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Some Reflections on Not Being Able to Attend #TGCW12

June 23, 2012

Guest Post: by Carissa Levering

A little over a year ago, the Lord called our family to minister the gospel in New England. This was my husband’s first lead pastor role and we were excited, yet anxious and sad as we processed all of the changes that were about to take place in our lives. We were moving much further from family to a place we knew very little about. Yet we knew the gospel was desperately needed there and God clearly confirmed his calling, so we packed up our stuff and our family of almost five and headed for Massachusetts.

This season of our life can really be summed up in one word: transition. We transitioned to a new job, a new community, and a new culture. We came to a place with an extremely kind and generous congregation, yet a place where we really knew no one, while adding our daughter, Eva, two-months after arriving. Life felt like a blur and I felt the frantic pace of it all. Soon after we moved here I made a list of why I am not qualified for ministry in New England and it was a long list! On top of this, I didn’t know how to get anywhere (there is not a straight road in the state and I cried more than once after getting lost!). I wasn’t always sure whom to ask for help (though much was offered). I desperately missed the nearness of my longtime, close, personal friends, and I longed for the ability to call my mom and have her over at my house in five minutes to help me. Amid my own confusion and homesickness for what I knew, I didn’t have any idea how to help my children feel secure here and to help them find a new normal. However I felt the Lord whisper in the quietness that the very reason I am here is because I am not qualified or able, but he is and in my weaknesses he will more clearly be seen.

I wanted to believe this, but I trusted more in the fact that soon the transition phase would come to an end and I would be able to settle in with our family of five, begin ministering more in our church, and finally feel like this was home. Instead of trusting Jesus, I was trusting the changing of my circumstances.

Things began to settle down. Eva was an easy baby, and as she was getting older I was feeling a bit more space and energy to be there for my other kids in the daily activities of life, or to be able to do more with new friendships here. I was feeling encouraged and knew that the Lord was going to slow things down and soon I would be in a place where I could balance family and ministry well. I could be more useful for the Kingdom this way, right?

During this season I signed up for The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference and found out that I was going to be able to go with two of my best friends. What an amazing God! I was so excited for this weekend, as I knew I would be refreshed and challenged in my faith and I would come home excited, encouraged, and more equipped for ministry both in my home and outside of it.

A few months later I planned to begin a fairly intense exercise routine in order to have even more energy. Now that life was getting easier, I was excited about all of the possibilities we had to explore this beautiful part of the country (with a new baby the summer before, we hadn’t really been able to do that). I decided to take a pregnancy test, knowing I wouldn’t be pregnant, but “just to be safe” since the exercising would be pretty involved. I bought a cheap test, took it in the evening while the family was in the typical before-dinner chaos, and much to my shock found out that we were expecting our fourth baby. No words can describe the shock and emotion that flooded me. But I have a baby…she just learned to crawl yesterday! But I had plans for this summer with my kids. But I want to have energy for the task of raising my small children in a place where I have no family and am a pastor’s wife. But I’m not ready to be pregnant again…I just got out of my maternity clothes! But we don’t have money to have another baby right now! But, but, but, and they just kept coming.

During the first few months I cried about it—not the baby, but being pregnant again and feeling completely incapable of adding to the chaos of an already full life. What was the Lord doing? I felt like the rug of stability was pulled out from under me and I was once again floundering in the sea of uncertainty and transition.

Not long after this our van went out on us and we had to purchase a new one. Amid all this the price of plane tickets to Orlando for the Women’s Conference kept climbing. What was the Lord doing? I prayed for a miracle, but the Lord saw fit for me to be home this weekend.

During this weekend, a weekend in which I was planning on receiving encouragement and refreshment in the Word with close friends, I have been the comfort for a sick and feverish baby, and I have been the comfort for a three-year-old whom I had to take to the ER to have her arm evaluated after it came out of joint. Sleep has been little and I’ve asked many times why the Lord didn’t allow me this time of refreshment. I feel so discouraged, beaten down, tired and I’ve lost perspective on my calling in this world…in New England…in Massachusetts…in my home.

Tonight as I looked at the sweet face of my sick baby and her chubby hand clinging to me in hope that I can somehow make her feel better, and in complete trust that she’ll be okay, I think I see myself. This is where I need to be. Just like my sweet girl I feel yucky…I feel the effects of the instability and of the mundane things of this life. I feel the discouragement of being disappointed when my circumstances are out of my control and so I grasp for control of what I can. In this striving I’m only losing—I’m losing perspective, I’m losing faith, and I’m losing sight of Jesus. As Eva clung to me, I saw that’s where I need to be—clinging to Jesus, just Jesus. Not me, my husband, my family, friendships, my achievements, my opportunities for refreshment, just Jesus.

