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.

. . . . . .

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?

What Spills Out

You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.

Why did you spill the coffee?

“Well because someone bumped into me, of course!”

Wrong.

You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup. Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.

Whatever is inside the cup is what will spill out.

I came across this little story on social media, and it really resonated with me. It’s taken me a year to realize what I had inside before all this. They were things I’d allowed to get too close to the surface, prime for spilling, and they were things I never wanted to be full of.

Anger

Depression

Fear

Feelings of worthlessness

Self-doubt

To offset these things, I planned. Extensively. But when things didn’t go according to plan–when someone “bumped into me”–what spilled out was that negative mentality. It spilled out in a variety of ways. From yelling to tears to even making the other person feel like it was their fault. All because I had a full cup of things I hadn’t dealt with–things that, quite frankly, I didn’t have words to describe or knowledge of how to deal with.

This season has taught me to recognize my symptoms and that it’s okay to not have the words to describe what I feel, but that recognizing what I feel is an important step. It has taught me that seeking help to empty the cup of the “burnt coffee” (i.e. the negative) and fill it with hot, fresh, delicious coffee (i.e. the positive) doesn’t make me weak. It has taught me better ways to cope. In this season, I have had the chance to take a look at how I want to respond in those circumstances, and God has begun equipping me with the means to be able to. Because I finally allowed Him that space.

When we allow God to fill us, our perspective and responses change. There’s no denying we’re going to be upset when someone bumps into us and we spill that drink–and that will happen because life happens–but we can take a deep breath and get a new one. Because God is always right there, hand out to us for a fresh start. And the really cool thing is we have a new opportunity every day.

So, what’s in your cup today?

Math Lessons

My dad is really good at math. Like can-do-it-in-his-head good. And of course he is–he’s an engineer. I, on the other hand, am not cut out for the subject. And it shows when I have to calculate grades.

When I was little, daddy would try to help me with my math homework. It usually didn’t turn out too well. I didn’t understand the material so I would get really frustrated, and then he would get frustrated with me because he didn’t understand why didn’t understand. But there’s one particular homework that I still remember.

In elementary school, every class would learn to count to 100 and then we would throw a big party. Well, of course, after we learn to count to 100 we continue on. I had brought home this homework, moving on from just 100, but little me couldn’t wrap my head around what came after 100. To me, it was 200. My logic was simple for a child: 2 is after 1, so 200 must come after 100.

My dad kept asking me: “what comes after one?”

“Two!” I would yell.

His response: “No.”

And I just kept repeating that 1 does come after 2. At some point, I ended up beginning to cry, and I stomped up to my room and curled on my bed. My mom explained to my dad that I didn’t understand what he was asking because my logic was different.

Honestly, I don’t remember what happened in between, but I remember daddy coming up to my room and the lightbulb eventually going off in my head.

. . . . . .

I passed a sticker on a truck today for the 101st Airborne and, though a particular person passed through my mind first (for unrelated reasons, really), this instance of doing math with my dad followed quickly. And for some reason I just thought: “if he had said what comes after zero, maybe I would have understood it quicker.”

My point is that we all see things in this world differently. We come to our conclusions in different ways. Sometimes we can take a “shortcut,” and sometimes we can’t. Because we all have different ways of understanding, it means we have to be patient with others when they don’t see things the way we do or understand things as quickly as we might.

I recently wrote a post about how we cannot place our expectations on someone else. This is similar–we cannot expect others to comprehend or process in the same manner, or even the same pace, as we might.

Sometimes–like in the above instance with my dad–we need to walk away from the situation, take a breather, and then come at it from a different angle. It may take time to come to a solution. What’s important is that you are eventually on the same page. It doesn’t necessarily matter how you get there.

Daddy has taught me a lot of lessons, and he may not even know it. Heck, I didn’t even realize this was a lesson until this afternoon. And then it hit me. He may not have meant to do it, but he taught me something that resounds through the years.

. . . . . .

I don’t know why this came to me so suddenly today or why it resonated with me so much. I do feel, though, that it came at this time for a reason. This knowledge wouldn’t have served me well as a child because I wouldn’t have understood it, and it wouldn’t have been relevant even a year ago because I hadn’t grown in the way I have now.

Maybe it came to me now because God has a plan for it.

And that’s the thing: God has solutions for every problem we encounter. But sometimes we are too busy yelling “logic” and “reasoning” and “reality” at Him to really hear what He is trying to tell us.

Maybe what He is telling me now is to be patient and start simple. And for once in my life, I am content with that solution.

Day 26: Spiritual Growth

How did it go?

I went to church for the first time in 6 months today. I’ve decided to look into churches in the area, so today was a visit to one of them. I don’t like saying I’m “church hopping.” I am just trying to find a church where I am comfortable.

My biggest problem is that I really liked our church in Arizona, and I miss it—the community, the people…It took time to get to that point, and I feel like I threw it all away. Of course, when I get to that thinking, the guilt starts to creep in.

Comparison is the thief of joy. I think that works for not only everyday life, but also our faith life. If I continue to compare my previous church with any one I attend, I won’t ever be comfortable, and I won’t ever be willing to give another place a chance. People and places are never the same, so it’s unfair to compare.

I forgot, though, how emotionally tiring church can be.

What did I learn?

The sermon was on spiritual growth and how we can work toward it. It was a good sermon and enlightening. I walked away more determined to grow spiritually and to grow my prayer life.

But when I left, I felt drained.

I can’t remember what exactly made me feel that way, but I remember that certain pieces of the sermon almost had me in tears. Most of the songs, even, had me close to tears.

I remember having a similar feeling at our church in Arizona, and it would happen when I was dealing with something I was so lost about.

I’ve come to the conclusion it’s God asking me to lay it down and give it to Him. It’s Him making me see that I am trying so badly to hold on to something that I need to lay at His feet.

I walked away, though, being more motivated to grow in my faith. And I walked away with a bit of an idea on how to do that. Even if I’m not perfect at it, or it isn’t done “correctly” all of the time, what matters is that I am motivated to change my spiritual life.

So, while I felt emotionally exhausted after service, I also felt a bit more hopeful. I guess only church and time with God can really make you feel that way.