Stuck

I want to thank BEGINTOBELIEVE for sparking this post for me. It resonated so clearly in me that I found the desire to speak to this same topic myself. Please check out the original post for additional information!

 

welly-boots-stuck-in-the-mudIf you read my last post, you know that my incessant whining about this current situation spurred my dear cousin to send me the book, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero, is certainly not your typical Christian self-help book. The concepts the author speaks of provide a very different world view than my less world-view Episcopal theology teaches, but for those who, like me, have struggled with low self-esteem, it speaks to my soul and has provided many wonderful nuggets of wisdom for takeaway.

One of these key nuggets for me was the reminder that God created me to be me. This doesn’t mean that I was created to be someone that I am not right now but could be if I hold my tongue right and say just the right prayer at just the right time. It doesn’t mean that I was created by God to be one thing and I screwed it up by making the wrong decisions and now I’m being punished.

God created me to be who I am knowing the circumstances I would encounter and the choices I would make. Sure, I have certainly made bad decisions and have had to suffer the consequences of those decisions. I also certainly have things I need to learn, experiences I need to go through, and changes that will need to be made in my life, but these are all opportunities to continue becoming the person God created me to be.

Did you catch that?999439e0ee372652827e62c47341512c

I am now exactly who God knew I would be at this point in time. My job at this point is to continue to allow God to show me His will for me and to continue to trust His will is perfect for my life.

This is not an easy prospect. At this point in time, I am scared. I worry about making my rent, paying my bills and what I will do if those things cannot be accomplished. I think about the day that I was blessed enough to volunteer at Metro Caring and wonder if the next person to make an appointment for food and assistance there will need to be me. I cry out to God wondering what it is that I need to be doing differently and wishing this part of journey would be easier.

I know that my current burden is not the worst thing that anyone could imagine. There are so many of you who are probably struggling with things much more life and death I nature and I’m sure you can agree that the easy thing would be to return to that place of being “stuck”; to curl up on my couch and just quit trying. As a Christian, it is my job and joy (and yours) to remember that there are steps I can take to move forward and not get lost on my journey toward becoming more of who God wants me to be. But sometimes that very prospect is enough to cause the stuck feeling to start all over again. Where is the stinking “Start” button!?

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I have found a few nuggets both in the above mentioned book and through other studies that might be helpful that I’d like to share:

  • STOP: Realize that despite where we are now, what’s done is done. It doesn’t do any of us any good to spend our time playing the “if only” or “what if” game. Yes, it’s only human to wonder how things could have been but the sooner we can move past that and accept things as they are the better!
  • MAKE ROOM: Get all of those emotions out of your heart and head and grieve the situation. Whatever the pain or struggle may be, cry, scream, rant and rave about it. Let it all out and make room for the good stuff to move in.
  • MAKE CONNECTIONS: Spend time with people who encourage, love and support you. Much as we like to think we are self-sufficient and can do this all on our own, we need one another and the sooner we can remember that, the sooner we can get moving again.
  • MAKE THE EFFORT: Make intentional efforts to get better. For me, I have reached out to people I know that can help me with the job hunt and can also just commiserate with me when the going is tough. Whatever it is you need – emotional support, training, spiritual direction or more practical assistance, take steps to help yourself.
  • MAKE TIME TO LISTEN: Whether it’s to our peers who can give us direction about what may have gotten us here in the first place, the doctors or care staff that can provide direction in getting healthy, or that still small voice that we hear but sometimes ignore, listen and remember. God sends His message to us in many forms. Be diligent in listening and then prayerfully consider each message to make sure you have discerned what God intends for you.
  • KNOW GOD IS WITH YOU: We are not alone in our struggles. Despite how it may feel, God does not abandon us in our times of struggle. He is with us and will give us the strength we need to walk the road we are on.

295eb217f04113075fbd1f4f74451fccGetting and staying stuck steals our joy, robs us of your potential and deceives us into thinking that life won’t ever be any different than it is at this moment. But God didn’t create us to be stuck. He provides the way for us through all of our struggles and strife and provides His word for us as a reminder that He is there to help. This doesn’t mean that the struggle is going to end as soon as you read this or read these scriptures or tomorrow when you wake up. What is does mean is that God knows the pain each and every one of us would suffer, he weeps and aches with us, and most importantly, He provided a way through. Reach up and grab that life ring!

Philippians 1:6, 2, Philippians 2:13, Romans 8:28-30, Psalm 138:8, 1 Peter 5:10.

Thy Will

img_8378It’s been 65 days.

