Experiencing Joy After Hardship

After being out of school for a year and trying to figure out what the Lord wanted me to do, I finally got a job! I started my new job working in corporate security at a energy company downtown Houston this past week. No, it has nothing to with my degree (biblical counseling), but I know the Lord can still use me in a great way. And, maybe, I will even get to use what I have learned in some way.

This past year (especially the past 4-5 months) has been one of the most difficult for me. I did not really experience a horrible event or anything like that. It was just one of those times of being overwhelmed with confusion and feeling at a complete loss of what the Lord’s will was for my life. I was plagued with feelings of loneliness and doubt of what my purpose was. I prayed continually for some direction, but never felt the Lord leading or even answering my prayers at all. Far Away by Lecrae and Never Alone by BarlowGirl were my theme songs. I knew the Lord was there because He has made that promise (Matt. 28:20, Rom. 8:38-39, Heb. 13:5-6), but I was not directly seeing or feeling it.

Even through all of this, however, I do not think there has ever been a time of more growth spiritually and in maturity (yes, I am still goofy and crazy acting at certain times). My relationship with the Lord has reached a new depth that I have never experienced before. He used that low point in my life to teach me so many things and help me grasp a greater understanding of what it means to be godly. I am so thankful for those difficult months because they really were a great blessing.

Now, the Lord is bringing me out of that and leading me to a completely new point in life. I can see now how everything over the past year has led up to this specific time in my life. He has such a great plan for me and experiencing that time of sorrow and doubt was definitely a big part of His plan. I can’t help but be so excited about how He is working in my life. I have literally been smiling (almost) the entire past week. I experienced tears of sadness, but now I am experienced tears of joy. And, let me tell you, those times of hardship make these times of happiness so much more sweet.

He has already brought some precious friends in my life here, and I am so excited to get to know them better and see how the Lord works through us. And, He has already started moving my heart towards ministry opportunities and I can’t wait to see Him work all of that out. I am just astounded at how faithful the Lord truly is! There were definitely times that I wasn’t sure how He could ever work it out for my good. I didn’t see any possibility of good coming out of my situation. But, here I am completely reassured that He really does work everything out for our good. In fact, those ‘bad’ times really are good for us and it has been so amazing to see Him reveal that!

So, if you are experiencing a hard time right now do not lose hope! I know it is so hard to see any good in it, but trust in the Lord. He has a specific purpose for everything that happens. He has a special plan for you and He is using this time in your life to fulfill that plan. Use this time to focus on Him and all that He may be teaching you. One day you will see how all of it was part of His amazing and perfect will!

May He be glorified through us, during both good times and bad (and even those in between)!

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Dealing with Disappointment and Feelings of Inadequacy

So, the past few weeks I have not been in the best mood. Grumpy is the word I like to use. When I am grumpy, it is never good for those around me. Fortunately, I have not been around many people recently, and when I have been I have tried to not let my attitude affect them. But, of course, I am a sinner and have failed a few times miserably trying to be gentle and kind. I have really been praying for a change in attitude and have been seeking the Lord daily on this issue and my feelings.

Lately, I have really had an overwhelming sense of feeling inadequate and unimportant. I’m 26, single, unemployed, and living with my parents. All things that don’t really make ya feel so awesome and warm inside. But, this is not some recent emotion I have encountered.┬áMost of my life I have struggled with this issue, but recent circumstances have brought all of these old feelings and emotions to the surface and in a big way. I have always known in my heart that I am important and loved by God, and I truly believe that. But, when it comes to people, I have seldom felt really important or loved. I have never been a priority to anyone (underneath God, of course). I have been let down so many times in friendships and relationships and, let me tell ya, that is never a confidence or self-esteem booster. Of course, I don’t want to gauge my self-importance on what others do and say, but it still is not the best to feel that you aren’t really that important to others.

So, you may be thinking, “what about your family?” Yes, I was blessed with an amazing family. They have all shown love to me and made me feel important, most of the time (especially my mom). I praise the Lord for that, because I know that is not the case for many people. I do not want to make the mistake of sounding like I am ungrateful for the blessings the Lord has given me. He has blessed me beyond what I deserve, and I understand that. But, even those of us with blessed backgrounds struggle with various things, and mine just happens to be feelings of inadequacy.

Ok. So, I do, sometimes—ok, ok—all the time, set my self up for disappointment. It’s like my thing or something. I always try to guard against it, but it never fails. Something good will come along, and my mind starts going crazy—dreaming and planning of great things to come. Of course, give it some time and *burst!* my plans and dreams are blown up into a million pieces. Sometimes I see it coming and sometimes it comes out of no where. But, every time, it brings such big disappointment.

Some people say, “you are just expecting too much out of people and situations.” And, maybe there is some truth in that. But, goodness, shouldn’t I have some expectations? Yes, people let you down. I have much experience in that area. And, almost all of those that have disappointed me in the past are Christians. Yes, I realize even Christians are sinners and make mistakes. But, I don’t want to just always have to default to that. “Oh, well, they are just human, it’s ok that they let me down.” I don’t think we should just expect everyone to fail all of the time, letting people off the hook and giving them a pass to act less respectable than they should.

(Side note- I am a sinner and fail a lot. I know I have let people down in the past and have hurt some feelings. I am not trying to sound like a Saint here, because I know I need some booty-yes, i said booty- kicking just as much as others.)

Yes, I think there is a danger in having too high of expectations. But, I think there is equally high danger in not having expectations at all. We should expect much out of Christians. I should expect much out of myself, knowing that sin will occur. Mistakes will be made. People will be hurt by other people. But, as Christians, we should strive to be Christ-like. We should strive for godliness. And, we should hold each other accountable to that. Standing side by side with each other, pushing each other to excellence, and picking each other up when failure occurs.

I think about my feelings of unimportance, remembering all the times I have been let down. Remembering the hurt I felt at that time, and the hurt I still feel about it. Thinking that I don’t really matter that much, that somehow I just don’t measure up. But, then I think: What am I doing about it? Am I just going to sit here and sulk or am I going to take action against it? Am I guarding myself against letting others down? Am I letting people know their importance to me? Am I seeking out God’s love, receiving it and pouring it out? Am I encouraging my brothers and sisters to do the same?

I still feel the sting of past hurts, some greater than others. But, instead of using that hurt to throw a pity party for myself, I am going to use the hurt to make me stronger. I am going to use it to fuel my passion and desire for God’s love. I am going to use it to make sure I am not hurting others.

Yes, I will fail at times. And, I know I will still experience let down in the future. But, thankfully, I serve a loving God that never fails. He will forgive me when I make mistakes, and will comfort me when I am disappointed.

Lord, may I continually praise you for your unfailing ways, glorifying you in all I do!