When I was in high school, I had six different operations on my hips and knees. Which landed me in a body cast for months.
For many, many months. Three separate times.
So during all four years of high school, when I wasn't in surgery, staying in the hospital for physical therapy, or home recovering, I walked with crutches. I didn't have a boyfriend. And, though I was just like every other high school girl who longs to be noticed and loved, I didn't really expect to have one.
Because what high school boy wants to date the girl who can't walk?
As God began to heal me - after my third three-month stint in that horrible body cast - I dropped my crutches and learned to walk with a cane. And, the day I graduated from high school, I decided it was time to let go of the security of my cane and walk - and I walked for the first time since the beginning of ninth grade.
But, I would look down at the scars on my legs, or cringe in pain from the arthritis that I would soon learn would never go away, and I couldn't let go of the question:
Who will ever want me?
Less than three years later, I met my husband. The sweet and tender boy who looked past the scars that cover my legs, who walked slowly, hand-in-hand with me when my arthritis kept me steps behind everyone else, and who sat next to my hospital bed, hour upon hour, after my first hip replacement just after college.
The happiest day of my life was that cold, December day when that boyfriend became my husband. And, his love for me made my scars seem to fade.
As we began to think about starting a family, I looked down with freshly doubting eyes at the scars on my legs - the evidence of the trauma of my many surgeries in high school and double hip replacements years later. I could feel the effects of arthritis on my body and I was filled, again, with doubt. Upon doubt.
Will I ever be a mother?
I got pregnant with my first son, this miracle child who surely signified the end of a season of doubt, and four months later, my Dad committed suicide.
God, wasn't I due a season to just ... not wonder what on EARTH you're doing?
We all have them, right? Seasons of questions and doubts about who God is and WHAT He's doing. Doubts upon doubts. Over and over. Wanting. Waiting. And, wondering.
Will I ever get married?
Will I have children?
Will I get the job?
Will I ever stop feeling such pain?
Will my heart ever heal?
I can remember every season I've walked through where I just didn't know what God was doing with me. Some have been LOOOONG, and some - well, not as long. I know how it feels to not know if or when. I know what it means to LONG for and want and JUST. NOT. HAVE. And, for GOOD things I desperately longed to experience and "God, why does it always feel like your answer is 'No'? Or 'Wait'?"
But here's what I've learned:
"No" and "Wait" are the words God uses to teach me to trust Him.
His "Nos" and "Waits" are always the dark tunnels of my life through which I call out, "God, Where are you?" and He says, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Friends - He. Will. Never. Leave. You. Not when things are going as you want them, not when He says "No" or "Wait" and DEFINITELY not in that dark tunnel of doubt.
You know, my legs still bear the scars of the trauma from those many years ago. And, I still have doubts, I will ALWAYS have doubts - about new things and old things and the same things. Don't we all? Doubts and wonderings and "Oh, God, you haven't forgotten me, have You?"
But, when I'm doubting His goodness to me now, I cling to this promise:
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
I used to think this meant that God was making a way for things to work out the way I wanted. Or work out in a way that I could understand or KNOW that He actually knows what He's doing.
But, friends - when we travel down each new road He's asking us to walk - or crutching, or hobbling, or wheeling, or crawling with tears of doubt falling onto the wasteland below us - we can know that God NEVER wastes our wounds.
These scars? The "Nos" and the "Waits" and the hard seasons? He is using them to draw us near to Him.
And, in time, when we look upon our scars - the ones on our bodies and the ones on our hearts - the evidences of seasons of doubting and waiting and sometimes that really hard "No" - we may not get any answers that satisfy us on this side of heaven. And, man - is that hard.
But. We have a promise that ALL ALONG, always - He is indeed making a way...
Straight into our hearts. His favorite place to be.