NAVIGATING A SEASON OF STRUGGLE
I love looking back on seasons of life; I could never have predicted what they would be. All the pieces that have to fit together perfectly to create the present just amazes me. The outcome sometimes isn't even clear or relevant until years down the road -those ah-ha moments are so cool though! Each season is totally necessary for creating the heart, mind, and circumstances that lead to my greatest accomplishments. That's right, even those pesky rough patches. The times of trouble are just as important as moments of success. Of course, we get a front row seat to our circumstances, so it can be almost impossible to see past the roadblock staring us in the face. If I could just take a step back, there's a bigger picture, a greater plan, and a light shining just over the horizon! I wish I discovered this while patting myself on back after a well-earned accomplishment, but I found it through a sea of tears and self-doubt. But those tears caught a glisten and without them, I might have missed this all together- there is a bright side to struggle!
In the moment, simply said... struggle sucks. It's dark, confusing, hopeless and pretty much paralyzing, At least that's what it looks for me. Once I'm on the other side, it's clear as day how circumstantial and necessary it was. Each little valley is the base of a unique mountain to climb, looking a little different with its very own purpose. My struggles are a signal of opportunity and the climb is when passion and motivation finally kick in and drive the desire to change and reach for it.
“He whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our consciousness, but shouts in our pains.” C.S. Lewis
I've been in valleys of selfishness, materialism, and discipline (still climbing out of this one...) but without hitting that rock bottom so to say; I wouldn't have had a name for my weaknesses and frustrations. I'd be trotting right along wondering why I'm unsatisfied with my habits, finances and personal growth. You could say struggle is like a wake-up call to a mission ahead. I like to think of a plant that has to be cut back. At the time, it seems painful and ugly but from it, a beautiful new branch stems out to bear fruit. There is a purpose behind our troubles and greater things ahead with each one!
In November this past year, I hit a wall. It was abrupt, tall and knocked me right off my feet. I've walked through gradual hardship but this time it was a swift slap in the face- lovely right? Here's what happened.... My work, time and resources were being exhausted for the wrong reason. When I started this blog, it was to be a fun place to spread joy. I realized last fall I completely derailed. I was putting 100% of myself toward keeping up instead of creating what felt good and right. Everything was cool, and enjoyable but it had no purpose! It's a strange moment when you realize months of hard work moved you no closer to your goals. By strange, I mean.... completely overwhelming! I didn't know where to start or how to climb out of this dark hole I dug myself into. I definitely didn't see any sort of bright side...at first. But once I named my valley, I knew what this season of struggle was unavailing and how to start climbing.
NAME YOUR VALLEYS
I'm an external processor, I like to talk and share – clearly. When these overwhelming feelings settle in to stay, there were 4 things I did to process them and motivate my will to start climbing.
In times of uncertainty, excitement or really any elevated feeling at all, I like to talk. I pour it out to my husband or call my friend Melody so I can really dive in and see what is up. It’s almost like I have to get it out before it gets bigger – if you’re the quiet type you may not relate but I honestly think I might burst sometimes if I don’t. I find freedom in saying out loud in a safe environment and bringing in that added layer of accountability to walk through it with. When I hold it in and push it down, I’m simply giving it control and the chance to grow and spill over into other parts of my life. Bring it to the light, say it out loud, and stop it in its tracks.
The phrase wrestling with prayer comes to mind here. Outside of my usual good morning God and bedtime prayers, I let loose and surrendered. Earnestly asking why I'm here, what I can learn and how I can grow. Seeking His guidance, following His will and embracing His grace through some good one-on-one time.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
I tried journaling for the first time... woah! Tip from talking it out with Melody. I didn't realize how many thoughts, concerns, and plans I had until I actually wrote them all out. Instead of trying to keep them in check, All. Day. Long. I wrote them down, taking the weight off my shoulders and onto the pages. Personally, it helped me process the jumbled feelings I had into actual words. I finally knew what to call them! Purpose. Fear. Failure. Unique. Community.
I was creating what I thought people wanted to see; content with proof of success. I wasn't spreading joy, love or encouragement. I was spending and blending. Creating a season of struggle that would shine a light these mistakes. Thank goodness!
This actually surprised me! For like a month straight, each podcast and sermon I listened to seemed to speak right into my sea of trouble and circumstances. I'll list some of my favorites!
If you're not dead yet, God's not done yet!
"I am doing a great work and I cannot come down" Nehemiah 6:3
What if the struggle is actually showing up, to help you show up?
“If Satan can’t make you bad, he'll make you busy.”
Joy is founded on something that is unchanging.
I had to process it; journaling, praying, holding onto the peace of purpose and joy. Struggle doesn't have to bring despair; with the peace of a greater purpose… it's an opportunity! Y'all, we get a chance to grow and become a truer version of who we were created to be. One joyful step closer to Jesus! There is no promise that the step will be easy but it will be worth it! Life is a series of peaks and valleys and while the valleys may look dark its a signal of the brightness to come. The start to a better you and on top of a peaceful new peak.
PICTURES BY THE LOVELY ANNA AHERN
THIS COZY SWEATSHIRT IS FROM ANOTHER LOVE CLOTHING – THEY HAVE THE SOFTEST CLOTHES EVER!