At Times the Journey Is Exhausting

Gwen Smith Blog, Uncategorized 17 Comments

I’ve been through hard times.

I’ve asked the question why on many occasions.

I’ve begrudgingly said goodbye to family and friends in order to say hello to strangers and scary new places.

I know the matter of being shattered.

There was a season when Brad and I lived in four different homes, in four different states, within four years. It was a very difficult time of my life. From Ohio to Pennsylvania to New York to North Carolina, we made our way across the East Coast with three little ducklings in tow. Back then, the uncertainty of tomorrow caused me a great deal of stress. A certain muscle in my back is twitching just thinking about it.

The chaos began back in 2000…

We lived in a snuggly little town just outside Akron, Ohio and God had just nudged me into public music ministry. I sensed Him asking me to join Him on a new faith adventure, and I said, “Yes!”

So, after much praying and planning, I sifted through a list of songs I had written, connected with a producer, flew to Nashville, and recorded my first CD. Did I mention that I also had two very active little boys who were under the age of three, and that I was pregnant with our third child? (Go ahead, laugh at me. The timing didn’t make sense to me either.)

At the same time, Brad was doing well with his company and would soon be promoted. It was also a time of rapid and rich spiritual growth for Brad. He became the leader of our adult Sunday school class at church and led admirably. I was so proud of him.

We loved our church, were plugged into ministries, and got along famously with our neighbors. We were comfortable, content, and settled. Life was good.

But it seems to me that God doesn’t necessarily always want us to be comfortable and content. (I say that tongue in cheek, of course.) Our comfort turned to chaos quickly when, just weeks before Kennedy was born, Brad accepted a job promotion that would uproot us from Akron, and transplant us in the suburbs outside Philadelphia.

Saying goodbye to our community was torture. We had blossomed into young adults in Ohio. We exchanged our sacred marriage vows there. Gave birth to our babies there. We grew in faith as a family there.

With each farewell, the weight of sadness grew heavier. When moving day arrived and all the boxes had been loaded, we hugged our neighbors one last time then drove away. As our home faded from sight, I realized that a part of my heart would always live in Ohio.

Once we got to our new house, I cried buckets of tears out of frustration, exhaustion, and sadness. Tension and stress became my new closest friends. The moment I said yes to God, so much of what had been comfortable and familiar was stripped away from my life. Of course, the timing wasn’t coincidental. God allowed what was comfortable to be removed. He then led me to a place where I would have to trust Him and lean on Him in ways I never had before.

Broken became my middle name.

When we moved the only thing I could do was hunker down, spread out my motherly wings, and care for the babes in my nest. I changed diapers, chased toddlers, and cherished naptimes for almost a year. Friendships blossomed between me and other young moms, and the ladies’ Bible study at church became a vital link to both God and other women. As I studied Scripture, the Lord began to birth new songs in my heart, and although I wasn’t serving in music ministry right then, I processed my faith and life by writing songs.

Fourteen months after our transition, when the chaos had finally turned to calm, Brad hesitantly announced that it was time to move again. He would take over a territory in Syracuse, New York.

Were we the punch line in someone else’s joke?

We always said we wanted to live in a sunny, warm place. Now we were heading further north. Yuck. We prayed fervently about the move and felt God leading us in that direction, but I wondered if God’s compass was broken. As we packed boxes once again, questions danced around in my mind.

Had I heard Him wrong?

Why would God call me to a task and then herd me across the country like a nomad’s cow?

Starting over in New York had a strangely familiar feel. The first few months were busy and lonely. I spent much time meeting neighbors, figuring out the aisles at the new grocery stores, and finding out the best routes to take to Wal-Mart, to the post office, and to the pediatrician’s office. Finding a new church was a whole ‘nother challenge. But, in time, the matters of being shattered eventually lessened as we assimilated into the community and a wonderful church family.

The Syracuse summers were lush, but the winters were long. Though snow fell often, to the tune of 150 inches a year, God’s grace fell even more. He blessed me with deep friendships, intense Bible studies, and godly leadership from the pastors at our church. Brad and I immersed ourselves into the community, even though we anticipated that our time in New York would be brief.

Then, seventeen short months after we unpacked in Syracuse, Brad accepted a new, can’t-pass-it-up business opportunity, and we moved to sunny Charlotte, North Carolina.

What an exhausting journey. With each move I experienced both bitter and sweet moments, but the aftertaste of the bitter moments seemed to linger a little longer than the sweet ones.

It was a difficult four years.

I’ve heard it said, “If the mountain was smooth, you couldn’t climb it.” There’s a lot of truth to that.

