God’s Not Cruel {On Simultaneous Wrestling and Trust}

photo-18I sit down to write on Saturday night, and I don’t know how to say what I need to say.

It’s dusk and the temps are dropping just a bit, and I’m perched with my laptop on our back deck, watching Stan and Isaac jump crazy on the trampoline.

We’ve just spent a few hours eating pizza and enjoying time with Maia’s birth family. Our relationship with them is a gift to our hearts, and today it provides a much needed break from feeling the intensity of our disappointment.

blake and maia10271621_406897156115540_4900636965341968951_nphoto-2410461379_406897166115539_8170135765745123038_n


Now, I swat mosquitos and try to pretend the humidity isn’t stifling, and I contemplate how to tell you that in one quick day, we went from being Colorado bound, to still bound to this house. In this neighborhood. In Kansas City.

Don’t know how to tell you that our buyer freaked out and backed out and left us hanging out to dry.

How to tell you we’d searched and decided on an apartment complex in Littleton, a temporary place to land that we were genuinely excited about, that we’d applied and paid a deposit and reserved our moving truck, and now it’s all fallen through.

I’d planned one last time play dates and coffee dates and was emotionally processing leaving the city that’s home to so many of our family’s favorite hangouts — and so many of our favorite people.

I’d packed the decor from about 2/3 of our house, designated furniture and baby gear to go to various friends in preparation to downsize from 6 bedrooms to 2.

I took load after load to Goodwill, dumped load after load of excess stuff. Simplifying our lives was feeling so good.

Our hearts were ready, y’all. So ready to be in Colorado. We were aimed at being near family and friends there, ready to hike mountains and soak in their beauty, ready to wrap arms and hearts around our church family there.

Ready to breathe.

In many ways, this waiting season hasn’t been easy, and to say we were excited to be finished navigating it would be an understatement.


Friday late afternoon, we got the call that our buyer was likely pulling out, and an hour or so later found us packing up and heading out as a family. We needed to be alone, not in our neck of the ‘hood, and frankly, the idea of not cooking dinner was appealing, because my heart was reeling.photo-20My tears were stuck to my insides, my heart and body a thousand pounds of thick disappointment, even anger. I was silent as we drove, mostly silent as we chowed on burgers and fries at Five Guys, and I know Stan began to be concerned for me, but this introvert couldn’t bring herself to process externally.

Not yet.

It was all I could do to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Send the necessary text messages. Make the calls to fill key people in. Wrangle the kids.photo-21We sat a while by the fountain after dinner, let Isaac get soaked, and it occurred to me to choose gratitude for the sweet togetherness of our family, no matter our location.

And thankful I am.photo-22Inside though, the questions churned:

God, what are you doing with us? Why allow us to mentally, emotionally, practically prepare to move — invite us to hope, to be excited, to begin to taste the next season, and then allow it all to come to this?


Stan and Isaac take off early-ish this morning on a “Daddy donut date.” Maia goes down for a rare-these-days morning nap, and I relish the quiet. I sit down to read this post from my friend Alia at (in)Courage, and the realization hits me:

Other than my sleeping baby, the house is empty.

For the first time since the news came, my soul has room to breathe. The combination of “introvert space” and Alia’s transparency unlock my tears, so I sit and cry my tears and my questions to the Lord for a while.

Later in the afternoon, Stan comes into the kitchen as I’m making a grocery list in preparation for a Costco run. He apologizes for not being a better sounding board for me in all this, and on the brink of still more tears, I squeak out something about how this feels like all the times I’ve been pregnant only to lose the life God allowed to begin forming inside me. Reminds me of all the times we chose to allow ourselves to be excited, to hope in the goodness of His heart toward us…

“It’s a gift! It’s a gift from Him—- Oh, no, wait. It’s not.”

And the door slams shut.

This edge in my voice tonight freaks me out a little, y’all. Freaks me out because I definitely generally prefer my heart to be in a little less of a raw place before I share it with you here.

