"I thought I trusted the rope until it mattered to me whether it would bear me. Now it matters, and I find I didn't."
-C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
I walked into the Starbucks and ordered a latte while I nervously scanned the room for a woman sitting alone at a table; I always forget to tell them what I will be wearing so there isn’t the awkward, “Are you . . .?” but she spots me and smiles sweetly.
Kelsi is a petite blonde with a sweet smile – I immediately lose nervousness over asking her to share her story with me.
“I wrote it all down,” she says. “I would have forgotten details if I hadn’t.” Her story is one laced with detail – it is laced with trials and searching, it is laced with questioning and a God who sometimes falls silent in order to teach His daughter. Most certainly, her story is bound by Grace unimaginable.
Kelsi was born into a Christian home. She became a believer as a young child and attended a Christian school. She recalls her life remaining relatively easy with a faith that existed untested, for most of her life. It would be in her adult life, just one year ago, that the Lord would ask Kelsi to walk through trials, finely testing and tuning, her faith and trust in Him.
Kelsi remembers her and her husband beginning to have troubling issues with a man in their neighborhood at the beginning of last year.
“He was irrational and violent,” she recalls. “We were continually receiving threats from him and our car windows were broken multiple times; the most alarming thing, though, was when a large rock was thrown through our bedroom window while I was sleeping and my husband was out of town.”
This led them to quite seriously begin looking for a new home and putting their house on the market to sell.
In the midst of the unsafe conditions at their current home, Kelsi’s perfectly healthy grandfather died unexpectedly of a massive stroke on Thanksgiving Day.
Her aforementioned untested faith was quickly being put to the test.
January brought Kelsi and her husband exciting news – they were pregnant.
“We were so excited because we had been planning to start a family as soon as I had completed grad school,” she explains.
At 8 weeks they went in for a routine ultrasound and received the devastating news that they had miscarried.
“I never anticipated how painful this could be. I felt empty inside, as if a part of me would never fully heal,” she said.
Although they have been continuing to try to become pregnant again, they have been unable to. Kelsi admits to struggling with anger and unanswered questions – she feels as if everyone around her was expecting or having children with the exception of her. She began to angrily wonder why so many of her patients, riddled with substance abuse, were able to easily have multiple children and she couldn’t even have one; she didn’t believe this to be fair.
During this time they finally found another house to move in to, with the hopes that one stress inducer would be removed from their plate, but moving and fixing up a new home while being unable to sell their previous one just began to add more weight to them both. Unbeknownst to Kelsi and her husband, the storm was far from over.
Kelsi’s dad was in a work accident and seriously injured his eye. While he has had multiple surgeries, they are unsure if he will ever receive his vision back. Just two short weeks after her dad’s accident, Kelsi’s mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer; it started in one lung, but had spread into the other lung and in her liver.
Since her diagnoses she has had part of her lung removed and has gone through one round of chemotherapy and is currently on her second treatment.
“After going through all of this,” explains Kelsi, “I realized my trust in God wasn’t what I thought it was. The unwavering faith I had so hoped I possessed was weaker than I ever anticipated.”
She wrestled with doubts, questions, despair; she continually wondered if this period of suffering was ever going to end, what was going to happen to her family next, and why God was being so silent.
In the whirlwind of these questions, the Lord began to reveal to Kelsi that she had been basing her happiness and contentment on her circumstances instead of on Jesus.
“I was happy when everything in my life was stable, but now I just wanted Jesus to fix everything, for Him to make everything right, again,” she says. “But I felt Him asking me, “’If you never have a baby and I don’t remove your mom’s cancer, will I still be enough for you?’ ‘Do you truly believe I will work everything for your good?’”
Kelsi found that her response to the suffering had revealed that deep down inside, her answer to both of those questions was no.
Very slowly, the Lord began to change Kelsi’s heart; she began to learn what she should have already believed – that Jesus is good, love and wise. He was never what she had hoped, He was better.
“Sometimes it takes a broken heart to truly understand that,” she admits, “at least it did for me.”
When everything fell apart and He was the only thing she had left, He showed Himself to be more beautiful and satisfying than all those things she had put her trust in could ever be.
As Kelsi sat in the Starbucks with me and shared her year of turmoil, trial and growth, she confessed that most of her circumstances have not changed. But neither has Jesus.
“I still have bad days and moments of despair, but they are becoming less frequent,” she says. “I know now that He is all-sufficient, not because that’s what I’ve heard all my life, but because I have experienced it.”
Kelsi believes maybe that’s why He has allowed her to taste suffering – to display to her that He is everything and He will sustain her. He knows the path of a broken heart and He is sovereign - over negative pregnancy tests and cancer cells.
“He did not die so that I could find temporary and shallow joy in my own foolish desires. He will not allow me to put my trust in cheap toys instead of the priceless treasure that is Himself. That is the depth of His love.”
And, oh, how He loves us.
Author: Stephani Duff