Keeping Faith When Life Gets Hard
My goodness. Can I just say that I have experienced some very difficult seasons. *Heavy sigh*
I mean, for real let me just recap one in particular. 2017 came with some hardship. And, it's not just been me feeling the weight of burdens that came with this year, it's so many of my friends and my family members as well. I have had countless conversations this year on the different difficulties, trials, and tribulations the people in my life have been facing, and it's hurting my heart. From heavy text messages to the sound of a tired and overwhelmed voice on the phone, it's difficult to ignore the cries of people around me dealing with "life." This morning, I sat and reflected on even my own messiness after an encouraging night with some girlfriends, who lovingly reminded me that even in the midst of the hurts and problems, we can choose to have a different perspective. Perspective can change everything. And so, for those of you hurting, I wrote this to encourage you. I hope and pray it helps you know that whatever you are going through right now... keep going.
Maybe you even woke up today and just got hit from all sides. You sat down to breakfast with tears relentlessly streaming down your face as you looked down at the pile of student loan bills covering your kitchen table for a degree you can’t even put to use. Debt is piling up, the doctor gave a bad report, you got yet another parking ticket you can’t pay because if you do, you can’t buy groceries. Your future spouse is still a mere dream and there’s no prospects in sight. Loneliness has set in and you wonder if you’ll ever build a family. You’ve spent years of your life chasing your dreams with little to show for it and you have reduced yourself to near homeless status on several occasions, and if it weren't for help, you'd be picking out a spot in the park tonight. Your marriage is crumbling and you can’t stand the person you once vowed to pretty much die for and there’s no hope for your children. You’ve crumbled beneath the weight of mourning because death has reared it’s ugly head and stolen life from a loved one. Natural disasters have left your life in ruin, the economy has broken your bank, your business has failed, you’ve gotten old, you’ve lost time, lost your job, you’ve been abused, knocked down, left for dead to drown in tears of frustration, and you can’t see past the ever thickening fog of despair, disappointment, worry, and utter exhaustion from working yourself to the point of sickness just trying make ends meet. You just can’t get a break and everything seems completely broken. Oh life. This is life isn’t it? Not the sunshine and rainbows we thought as kids. Not the happily ever after…
Not yet anyway. *Insert perspective shift here*
See, here’s the thing beautiful one, there’s not a happily ever after, yet. Know why? Because it’s not over yet. I refuse to believe that this is it. For you, for me, for anyone. I’m not going to sugar coat it, life sometimes sucks. Period. I’m sure everyone can back me up on this. In fact, I’m pretty sure Adam and Eve figured that out when they fell and their sons blood cried from the earth at the work of his own brothers hands. So why wasn’t that the end? Tragic story, murder, heartbreak, envy, shame, toil til you die, return to dust, the end. If that’s all life is ever going to be, why drag this sad story out? Why not leave it with the talking snake and Eve's grubby hands taking the fruit? Because, it wasn’t over. It was the beginning. It was the set up for the most remarkable story ever told that ends with the happiest happily ever after, ever. There’s going to be a shift and everything we know will be turned upside down.
One of my favorite phrases in the bible is, “But God…” That single phrase can bring life right back into my bones. It stirs up the Pentecostal in me. I mean give me my tambourine, clear the aisle because mama's gonna dance. Why? Because it brings hope. It reminds me that He shows up. He delivers, He saves, He restores, heals, mends, gives, forgives, gives a second, third, fourth, seventh chance, comforts, redeems, defends, conquers, brings back to life, and just plain wins. Period. So why, do I sometimes, okay, often, question that when my circumstance is less than ideal? Why do I assume that worrying somehow increases His awareness of my situation? It doesn’t, and friend, He’s not worried. He’s got you. Part of my journey into beautiful is learning to trust Him more every day. It's healthier than being stressed. And stress causes wrinkles, ok? Among a ton of other health issues. (I'm semi joking.) But seriously, learning to rest in the fact that God has me, is a daily choice.
My girlfriends like to say that God isn’t pacing in heaven wondering how He’s going to solve our problems. We joke that God isn’t up there freaking out and asking Micheal and Moses how He should try to resolve our issues because the results He had in mind didn’t quite play out as expected. I say, God doesn’t have a plan B. It’s always been plan A. Even if His plan A looks nothing like ours. And since omnipotence isn’t really something I can even remotely claim as a trait of mine, I suppose I should leave the master planning to Him. Easy to do when everything is sunshine and rainbows. But what about when death, loneliness, sickness, disaster, and “life” happens? Does that change who God is? Should it? No. But who God is will change how I see and deal with everything else. At least it should. Because He has the final word. And until then, It’s not over.
With faith as small as a mustard seed, the power of God is unleashed. “Impossible” is nothing. Tables get turned. Negative reports miraculously come back positive. Life springs out of death. Beauty is made from the ashes. What looks like the end is suddenly a new beginning. I was reminded last night during my awesome chat with the girls, that I can choose to activate faith or be crushed by circumstance. I can choose to believe it’s over or lift my eyes and just have faith. I can keep speaking words of defeat and putting a period at the end of all those negative statements or I can ask God to show up and believe He will. I can speak life over my circumstances and speak positively, it's a choice. Without Him, to me, so many things can seem impossible. But with Him, now that’s where the good stuff begins.
I don't know how I’m ever getting out of debt, but God… I can’t see how I’ll ever be healed, but God… I will never find a spouse, but God… My dreams seem dead, but God… I can’t fix anything, but God… I’m too old, but God… I don’t have the skills, but God… My family is a mess, but God...
But God means it’s not over. I sometimes look at myself in the mirror and say, “He's not done with you yet." Today I say to you, His plan for your life isn’t over and contrary to what you physically see, wisdom and faith will reveal that He never needed a backup plan. Pick your chin up. Have faith, cultivate it and feed it instead of feeding your worries and fears. You haven’t been overlooked or forgotten and He’s not done. He’s not done with you yet. The story that began in Eden includes you, and the ending is epic. Be encouraged beautiful one. I say it again, Be encouraged, beautiful one. If you’ve given up hope, at least one more time, remind yourself that "It’s Not Over". Think of the butterfly that must first be wrapped into a cocoon, in darkness and isolation, then literally has to fight its way out into the sunshine. It went into the metamorphic process one creature and came out a completely different one. From crawling on its belly to fluttering amongst the flowers, beautiful and transformed. Keep pressing through and keep fighting, the way you go into your battles, into your dark moments, doesn't have to be the way you come out, in fact, it won't be. And no, growth and change is not easy. And life isn't always easy. I often wish it was, but when it gets the darkest, remember, it's not over yet.