Life lessons of 2017

I’ve been reflecting a lot on the past year. My weekly #IbachThenAndNow series on Instagram has especially been causing me not to just look back on my lettering progress, but how I’ve grown in my faith and what the Lord has been teaching me over the past few years. So, in honor of this year coming to a close, I felt inspired to share what God has been teaching me in 2017 here on the blog.

Avoiding Confrontation

2017 had an interesting start and impacted my entire year moving forward.

I was just three months into my marriage and I had just started doing hand lettering professionally as my side-hustle. My husband, Luke, was starting a new job, was coming up on his 1-year anniversary of being diagnosed with a chronic illness, and was getting ready to start a new medication.

I was struggling to approach God in prayer and in Bible study. I knew this, but for some reason I was avoiding that one-on-one time with God and every day I told myself, “I’ll sit down and have quiet time with him tomorrow,” or next week, or when BSF started up again… I had so many excuses and to this day, I still don’t know why I was ignoring the battle that was going on in my heart.

Wake Up Call

laurenibachWithin the first few weeks of 2017, Luke became very ill. I didn’t think it was a big deal at first, but when I heard he’d need to be admitted into the hospital if he didn’t show signs of improvement in a matter of days, I had a meltdown. At that point, the doctors would consider his illness to be potentially life threatening.

I remember hearing this news over the phone, hanging up and sitting on my couch and thinking, “God, I know you’re in control, but everything feels so out of control right now. I know you’re in control, but that doesn’t guarantee Luke will pull through this. I know you’re in control, but I can’t find any comfort in that truth.”

I tried to pray, but it felt like talking to thin air. I felt no “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7 ESV), I couldn’t hear the Holy Spirit’s promptings, and His presence felt non-existent. I felt completely alone.

Breakthrough

One night, Luke still showing no signs of improvement, I decided to sit down, listen to some new worship albums and hand letter short Bible verses. I needed an escape from the chaos. Prayer was discouraging, I wasn’t finding comfort in sitting down and reading the Bible, but maybe art would bring comfort.

By God’s grace, it did. I lettered the piece below with Ellie Holcomb’s song “Find You Here” on repeat. I not only found peace in the creating process itself, but I began receiving texts from people who I hadn’t even told about Luke saying they heard how sick he was and that they were praying for healing.

Winds and Waves Watermark

I could feel the Lord taking care of me and even though I felt too weak to pray, by God’s grace, Luke and I were still being covered in prayer. And we needed it, because if he didn’t show improvement the next day, he would most likely be admitted into the hospital.

Joy Comes in the Morning

The next morning, Luke was upright and had some life back in his eyes. I finally had hope that we both would be okay. By God’s grace, Luke continued to improve and we made it out of those few weeks without a hospital visit.

Those were some of the hardest days I’ve experienced so far in life, but I truly believe God used them to bring me back to Himself. I wish I could say, it happened over night. It was still challenging, but because the Lord’s love is unconditional, He didn’t give up on me even though I wasn’t holding up my end of the relationship.

Trust

Since words are a huge part of my life, I’ve been thinking about the past year summed up in just one word and that word is: Trust. From the get go, God was reminding me that I need to trust Him in all circumstances, not just the tough ones. I found that because I wasn’t seeking Him when things were easier, it was harder to turn to Him, feel His presence and find comfort in His truth when things felt like they were spiraling out of control.

FullSizeRenderMy life continued to take unexpected twists and turns as the year went on. Luke decided to go back to school and I decided to quit my steady job to pursue my lettering full-time. These were all good things, but it was still overwhelming to walk into the unknown. Our lives were not turning out the way we pictured them!

As I tried to wrap my head around all these changes, people would tell me, “Trust God. He’s in control,” and I would get so frustrated, because A) It felt like an easy response to complex feelings and circumstances and B) My world had been shaken so much, I no longer knew how to find comfort in that truth.

I still struggle with that statement, but not in the same way I did even a few months ago. I know God is in control, I know He’s working all things for His glory and our good, and when I find myself struggling with the truth that God is in control, I don’t question Him like I used to. That doesn’t mean I don’t wrestle sometimes, but instead of questioning Him, I question my own heart, because I know He is constant. I know He is in control and I know He will never forsake me. He doesn’t withhold His peace from us, so if I can’t feel it, it’s because there’s something wrong in my heart that’s preventing me from being open to receiving His peace that surpasses all understanding.

Where I Am Now

IMG_7338 copyI wish I had some profound statement to conclude this blog post, but I don’t. The truth is, I’m still learning and wrestling and I don’t have it all figured out. However, I can now see that though the illness and all the changes that happened over the year were scary, God used them to bring me back to Him. I’m not afraid of approaching Him anymore, I feel like I’m where He wants me at this point in time, and my heart feels a lot lighter than it did a year ago.

Soli Deo gloria – Glory to God alone

❤ Lauren

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Whenever I talk about Luke’s chronic illness, I get a lot of questions about what he has and if he’s okay. We so appreciate your concern! He is okay thanks to God’s grace, good doctors and medication, but though we wanted to share this story with you, we would like to keep the specifics private for now. Thank you for understanding.

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