Ever feel like life is against you, that no matter how hard you try, something or someone keeps pushing you down? After a while, you’re emotionally scraped, battered and bruised. You may feel like you can only get back up so many times and brush yourself, right? I mean who wouldn’t get worn out from standing up, dusting themselves off and getting another blast right away finding themselves flat on the ground again or worse, deeper in a pit?
I’ve been through this season time and again. Going through it right now actually. Each time I fight hard to get out of the pit, to overcome feelings of despair and discouragement. Each time I say to myself, “You should be an expert at this so why is this bothering you so much?” I strap on my shield faith and remind myself that God is in control, His ways are better than my ways, His timing is perfect, etc. But the darts thrown seem to get sharper and come at me harder and faster than the other times. I feel myself physically, emotionally and spiritually weakening. I deal with it through a variety of “Go-To’s.”
First-I lose my temper. Then I cry. Sometimes these happen simultaneously. I wake up at 2:30am multiple nights in a row wrestling with worry, fear and anxiety. Sometimes despair shows up, throws a party in my mind and I just sink lower and lower. Despair usually brings the gift of uncontrollable sobs. I use pride as a defense mechanism but everyone knows that’s a false tool of the enemy so in reality all I have done is grabbed a hold of his flaming dart and stabbed it into myself.
Another go-to of mine is gossiping. I’m embarrassed to admit it but I have shared some hurtful moments way too many times and spoken angrily about my offenders to ears that didn’t need to hear any of it. I tell myself I’m just venting but that’s merely masking what it really is. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:29 (NLT) “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” And Proverbs 17:9 says, “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends” Whether you choose to think you’re venting or admit that you’re gossiping, Proverbs 17:9 clearly spells out that dwelling on the offense brings unforgiveness and separation. Two more things I am guilty of because honestly, venting/gossiping has never helped me forgive my offender. It does however help me to hold a grudge, sink deeper in a pit of self-pity and drive a wider wedge between my offender and me.
My last go-to is usually prayer and surrender to God. But again-if I’m being honest, this doesn’t come easily or with a happy heart. It’s usually more in the form of a toddler after they’re worn out from a throwing a fit and they surrender from exhaustion with the “Fine, have it your way” attitude. This kind of attitude doesn’t grow my faith or get me out of the pit. It just keeps me stuck. And boy have I been stuck for years!
Over the past couple of years, I believe God has spoken different words to me that were my focus for that year. In 2015 He spoke the word Refinement to me and it was a year that felt like I was being melted down in a hot fiery furnace into a liquid blob. Last year He spoke the word Trust. I learned that trusting God was like closing your eyes and jumping off a cliff trusting He would catch me. In fact, toward the end of 2015 I did that exact thing…ok it was a zip line but there was a short free fall before my harness caught me and I screamed like a school girl! The scariest part (even though the instructor told me what was going to happen) was taking that step off the platform and going through the free fall. I didn’t know it then but God was showing me what trusting Him is like before He spoke the word to me.
This year God is telling me to Believe. I came into 2017 with this naïve thought that this was going to be a big year for me-the year I get all my ducks in a row and finally get out of the pit of feeling stuck. I designed a budget to get some debt paid off. I spent New Year’s Eve in prayer committing to leaving behind the character flaws I know I need to shed in order to move into what God has for me. I thought believing God at His word would be easy since I had just endured 365 days of learning how to trust Him. I. Was. Wrong!
In mid-January I was hit with a financial burden that shook me. I know everybody has financial issues at certain points in their life but I think mine was so upsetting because it blew my entire plan of budgeting tighter and paying off debt. I had a back-up plan though. Someone owed me a dollar amount that almost matched the deficit I experienced and I thought, “If they pay me what they owe me I’ll be just fine.” I prayed for this provision daily. But that didn’t happen and truth be told my heart hardened. Instead, God provided me with His daily manna and taught me to trust Him in the seconds, minutes and hours of each day instead of “worrying about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34 NLT). He used amazing people in my life to bless me and my children in the most unexpected ways (ask me about the offer of about 6 blow dryers some time. Ha! Ha!) When anxiety swelled up and frustration built, the word Believe kept flashing through my mind. I had to tell myself aloud regularly that God promises to be faithful and that I had to choose to believe Him at His word even when I couldn’t see what He was doing, even when He didn’t answer my prayer the way I wanted Him to.
Even though I am on the upside of that financial burden, believing God is still not coming naturally to me. I have been trying to change my career for some time now only to repeatedly get rejected. I have a pending application as a graduate student at a highly reputable university and recently told I have to take the GRE for any further consideration. Do you know that costs $205 and is the most ridiculously difficult test on the planet? Ok, that last part may be my own opinion but it is a very challenging test. I have plans to run in a 5K but training for it feels impossible when the longest I can run consecutively is a minute and 30 seconds. I then have to walk as I attempt to catch my breath in order to try running again. I still desire to have debt paid off this year but got hit with two major repairs during and immediately after January’s financial hardship, increasing my debt actually. If that’s not enough, I have people in my life who are petty, cruel at times, arrogant and disrespectful. And some of them I have to deal with daily. Why is all this happening? Because the best way for me to believe God is to trust Him as He walks with me through the fiery trials, allowing Him to continue to refine and purify me, plucking off the branches that don’t produce fruit and molding me into His image.
This morning, while traveling to work, a passing vehicle threw mud so hard it splattered across the side of my vehicle making my driver side window completely muddied. I immediately thought, “That is exactly how I feel right now-just getting heaps of mud thrown at me and the people throwing it don’t even care.” That’s when God spoke to me and said, “Cease striving and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10 NASB). He gave me flash of Joseph when his brothers threw him into a pit and sold him into slavery. What God was saying was, “Stop fighting, stop holding on to the frustrations you’re carrying and STOP trying to fix this all on your own.” He also promised that, “I am Your God who is going with you! I will fight for you against your enemies and I will give you victory! (Deuteronomy 20:4 NLT)” I don’t know how God will deliver me from my enemies or this pit but I know He will because I believe His word. It never fails. In fact, the first three verses of Psalm 40, David stands on this promise, “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”
If you’re going through this season too-remember this. You’re not alone. You’re not defeated and God will deliver you. In Taylor Swift’s song, “Shake it Off”, we’re told that “haters gonna hate, fakers gonna fake and heart breakers gonna break.” The singer chose to shake it all off-the hate, the fake and the heartbreak. That’s not always easy to do. Sometimes need to cry it out too. Whatever you’re go-to is, make sure you’re also praying it out, giving it up to God and believing Him at His word. Read Psalm 61 and 62 daily for a week (advice given to me just last week and one I am putting into practice this week) and see how much your belief increase!