Today’s guest post was written by Brenda L. Yoder, MA. Many thanks to her for offering her beautiful words.
Life Beyond the Picket Fence
“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” Joel 2:25
When I was a little girl, I knew just what kind of house I wanted. It was yellow, had white trim, and a picket fence, just like my storybook friend in “Laurie and the House with Yellow Curtains.” Now that I’m forty-something, that dream is a reality. We have a yellow house, with white trim, and a picket fence.
Only behind the picket fence, there is dirt, manure, and weeds.
Granted, it’s that way because our fence borders the garden. But it also describes a life beyond the picket fence. You know, the life-that-isn’t-what-I-thought-it-would-be life. While sharing our picket-fence journey often makes me feel vulnerable, I find ease in sharing it when others need hope of a living God who redeems lives and restores broken dreams.
As a young parent, I first became familiar with Joel 2:25 when I read a book titled “When Counting to 10 Isn’t Enough: Defusing Anger” by Kathy Collard Miller. It was the first resource I came across as I struggled with anger and reactionary responses to a strong-willed child. As the years went on, power struggles with a toddler turned to full-blown, explosive, damaging fights with a hormonal teenager. They were a way of life for us, bringing turmoil and destruction to an otherwise picture-perfect home. The calm serenity of a picket fence life was apparent from the outside, but not within. Pain, not peace, was our routine, anger and hurt was our norm.
During these years, hope was something I desperately needed but couldn’t find or hold on to. As leaders in our church and community, we were afraid to share our struggle, fearful of judgment or condemnation. I wonder if you’ve ever felt that way? When you walk a hard road alone, it’s a perfect recipe for hopelessness. Hope is elusive when pain and turmoil is all you know.
As I’ve walked our journey and have accompanied others on their roads, I’m convinced one of the most essential needs of humanity is hope.
Hope that things can change. Hope that God is good even in pain and struggle. Hope that while people fail, God never does.
Hope for me came when I realized I couldn’t control the other people in the equation. Just like an algebraic formula, I could only control one variable, me, and I hoped making changes would result in a different outcome.
As a result, I took obedient steps in what the Lord was calling me to do, making difficult decisions about behavior, sources of stress, and my own needs. In the process, peace gracefully entered our home. It wasn’t an earth-shattering event, but was an equally powerful moment. It began with a conversation in my kitchen, one that was probably routine in other homes. For us, it was the first of its kind between a mother and child who had been at odds with each other for years. When the conversation ended, the presence of Hope was so powerful you could feel it. My Savior was tangible that day. Hope had arrived.
Over the course of time, God has continued bringing hope and healing into our home, providing joy and restoration where pain and despair previously resided. Hope came when obedience accompanied prayer, creating a catalyst for change I believe God desired to bring. Now that we are on the other side, having journeyed from darkness to peace, it’s important I share with others that hope isn’t an elusive thing like that picket-fence image. Hope isn’t feel-good front we put on when our world is falling apart. It’s acknowledging that when life is full of dirt, manure, and weeds, good things can still grow. It’s allowing the Gardener of Hope do His work, weeding out destructive elements.
Hope, sometimes, is a choice.
Brenda lives life on a farm in Northern Indiana with her husband and four children, ages ranging from elementary to college. She has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and BA in Secondary Education. She’s been a stay-at-home-mom, teacher, and is currently a part-time school counselor, behavioral service provider, and has a small private counseling practice. Her greatest passion is encouraging others and sharing hope. She does this through writing and speaking at www.brendayoder.com, where she authentically shares life beyond the picket-fence image. She is a contributing writer for The Purpose magazine, The Hometown Treasure, Not Alone Mom, She Stands and Circle of Friends online magazines. She is a speaker for Stonecroft Ministries, and is an inspiring bible teacher for women and churches. You can contact Brenda at firstname.lastname@example.org.