In recent months, I have spent lots of time sorting, cleaning out, and throwing away at my maternal grandparents’ home, where two of my aunts also lived. It’s been an arduous task going through the remnants of multiple lives. Sifting through photos and other memorabilia has also been emotionally overwhelming at times. But as I’ve worked through this hard task, I’ve discovered blessings.
The blessings I discovered include:
A Window to the Past
Photos and letters provide a glimpse into the past, the years of youth for my mother and her siblings. I found photos of them making crazy faces and posing like movie stars. Wartime photos with my uncles in uniform reminded me of the hardship, and fear, they must have experienced.
One of the most interesting finds were letters from my grandfather, Pops, to my grandmother. He moved to Spartanburg with his job ahead of the family and wrote telling of the kindness of the people in the community and the beauty of the area. He even mentioned window shopping for furniture for their new home. Although I’d heard stories, pictures and letters brought those stories to life.
Evidence of Faith History
My grandmother, Ma Ma, began backyard Bible clubs while still living in Alabama. After moving to South Carolina, she began telling flannel board stories at church. When I found the purple box I remembered from childhood, that held some of her “people,” and the flannel board and easel, I was transported back to primary Sunday School, and watching Ma Ma caress the “people” she held in her hands while telling a Bible story. As she placed them on the board, she smoothed her “people” with the same loving touch she caressed me.
A Bible presented to Ma Ma from the junior Sunday School department underscored her faithfulness in teaching and training future generations. My grandfather’s certificate for a post-graduate diploma from the Southern Baptist Convention Sunday School Board let me know Pops also was involved in church work.
Uncle Jim’s Bible School certificate, bulletins with pictures of the family in church activities, devotional books, personal prayer journals, and sermon notes reminded me of the importance the family placed on spiritual growth and church involvement.
I never doubted my faith history, but finding the evidence made me even more grateful for their faith, the impact that faith had on my life, and my own faith.
Growing up, I witnessed family love in both my mother’s and father’s families. That love was deep and strong. The pictures I found showed that family love.
I was overwhelmed to discover my aunts, Marge and Chinkie, had saved all the programs from my children’s school music performances, church musicals, and their graduations. They were always involved in my life and my children’s, but that day was a sweet reminder of the abundance of their love.
I could categorize working through my grandparents’ house as a tedious, thankless, anti-forward-motion, hurry-up-and-finish job, but many times I’m stunned by the amazing sense of peace I experience as I work through something hard. That peace was unexpected and comforting. Being in a house I had been in so many times before for joyous celebrations and fun was like wrapping a warm blanket around me or being enveloped in a big hug. I can almost hear the laughter, see the cups of coffee and hum of conversation, smell my grandmother’s cooking, and feel a roaring fire on the hearth.
Many times I’m stunned by the amazing sense of peace I experience as I work through something hard.
Often, I’ve felt as if this task is so enormous I’ll never gain enough forward motion to finish. Yet, in the midst of bulging trash bags, shredded documents, dust, and moments of uncertainty about what to save and what to let go, I feel peace and joy, feelings that seem in sharp contrast to grief and heartache. But through it all, I know God, my comforter and sustainer, is right there with me.
Are you dealing with something really hard right now? If so, don’t forget to look for, and expect blessings in the hardship. Like my finds, the blessings you discover are evidence of God’s great love and abiding grace. God never abandons us in our difficulties, and he is always available to listen to our complaints, comfort, and provide peace.
“Every good action and every perfect gift is from God. These good gifts come down from the Creator of the sun, moon, and stars, who does not change like their shifting shadows” (James 1:17 NCV).
God never abandons us in our difficulties, and he is always available to listen to our complaints, comfort, and provide peace.
Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).
To receive Candy’s blog, Forward Motion, via email, go to https://candyarrington.com/blog/ and scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up.