Proverbs 14:12-14 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief. The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, and the good rewarded for theirs.”
I woke up this morning angry. Like, super frustrated, hot tears in my eyes, want to throw something kind of angry. As I’ve mentioned before, we are moving to a new city, and I am feeling really anxious about certain aspects of it. One particularly painful pressure point that’s eating at me is the school system in this city. “Terrifying” is the first word that pops into my head as I think about it.
To give you a little bit of background here, my brother is helping me get on my feet by finding me a place to live near him and has offered to pay my rent for one year while I get my life in order. Had my brother not stepped in, my children and I would be living in a shelter. So, I am really grateful for his help, but right now I am really angry.
He is insistent on us living in the city where I would have to send my kids to the inner city public schools. Any of you who know me know my kids, especially my son, did not do well in this type of environment in the past. You also know my son is extremely gifted in art and music. I have been praying for opportunities to open up in these areas that will give him a leg up on college applications and just in his future endeavors in general. I have been praying for both of my kids to be able to grow up in an environment where they will thrive and where they can cultivate the interests God has placed in their hearts.
Twenty minutes from my brother’s location of choice is a very suburban, family-friendly city with an excellent, award-winning public school system. They have cluster groups for gifted students, magnet schools and special academies for everything you can think of, including life sciences (my daughters passion) and an academy for visual arts! Hellllloooo! Opportunities galore! I found housing similarly priced to the places my brother is considering in the neighboring city. I mean, this isn’t even a choice in my book, this is an obvious sign from God, an answer to prayer just waiting to be tapped into!
But for whatever reason, my brother is stubbornly ignoring any living spaces outside of the ghetto. I don’t get it. And it’s making me mad. Furious. I want to rip him a new one, or throw something at his head. Truthfully, ghetto or no, my family will have a roof over our heads because of him. He is the reason we are not a statistic, another single parent family lost to homelessness. And I really can’t be mad at him for that.
It occurred to me as I was throwing my mental temper tantrum this morning, that ultimately neither me or my brother are in control here. God is. His will, not either of ours, will prevail. I am always telling my kids that when life hits us with disappointment, there is always a hidden opportunity. I think I need to take my own advice on this one. If my kids end up in a poor, unsafe inner city school against my wishes, I have every right to be angry, to complain, to lament over all the things my kids are missing out in the more affluent school districts. But what good would it do? Will expressing my frustration over my circumstances open any opportunities for me or my kids? Will emitting an attitude of obvious distaste for the neighborhood I live in change the situation for the better in any way? Or do you suppose maybe I might need to open my eyes and look for the hidden gems of opportunity in the midst of whatever circumstance I face?
What if instead, I stopped pouting and got involved in the school, joined the PTA and went to board meetings? What if I volunteered to help the kids who are struggling there? Built relationships with them and showed them that there are people who care about them and want to take an interest in their lives. What if I moved outside of my comfort zone and pushed for programs that would open opportunities for lots of unseen kids with unseen talents, not just my own? What if all my past experiences and hardships have prepared and equipped me for exactly this purpose? I have always wanted to work with inner city kids, but never assumed it would be at my own kids expense…But who says it’s at their expense? What if seeing the harsh reality of life outside suburbia sparks a desire in their hearts to change the world that will impact generations to come? What if being the hands and feet of Christ allows them to see God’s love for us in a real, eye-opening way that will change them forever, as opposed to just hearing about it from the pulpit? What if we got to exhibit the power of Christ in such an exciting way that the opportunities available at the “good schools” paled in comparison? I’ll take this even further and ask, which circumstance requires me to trust God more and myself less? Which will give me the opportunity to build my faith and dependence on God in such a way that will leave the Enemy shaking in his boots?
Maybe God will open a door for my kids to go to the “obvious” school of choice. Maybe as a single mom, working with inner city kids while raising my own is just not a realistic goal. But maybe, just maybe, I’m not called to walk through the door that looks most appealing. Maybe I’m called to trust God to walk through the door that looks scary, but opens to the abundant life. A life where I get to experience first-hand the joy of being the light of Christ in a dark place. A life where my kids get to see what happens when we choose to walk through doors of opportunity instead of complaining about the doors that are closed. A life of total dependence on God and the inevitable spiritual growth it will bring.
What if I just chose to trust God, no matter what?
I think I’ve got my answer. It won’t be easy, and I still feel anxious about the whole situation. But I choose to believe Jeremiah 29:11 for myself and my kids. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “Plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
How about you? Is there a circumstance in your life that you have no control over, that you feel is hindering you from experiencing good things? I encourage you to prayerfully look for hidden opportunities right where you are. Are you at a crossroads and facing a scary decision? Which choice will build your faith and trust in God, and which will enable you to believe the lie that you can live independently of him?
It’s tough. It’s scary. But the easy road never leads to the abundant life.
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 NLT
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 NLT
“I will give you the treasures of darkness, And hidden wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.” Isaiah 45:3 NASB
Deciding what school to send your kids to is difficult. I am in no way condemning any one’s personal choice on the matter. That is different for each family and is totally between you and God. I am simply choosing to trust God and be open to hidden treasure in dark places, instead of immediately ruling out a choice based on the world’s standards. I’m choosing to take the less obvious, more difficult road, if that is God’s will. I challenge you to do the same, in any decision you may be faced with. You never know just where it might lead!