What to Remember When Life Disappoints and Wounds You
- Kim Woodard Osterholzer
- 2018 Sep 11
Though I’d have to submit to twelve surgeries over the course of five years, I eventually would heal past requiring further medical treatment for my throat. But I couldn’t know that then, and in the moment, I was deeply disappointed.
Through the weeks recovering from surgery, I had a lot of time to think about all that had gone on in my body, as well as about everything going on in my head and in my heart. I thought about all the surgeries. I thought about my faith and my beliefs. I thought about all my thoughts in spite of my faith and beliefs and in spite of all those surgeries. I was frustrated and angry and increasingly bitter.
I talked about it all with God, even though I was hurt and mad as blazes at Him. I went through those weeks as though I were suspended, on hold, like the pause button on the music of my life was pressed.
One evening, my husband brought a movie home for the kids to watch. It was an animated version of the Easter story, a story I’d been exposed to in numberless ways and numberless times over the years of my life. We settled in to watch it together, though I was anything but interested.
And then, as we watched the story unfold, I saw it as though it were my first time.
I watched as the most perfect Person lived a most perfect life filled with compassion and love for regular folk. I watched as that most perfect Person wrestled with fear and with a powerful aversion to pain and suffering and death when He realized those regular folk intended to brutalize and destroy Him despite the love He’d shown them. I watched as that most perfectly lovely Person surrendered, even embraced His fear and aversion and allowed those regular folk to brutalize and destroy Him—for the sake of those regular folk.
Somehow, I saw it with fresh eyes, and the understanding began to spread over me, though I would never fully understand all the events of this life, I could forever and always trust the love and good will of that most perfectly lovely Person—that most perfectly lovely God of mine.
It wasn’t a new thought, but, for the first time, it slipped past my mind, slipped past my soul, and slipped into my heart where it began to germinate. I can honestly say I’ve never doubted His love or good will toward me since, though I’ve gone on to face far greater trials than a narrow airway and surgical procedures.
I did indeed go on from that season to “face far greater trials.” Less than six years later, my husband, surrounded by me and our two young children on a bed in our living room, lost his battle with cancer.
Two years after Brent died, a full-term baby boy nestled within the womb of one of my clients slipped from us and our hearts twisted with agony as we waited nearly a week for his mother to labor and bring his little body forth in a most exquisite, excruciating silence.
Another two years passed and another client of mine suffered a catastrophic turn of events as she labored to birth her baby girl and, though I summoned as I’ve written elsewhere, “every last shred of knowledge and skill,” I failed to coax the wee thing to join us here on earth. All I was able to do with success was bundle her eerily quiet form in a soft blanket and place her in the arms or her parents.
I was asked in the wake of Brent’s death if I felt disappointed by God…
Just as I know you have, I’ve experienced many things that could be classified as disappointments. Brent’s death was certainly among them. The deaths of my clients’ innocent babies even more so. Those losses broke my heart, and that brokenness will mark me through the completion of my days.
Still, I’ve learned when I use the word “disappointed,” especially within the context of my relationship with God, I’m exposing my tendency to think I know all and to always know what’s best for me.
I don’t know all, though, nor do I always know exactly what’s best for me. I know what I want, but realize when I stop to think about it, what I want is relative to my perspective, and my perspective is limited.
Here’s what I actually know—
God is good.
We, unfortunately, aren’t always good. We want to be good and we mean to be good, but the reality is we’re riddled with selfish desires and impure motivations, we’re plagued with unscrupulous appetites and hounded by an enemy bent on our destruction. That’s plain to see as we look at the struggles and sorrows—the “disappointments” all around us.
When “disappointments” come, I try to take a step back and think of that little film I watched with my children those many years ago. I think and I remember the agony the Lord willingly endured on my behalf. I think and I recognize the source of our “disappointments” is anyone but my good God.
In fact, if in the midst of “disappointment” I experience any measure of goodness or, better yet, if the things that “disappoint” me wind up producing other things that are good, then I see, I believe, I know that’s my good God!
Yes, I see and believe—I know God is Who He says He is. I see and believe—I know every move He makes is a demonstration of His goodness, even while I don’t always understand all I see.
Are you willing to see? Are you willing to believe?
Kim Woodard Osterholzer, CPM, RM, is a homebirth midwife of fifteen years with an active practice in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Kim has attended the births of more than 500 babies, including the births of her three grandchildren. Her unflagging passion is the happy, healthy beginnings of families, and her heart thrills to encourage, inspire, empower, and equip those she serves to live their lives to the full. Kim lives with her most wonderful husband, Steven, and, together, they revel in a blended family of five cherished children, two treasured children-in-law, and three adored grandbabies. To find out more or to purchase her book, A Midwife in Amish Country: Celebrating God’s Gift of Life, Salem Books, Washington, D.C. please click here.
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