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Sandpaper Times – When Things Feel Rough

For the last couple weeks, I’ve been in what I’ve started calling “sandpaper times.”


They’re reshaping and smoothing out times. Times you’re in the hands of the master and you feel yourself being worked on, turned, over and over. Like a woodworker, running sandpaper over the piece he keeps flipping in his hands.

It can be unsettling. And it feels continuous. Flip, steady, hard rub. Flip, smooth, brush it off. Flip, turn, back and forth again. And you wonder what the heck is going on.

Usually I think I can figure it out.

“Oh hey, yeah, I see what you’re doing God. You want me to work on this.”

And he kinda grins and chuckles, “Nope.”


“Ok, so are you trying to carve this into my life? Because you should just tell me if that’s what you want.”



“Are you really just going to keep telling me nope?”


Flip, turn, smooth me out again.

It’s frustrating. But part of me grins back at God’s mischievousness. His playful goodness even in the middle of this thing I can’t seem to figure out. Because he’s not really looking for me to figure it out. Often, we don’t see what he’s doing until the very end.

To me it seems like this:

First, he cuts something into you, something you don’t understand, and you wonder why. And then one day it dawns on you and he says, “This? This is grace. It’s something you needed. And now you have it.” And we’re delighted. We’ve got this new thing, this new tool, new lesson learned, new gem in our crown. And we feel powerful and effective.

And then one day it’s rough. Papa God takes a look at what his hands have made and decides it’s time for the next step. We get flipped. And things that came easy, like that first time we had to give grace, we struggle with.


Sandpaper times. We learned grace. Now, over and over again, we walk in it.


We smooth it out. We let it become even, easy, lovely to encounter, like a hand on a well-worn rail. Till we get no more splinters. No more grit. But to get there? Sandpaper times.

I’m in one right now. I have no idea what God’s smoothing out. It feels like extra highs and lows, things setting me off and calming me down, things surprising me and then quiet realizations, things I know and don’t know starting to connect.

But again – I can’t figure it out. And I finally am settling into the fact that God doesn’t expect me to. Because what I’m really learning is to trust him.  110%.  Because I can’t steer this crazy train and I can’t see where I’m going. I just have to take the next step, breathe, and believe that he knows me.


And he does.


Just like he knows you. Inside and out. The good things you’ll pour out, and reactions you aren’t proud of. The things you were prepared for, and the things you weren’t.

So when reactions and thoughts and emotions and circumstances don’t really make sense… trust. God works in the still waters, way down in the depth of you, past your understanding of even yourself. Until one day you realize you’re different. All of those times you said yes when you didn’t understand and let God smooth out something in your life you didn’t know was rough – it was worth it.

But until then, deep breath. You’re not losing your mind. You’re gaining your new life.

And the rest of us? We’ve all been there too. And we’re in your corner cheering you on.

You look great in the hands of God.


Author Abigail

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