Engaged in Suffering | Community

There was so much going on that year.

Kent and I had just gotten engaged. I was starting my senior year of college with a full load of classes. And then we learned of Kent’s mom’s cancer diagnosis.

I remember being frustrated in that season that Kent and I weren’t already married. I thought things would be so much easier if we just lived together and I could provide constant support to him. I wouldn’t have to leave him at the end of the day. I could create a safe place in our home for him to process and regroup. What was God thinking? This couldn’t be worse timing!

As always, I thought my plan was better.

Now, as I look back, I see the thread of God’s mercy in every aspect of that year. In the midst of such heartbreak, fear, and anxiety God purposefully placed us in intentional communities. I lived in a house off-campus with 5 of my closest girlfriends and Kent lived in an apartment with two of his closest guys. I could never express my intense gratitude to these people (and so many others). I get emotional just thinking about it. Their care throughout that year was such a lifeline. Such a gift.

I remember one day specifically. We got a phone call, Cherie wasn’t doing well and we were told to come as soon as possible. It was the middle of the week, but we dropped everything. I left Kent in the car and rushed into the house to let my roommates know I had to leave. After quickly packing an overnight bag I came out to find them scrambling around in the kitchen. I watched as they packed up granola bars, sandwiches, gatorade and water bottles for Kent and me. My breath caught in my throat and I smiled through tears. They sent me off with tight hug after tight hug and a bag full of supplies. Angels, all of them.

Kent’s roommates during that time, Ryan and Steven, are some of the most intentional guys I know. I have such a deep respect for them and I thank God often for placing them in Kent’s life. The morning Cherie passed away, I didn’t even bother knocking or ringing the doorbell to their apartment. I let myself in and found Steven sitting next to Kent on the couch. That moment will be seared in my brain forever for many reasons, but one of which is because of the relief I felt. Kent hadn’t been alone. He had someone. Thank you, Jesus. Kent came over, I pulled him into a hug and whispered “Thank you.” to Steven over his shoulder. With a quiet nod Steven slipped out of the room – a Godsend.

I now see that I didn’t need to create a safe place for Kent and me. God had already done so. I didn’t have to support Kent all by myself. God gave me an entire network of friends and family to share the weight.

He knew what we needed that year more than I did. He knows, even now, what we need more than I do.

It is so easy to think I know better, that my plans are right and good. But take a step back with me. Let’s look at our lives, just as they are. In every area of pain, in all the suffering and the waiting, God creates purpose.

My senior year of college He placed me in community. He used a specific stage of life to minister to my deepest needs. I’ll never tire of praising Him for His goodness during that time.

And even now, when I’m too close to see the big picture, He does. What instant relief it is to trust that He knows best.