But, being gut-level honest, this is how this disappointment feels. Like a slap in the face of my choice to hope.

Stan and I chat in our living room tonight after our kids are in bed, and I tell him honestly that as much as I want to believe, I don’t have much faith right now that another buyer will come along any time soon.

I’m burned, and I know it, and despite everything I know that I know about the heart of God, this is where I’m at right now.


Yesterday, not only did our contract fall through, but the lyrics to a song I wrote went live on the Story Sessions blog. {It was a first for me – I’ve never published song lyrics before – on my own blog or anyone else’s.}

When I submitted the song, I re-wrote my bio that I turn in with guest posts, just because it’d been a while and it needed to be updated. I didn’t realize how I was prophesying to myself when I wrote it. (You can read the song lyrics and full bio here.)

These particular lines from my bio are poignant to me right now:

Her passion is to live wholeheartedly awake, holding space for simultaneous wrestling and trust….

…pressing in to uncover and respond to God’s tenderness in the midst of all that’s messy and unanswerable…

And that, right there, is where I find myself. In this weird tension between painful wrestling and profound trust. Searching out His heart in the messy and unanswerable.

Because if you asked me, I’d firmly, fiercely tell you that in the face of all my unanswerable questions and unresolved emotions–

I trust Him.

I do. Deeply.

And that He is absolutely, unshakably good.

And He is. Completely.

And I believe I can be ugly-honest about my crushed heart and my not understanding His ways right now, and simultaneously cling with all my broken pieces to the truth of His kindness. To the tenderness of His heart toward me. To the remembrance of the ways He’s met me in past times of loss and grief. To what I know is His desire in this, which is to meet me intimately in the pain of this crumbling.

I believe I can be raw and honest before Him {and before you}, while holding fast to trust. While choosing to worship in the midst of the loss.

Because even when circumstances seem to scream otherwise, God’s not cruel.

He is kind, and He works all things for my ultimate good, and I am not saying this lightly, as a pat, bandaid answer to cover over my hurt and make it acceptable, or to make myself or anyone else comfortable.

I’m saying it because through all my losses, all the times my soul has been torn, He has proven Himself faithful.

Woven throughout my story is His hand of kindness.

And this chapter is no exception. He will show Himself to me in this, and I will emerge knowing Him more deeply. And I can be raw and broken and bleeding inside, and tenaciously hope in the goodness of His heart toward me.

So I do.

And this post is edging on 1,400 words, so I’ll simply thank you in advance for grace and gentleness in your receiving of my words, of my raw heart.

Thanks for being present with me here. It means so, so much.

{An offering to Lisha and Kelli and their communities.}

This entry was posted in adoption, Encountering God in the Messy, Family Moments, Give Me Grace, Grief and Loss, Learning Authenticity, misc. walking with Jesus, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to God’s Not Cruel {On Simultaneous Wrestling and Trust}

  1. JoyMartell says:

    My heart is heavy for your grief. I’ve written about my grief and thought maybe some links to these old posts might give you a little comfort:
    and “Are You in the Valley of Dry Bones?” http://countingjoyblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/are-you-in-the-valley-of-dry-bones/

    Let yourself grieve. Being honest about your feelings with God is good venting. This is definitely hard-eucharisteo or ugly-beautiful.
    JoyMartell recently posted…Mobile ClinicsMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Friend, thank you so much for this. YES – hard-eucharisteo, ugly-beautiful. I really believe that going to depths of grief while holding onto His hand allows Him to carve us out deeper, allows us to hold more of Him. I am so blessed by your presence here. Will click over and read your words – thank you for sharing them!

  2. Oh love, we dwell in the same spiritual space. We live in the before-dawn suspension, like Mary who did not know what was supposed to happen next, waiting there outside the tomb. And yet firmly believing there is a Next and that it is Good.

    It’s good to not be alone. Squeezing your hand and sending you a virtual hug. <3
    Jamie Wright Bagley recently posted…The Story of a WriterMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Jamie, your WORDS, girl. Before-dawn suspension, like Mary waiting outside the tomb… Wow. YES. I could dwell on that a while… and likely will. Your presence here (and your hand-squeeze and virtual hug) are a cool drink of water to my heart. Really. Thank you for seeing me.

