Looking for God’s will in the Grocery Store. (it’s by the raisins)

I spent over an hour last night in the grocery store. My list only had 12 things on it, but still I walked up and down the aisles in a daze. I wasn’t even thinking about anything specifically but it was more a a plodding, processing rhythm.

Moving again. Moving again. Oooh, new yogurt!…. Moving again.

I found beef jerky chocolate bars, and kumquats on sale. I didn’t buy either, but I found myself curious on both accounts.

Also they keep moving the raisins. I hate that. Make up your mind grocery store dictators: Are we keeping them in produce? Baking? By the Canned peaches? I’m already on the verge of madness as it is, can you just keep the raisins put pleaseandthankyou?

I like here. I’ve figured out here (I know where the raisins are, this week.) Why does it have to change again? What is God up to? Why God, why get all settled, have us fall deeply in love with this sense of home, only to mix it all up again after less than a year?

These are questions God doesn’t really answer.

If you ask him how you should love people or to help you be more generous he’s all over those answers, he wrote a whole book about it.

But, if you ask “why” about the hard stuff of your life he just sits with you on that, whispering something that can’t be put into words but somehow centers around a thousand intertwined strings of moments all focused on bringing his healing love to the world through your life.

Life’s journey has a deep purpose that is so complicated, I long ago declared it above my pay grade and training to understand.

I’ve had a lot of people talk to me about God’s will lately.

It usually goes something like this: “Well God’s will obviously isn’t for you to stay in Grand Rapids, he obviously wills to move you guys again. You just need to be okay with that.”

Obviously.

When people say this to me, I feel like it’s the spiritual equivalent of a parent saying “Because I said so.”

“Why are we moving? This is hard and my heart is hurting.”
“Because God said so, and he’s God. That’s why.”
“Thanks. For that.”

When we oversimplify God’s will It paints God as being a frustrated parent, trying to teach a lesson the hard way.

It also sounds really black and white and over simplifies someone’s struggle, glazing right over how much they are hurting.

I think it’s more helpful to say:
“Hey, this is really hard and I know you’re trying to figure out what God is up to here, but those answers are rarely, if ever, obvious. God’s meta-plan is above our ability to untangle, but that doesn’t mean he’s not here, with you in this. And it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love you, he does, so much. This will be okay even if you never figure out why it was written into your story. So, how can I be God’s love for you? Do you want a latte? Let’s get a latte and talk about life and all the things that are worrying you. We can cry and laugh and shake our heads about how really, truly crazy it all is. In a way our conversation can be a prayer, all the worries you share will be lighter if we share them.”

Instead of preaching God’s will to the confused people, let’s just go and be God’s love in their lives. Let’s answer their prayers with our presence and let’s just stop pretending that life and faith are black and white and easy to explain away.

They’re not.

Be with people, buy them lattes, show them where the raisins are. It’s not God’s meta-will but it is what he taught us.

Go love, be gentle with the hurting, that is his will, we know that much for sure.

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  • Lisa S

    Add this to the bucket of people not knowing how to communicate with one another. Can we just say that living in limbo and moving and not knowing what is next sucks? It just sucks. I don’t know if that’s part of Gods will or just part of life and what comes with life… I like the life part more just because I don’t like the idea of God making life harder. I’m sugar coating my God. At any rate, this sucks. If you’re free this weekend, come by and I’ll make you a latte… it might just be espresso because I don’t know if almondmilk will froth. :) I love you.

  • Joely O’neal

    First…LOL to the raisins…I can totally picture you saying this as you peruse the aisles :) Second, I am here
    for you and understand all the “why Gods?”. One thing I have learned
    in my times of stress and wondering “why?” is that it is never
    answered then BUT in the future I see why and when I think what would have
    happened if it went my way, I realize how much worse it may have been. Of
    course you know most of my experience in the asking why and seeing the reasons
    later on comes from both adoptions and mot moving but all the same I have
    realized that with anything we are made to question and be mad and angry and I
    think it is all for a reason, it is good we are this way because it shows our
    emotional attachments and it helps build us up and give us character and
    wisdom. Of course I am in the same season right now of wanting to say “why
    God?” over and over knowing there is a 5-6 yr old girl with special needs
    and seizures in a third world country ready to come here and we’re ready for
    her and yet we wait on stupid reasons, this cannot be God’s will, and really
    maybe it’s not. In our case I can’t think it is really God’s will but what I
    KNOW is that God can and will make it beautiful in the end. So with that I can
    have some ease and try to redirect my “whys, complaints and frustrations”
    on other things…Becoming even more prepared for her (in our house,
    emotionally, educationally, etc), focusing on more time with my 2 at home as
    the one on one time with them will be decreased when she comes home, and
    crossing off to-do’s to make her homecoming less stressful. All this to
    say…One, I am here always…Two, if I were closer I would totally buy you and
    me a latte and hang out for a long time which would mean I would then buy you
    and me wine and dessert and hang out even more and Three, I fully believe
    sometimes things aren’t always God’s will…sometimes we live life and changes
    happen and we make decisions and others make decisions and life just goes on
    but God is there and if we focus on Him in all the messes, we can see the
    reasons He “let” something happen or “made” something
    happen or “fixed” what happened and in the end our life has it’s
    purpose in that place and time and we see why. That may have been rambling,
    sorry…just putting out there what has given this crazy type A, perfectionist, control freak an amazing ability to have peace in this last year of waiting to bring our daughter home. Love ya!!!

    • http://www.addingaburden.com/ Jill – addingaburden.com

      I love what Joely says about how maybe not everything *is* God’s will. I remember in college talking about the perfect versus the permissible will of God. Like you said Leanne, for reasons far beyond us God allows things to happen that do not please him. It is hard to imagine why your family has had to endure such loss and disruption over the past number of years Leanne. I have no idea why and I’m sorry you have to leave your home again.

      In my struggle with infertility I had lots of painful questions about God’s will. I’ll say to you the thing that someone else said to me: I don’t know why this is happening to you, but I DO know that God is FOR you. He is not against you. He is for you.

      PS: On some of my hardest days I would sing this song with tears and a very raw voice. I’ll leave it for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ma6syhsYvKw

      “I lean not on my own understanding. My life is in the hands of the maker of Heaven.”

      Love you.

  • http://dontstopbelieving.me/ Brenda W.

    YES. I too have hit my limit of unexplained hurt, and if I had a lot of people telling me “Because God said so,” I might go over the rails. Thankfully those people are outweighed by compassionate friends who are willing to “get that latte” with me. I agree, it’s the best thing we can do for each other.

  • Tracy

    Hi Leanne

    I can’t really remember how I clicked my way to finding your blog today, because the internet is like that sometimes. But it had something to do with stalking anything to do with Shauna Niequist, I think.

    Thank you for sharing your experience, thoughts and wisdom. I am in between jobs and trying to get my head around unanswered prayer…which, for me, has to do with God’s will. Your suggested response made me tear up. I would so much prefer to have someone validate my confused state and the fact that we just do not always (often) know what God is up to, than for someone to say “something will come up”.

    Tracy