Today I'm excited to introduce you to our guest Dana Butler. Here is a little bit about Dana Dana Butler is a t-shirt-and-jeans, pumpkin-spice-latte kinda girl. She is very [very, very, very!!] happily married to a Jesus-loving, gospel-teaching, self-proclaimed computer nerd. She and her family live in a 115-year-old-home in an inner city neighborhood of Kansas City, MO, where they are trying to live out intentional community with their [awesome, beloved] church family. A former foster mom of 2, she currently spends her days playing with play dough, watching train and helicopter videos, and running wild at the zoo with her amazing 2-year-old [biological] son. She and her husband are currently in the active/waiting stage of their domestic infant adoption process. Dana loves song-writing and frequently leads worship for her church family. One of her passions is to share with other women her continual journey of learning to “tune in” to the voice and nearness of Jesus throughout her days as a mom. Dana writes her heart almost daily at her blog, A Time to Laugh.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice....” (Romans 12:15)
Five words, spoken in the context of loving one another well within the body of Christ. They seem like a no-brainer, don’t they?
But sometimes, there are heart-hurdles that make this simple concept quite complex:
•In 2005, I experienced a very painful marriage-breakdown, separation, and divorce. I had never dreamed I’d be divorced at age 25. I was traumatized and devastated. During that season, I attended three weddings, and had a role in one of them.
•In 2008, my sweet sis-in-law and I were pregnant together with our first babies, due within 4 days of each other. I miscarried my baby at 11 weeks. She went on to have my nephew the week I would have been due.
•My husband and I fostered a beautiful baby girl (We got her from the hospital at 2 days old) until she was 21 months (2009-2010). Simultaneously, some dear friends fostered a boy near her age, and ended up adopting him at age 2… just as we lost our sweet girl to a corrupt system. There are no words to describe how our hearts were crushed.
Each of these losses was heart-wrenching… and in each one, God intentionally placed people in my life whose circumstances starkly contrasted mine: massive celebrations in the face of my own devastation.
I have a feeling I’m not the only one who understands this type of pain.
It was the day after we’d learned that I was losing our baby. My brother called to tell us that they too were expecting (They had waited till nearer the end of their first trimester to share), and their due date was 4 days after mine.
And I nearly decided in my heart that God was cruel.
BUT… in His mercy, He tenderly pulled me back from that dangerous cliff of doubting His goodness, reminded me of His heart toward me, His plan for me, and whispered loudly to my heart…
“Rejoice with them.”
It was God’s call to me in each one of these losses.
At first glance, such a request from Him in the face of such great pain seems cold and uncaring.
But this was by no means a “you’d-better-suck-it-up-and-rejoice-no-matter-how-you-feel” kind of command.
This was an invitation… a tender call to me to courageously share in His heart. To trust Him to hold and heal my aching heart, while simultaneously sharing in the joy of my loved ones.
A call to genuine, heart-felt rejoicing, in the midst of my own grief.
I’d be lying if I said it was easy. Sometimes it was incredibly painful.
But I knew that if God was asking this of me, He MUST intend to meet me deeply in it.
And those times of stepping out in faith to wholeheartedly rejoice with those dear to me became some of my sweetest, most intimate experiences with God.
With each step of obedience… a wedding gift… a hug… a “congrats on your adoption” card… the Father whispered His “well-done” to my heart.
And in my feeble, but faith-filled, response to His invitation, His pleasure over me became a healing balm that covered my heart’s scars in an unexpected way.
My friends, I believe this is God’s invitation to you also:
1. Whatever your season of grief, trust Him to hold and heal your heart.
2. Know that He is uniquely near to you in the midst of your pain (Psalm 34:18). Ask Him to make His presence tangible to you.
3. Trust that He will encounter you deeply as you genuinely rejoice with those who rejoice… as He provides opportunities.
Our feeble, trust-filled “Yes” will pave the way to intimacy with Him. It always does.