Through the mountain of pain I scaled in each move, God brought me closer to Him and taught me important lessons that I surely wouldn’t have learned otherwise. Lessons about trusting God with my friendships, with goodbyes, with loneliness, with my family, with anger, stress, and faith. Through it all, I’ve come to know this for sure: in all things—even the hard things—God is sovereign and can be trusted.

I know from personal experience that in the painful, tear-filled, exhausting days, God is still good and can still be trusted. He is faithful.

I’ve witnessed His strength in my weakness.

I’ve felt His comfort in times of loss.

And though we aren’t always kept from experiencing shattered matters, we never have to endure them alone.

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters.” (Psalm 18:16)

Dear Lord,
Thank you for always being by my side and for giving me your strength and grace when I am simply weak and broken. Please help me look to you in every shattered matter.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE

Read Psalm 34, then write out your favorite verses and commit them to memory.

CONNECT: Is there someone you know who needs to read this message? Forward this devotion. Post it on your social media sites. Share the hope of healing.

Thanks for doing life with me! I love you guys!!

AND… I don’t have a nifty way to transition from a today’s topic to this one, so I’ll just tell you:
I have a HUGE announcement!!!

{DRUM ROLL, PLEASE…}

Graceology with Gwen Smith Podcast

CLICK HERE to LISTEN/SUBSCRIBE

Y’all, I’ve been planning, prepping and praying about this for about a year and have finally pulled the trigger!

I’m giddy-excited to share this podcast with you! 🎉

The first episodes are chock full of fun, meaningful and helpful conversations with amazing women like: Sharon Jaynes, Jennifer Schmidt and Barb Roose. You’re gonna love them! Please subscribe, download the episodes and take me with you when you go on walks, run errands and travel. Oh, and podcast episodes are a perfect companion for household chores!! (Laundry anyone!?) 🌸

Have an amazing day!!

GWEN

 

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Comments 17

  1. I understand how you have felt about moving so much. Since 1989, my husband and I have moved from apartment to apartment at times with our daughter in tow and cats. We were only in a rental house for 3 years and we are back in another apartment. We have never moved across state or across country but moving is moving. Never knowing what your neighbors will be like or what noises you will hear from the shared apartment walls and wondering how heavy your upstairs neighbors will walk can be stresses house-dwellers don’t have to deal with for the most part. House-dwellers have their own worries. However, in all of it, G-d is with us and He is in control. I’m glad He is in control because I would just make a mess of it in my own power. I know there are many years left but I know G-d is in all of them.

  2. Hi Gwen. Thank you for this. I’ve recently lost my sister-in-law to a rare lung disease, she needed a lung transplant but passed on before she could receive it. Just when I thought the worst was over, my husband was told he also needs a lung transplant, he suffers from the same disease. It felt like my life was turned upside down when I found out, but your devotion today just renewed my faith. Please pray for me and my family.

  3. Very inspiring your 4 years of restarting life. I have lived the last 20 years in a carrossel raising two kids by my own after the dead of a child and a divorce. I was a single mother of two teen and the only provider in the family. God was my straight but I failed several times, I still do…. I pray and try to be a good Christian but every day is a struggle and I am nearly 60. Pls pray that my faith never failes.

  4. Again thank you Gwen n team for another inspiring devotion. It really was encoraging as over recent years learning that it is not eno to be a cozy christian and to cherish his love provision n strength thru difficult times which in turn helps me to go straight to him instead of other temporary answers. Blessings for your continued ministries and families..

  5. As I read your article, tears rolled down my face because I feel so broken right now. I know God is with me through it all and everyday I wake up I ask God to strengthen me so I roll CRY. 2018 has been a year thus far of disappointments, heartache and pain. People and places that I’ve been committed to ended! A relationship with a younger man with “possibilities” of 5 yrs and a music ministry of 19 yrs all in 1 week ended. I appears that I was extremely MORE committed to them both than they were to me. No i’m sorry, forgive me or anything. Jeremiah 29:11 has given me comfort and strength and no matter how much the devil tells me God doesn’t love you, I fight those darts with that Word! Thanks again for the article. God Bless YOu.

