• Dana L. Butler

God’s Not Cruel {On Simultaneous Wrestling and Trust}

It’s dusk and the temps are dropping just a bit, and I’m perched with my laptop on our back deck, watching Stan and Isaac jump crazy on the trampoline.

We’ve just spent a few hours eating pizza and enjoying time with Maia’s birth family. Our relationship with them is a gift to our hearts, and today it provides a much needed break from feeling the intensity of our disappointment.

Now, I swat mosquitos and try to pretend the humidity isn’t stifling, and I contemplate how to tell you that in one quick day, we went from being Colorado bound, to still bound to this house. In this neighborhood. In Kansas City.

Don’t know how to tell you that our buyer freaked out and backed out and left us hanging out to dry.

How to tell you we’d searched and decided on an apartment complex in Littleton, a temporary place to land that we were genuinely excited about, that we’d applied and paid a deposit and reserved our moving truck, and now it’s all fallen through.

I’d planned one last time play dates and coffee dates and was emotionally processing leaving the city that’s home to so many of our family’s favorite hangouts — and so many of our favorite people.

I’d packed the decor from about 2/3 of our house, designated furniture and baby gear to go to various friends in preparation to downsize from 6 bedrooms to 2.

I took load after load to Goodwill, dumped load after load of excess stuff. Simplifying our lives was feeling so good.

Our hearts were ready, y’all. So ready to be in Colorado. We were aimed at being near family and friends there, ready to hike mountains and soak in their beauty, ready to wrap arms and hearts around our church family there.

Ready to breathe.

In many ways, this waiting season hasn’t been easy, and to say we were excited to be finished navigating it would be an understatement.


Friday late afternoon, we got the call that our buyer was likely pulling out, and an hour or so later found us packing up and heading out as a family. We needed to be alone, not in our neck of the ‘hood, and frankly, the idea of not cooking dinner was appealing, because my heart was reeling.

Not yet.

It was all I could do to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Send the necessary text messages. Make the calls to fill key people in. Wrangle the kids.

And thankful I am.

God, what are you doing with us? Why allow us to mentally, emotionally, practically prepare to move — invite us to hope, to be excited, to begin to taste the next season, and then allow it all to come to this?


Stan and Isaac take off early-ish this morning on a “Daddy donut date.” Maia goes down for a rare-these-days morning nap, and I relish the quiet. I sit down to read this post from my friend Alia at (in)Courage, and the realization hits me:

Other than my sleeping baby, the house is empty.

For the first time since the news came, my soul has room to breathe. The combination of “introvert space” and Alia’s transparency unlock my tears, so I sit and cry my tears and my questions to the Lord for a while.

Later in the afternoon, Stan comes into the kitchen as I’m making a grocery list in preparation for a Costco run. He apologizes for not being a better sounding board for me in all this, and on the brink of still more tears, I squeak out something about how this feels like all the times I’ve been pregnant only to lose the life God allowed to begin forming inside me. Reminds me of all the times we chose to allow ourselves to be excited, to hope in the goodness of His heart toward us…

“It’s a gift! It’s a gift from Him—- Oh, no, wait. It’s not.”

And the door slams shut.

This edge in my voice tonight freaks me out a little, y’all. Freaks me out because I definitely generally prefer my heart to be in a little less of a raw place before I share it with you here.

But, being gut-level honest, this is how this disappointment feels. Like a slap in the face of my choice to hope.

Stan and I chat in our living room tonight after our kids are in bed, and I tell him honestly that as much as I want to believe, I don’t have much faith right now that another buyer will come along any time soon.

I’m burned, and I know it, and despite everything I know that I know about the heart of God, this is where I’m at right now.


Yesterday, not only did our contract fall through, but the lyrics to a song I wrote went live on the Story Sessions blog. {It was a first for me – I’ve never published song lyrics before – on my own blog or anyone else’s.}

When I submitted the song, I re-wrote my bio that I turn in with guest posts, just because it’d been a while and it needed to be updated. I didn’t realize how I was prophesying to myself when I wrote it. (You can read the song lyrics and full bio here.)

These particular lines from my bio are poignant to me right now:

Her passion is to live wholeheartedly awake, holding space for simultaneous wrestling and trust….

…pressing in to uncover and respond to God’s tenderness in the midst of all that’s messy and unanswerable…

And that, right there, is where I find myself. In this weird tension between painful wrestling and profound trust. Searching out His heart in the messy and unanswerable.

Because if you asked me, I’d firmly, fiercely tell you that in the face of all my unanswerable questions and unresolved emotions–

I trust Him.

I do. Deeply.

And that He is absolutely, unshakably good.

And He is. Completely.

And I believe I can be ugly-honest about my crushed heart and my not understanding His ways right now, and simultaneously cling with all my broken pieces to the truth of His kindness. To the tenderness of His heart toward me. To the remembrance of the ways He’s met me in past times of loss and grief. To what I know is His desire in this, which is to meet me intimately in the pain of this crumbling.

I believe I can be raw and honest before Him {and before you}, while holding fast to trust. While choosing to worship in the midst of the loss.

Because even when circumstances seem to scream otherwise, God’s not cruel.

He is kind, and He works all things for my ultimate good, and I am not saying this lightly, as a pat, bandaid answer to cover over my hurt and make it acceptable, or to make myself or anyone else comfortable.

I’m saying it because through all my losses, all the times my soul has been torn, He has proven Himself faithful.

Woven throughout my story is His hand of kindness.

And this chapter is no exception. He will show Himself to me in this, and I will emerge knowing Him more deeply. And I can be raw and broken and bleeding inside, and tenaciously hope in the goodness of His heart toward me.

So I do.

And this post is edging on 1,400 words, so I’ll simply thank you in advance for grace and gentleness in your receiving of my words, of my raw heart.

Thanks for being present with me here. It means so, so much.

{An offering to Lisha and Kelli and their communities.}

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