For the first time in a long time, I woke up with my spirit at peace. The past five years have been rough. I have fought demons in every area of my life. I have struggled to love my husband, remain a giving mother, be a Godly woman, grow in my faith, keep good character, discover my passion, rekindle my purpose, and come to terms with my faults and struggles. My life had been jacked up for so long, I was living on auto-pilot. And to keep myself from feeling pain, I simply built up walls to block the hurt. I have been living two individual lives. On the outside, I portrayed having it all together. That I was a strong woman, relying on God. On the inside, I was a lost, scared, numb soul waiting for the bottom to drop out at any moment. I lived my life trying to please everyone around me and reassure them that I didn’t need support. My heart was becoming hard and I was quickly losing ground for my passion to loving others. I was in a sad place, trying to understand why I was dealt the crappy cards. I had given up on doing good and being the understanding, nice girl. I was sick of being used, abused and stepped on. I was at the point of turning away from all my relationships, which included God. I am so thankful that God is a merciful and understanding one. Through my struggle and heartache over these years, I have learned to never give up and be patience as God does his thing.
Maybe I was becoming “spiritually cocky?”
Here is a little background of my church life. When I was a kid, my parents didn’t attend church on a regular basis, but I was lucky to have an aunt and uncle and grandma who did. Not that I attended every Sunday, but I definitely feel that for a kid who’s parents weren’t involved in church, my attendance was very good. I accepted Christ when I was 10 years old and was baptized shortly after that. I participated in VBS, programs, Sunday school and even sang in worship a time or two. Oh, and I got to play Mary in a Christmas program. Best performance by a 13-year-old ever! Church never made me uncomfortable and I always felt part of God’s family. And even though my parents didn’t attend church, they did instill in me God’s love in their own unique ways. I was never mad or angry at my parents for not attending church. They were always supportive and allowed me to attend whenever I wanted. I am thankful for that. And on a side note, I am proud to say that both my parents now are strong followers of Christ. As I grew older, as most teenagers do, I drifted away from church. I felt God was always protecting me, as a matter of fact, I know he was because I did some pretty stupid things as a teen and young adult. (Heck, I still do stupid things to this day.) After I had my oldest daughter and got married, I attended church regularly. Church has been a part of my life consistently since. I can look back a see when my faith was strong and also see when my faith was weak.
I always felt on a spiritual level that my foundation was sturdy. I have always believed in God and his miracles. I have witnessed God’s miraculous power numerous times. Not just in my own life, but in the lives of others. I study my Bible. I pray numerous times a day. I worked at a church. I have defended my beliefs to the point of anger. I help others in need. I don’t litter. I hold the door open of strangers. (Insert chuckle here.) All my actions show I love and fear God, so there is no reason God won’t answer my prayers right away. I must be highly favored. I have the God thing covered. At least I thought I did. Maybe I was becoming “spiritually cocky” and I needed to be brought back down to reality. And after looking back on the past few years, regardless of my background and what I thought was a strong foundation, didn’t mean anything when I felt God was not giving me what I deserved when I wanted it.
God doesn’t want me to carry anything. That’s his job. My job is to simply believe.
I am sure you’ve heard the saying, “God won’t put more on your shoulders than you can carry.” That one seems to be the go to when someone doesn’t know what to say to someone’s problem or situation. And when you are in a very dark and rocky place, hearing such a phrase can push you deeper into a pit of despair. Let’s go back to the saying, “God won’t put more on your shoulders than you can carry.” Think about that statement for a second. I have grown up hearing those words over and over. But the more I think about those words, I don’t think that statement is true. Why would a God who loves me ever want me to carry any type of struggles and burdens? When I started breaking down this statement, my mind immediately went to this verse, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. That verse is telling me to give my worries, troubles, fears and doubts to God. And that got me thinking, God doesn’t want me to carry anything. That’s his job. My job is to simply believe and trust he will get me through the storms of this broken world. God’s arms are open and ready to take away our troubles, sins and quilt associated with it. He doesn’t use them to add weight and pressure to our lives.
I began to think maybe I was a modern day Job or something, wondering when is the good going to show up.
About five months ago, I had finally decided to give up on praying for things I had been praying for the past five years. I did not have the strength left in me to continue worrying, crying, wishing and asking God to fix the issues I had been dealing with. I was at the point where I didn’t care anymore what happened. I was just going to focus on my needs and what I wanted to do and no longer put forth the effort. And just being real here, I began to seriously doubt God. The same God that has came to my rescue so many times throughout my life, the one I have stood up and defended, the one I put my hope and trust. The God I would pray to and read about every single day. I doubted. I began to think maybe I was a modern day Job or something, wondering when is the good going to show up. I was mentally, emotionally and physically drained and tired of asking God to change things and nothing happening. I simply stopped praying. I closed my Bible and the let the dust collect. I got rid of all my devotionals and God-related books. I no longer cared. I will carry these burdens myself, in my own arms, on my own shoulders.
