Cleaning out boxes from the attic has left me more unsettled and emotional than I ever anticipated. As I open each crate, I vividly remember the way life used to be — the hobbies I used to love, the things I used to do. Thumbing through my mementos, I am reminded again that the life I’m living now isn’t what I signed up for. Nothing has turned out as I planned.

While I am deeply convinced that I’m living out God’s best for me, there are days I mourn the loss of what used to be — particularly recently as I’ve been going through old tubs, each one filled with memories of a life that no longer exists. Pictures of long-ago family vacations, Christmases past, recitals, and school plays. Shoeboxes filled with letters from people I no longer know. Childhood photographs that make me laugh and at the same time cringe in horror. All reminders of how my life has changed.

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This counsel from John Piper has been immeasurably helpful to me: “Occasionally, weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.”
“Weep deeply over the life you hoped would be.” Even as I write those words, I feel a sense of release. We who are sometimes too guarded about our pain, because it seems more spiritual, need to shed tears. Acknowledge what is hard. Grieve the loss. Feel the sting of what will never be.

After I have wept and grieved, I wash my face. I don’t just dry my tears. I take a warm cloth and wipe the salty streaks from my cheeks. I let the soothing warmth move across my skin. Then I splash cool water on my face to refresh me, redirect my thoughts, and fix my eyes on the Lord. Only then can I move on.

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This is a deliberate act, a choice I make to refocus.

When I refocus, I take my eyes off my problems, and shift them onto the Lord — and I choose to trust him. Trust him even when my situation looks black. Trust him that he is working for my good. Trust him that he knows what is best.

The Lord is indeed doing a new thing in my life. And yours as well. He is making a way in the wilderness and forging streams in the wasteland. Lean into it, and embrace it. God is doing something beautiful.

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