65 days since the last day I had a job.

On May 27th I walked away from a job that I had with a company I had been with for 7 years (not counting the time I was laid off) in order to gain regain my physical and psychological health.

This is not something I did lightly or frivolously, but rather, after weeks of sitting at my desk in tears and pain due to the stress of a position I was not well suited for, I had to make a change.

I prayed. A lot.

I had others pray for me. A lot.

And I trusted that the unchanging voice that I heard in my head and my heart to move on was the Lord’s direction for me.

So why am I here 65 days later tearfully wondering what my next move needs to be? Did I make a mistake? Did I misunderstand what I heard the Lord saying to me? Or maybe I understood but the Lord wants me to struggle and doesn’t care how painful and difficult this is.

938bd21d42817829849196637694e8a4Believe me, thoughts like these and many other not so Christian thoughts have managed to permeate what I like to pretend is my impermeable faith. Day after day when the telephone doesn’t ring, application after application is rejected or interviews lead to nothing my spirit weakens a bit. Feelings of insecurity and inadequacy grow stronger and there are days when it takes all I have to get out of bed and try to find some purpose to the day.

Despite my trust that God is good, this doesn’t feel good. It feels like I’ve been forgotten.

It is hard to count this all joy when I am the only person that pays my bills and they don’t simply stop coming because things aren’t going well.

It is hard to trust when all I can see is the burdens of my life piling up with no end in sight.

And yes, I know that these burdens I have had in my life are often things I created; the result of acting out of fear or frustration rather than waiting for God. Am I being punished for my actions? Did I fall victim to the desire for worldly fulfillment and convince myself that God was telling me to move on when it was just my own selfish desire?

My heart says no.

As much as I’ve prayed about this and thought about whether I made a mistake leaving my job, I have never once felt regret. I have never once felt as though I should have stuck it out for a while longer; waited for the right opportunity to come out of the woods.

For me, this can only mean one thing.

I am right where I am supposed to be.d156e099580c5c191a34f7bad0e7f925

Ugh

That sucks.

That means that this struggle is part of His ultimate plan and His plan, being a God of love and compassion, is always good.

Sure doesn’t feel that way.

What it feels like is what Hillary Scott sings about in her song Thy WillAs a matter of fact, the first time I heard that song it felt like the words had been ripped out of my heart.

In her song, Ms. Scott cries out to God for the feelings of loss and pain she feels. She reflects to God that she feels she may never understand the plan He has in store for her or that her pain is part of the plan God has put in place for her.

I know this feeling so well! As I sit here completing my endless string of applications, I realize I may never understand why I have to go through yet another struggle like this; yet another time when I feel helpless, out of control and on the edge of losing everything. It feels like God is either rejoicing in my pain or simply oblivious to it.

Ms Scott’s song reminds me two very important things that I am very definitely grasping onto like buoys to get me through this storm.

First, God’s love is pure and His plan for me is and always will be good. My job is this time of struggle is to hold fast to that knowledge and prayerfully wait. That’s it. As hard as it is to want to try find a way to fix this, I have to wait…

…and hope I don’t miss the 5 vessels God has sent to save me.

Second, and most importantly, I have to remember God is God, not me. I know that may sound silly, but what I mean is that only He sees the bigger picture. He knows what’s around that blind corner that I can’t see and He knows what blessings await me.

It 51vazbc0yxlmeans that sometimes trying to sense God’s presence in my personal situations  is, as Chris Rice wrote, like trying to Smell the Color 9.

Sometimes I am not really supposed to understand what’s going on, I’m simply supposed to trust that His ways are perfect. I’m supposed to what Hillary Scott says and fall on my knees with the innocence of a child in prayer and say “thy will, Lord.”

That’s it.

It doesn’t have to be more eloquent than that nor more lengthy. In my time of pain and struggle, all I need to do is hand it over to God and say “thy will be done” and know that His will is perfect.

Does this mean that I will like the plan He has for me?

Nope.

But as I’ve said many times  before (but have a hard time remembering in times like this) It’s not about me.

It’s about God.

God never promised – or even suggested – that this life would be easy or joyful. That “count it65e7c27159cdd02251d005cddf556284 all joy” thing isn’t actually about me being happy, but rather about me taking the time to consider all of the opportunities and challenges that I am faced with to be a joy because they are being used for God’s purposes.

So as I head into day 66 of being jobless, I will choose to hand this all back to God and remember THY will, not MY will.

Wonder if I can get through the next hour remembering that? Here’s to hoping!

