Sunday, May 22, 2016

How to be steady, even when life happens.

My friends and I have a thing we say, "This is Life." I'm not trying to take 100% credit but I think I started it. Somebody has a situation at work, their four year old won't potty train, they go through a divorce, their baby gets sick. I've seen all of the above in the last few years. And every time, again, somebody says it "Wow, this is hard but... this is life." And everyone just has to nod in agreement, no matter how painful the situation is. Life happened. A bad and hurtful thing happened. We prayed, hoped, and believed but then the bad thing happened. Somehow it's strangely comforting to know 'life happens' to all of us. God isn't punishing us or teaching us a lesson. It's a universal truth... Just show me one person who has everything fall into place 100% of the time. Even Jesus said it!- "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Maybe our trouble isn't being martyred for our faith at the moment-- and it's important to keep the perspective that there are people around the world with bigger problems than we have-- BUT things can feel pretty hard at times. My goal in the midst of my life as it happens is to be faithful... to be still and steady. To believe Jesus when he said "Take heart! I have overcome the world!" and to grow even closer to Him than before.
When I was in college I thought it would be wise and fun to go into a strangers basement and allow him to tattoo my upper rib-cage. For some reason I chose Psalm 46:10- "Be still and know that I am God." I had no idea how meaningful it would be for me. In the past my personality has been one that wants to have some form of control over everything around me- my environment, relationships, appearance, etc. One day I woke up and realized I was going to drive myself crazy. Life happens, and you have no control over this world people hurt one another. In my most anxiety ridden moments I would try to talk and figure things out, manipulate and control my situations. Tears, silence and hysterics often ensued and they were my tools of the trade. Now I know none of that leads to a healthy place. My kids will misbehave, I have disagreements with my husband, and friends and I go through a misunderstandings. I have zero control over what others do, but what I can control is how I respond. When things go badly, as they do, God has been teaching me to be still... to know that he is God and he is safe, no matter what our circumstances look like around us. People fail us, we lose jobs, and everyone dies some day. BUT I know this- I don't have to be shaken by it. God has given me the ability to be still... not to panic or to become hysterical... but essentially to be an adult and one of the 7.2 billion people who will experience difficulty- and to come through still loving God and still loving the people around me. I can be happy in the midst of hard things, because I know He loves me and the plans He has for me are good. In this world I will have trouble, but I know I have the ability to take heart, to stand up and face tomorrow with a smile. I can be still when a storm is going on around me because even the wind and the waves obey Him (Mark 4:41).
Once when I was in the middle of a somewhat serious conflict, someone smiled and said to me "Jessica, this is not all a terrible disaster. This is life, honey, and you are going to make it and be just fine." Yes, it's a battle we're in and definitely a fight at times, but we are able to handle any situation we find ourselves in because God's ultimate plan is bigger than any of the struggles we'll face on this side of eternity. I thank Him for the supportive people around me- my husband and friends and family- and the encouragement they have provided throughout the ups and downs. We can hold on to truth and finish well, not avoiding pain but allowing it to teach us and push us closer to God.
This is life, and I'm determined to live mine with joy and peace, no matter my circumstance. Who's with me?

Encouraging Verses for Difficult Times:

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” Matthew 8:23-27

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

"He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10

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