Life Lessons Learned Through #TheStruggle

Feb 22, 2013

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In the past 2 years, God revealed some things to me that I would not have received if everything had gone according to my plans. He humbled me tremendously in order to gain my undivided attention. The problem was that I had allowed our relationship to take the form of a therapist/patient arrangement, in that, I called Him when I needed Him to fix something, give me what I needed, but otherwise failed to listen and engage in the fellowship necessary to build our relationship.

A couple years and several trials later, I'm a LOT wiser and I have a completely different outlook on things. So, I thought I'd share some of the lessons that I learned in hopes of encouraging and uplifting anyone who may need it, yahmean?!

Trust God completely.
I've learned that sometimes you have to undergo a season of waiting, where trust becomes your greatest asset (lest you go crazy).  It's a period of time characterized by a lack of control, where everything seems to be conspiring against you and your plans; meanwhile, (it appears that) your peers are succeeding and with relative ease. 

I obtained my bachelor's degree from UNC Chapel Hill, which consistently ranks in the top five among public universities (#1 in value), and yet, I was jobless for over a year after graduation.  Trying to enroll in classes with no money to pay for 'em, only to be denied admittance by many of the grad schools that I applied to because I couldn't complete the prerequisite classes that I needed. It felt like I was running in a hamster wheel, g. And despite being a member of the Boomerang Generation, I felt like a failure because, theoretically, I was supposed to walk across the graduation stage immediately into my career, while preparing to get married and have children soon thereafter.

The only thing that kept me from collapsing under the weight of my worries, disappointments and self-doubt was to trust God's provision and seek comfort in His promises.

Memory verse:
Jeremiah 29:11-13

Broaden and deepen your understanding of "self" and "success."
I've learned NOT to base my identity off of comparisons to other people. Who I am isn't determined by my successes and failures, or my ability to adhere to an imaginary timeline of achievements that says you're supposed to do THIS by x-age, and THAT by y-age. Instead, my identity is rooted in a God who has already declared me worthy of love, respect, forgiveness, etc. When I demonstrate Christ's love by sharing The Good News with others, affirming their uniqueness and idiosyncrasies; when I love my neighbor as myself; when I forgive those who've wronged me; when I show compassion for the sick and sorrowful; when I commit myself to justice for the oppressed--when God says He is pleased with me--THAT is when I consider myself "successful."

Similarly, I learned NOT to view MY blessings as a reaction to what others lack. At some point we've all used the following phrase as a coping mechanism during hard times: "My situation is not what I want, but it could be a lot worse."  That totally misses the point! We were all created with purpose, and equipped with unique gifts, talents, opportunities, energy, relationships, and resources to be effective in that purpose.  Don't get distracted trying to reach a place of "success" that was never suited for you and your unique gifts in the first place. "Anytime you reject any part of yourself, you are rejecting God's wisdom and sovereignty in creating you. You don't bring glory or pleasure to God by hiding your abilities or by trying to be someone else. You bring him enjoyment by being you."

Memory verses:
2 Corinthians 5:17
Psalm 37:5-6

Glory in tribulations.
This doesn't mean front and put on a fake smile and say, "I'm so thankful for hard times!" It means, having the ability to praise God in the midst of whatever I'm going through. God uses everything for good in our lives. Your character is developed by trials, which build patience, perseverance, and hope.  Your character is also revealed by trials, and when coupled with honest self-reflection, allow you to see what your strengths and weaknesses are.

Memory verse:
Romans 8:28

Iron sharpens iron. 
I learned to be wary of people who want to make friends just for the sake of having more friends. Relationships, romantic or otherwise, must be about something other than the friendship itself.  It must be rooted in something that all parties are committed to and passionate about besides one another. When you surround yourself with people who see and care about the same truth as you, your friendship will be anchored by constancy:
"...the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person--having neither to weight thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away."
A real friend is someone who loves you at all times and especially during adversity. A friend is someone who affirms your uniqueness, maintains transparency, encourages honesty, and holds you accountable! It is a disservice to BE or to settle for anything less than this type of friend.

Memory verse:
Proverbs 27:17

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