A Different Type of Independence

635954034872811688592040105_heart-rate-monitorI was 10 years old the first time someone saved my life.

My parents had recently divorced, my brother was no longer living with my mom and I and when he visited, the encounters were filled with anger and drunkenness from my mother’s side and anger and fear from my brother and my side (at least, I assume he was at least a little bit scared, but maybe I have projected that onto him all these years since).

My mom and I had moved to a new house where I was the new kid in school. I was awkward and shy, didn’t know anyone and had no idea how to fit in.

I needed an escape.

The small round tablets tasted sweet on my tongue as I swallowed handful after handful, waiting for the ache in my heart to disappear.

Like many young people who attempt suicide, death wasn’t really a concept I fully grasped and therefore not really what I wanted. I just wanted the soul-sucking ache in my heart to stop for just a little while.

I awoke under huge, glaring lights with what appeared to be dozens of people surrounding me, but it was likely only 3 or 4. I had overdosed and had fallen into a coma. I was in the hospital having undergone stomach pumping and a spinal tap. I was pelted with questions from every direction.

Why did I take the pills?

Had my brother made me take them?

What were they?

Where did I get them?

I did my best to answer all of the questions but trying to put my brokenness into words at the ripe old age of 10 was more than I knew how to do. I yearned for someone to see past the action itself and try to understand the aching of my heart; to see me and try to help.

Two people did.

Or maybe it was just one but he dragged his partner along.

I wish I remembered their names, but it, along with many other tidbits of my life has fallen away. But I do know that they were the drivers of the ambulance that carried me from one hospital to another (and suffered a kick to the groin in thanks for giving me a spinal tap). lifebuzz-8f27ab3a564f399b93978d77f25fef10-limit_2000

They came to visit me several times while I recovered in the hospital and somehow with their presence in my room, I felt they understood and my heart broke when they came to say their last goodbye.

I was 15 when I was saved once again.

I had been at rehearsal for a play – my first.

We had worked endlessly to perfect a dance number for the opening of Carnival and I was finally dropped off at home around midnight.

I recall clearly that the person who dropped me off told me she didn’t want to leave me at my house; that something was wrong. It was no secret that things at my house were often sketchy, but this was different. The entire look of the house was dark, foreboding.

I got out of the car telling my friend she could leave. Whatever was going to happen needed to happen.

Knowing what I know now, I’m not sure that my answer would have been the same.

The normal drunkenness which typically met me when I returned brought with it more violence this night than it ever had before. Had the chair I sat in not broken, I likely would not have survived the events that transpired.

Two days later, after telling my high school boyfriend of the terrible events, he and a dozen or so of his closest friends piled into 6 cars to drive me to my mother’s house and move me out.

To say I was terrified would be an understatement of tremendous proportion. I knew the potential violence that awaited me and warned every person that offered to help. I gave them strict orders to run if I said to and to not look back.

They got me out.

The move and the days that followed were so tremendously traumatic, I honestly do not know if I ever thanked the people who I believe helped to save my life that night.

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I was 39 the last time I was saved.

My marriage had ended and, as I’ve said before, I had nothing. A very loving and generous couple from the church with which I sang offered me their pool house to live in while I got my feet on the ground. Their kindness was a salve to my wounded heart and mind. I know that I was likely not the best tenant they had ever had and I am certain that I have never fully expressed my thanks in way that would let them know how truly grateful I am for their assistance.

All of these people – those that I knew and those I didn’t – sacrificially gave me something that nobody else could offer.

They gave me independence.

Independence from fear, from abuse, from homelessness and starvation.

Each and every one of them has a piece of my heart that will never be replaced by another. They were all physical representations of God’s love for me at those specific times and there is no way I can ever possibly repay them, so instead I choose to take this moment to express my gratitude.

Thank you for your sacrifices – monetary and otherwis – which you freely gave with no expectation of return.

For those known and unknown,thank you for believing I was worth saving and for working so hard to do so. Because you believed in me, I was able to believe a little bit as well.

Most of all, thank you for hearing that voice of God inside your hearts and heeding it so I could grow to become the person I am today. I realize I am far from “finished”, but your gifts were and continue to be blessings I carry forward with every opportunity.

I pray that as we enter into this celebration of the liberty of our country each of you know that I would gladly light up the sky with fireworks if it would give you a glimpse into my overflowing heart. Since I cannot do that, please think of me when you see those beautiful sparks fly and know that each and every one of them represents just a piece of the gratitude that I have for each of you.

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