After this self revelation, nothing changed. In fact, things got increasingly worse. My hate grew. My tolerance level decreased by the day. I was angry and felt like I had no direction or guidance. And sadly, I didn’t even care. I went through each day like a zombie. I didn’t want to come home after work and deal with the stress waiting for me. Finally, the bottom I had worked so hard not to drop from underneath me, crumbled like rotted wood. At first, I felt a sense of relief. All the things I had been keeping inside were finally out in the opened. I was filled with so much anger and bitterness, I become someone I didn’t recognize. The storm I had been trying to keep at bay had reached the shore and hell was about to break loose. It did and did quickly.
God did answer my prayers, but showed up in a way I didn’t see coming.
The great part about my story is as fast as my world crashed, it was restored. The five years I spent praying, God heard every single plea, caught all my tears and covered me with his grace and love. I just couldn’t see the big picture. And the way God has worked in this situation has completely blown my mind. God did answer my prayers, but showed up in a way I didn’t see coming. It’s like Peter and the disciples on the boat. Jesus had just got done feeding the 5,000. Peter and the disciples witness a miracle of Jesus busting out enough food to feed this crowd with a couple fish and loaf of bread. They knew Jesus was a rock star. And just minutes after that miracle, Jesus told the disciples to get on a boat. They got on that boat, while Jesus went to the mountain to pray. I am sure he needed to regroup after such an event. While they were out on the water, a storm developed and freaked the disciples out. They had already forgotten the incredible miracle they were part of a short time before. From the mountain, Jesus saw their fear and decided to blow their minds once again. He walked on the water out to them and told them not to be afraid. Peter wasn’t sure if it was really Jesus and said, “Lord if it is really you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus told him to come. Peter took that first step out on the rough water. I think he probably took about three steps when a huge gust of wind hit him, he realized what he was doing and removed his eyes from Jesus. That’s when he started to sink. And right before he went under he cried out to Jesus for help. Then bam….Jesus reached out and grabbed Peter. I can’t help but think Jesus chuckled while he said, ““You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
I can so relate to Peter. I have seen God do many amazing things, yet when a storm comes I seem to forget all the good. It’s easy to love God when he does what we want him to do. It’s also easy for doubt to creep in when we feel he isn’t listening or doing what we think he should do. One thing I am reminded of is that Jesus always speaks during the storm. So when we are dealing with times of trouble, that is the time to listen and put into action the things we’ve always said we believed in. After looking back on these past five years, I have discovered all the pain and tears were not done in vain. I no longer feel that I was going through this trail to be punished, but to be prepared. God wasn’t going to change my circumstances, but he was going to change me.
Having a relationship with Christ is not easy. There are going to be days that suck so bad you wonder if it is even worth the effort. But think about it like this, how can we really think everything is going to be roses and rainbows if we love Jesus, when Jesus had to suffer on the cross to save us? And I don’t care how much Bible knowledge you have or how many times a week you attend church. Or if you lead a Bible study, volunteer every day at a soup kitchen or tithe $1000 a month, you will go through seasons of doubt. Even Pastors have doubt. Every…single…person…will experience doubt in their relationship with God. And doubt can come in many forms. For me, it was the doubt that God even heard my prayers. For some it could be the doubt that God loves them because of sin. Or the doubt that God can really heal or even want to heal a loved one. Doubt could come in the form of low self-esteem or not feeling good enough for God’s love. And what is hard for us, as humans, is we can’t see the entire picture of our lives and how things are going to play out, but God can.
Jesus might not get there when we want him to get there, but he is always watching.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be as happy as I am today. As dark as things were only weeks ago, I never imagined the peace and joy that has been restored in my heart. I had given up on God, but he never gave up on me or the desires of my heart. And just like the disciples learned the night out in the storm, Jesus might not get there when we want him to get there, but he is always watching, waiting to rescue us when he feels the time is right. I pray that I never forget this lesson when other storms develop in my life. God works for the good to those who believe and just because we can’t see Jesus’ hands doesn’t mean he isn’t there ready to take away whatever burdens you have on your shoulders.
Here are the key things I want you to get from this post.
- God only wants good things for our lives.
- When life starts to suck, that is when we need to stop and listen. Remember, God speaks during the storm.
- Never stop praying no matter how hard it gets.
- God can see the overall picture of our life. He is all knowing, past – present – future. His timing is perfect, even when we think we need him to answer our prayers on our time.