Driving around with my Palestinian nephew while I was visiting family back home in Europe, we talked about the upcoming elections in different European countries.  Even though he is only in his early twenties, I found him to have some pretty insightful views on politics. We discussed how the elections might change the face of Europe.  In the midst of our conversation, I heard him say, “well, you know, it’s only when under pressure that you see the strength of a country.”

These words caused my heart to skip a beat somehow.  They brought me right back to January 20th, 1994, the night my house burned down to the ground and we lost all we ever owned.  We went on to live with dear friends.  For the next 10 months, 11 of us squeezed into one house–two households, two sets of rules, two couples, 7 kids with different personalities… not an easy arrangement.

I clean up pretty good when everything’s going my way.  But you put me under enough pressure, and the uglies that still live on the inside of me start to come out.  And it isn’t very pretty.

The house fire itself was the easy part; the living with people under a stressful circumstance was the challenge, day in and day out.  My emotions on a constant roller coaster, my heart guilt-ridden, hard and complaining, my mind unable to process all that was happening, I found myself facing an ugly stranger in the mirror: who was this ungrateful woman who kept mental lists of hurt and wrong-doings?

My nephew is right.  It is only under pressure that you see the strength of a country.  It is because of the pressure that I discovered the lack of strength in me, the true weakness of my soul. And it is under that pressure that many, many open heart surgeries took place during that 10 months period.

Not fun, but absolutely necessary.  Every pressure-filled moment drove me to seek Him more earnestly than ever, and I found Him faithful.  Under the skillful scalpel of the Master Surgeon, I became a different person.

Indeed, pressure reveals truth.  Pressure changes people; for better or for worse. I hear that diamonds start out as chunks of coal  and they become what they are because of pressure–music to my ears.

Cultivating Thankfulness with Ann Voskamp

# 180 Yellow Finches in my birdbath up front

# 179 God’s faithfulness when we are not faithful

#178 our faithful friends who took us in after our house fire

#177 time away in the city with my husband

#176 my son’s new home

Linking up with Heart Reflected, SDG, GratiTuesday, Far Above Rubies, Titus Tuesday, Just Write and Tell me a Story