God brings good surprises on the other side of pain

When necessity forced me from the world of freelance writing and speaking into using those skills to earn a regular paycheque, I never imagined the blessing of a desk of my own in a quiet office. Three desks, actually, in three different offices so far.

As a former interior decorator, the spaces in which I work contribute to the quality of that work. I can’t help it. God made me that way. I can’t function in a space without order or something beautiful within eyeshot. All three offices have surprised me. I adored the first, a purple corner room overlooking a cherry orchard, which the sun set aflame each autumn. Office two had white walls, green plants and enough room to dance on the worn rug in the middle (not that I could). My third and current office has milk chocolate walls, white crown moldings, oil paintings and hardwood floors. Even a fireplace. Beside me.

The pleasure I’ve found in working closely with others after my lone ranger season of freelancing has surprised me too. I’ve served three remarkable bosses, worked with and learned from colleagues I’ve greatly appreciated, even loved. Together, we’ve laughed, cried, prayed, travelled and hammered out plans and problems. We’ve negotiated turns over the only washroom in each of those three buildings. We’ve done silly and we’ve done serious. We’ve enjoyed decadent food some days and picked at meagre fare on others. Some co-workers have remained friends even after leaving our team.

My freelancing years, writing from my home office for magazines, newspapers and radio; editing and publishing the occasional book, provided satisfaction in all ways but one. The Law of Attraction never worked for me. I hated selling my work. Based on my own (often entirely lacking) sales pitch, I may not have bought my own books. So when in 2007, neurological West Nile Disease forced the Preacher to permanently leave full-time ministry – and a full-time paycheque – my decision became clear: abandon freelancing to take my turn as primary provider. (Regular money from others for doing what one loves attracts in its own way.)

Fear often engulfed me in those wilderness years. Years filled with confusion, loss and pain. But God used the prayers and overwhelming, even shocking, kindness of others to calm those fears, meeting our needs through a multitude of kind people, many of them strangers.

Every blessing you and I enjoy comes from above. “God is better to us than we deserve,” I say often. Today, before I leave for work in the morning, the Preacher and I join hands to pray. We thank God for waking us up, for another new day when none are guaranteed. For our family and our work (he volunteers in several capacities and often substitutes for pastors absent from their pulpits), for our friends and home (we never expected to own one). For reliable vehicles. For enough to share with others. And especially for his amazing surprises.

Have you stopped to count yours?

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