  3. Becky Daye says:

    My heart is reeling with you dear friend! Thank you for sharing your raw feelings and simultaneously bringing glory to God. It is hard and it is beautiful.
    Continuing to hold you close in prayer. So much love!!!
    Becky Daye recently posted…Looking HeavenwardMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Becky, thank you for seeing the beauty in my season… and for holding me in prayer. You bless my heart, sweet friend. Much love to you.

  4. Jesus girl we’re kindred. In the loss of hoped for, granted children and then….not. He the God of no answers and my heart full of questions. What a difficult season. I stand with you friend because I swear to you, I sit tonight the mother of 5 children when for years it seemed there’d be none. He redeems every tear. And then some. The God of love is here for you and will show himself mighty on your behalf. I cannot wait to see you in the midst of a full out gospel praise dance when this situation turns around. I’m going to dance with you.

    • danalynnb says:

      Sweet, wise Lisha, yes. Kindred. And yes, every. single. tear… and more than we can ask, hope, or imagine. I believe it. I do. In my gut. Also? I’m going to require video of you praise dancing with me when this turns around… 😉 I love you, friend.

  5. Oh Dana, friend, I’m glad you had that space to begin to process this heart wrench. Of course this jumps up and down on top of those scars, the ones that ache from hopes dashed and goodness left just out of grasp. My heart aches for you, with you as you walk through this season of grief. I love you sweet friend. I’m holding the broken pieces of your heart up to the One who binds us together in sisterhood and who binds up the broken-hearted.
    Dry Bones Dance recently posted…Five Minute Friday: BelongMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Katie, Katie… your words to me are always so rich and precious and never fail to help me see my own heart more clearly. I am so, so blessed by your companionship on this roller coaster of a journey. I love you dearly, sister. Thank you.

  6. Jane H says:

    Oh, Dana….I am so sorry that you and your family have had this time of excitement and looking forward to what the Lord has for you, and THEN had it pulled out from under you. I will be praying for you and your precious family and though it sounds like a pat answer (and I don’t want to sound like that), I can only believe, really really believe, that He has something much better for you. I am excited to see how He is going to answer your prayers. Hugs and Love from Michigan

    • danalynnb says:

      Jane… thank you. And I feel the substance in your words of belief that what He’ll bring will be better. They don’t feel like a pat answer – I deeply appreciate your faith for what He has for our family… and your prayers for us. Thank you, more than I can say. Sending hugs back up your way. :)

  7. Kim says:

    My heart hurts for you, Dana! I can relate to so much of what you say here, and it’s so important that it gets said. The world is weary of feel-good, everything is rosy Christianity. We need to be able to rejoice AND mourn with each other. I am mourning with you as we sit together in expectant hope because God is indeed good. <>

    • danalynnb says:

      Kim, YES – the world IS weary of that. And true companionship in mourning – with no need to offer profound solutions to deep heart-pain – it’s such a gift. So thankful for you here with me in this. And YES – we hope in Him even in the loss. Love to you, my friend.

  8. Jolene says:

    Dana, thank you for sharing your heart- so real, so open, so honest. I really have no words in response to your words except to say that I am praying for you friend. May the God of all comforts give you comfort and peace in tangible ways today.
    Jolene recently posted…Five Minute Friday ExhaleMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Your presence and your prayers for me are comforts, friend. I so appreciate your being here. Thank you so much, Jolene.

