministers to those who suffer, has come through realizing that these questions must come.

In one of the great paradoxes of the world we live in, sometimes the quickest way to faith is through doubt, and so I have stopped measuring my faith by a lack of doubt, and instead have begun thinking only of how quickly I surrender to God when we wrestle—because wrestle, we will.

During seasons of suffering in my own life, I have felt the rage bubble up, as well meaning people tried to white wash over my pain. And it seems like an impossible ask, but here it is: I think sometimes God asks us, as ones who are suffering, to have grace on those that are less than helpful around us, and even on those who abandon us in our hour of need.

It feels like insult to injury I know, to say that as those who are hurting we might even have to forgive the well meaning friends who say all the wrong things, or the friends that once loved us and now seem to have forgotten us completely; but there it is. Because where there is hurt, there must be forgiveness. And we must entrust ourselves to the love of our good God, who will provide for us what we need to take the next step—the next breath.

As a survivor of sexual abuse, some of my deepest wounds are not from the abuse itself, but from those who should have stood in the gap for me. Those who claimed to be our friends, but who left us in our hour of need. Friends whose negligence led to my being abused in the first place; because they knew something was wrong, and yet they kept silent.

If you are reading this, and you were one of these people, I want you to know—I have forgiven you. Before the Lord, in prayer, by name. You are forgiven by God, and you are forgiven by me.

In turn, I’m sure I also have been a means of wounding some; maybe even some of you who may be reading this. Maybe it was a casual word spoken out of turn, or maybe it was the words I should have said but didn’t. If I have ever added pain onto your pain, I pray that you would also forgive me. I too am a work in progress, and have sometimes chosen wrongly. I do not get it all right. But I trust that even here, God will redeem.

Because here’s the really beautiful part: partially as a result of who God made me, partially as a result of the lack we suffered when I was a kid, God has grown me into a woman who cares deeply about the suffering and hardship of others. It’s a part of my story—that I am committed to the long road with people. That I will take the time to wrestle with my God for the truth that He is good even when circumstances seem to shout otherwise. In many ways that’s what this blog is all about.

This isolation––this loneliness––may feel like an insult to the injury of your present hardship, but this too will be redeemed by the God who takes every broken thing and makes it beautiful. And no matter how many people hurt you, abandon you, whitewash over your pain, or condemn you in the face of your suffering, you are not alone.

You are seen. You are held. You are loved. Even when the people who ought to be there, run away. Even when the family members don’t know what to do or say. Even when your friends withdraw and you come to that painful realization that where you are going, they cannot come…even then. You are seen, you are held, you are loved; by the God who paid everything to make you His. By the God who suffered also from loneliness in His hour of deepest need. By the Savior who was betrayed and abandoned by His friends. He knows. He cares. He sees. He has not forgotten you.

Dearest Reader, my prayer for you today is that the overwhelming peace and love of the Lord Jesus would surround you today, wherever you are. And through this peace, I pray we will be able also, by God’s power, to extend forgiveness and grace to those who have hurt us by their words, actions, or lack-thereof, in our hour of deepest need.


Do you need someone to kneel down in the dirt with you? To help you scatter seeds of hope in the midst of hardship? It would be my greatest honor and privilege to minister to you in this way; to give to you a little of the comfort with which my God has comforted me.

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Miraculous Asparagus

I discovered what the mystery plant was. In my garden, right next to the Northern fence, stood a small little patch of something that at first I thought looked like dill. It was in a raised bed, and I could tell that it had been planted there, but day after day I looked at this strange plant that kept growing taller, with thin, fern like leaves, then red berries in the fall…and I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. I asked a few friends, a few people more skilled in gardening than myself. But they couldn’t tell me what it was either.

But I knew it must be something. So I watered and I watched. I staked it to the fence when it got so tall that it fell over. And when fall came, and still I had no clue, like any self-respecting gardener, I decided I’d wait till spring to either 1) figure out what the heck it was or 2) to pull it up and plant cucumbers there instead.

It was with no small degree of shock, elation and unreasonable joy then this spring when I looked over towards that northern garden bed to see this growing where my then still un-pruned, mystery plant had been.

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I never would have guessed. Not in a thousand years. My mystery plant, was actually asparagus. I LOVE asparagus. (Photo taken after I gleefully cleaned out that northern garden bed.)

See that little fern-y, dilly looking plant right behind that gorgeous asparagus? Apparently, that’s what asparagus look like the first year they come up. They go through an awkward “ferned out” phase, during which the plant gather all the nutrients it needs for the next year’s asparagus. And each year they multiply and they grow and the “asparagus” portion of the plant’s life, gets longer and longer.

Maybe you already know all this. But being the complete nubie gardener that I am, I found it all so miraculous and amazing. And there I was, two weeks after I found that patch of asparagus that had always been there, that once again I was reaping what I hadn’t sown.

And I was eating it for breakfast. (With scrambled eggs and chèvre goat cheese, delicious!)

And it reminds me of the Gospel, how through what Jesus did for us on the cross, we get to reap exactly what we HAVEN’T sown, and what a grace it is. What JOY in reaping the exact opposite of what we have sown. His righteousness, the fruit of His life, accredited to us in the place of the destruction of our sin.

And the other thing: maybe this blog is in an awkward ‘ferned out’ phase. And maybe, just maybe, we don’t really  know what it is yet. And it’s getting propped against the northern fence. And it’s still getting watered when I think of it, and maybe before very long, like a brilliant AHA! moment, it will be there.

And I’ll be like, ‘YES! So that’s what it was all along!’ And you’ll nod along amiably that I finally figured it out, and together we’ll be nurtured and nourished by what we haven’t sown, by what we haven’t understood, because together we gave it the time it needed to become.

So Dear Reader, if you are still here, if you are still listening… Thank you. I’ve been on Sabbatical for three months, and still you read something in your inbox that came from that weird lady who keeps trying to force herself to commit to writing about something consistently, but she can’t quite seem to figure out what.

Some days we cultivate. Others, we harvest the fruit. And always, there’s the waiting in between.

I’ve re-dubbed this blog “Cultivating a Fruitful Life”, because that’s what I want to do. And that’s what I want to help you do to. By God’s grace, for His glory. We were made to bear fruit. And because I haven’t known just what this blog wants to be yet, consider this your fair warning that it might not always be what you’ve come to expect anymore. I want to share spiritual truths, I want to encourage you to live boldly into the individual calling that God has placed on your life. I also want to encourage you as you pursue fruitfulness in some of the more physical ways that I have found the Lord uses to shepherd my heart in my own life. Things like gardening, making jam, brewing kombucha, milking a goat, cooking a delicious meal for your crew. (Most of that will probably happen on my newly titled Instagram account @gracieishomesteady if you are interested.)

So consider this your fair warning; this blog may be entering a highly experimental phase. It’s ferned out. It doesn’t even know what it is yet, and that’s okay.

Is your life feeling like a ferned out asparagus? Not sure what it wants to be yet? Or maybe you know, but you’re just in a season of long waiting. I’d love to hear from you. As well as if you have topic praises/critiques/requests. Just leave a comment below.

Praying for you, dear reader. That something here will help you to cultivate a fruitful life, that you and those around you may reap that harvest, by God’s grace and for His glory.