On the Side: October 2019
by Shelly Wyrick
Paddington and Winnie, I know them well. As a mom, I’ve read a few chapter books aloud and these bears, Paddington Brown and Winnie-the-Pooh, are two favorites. And what’s not to like? The epitome of their problems revolves around honey and marmalade. As I read, I have confidence it’s going to be okay. Chapter after unfolding chapter, everything is hunky-dory.
…Jesus, the Author and Perfecter….
Like a book, our lives have chapters too. As spouses, the chapter of medical school looks different than the chapter of residency, or job searching, or entering the workforce. As you know, these chapters often correspond to new locations. And it’s not always hunky-dory. While visiting one city I remember saying to myself, “Well, I’m surely never coming back HERE again.” Of course, that’s where we went. And in hindsight, it was perfect for us. Just perfect. Throughout that stage of our lives, we made amazing memories and treasured our time in Milwaukee. Yet there were also ups and downs, bumps and confusion, and plot twists that seemed out-of-place. But like a good book, when I look back, I can see how it was flawlessly written. This hindsight perfection gives me future confidence in the Author and Perfecter—Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:2). He’s got this.
God is Faithful
Sometimes a chapter starts horribly. The first few sentences reek with helplessness and hopelessness. And sometimes, unbearably, those sentences turn to pages. The thing, the ugly thing, doesn’t go away. It’s a mess and there’s no apparent escape. What we’d really like to do is rip the whole section out and skip to the good part. But hold on…God’s provision is all over every chapter. Don’t miss it. Instead, look for it—God’s foresight, His grace, His mercy, His comfort, His tenderness in taking care of us—it is there. God is for us, God is with us and God is faithful (Psalm 118:6; Joshua 1:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13). On those days when we, with our human vision, cannot see God working around us, by faith let’s keep reading. We may, by necessity, move into the next chapter, having to trust that God was doing something back there. When we get a glimpse of what He was doing, let’s claim it. I regret the times I’ve been so caught up in how I wanted a chapter to end that I underappreciated the Hero performing miracles throughout.
Not the Whole Story
Maybe you are in a hard chapter right now. Maybe that hard chapter just began and you know you’re going to be in it for a while. Remember this: hard chapters aren’t the whole story. Even if this development, diagnosis or drama is going to be around for a while, it’s not the whole of you. It’s only part of your story.
On the other hand, maybe you’re faced with something that isn’t a big deal, but it keeps you up at night and your mind soaks in it throughout the day. You’re making one line into an underlying theme of the chapter. I do this. I have to remind myself how miniscule these one-liners are relative to the whole story. Keep the small stuff small.
We are bound, like the pages of a book, to Jesus. His loving-kindness holds each unique and captivating story all together. Make Him the theme of your story. He is the thread woven through each page, each development, each scene. From this perspective, we see our stories as a whole. What’s more, we know the ending. We are victorious, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). All of this, whether a devastating chapter or a few words you’re over-developing, we can see it in light of the end. We are, in Christ, triumphant.
We recently hosted dinner for first and second year medical students in Spokane. After the meal, we gathered around our backyard fire pit for a time of worship and sharing. This was a chance for students in their first year to learn from those in their second year about life as a Christian medical student. One older student reflected on how helpful it was to get to know someone just one year ahead. Another mentioned how encouraging it was to gather for these CMDA meetings and talk to practicing physicians. Having a relationship with someone ahead in life encouraged them to move forward with more preparation. Whether medical student or medical spouse, this idea is a treasure. Find someone ahead of you who is walking in faith. If no one comes to mind, pray for the Lord to provide. I am praying He will. It’s at the heart of Side By Side. Whether a sentence or many chapters ahead in her life, perspective and encouragement from Christian mentors not only yields more wisdom, it also eases angst about the future.
We don’t know what lies ahead, but, my friends, we know the ending. And it is oh so good. As worthy women of the Author and Perfecter of our faith, we can smile at our future.
What will tomorrow hold and how will it all unfold? It will be wonderful, but not all honey and marmalade. Regardless, we can move forward knowing our story is bound like a book to Jesus Christ and the ending is victorious.
Shelly Wyrick is physical therapist turned stay-at-home mom of four kids ages four to 12. She’s been married to her manly medical man for 19 years. In this chapter of her life, she spends a large amount of time in her car, and a lot of time asking God for help, often at the same time. She has a few friends who are ahead of her in life, and she is deeply grateful for their love and wisdom.