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Fitting Inside God’s Upside-Down Kingdom

“I needed my life to be upended in order for me to fit inside God’s upside-down kingdom.”

At one of the leader sessions at Hope Heals camp last summer, Katherine Wolf uttered those words (or something like that—that’s how I wrote it in my journal.) For those of you who don’t know Katherine’s story, she survived a massive brain stem stroke at age 26 and now lives with significant disabilities. She has also, along with her husband Jay, experienced the profound beauty and care of God in the midst of the suffering and hardship, joy and delight, of being human. (You can read their story in their book Suffer Strong or listen to my conversation with Katherine on my podcast if you want more.)

Her words have stuck with me. I too lived a life that fit the expectations of “this world” and I have found them wanting. I marched along a track of what I thought my life was supposed to look like—attending the right schools and getting the right grades and looking the right way. And I ended up with an eating disorder and anxiety and depression and loneliness. 

My life has been upended again and again. First, in an encounter with God on the shores of a lake when I was 15 years old. Again when Peter and I welcomed our daughter Penny into the world. And again when our other two children pushed and stretched me beyond my abilities and limits through what I came to call the “ordinary hard stuff of everyday life.” 

All this upending has led me to a life that is smaller than the one I expected. Slower. Quieter. But it is also a life with greater joy and peace than the one I knew before. Far more uncertainty and vulnerability. And far more love. 

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