  6. This touched my soul and brokenness. I relocated to North Carolina. It’s been about 5 months. Left my job, family and friends. Trusting God has been my only options. My tears have become like water from a faucet. Realizing who’s for me and against me has caused more tears. To say it’s been a very humbling and emotional experience is an understatement. God gave me a YES a few weeks ago to a new job endeavor. I am praying He favors me and allow my jump of faith to embark on living my best life. Being authentic to myself. Trusting God when you can’t trace Him…

  7. Awesome word. I needed it today and will forward it to a friend whom lost her son last night due to cancer.

  8. Gwen, this is my life time verse, that God gave me when I was 15 yrs. old and in silence about the sexual abuse I was going through. I only had God to turn to. He held me together.
    When I read this today it was just what I needed. I’m in some very rough spots in my life right now, and all I can do is trust God and His word. He’s never failed me
    I come back to these verses time and time again. Although they always make me cry, whether tears of joy for His promises, or I’m in that place. I am assured that God is always with me, no matter how my life is going.
    Thank you for these words of encouragement.
    Blessings, Yvonne

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your testimonies Gwen. I’m usually blessed by the GIG devotionals but today’s was even more on time and just what I needed today. I felt your pain when you said you began to doubt whether or not you’d actually heard the Lords voice. I heard God tell me to leave my full time job two months ago (mind you I wasn’t even happy at the job or with the work but it provided me a FALSE sense of security….so I stayed until I heard God say move). So, I quickly went from enjoying my freedom and “reclaiming my time” to having to drive for lyft and take on part time gigs while withdrawing all my pension and 401K money to have a little “cushion” but through it all…God has certainly been faithful. I think my struggle is that I still think I’ve been and can continue to be the one holding things together and making things happen and God is slowly reminding me no you’re not Lexy I am and you need to just trust me. So, yes, I’m being broken and I can honestly say I’ve never been so broken and I’m crying even as I type this but I have to believe that he will give me beauty for ashes and no longer can I or shall I leave by my illusions but by him and his word. So thank you again for your message and you ladies for your prayers. I cover you all as well in the name of Jesus. Amen and Amen.

  10. I enjoy reading GIG it really help me with life journeys.I need prayer in my life I’m expecting my Miracle any day now from God in every area of my life…I’m praying for restoration with my husband and also praying for my finances to be restored back to me in JESUS name it’s already done in Jesus Name Amen

  11. Know just what you mean. I was born and raised in Virginia, and moved only when my parents bought their first home. Then I married a boy I met in a Virginia college (again- not far from home!) and 2 years later found myself moving 1200 miles away from family, friends & church to Louisiana. But God has so richly blessed me here, I can truly say His plans are GOOD. It did make me really appreciate my mom, though, who left her birth country at the age of 11 to come to America where she didn’t even know the language! But again, God has blessed her and she is now 90 and a bundle of encouragement to all she meets! God is ABLE!!! He really does give us Beauty for Ashes!

  12. Thank you Gwen and I thank the Lord for timing this devotion for me to read today! Just dreading the day, this gave me a better outlook on my day at work. If the mountain were smooth I wouldn’t be able to climb it – my new status!

  13. Thankyou. It is very encouraging to read letters of praise and testimony to God’s grace seeing us through everything. I have a disease I have had most of my adult life that God is teaching me to lean on Him to cope with it. I totally depend on His grace every morning and day with the medicines help. He has given me His grace at salvation, at getting rid of strongholds in me, and now helps me with my weakness so I can show Him strong in my heart, mind and life. Thankyou God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit for being in us and with us everyday! Amen.

  14. Tears while reading this, as I too have been uprooted, which I don’t do well with. A new State and Season, crying almost daily. On a rollercoaster ride of so very stressful and joyiful moments. Going from hopeless to hopeful, learing to be content, yet wanting so badly to return to familiar and home to me. Trying to obey, waiting and staying put until He say “GO” again.

    Trusting in Him, His Plan is what’s BEST. He will take the ashes and make something so beautiful for His Glory, in Jesus name, I will praise Him, now and forevermore.

    Thank you very much for sharing, and for prayers.

  15. From Vancouver (Canada) then East to Toronto then back West to Calgary then Northern Alberta then Edmonton then ?

  16. Amen Gwen. How well I know this. I have bern through so much on mine but still trust my father GOD. My husband got approved from imagration now eating for letter from nationalvisa ctr. I hsve three grown kids who stole from my mom there grand ma. But the hardest I bern through is my son Robert who passed away at age 2 . This month will be 31 years but still hard for me. My ex husband has moved on and do has two of my kids but his twin and I haven’t. I know eill see him in heaven and he is in a better place but it’s hard for a mom. Blessings

  17. Thank u Gwen. I am going thru a shattered time n my life and ur message today hits the nail on the head. I will trust and obey and ride with Jesus to the mountain top. Thank u. I will go read Psalm 34.

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