When I was in fourth grade I ran for class president.
Spoiler alert: I lost.
Side note: Enjoy all of these photos of me around the time I was in 4th grade, you’re welcome.
I kept my composure throughout the whole day. Through the celebration of the president that was elected, math class, English reading, lunch, recess, art… everything. I hopped in the “big old rolling turd”, which is what we lovingly called our suburban at the time, and as soon as my mom asked me how my day was I burst into tears. She was probably alarmed when my face turned a grotesque shade of red, tears cascaded down my face, and my breathing mimicked someone trying to start up an old car. I explained how I lost. It felt like incredible failure. I felt like I had disappointed my family, myself, and felt devastated that who I wanted to be and who I was did not line up (note: I recognize that this was just a fourth grade class president election but it was a devastating loss for my fourth grade psyche). My mom turned the car around and we drove immediately to Island Espresso. She ordered me a cocoa and as she let me cry she told me “It’s okay to cry in your cocoa.”
This became a big part of who I am. The principle about crying in your cocoa is by the time the cocoa is done, it’s time to pull yourself together and move on and do better. The whole crying in your cocoa process says: “look, this sucks. And you are so allowed to cry. But don’t keep crying. Life moves on and so do you. Cause you can do hard things.” Thanks cocoa. Whenever anything goes down in the Thomas family how do we grieve? Let’s go cry in our cocoa (or whatever your respective “cocoa” is. I have substituted coffee and gelato in times of despair).
This is just one of many failures I string around that was followed by crying in cocoa. And it’s not always your fault. Sometimes crying in cocoa is because things happen that aren’t even your fault. Sometimes you just don’t win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes someone is better than you. Sometimes bad things happen. There are lots of reasons to cry in your cocoa.
I’m in the middle of crying in my cocoa for some things that happened this week. Friends, this week has been the worst. Like, all the things that could go wrong did. I’m not going to go into details because I’m tired and I’m kinda done hearing my own words talk about it all. Just trust me when I say this week felt like a tsunami had come through my life and I’m left trying to figure out what to salvage and what’s far too gone.
And one of the questions I’m wrestling with is: God why did you take away things you have provided me? You answered my prayers with these things you gave me, why are you letting them be taken from me?
I know the Christian answer. I know God is faithful, I know He provides. I know God is just and love, and the Author of all Creation and in total control. I know God is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent and everything. I know and believe these things in my heart. But my heart still hurts. I feel blindsided and abandoned. I feel like the Psalmist crying out in Psalm 10:1 “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Why God?
To answer this question of why God takes away I sat and thought about accounts in the Bible where people had things taken away from them, or didn’t get things in the time they wanted, or suffered a loss of a sort. I didn’t actually open my Bible for this process. I just picked my brain for all the examples I could think of.
Ruth and Naomi lost their husbands.
Jonah lost his shade that God provided.
Hagar was thrown out by Abraham and Sarah.
Joseph was sold by his brothers.
Moses’ mother had to give up her son.
Hannah was barren for years.
The woman that bled for 7 years and nothing would cure her until she interacted with Jesus.
Job lost almost everything.
Let me assure you that my heart hurt is incomparable to what these examples are. But there is so much hope in these accounts. I looked at themes in each of the accounts I could think of. Sometimes people lose things or have to wait because of disobedience and they need correction. Sometimes these things happen so that a greater glory can occur. Sometimes these things occur so that God can grow in the individual in mighty ways. I don’t know where I fall in those categories. Honestly, I’m probably a little bit of all of them. I need so many things corrected in my life and my sin nature contests that I am a continual mess. I need to grow and continue pursuing God. And I can only hope that my life would be used to be a vessel for God to be glorified.
So I’m going to get back to crying in my cocoa. But I’m going to do it knowing that this isn’t something new. People have struggled with the same things that I’m going through. Bad weeks are not reserved for just me. God is not surprised by what I am feeling. I’m going to cry in my cocoa knowing that I serve a God who is faithful and has big plans. And I have to trust that his are better than mine. I’m in a waiting place right now figuring out which is fitting to the name of this blog and the reason why I started writing. And when I reach the bottom of that cup of cocoa (though I’m feeling like my equivalent will be a hazelnut latte today. We still call it cocoa when it’s used for grieving) I’m going to put my big girl panties on and deal with it.
But I keep showing up because I can do hard things and God made me purposefully. I don’t know what His plan is but I keep showing up. With cocoa in hand of course.