So in this season of discouragement and lack of perspective may I go back to the quiet voice of Jesus that I heard when we first came. It’s not about you, it’s about Me. Cling to me and I’ll carry you through it all, all your weaknesses, all your failures, all your fears, to a place where you will be able to see me more clearly and where my glory will be more fully known.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Jessica Baeckel permalink
    June 24, 2012 8:14 am

    So many of your words could be my words during the last year of my life. We just relocated from CA to MA about a month and a half go. I would love to get in contact with you if possible.

    • June 24, 2012 10:12 pm

      So thankful this ministered to you! I’d love to get in contact with you. I’ll email you soon. Carissa

  2. Jen permalink
    June 24, 2012 9:45 am

    Thank you for posting this. I was blessed to read it. I have been through a series of trials greater than i had ever experienced this past year that left me discouraged as well. (New baby, husband travelling for work, daughter diagnosed with strabismus, house had a major plumbing leak which required mold removal and lots of construction to fix, and I was newly diagnosed with a rare disease.) But we had a break from them and all seemed to be going well. I was excited that things were getting easier. Then new trials have come and I have been pleading with God to change my circumstances. I have not suffered very well. Thank you for reminding me that I can rest in Him. I needed this today. I am sorry you are going through this, but I wanted to tell you that the Lord used this to encourage me. Thank you!

    • June 24, 2012 10:16 pm

      So thankful this ministered to you! I’ll be praying for you as the Lord walks with you through these difficult days and as you cling to Him! Carissa

  3. Susan Cowan permalink
    June 24, 2012 10:24 am

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s so encouraging to hear how God is growing your family since our days in Wheaton.

  4. June 24, 2012 5:14 pm

    Thanks, Carissa, for your testimony, and your open-hearted vunerability! Although it is painful, it is a mercy when Christ strips anything from our lives in which we are tempted to trust – rather than Him alone. We also moved cross-country this year, after almost 22 years of ministry in California, for my husband to pastor a church in Florida. There were challenges in uprooting our large family (8 children, many of them teens, :-D) and re-locating to the far corner of the country, but we continued to remind ourselves that Christ is worthy of that and so much more. He has met us at every turn with His unfailing faithfulness, and continues to surprise us daily with His amazing provision and answers to prayer. I will pray for you, as you do the necessary wrestling each day with the sovereign plan of God for you, and continue to come out clinging to Christ, His absolute goodness, and His abundant love for you.

    Psalm 56:9b: “This I know, that God is for me.”

    P.S. When the conference messages are available, I think you will especially appreciate Carolyn Mahaney’s message about “What to do about things you can do nothing about.” (given on Saturday afternoon) It was very encouraging!

  5. June 24, 2012 5:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing your heart Carissa….I have been especially praying since I heard you were expecting… I remember after I’d just had our third baby of 12 months discovering I was again pregnant thinking the same “Oh my goodness, how can I handle this?” God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, he says, but I surely didn’t believe that then. You have sucha beautiful family!!

  6. June 24, 2012 10:18 pm

    Thank you so much for all of your encouragement and for your love and prayers for our family! Carissa

  7. TERI WILCOX permalink
    June 25, 2012 10:27 am

    Carissa, thank you for being vulnerable an openly sharing your heart as this is sure to minister to many. Your words/experiences and how you deal with things touches lives that are in similar positions. May God embrace you with His perfect peace. Blessings from KC-

  8. Emily permalink
    June 25, 2012 12:41 pm

    This ministered so much too. I’m in a different stage of life, but still feeling very discouraged and disappointed with my circumstances. Thank you for your honesty.

  9. Tamara permalink
    June 25, 2012 10:14 pm

    Thanks so much for being vulnerable. So many times in ministry we are not honest about some of these feelings we struggle with. Your blog was. Great encouragement to me as we move to Japan in a few weeks and have already entered “transition”.

    • June 25, 2012 10:40 pm

      Tamara,
      So thankful and excited that the Lord has brought you to this place and that you’re finally almost there!!! Thanks for your encouragement. We’ll be praying for you as you have so many major changes coming up in your lives. Tell Jeff and the boys hello from us! Carissa

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