When It Shouldn’t Look Like This

Have you ever cried out to God, “my life isn’t supposed to be like this!”? This whole season has been on big, giant cry of “it shouldn’t look like this!” for me. When I moved, I had this whole vision of how things would turn out, and none of that happened. That’s why I am so excited to begin Proverbs 31 Ministries’ It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way study.

How have I combated my “it’s not supposed to be this way” moments? Well, at first they were full of tears and the desire to sleep it all away. As I chose to invest in time with the Lord, though, He showed me healthier ways to manage that fear: my health and spending time with Him. But that doesn’t mean everything is beautiful yet.

This is how the formula should calculate: hard time plus healing plus staying faithful to God should equal the exact good outcome we were counting on. – Lysa Terkeurst, It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way

I often tell God, “Okay, I’ve been doing this long enough. We can move along with the good stuff now.” It can be hard to remember when events don’t happen in the order I think they should, but the only timeline God works on is His, not mine. And when life shouldn’t look the way it does, I have to take a step back and remember who is teaching me and guiding me. That is what I am most looking forward to with this study.

If you haven’t joined in yet, I hope you do. And if you would rather follow along here, fill out this form and simply tell me you want to join the Bible study. Each day, I’ll offer up a lesson I learned in the reading, some motivation, and the Bible verses to consider.

Let’s find peace together.

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Have you ever experienced a “it’s not supposed to be like this!” moment or season? How did you cope?

Have you ever done an online Bible study? What was your favorite part? Least favorite part?

On Patience

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” – Romans 5: 1-4

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Last week, the group I serve with at church wanted to recognize other church members who they believe were showing the fruits of the spirit by writing the fruit on a small piece of paper and giving it to them. A friend caught me off guard and handed me this piece of paper that said “patience.” She said it was for everything I had been going through this year.

 

Being recognized for anything makes me uncomfortable, but it got me thinking. This church launched last September, and I have been attending since Launch Day. This means these people–the people who have become friends, my church family–have watched me go from downcast and crying almost every Sunday and every small group, hardly speaking to anyone, to serving on the team, smiling, and interacting with others. This person has watched me grow. And the one thing I have been hearing from God consistently this entire season is “patience.” So it’s no coincidence I was given that word.

. . . . . .

I tend to process emotions and changes pretty quickly. I used to get upset when others didn’t process this stuff as quickly as I did, which usually led to more frustration. I’m that person that thinks “here is how to handle these emotions, put this piece here, and let’s move on.” But I’ve learned that I can’t do that because pressuring people into processing what they’re feeling won’t help them process any quicker or any better.

So I have to practice patience and allow them to process in their own way and on their own time.

. . . . . .

I have been asked why I haven’t moved on with my life. The initial response is simple: my heart has not changed, and for a while depression and anxiety ruled my life. But the more complex answer is that moving on looks different for everyone. And I chose to move forward.

I knew I couldn’t stay in a depressive haze forever. But I also hated it so much when I got the “Christian responses” because they felt so insincere to me. The more I became involved in my church, though, and the more I began praying and learning about God, the more I felt like my world would be okay. Because I had to allow God to answer me, not people. And that’s when I began hearing “patience.”

So I stopped what I had been doing and took time to re-evaluate my choices and decided to take things in slowly for the first time in a long time. I began getting back into things I enjoyed. I started writing again. I took time to properly train and bond with Belle. I went back to my roots, so to speak. I started seeing the girl that I had been when I married my husband, and when she started to shine through again, I saw hope.

But it’s not something that could happen overnight. Because trials breed patience, which breeds hope.

. . . . . .

The truth is, though, I am not that exact same girl. And thank goodness.

I am older. I know a bit more of myself. I have a stronger faith. I believe and love harder. I will try harder than that girl would have.

Because trials also change us. But they change us into who God wants us to be.

. . . . . .

If you are struggling, be patient. Often times the battle isn’t ours; it’s for God. I guarantee He is moving, even if you do not see direct evidence. You may not see it right that minute, but when you look back, you will see He did some incredible things.

And if you know someone who is struggling–it doesn’t matter what the struggle is–be patient. If they don’t process like you do, be patient. If they need time or space, grant it and be patient. If they don’t want to talk about something, if they don’t want to move forward, if they don’t want to have the “Christian conversations,” just be patient.

Sometimes we have to go through tough times to see God, to draw near to Him. He will use those storms to change you and to glorify Him. Those storms will build your character, teach you to persevere, and show you how to walk in love, patience, and gentleness.

Day 16: Preparation

How did it go?

There are some days that things just hit you and you’re overwhelmed with…maybe not calm, but a sense of…relief?

I had a moment today where I just completely broke down. And I mean broke. I sat in a crumpled heap on the floor of my hotel room and cried as I struggled to change my outfit. I had gone where I was supposed to go, done what I was told to do…and, yet, it still wasn’t right, still wasn’t enough. And as I sat there in a crumpled, defeated, ruined make-up heap, bawling into the phone to my mother, asking why I couldn’t do anything right…something came over me.

This isn’t it.

That’s when that sense of relief hit me. I finally realized I can’t do it anymore. I’m made for something else.

And as I poured my heart out to my mother, my only ear right now, I realized…I am sick. Every day I wake up afraid, nauseous, with a pounding headache. Sure, my anxiety and depression are partly to blame, I will admit that. But it’s more than that.

I hate to say it, especially since I love describing things in writing, but it’s difficult to explain. But after that incident, faking smiles throughout the rest of the day, performing who I am for others…it was easier. Because I knew something they didn’t.

There are better things in store.

What did I learn? 

God will often allow us to feel the pain of our pasts, of our choices, to show us, to convince us, we aren’t where He desires us to be. I say allow because He can take our pain away, but sometimes we need that pain as a reminder when we aren’t listening.

I have never felt that more fully than I did today.

Do I feel guilty? Yes. Because I took risks I didn’t have to take for a dream I thought God had given me. But that guilt can be used to an advantage: a lesson. It can teach me how to overcome obstacles and recover from my mistakes.

I realize, too, that if it weren’t for my faith, what I struggle with on a day-to-day basis would make me feel I don’t have value. But I do. Because my God says I do. My God has told me I have gifts, talents, and things to offer. My God has given me dreams. I may have strayed, but He is still with me, guiding me.

I hear a still, small voice in my head in a lot of moments throughout the day: patience.

Patience in just about everything is vital, but none more so than when you are waiting on God to move. He will make sure you are ready; He won’t allow anything if you aren’t.

It won’t be easy to be positive in an environment I thoroughly don’t enjoy. But my positivity will come from God, knowing He is preparing me for something.

So, if you’re struggling, let me encourage you. Maybe God is preparing you.