  9. Dana, dear friend, I am so sorry for your deep disappointment. What a painful process on top of the hard and thoughtful work you’ve been doing to ready for leaving.
    I understand, though through different circumstances, this feeling of joy at what God has done, followed by hopes seemingly dashed to pieces. It’s so difficult to say, “yet I will praise thee,” and yet that’s exactly what you’re doing here. I’m so proud of you, love, and believe God will make beauty from this. And yes, you will be praising him then, too! Thank you for sharing your heart. That is a gift to us — your readers and friends. I love you.
    Ashley Larkin @ Draw Near recently posted…Five Minute Friday: BelongMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Ashley… your presence on my blog is always this deep heart-pause for me, kind of a sigh of relief for my soul. Thank you. I so *know* you get this – the height of joy followed by hopes dashed. What a painful ride, eh? But He shapes our hearts through it…. and I’m thankful that you’re with me in turning heart and eyes to Him in the midst of disappointment and loss. Thankful for your companionship in loving Him, in choosing Him over and over. Whom have we but Him? I love you, sister. Arm-in-arm across miles.

  10. Amber C. says:

    Sweet, brave soul. I am proud of you, and emboldened by your vulnerability – and I’m sad with you in this loss. And these words, really all of it, Dana, but these just grip me: “And I believe I can be ugly-honest about my crushed heart and my not understanding His ways right now, and simultaneously cling with all my broken pieces to the truth of His kindness. To the tenderness of His heart toward me. To the remembrance of the ways He’s met me in past times of loss and grief. To what I know is His desire in this, which is to meet me intimately in the pain of this crumbling.” I believe this wholeheartedly, too. And you know? I think you do, because you prefaced your post on facebook with essentially these words: your ugly-honest, messy-unfinished story gives others permission to have similar conversations with God and know the ways he intimately meets us in the pain of crumbling. You really said it so well. Thank you.
    Amber C. recently posted…I am a mountainMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Amber your presence never fails to bless me and your taking time and heart-energy to reflect back to me what you see in my words is such a gift. SUCH a gift. Thank you for feeling the weight of this with me, and for your faith, too, that He meets us in the crumbling. Love to you, friend.

  11. Dana,
    I’m sorry for this heart-wrenching disappointment …thank you for sharing honestly how you are both wrestling and trusting God in this moment…it shows other people how it can be done…and it is beautiful…I also loved your song lyrics :)
    Dolly@Soulstops recently posted…What a river otter taught me about prayerMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Dolly, I love that you loved my song lyrics. Thanks for making the trek over there and reading. :) And really, thank you so much for being here, for receiving my heart with grace. That is one of my deepest hopes – that my wrestling and trusting will give others permission to do so.

  12. Sarah says:

    I have no words that could adequately attend to your pain…just, I love you. So much, my friend.
    Sarah recently posted…happy, happyMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Sarah, your friendship and presence and love are balm to my heart. I love YOU so much. Come home so I can hug you! :) xo

  13. Misty says:

    I don’t often comment. Maybe I never have. I have been following your story though, your neighborhood and this journey. Today, as I read your words about the fall through and how it reminded you of your miscarriages… I have to say, before you got to that point, I took a heart, hard-to-breath sigh and thought “wow, this reminds me of all of the times I found myself pregnant and dared to hope that it would finally be the time.” and then you said it, and wow. My life-ground shook… In that moment, all the way over in Michigan, I nodded. I got it. We connected. I want to tell you I’m sorry, I want to offer empty (because it really feels that way, even when birthed in the best intentions) encouragement… but instead just know that all the way over in Michigan, this girl has you on her heart today!
    Misty recently posted…Twitterature {July Edition}…My Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Oh Misty… I am so glad you commented and thankful you’ve been following. Really, deeply blessed your presence. Wow. I feel the weight of your words here. Of your connection with my heart in the midst of my story. I’m so sorry for your losses, for your repeatedly shattered hopes. Ugh. Tears burn the backs of my eyes as I’m writing here because I so connect with that ache and those questions that hang open, unanswered. Your encouragement is NOT empty, sister. Not in the least. When you’re willing to allow someone else’s story to re-open some of your own pain, when you’re willing to deeply *feel* as you connect with their story, it earns you the right to speak into that persons’s raw heart and it causes your words to bear weight. Substance. And yours DO, friend. I’m so thankful for your companionship here. Thank you…

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