Friday, February 7, 2020

Can we PLEASE begin again?

Can we please begin again?  I NEED a do-over! Have you ever been there before, friend?  Maybe you are there now? Was last year a wash for you? Are you a little anxious about this new year?  Are you hopeful for a new beginning, a fresh start, or maybe a new page to be written in the story of your life?  I don’t know about you, but I am!!! 

Last year didn’t go as I had expected!  It started out well, but… life can get in the way of our best intentions.  I had goals I was processing, plans I was making, and things I was hoping to do.   I was laser focused on being intentional, purposeful, and so forth. My “WORD” for the year was RELENTLESS.  Word… What word?  Some of you may be a little confused.  Some people like to choose a word to focus on for the year to keep them moving forward toward their goals.  RELENTLESS was mine. “Relentless” can be described as this…

never ceasing, persistent, continual, unrelenting,
determined, unyielding, unstoppable, stubborn, and incessant.  

Yep, I guess now that I think about it,  that could describe my last year. No matter how many times I felt knocked down, I kept getting back up.  I kept moving forward. At times, I moved slowly, but FORWARD is the only direction I purposed to go. Why? Why did I not allow the seemingly challenging times I faced to paralyze me or turn me around in a different direction?  I believe it was God’s fault. I didn’t know any other direction to go.

When I look back across my life I see God’s fingerprints all over it.  He led me, guided me, comforted me, and encouraged me all along my journey with Him and continues to do so today.  I was never alone. Since the day I invited Him to become a part of my story, things changed and definitely for the better!  He wrapped me in His love and filled my life with HOPE. He gave me purpose, direction, and a reason to look hopeful toward my future no matter how bleak it seemed to others.

When we surrender our lives to God,
He doesn’t promise us a life
filled with rainbows and lollipops. 

Everything won’t be perfect from that moment forward (Even though I wish it would!).  His promise is that we will never be alone.  We won’t have to do life alone! He will be there to walk through the ups and downs of life with us. He will carry us when we don’t have the strength to push forward, hold our hand when we feel anxious, and pull us close when we are afraid. God has never abandoned me! He has ALWAYS been there for me in good times and bad.

Last year was disappointing for me personally.  Many things contributed to this...
I had ongoing health issues… I struggled with side effects from medication, I found out that I had bone spurs in both heels (which caused excruciating pain as I walked), and I got a concussion from slipping on water on my living room floor (causing migraines, light and noise sensitivity, trouble processing things, sleep issues, and so forth).  The concussion caused many limitations for me. I had to wear sunglasses all the time (inside and outside), I couldn’t be around noisy places or it made me feel nauseous (Going to Walmart was off limits… too bright and noisy for me. LOL), and I couldn’t sit in church during the sermon time, read, study, or watch any movies with any type of suspense in them. Basically anything I had to sit and think about or process triggered severe headaches. Needless to say, my time on my phone and computer was very limited too.

It was a very challenging season for sure! If that wasn’t enough, I had low iron issues which required minor surgery (lady stuff… TMI. Believe me, you don't want to know. LOL). Afterwards, as I was attempting to recover, I acquired a series of infections that lingered longer than normal.  Over the course of my year, I had meltdowns, emotional challenges, and frustrating moments. I was spent. My family was beyond supportive and encouraging during everything, but sometimes that isn’t enough. 

When life isn’t going the way we hope and it feels like everything is crashing down all around us, which way do we go? WHO do we turn to for comfort and support?

One thing I have learned along my journey is that even when my life feels very out of control, God has things under control.  He is there. I'm not alone.

When I don’t understand and things don’t make sense. I trust HIM! When I can’t see an end in sight to relieve my pain, discomfort, or emotional heartache, I trust HIM

I keep moving FORWARD toward Him. My pace may be slower or different (depending on the season or difficult time), but my destination is crystal clear to me. I'm moving FORWARD! I want to do my best to move closer to my greatest source of strength… My Savior!  

To say in the midst of all of this that I don’t struggle is an understatement.  I most definitely struggle. I just choose to struggle differently. I struggle through.  I push forward to the other side of my difficulty keeping my laser focus FORWARD on what God has ahead for me.   I do what I can at the time to stay connected to Him.  If I can’t go to church, I try to watch a service online or listen to sermons on my phone.  If I can’t read the Bible, I listen to it. If I can’t pray the way I want, I listen to worship music and soak in the songs of prayer being lavished on God.  

The point is this... don’t allow your struggle to become an excuse to walk away from God.   I heard a quote years ago that still resonates with me today...

“When you wonder where God is or why you can't hear His voice in the midst of your trials or difficulties remember this... The teacher is always quiet during the test.”

This is SO true!  Everything has always become more clear for me on the other side of my struggle.  Even though my year was not a stellar year in my eyes, God was there.  He met me in my moments of frustration (feeling helpless to fix things), He filled my heart with peace as I faced the next challenge ahead of me, and consumed me with His presence as I put one foot in front of the other attempting to move closer to Him (despite my obstacles).  As I walked in surrender (trusting Him with the outcome of my current frustration), He used each struggle or challenge I faced as an opportunity to open doors to expose His love to others.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says this...

“My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you. So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can live in me. For this reason I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles for Christ. Because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.”

I have found that God is magnified MOST through me, when I surrender my struggles to Him.  In my weakest (surrendered moments), people see God MORE clearly through my life and are drawn to Him.  It’s not easy, but in the end God leverages all of our seemingly horrible moments in life for good. Nothing is wasted with God!

Are you struggling today as you look back over the past year?  Was it a year full of regrets and frustration over what could have been?  Let’s begin again, friend! Let’s look hopeful toward a new year full of possibilities.  I don’t know about you, but I need a fresh start!

Living to leave a legacy,