One of the most exciting perks of purchasing our own home was the art. Although Ivan and I love art from a variety of cultures and influences, we’d opted to stick with a couple of neutral prints until we knew where we were staying long-term. We couldn’t wait to jump into the world of “real” art this past February – even though we imagined that making the jump at the same time as buying a condo might limit us to one original painting. Once we started shopping, we realized that our budget limited us to an original 5”x7”. After some careful consideration I decided “wall art” was almost as good as an original painting, and finally found a Peruvian mirror handcrafted in the Cuzcaja style (a traditional technique using reverse-painted glass). We hung it in our dining area, and I couldn’t believe that I’d be staring up at its delicately painted flowers each day while I wrote.
I only enjoyed the mirror for a couple of weeks. Once an angry complex resident discovered I was disabled and found ways to harass me while Ivan was gone, I grew convinced they knew when I was writing at our kitchen table. TBI exaggerates many people’s “fight or flight” instinct to extreme levels: I had no problem admitting it was irrational to think someone could see me in our dining area, but that didn’t keep me from hiding in the back of the house as soon as Ivan left for work and I was home alone.
Those days are in the past with God’s help, and support from a wonderful trauma therapist at Kaiser. But as I was admiring our beautiful mirror the other day, it struck me that my bizarre experience might not be so bizarre after all. How many of us had brilliant hopes for 2021? Covid seemed like it was on its way out, whether you were counting on the vaccines, herd immunity, warm weather, or some other intervention. The grueling 2020 elections were over, whether your side was successful or not. More and more businesses were posting job listings on websites or “now hiring” signs on their windows.
But as summer begins to fade, some of these hopes seem to be fading with it. The Delta variant is casting a shadow of uncertainty over our country – and even greater tragedy over others. The political situation in the U.S. hasn’t stabilized as much as we might have hoped, especially for believers. Those of us who live in California are facing a second year of extreme wildfires.
So what do we tell ourselves and the world when we face trials that feel like the opposite of what we rightfully deserve? I certainly felt like I’d earned a peaceful, beautiful home after all we’ve endured over the past five years. Interestingly enough, the Apostle Paul uses a mirror as an example to answer that question in 1 Corinthians 13. “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity,” he tells us. “All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”
I’m grateful to have moved past the situation that kept me from enjoying our mirror, although I still can’t discern any benefit from the trial – even looking back on it almost six months later. Whether or not the events of 2021 make sense in the present – or the immediate future – I’m also grateful we trust in a God who’s provided everything we need for our eternal future through his Son, Jesus. And if we can trust Him with our eternal future, we can also trust He’ll provide answers for our most confusing trials, whether those answers come in this life or the next.