Story of Hope: Amber Langhoff
Hope in what? In whom? Why? How?
The answers to questions about hope are unique to every person, based on their experiences and beliefs. I'm really excited to start a new series called "Stories of Hope" in which we will feature the stories from a range of believers who have placed their hope in Jesus Christ. We believe that in sharing these inspirational stories, we can spread hope. May hope be delivered in Jesus' name!
I thought it would be fitting to feature my wife's story first, since, well—she's my wife. Ha! And also because she has had a hand in the development of Hope Delivered from the very beginning. She is my greatest cheerleader in life, encouraging me every step of the way. I have a good feeling her story will encourage others, too.
Now, introducing my lovely wife Amber Langhoff, and our son Elias. This is her story of hope.
Throughout most of my life, I have felt stuck in a perpetual cycle that looks like this: I make a whole bunch of solid plans, I feel in control, those plans somehow fall apart, I am reminded that God loves me and is actually the one in control, [I cry], I come to realize that God's plans for my life are better than my own, I let go and give control back to God, I grow comfortable again and eventually take back control, I make a whole bunch of solid plans...
The day I discovered Proverbs 16:9 (NLT), I was able to fight that cycle in a new way. I even had it tattooed to my arm as a reminder! It says, "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." This verse helps me to let go and remember that God is in control and that He ultimately knows what's best for me. In fact, although we may feel in control when we are making our own plans, trusting the Lord completely actually takes the pressure off and makes it easier to enjoy life and experience the fullness of all He has for us.
...But that learning curve will get you. Letting go is so hard! I love Psalms 37:23-24 (NLT) as a follow-up to Proverbs 16:9, which says, "The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand." Mmmmmmmm, the tender love of our Heavenly Father! He is in control, but He's not controlling. Thank you, Lord.
The season in my life where this has been most apparent to me is definitely the time soon after I became a first time mother. Before giving birth to Elias (now almost 16 months old), I had made so many solid plans. I had worked out how he would sleep, how Chad and I would maintain our happy marriage and work as a team, how we would begin to parent him with ease, how soon I'd get back to work after he was born, how often I'd shower (haha!), how my relationship with Jesus would remain my top priority, and even how I would emotionally handle my new role as a mom.
A couple months postpartum, I instead found myself having a bit of an identity crisis. Even though I was in love with my little boy and had so much to be grateful for, I found myself longing for "the old me." I missed the me that could sleep in, hang out with friends spontaneously, and have a consistent daily routine that started with Bible reading and focused prayer. I missed the me that had a handle on my life, didn't take so long to respond to emails and texts, wasn't needed by someone 24/7, wasn't used as a constant pacifier to a tiny and very loud [although adorable] human, could run quick errands without needing all the stars to align, and could enjoy the fast pace of a motivated-go-getter lifestyle. Even though I was enjoying my new role as a mom, I couldn't help but see my previous dreams collecting dust on a shelf.
Jesus continued to draw me in to Himself. God sweetly reminded me—especially through parallels of my own relationship with my son—that I am His daughter and that He is a good, good Father. The best Father, actually! He gave me a son to nurture because of reasons I'll never know, but I do know that His ways and His gifts are the very best. I was finally able to shift my perspective from that of "sacrifice" and embrace my new season as "blessing." This isn't to say that I didn't appreciate or love my son before this mental shift, it's just that I was trying to hold so tightly to what WAS (what was comfortable, in my control, familiar) that I was missing out on what COULD BE (what was uncomfortable, unknown to me, new).
Becoming a mother has given me a fresh hope in Jesus that is indescribable. I know I will continue to stumble along the way (probably daily), but my faith reminds me that the Lord is holding my hand every step of the way. I just need to let go and enjoy the journey as I follow His loving lead.