Life is full of ups and downs, trials and triumphs. It’s certainly not predictable. Often times life can be going along just fine, and then without any warning, it happens: a struggle we didn’t see coming. One that flips our world upside down and makes us reevaluate what’s important. I like to think that I’m a pretty optimistic person and one that tries to find value in every situation, so when I had a life-interrupting struggle last year, I looked for meaning. This story is about how my struggle became a rescue mission. A time when God rescued me from myself and returned me to the life He intended for me.
For months, I heard the same thing over and over in my head. Words I knew I should listen to but just couldn’t seem to put into practice.
“Slow down and rest.” “Come to me.”
Each time I heard it, I thought, “I will when…” and filled in the blanks.
-when the kids go back to school.
-when I get just a few more things done.
-when I find the time.
But the truth was, I had no idea how to slow down and rest. When moments arose to obey those words, I found other ways to fill in the time that was anything but restful. You see, I am wired for activity, to do things well, and not give up when things get tough. These are all qualities that help me tremendously in life, but if they’re not kept in check, they can become detrimental to my own personal peace as well as the peace of those around me. And when I clearly heard my God telling me to slow down and rest, I blatantly disobeyed His commands, constantly keeping busy and not making time for Him to work in my life. Little did I know that He would find a way to get back to the top of my priority list.
Back in August of 2014, I had a pretty intense ankle injury, one that I’m still recovering from to this day. But the injury is not this story though, it’s what’s happened because of that injury that’s worth telling. You see, when you can’t walk, your life pretty much comes to a screeching halt. Your calendar clears up, your to-do list gets erased, and being still is forced upon you. The quiet became my “new normal”, so I decided to use that time to dig deep, to see what good things God could bring from my struggle. I will be forever grateful to Him for opening my eyes.
1) Spending time with God daily is as important as breathing.
Truly I tell you there is no peace that can be obtained like peace we receive from God. When we come to Him, He infuses us with joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). The mornings I don’t spend time reading and praying are the days when my patience is thin, my heart is less than joyful, and my mind races to complain. When my eyes are not focused on God, the enemy swoops in and tries to pull me away and wreck the joy God intends for me. But when I’m filled up with His love and peace, it overflows into my relationships with others. Love others, He says. That’s easier to do when I’ve spent time receiving from Him first. So for me, He has become a daily priority.
2) Slow down and rest.
The ways of this world are about being the best, doing the most, and being perfect. But living that lifestyle is exhausting. And it’s particularly exhausting when we’re trying to do everything on our own power. We are meant to slow down and rest. Thank goodness He created us to need sleep or else we’d literally run ourselves into the ground. The thing is, I realized I can get more done when I slow down, recharge, and prioritize my day. Not only do I have renewed energy after resting, but I have more to give to others.
3) Do not let the things of this world become your idol.
Oh, boy. This is a doozy! I am totally guilty of letting something in my life become my idol. It’s something I know God put into my life, but instead of loving the giver, I loved the gift. Instead of thanking God for the gift and inviting Him into it, I took off with it and ran. I ran away from God. I thought about this idol constantly, it kept me up at night, and it was the first thing I thought about in the morning. I made this idol a priority in front of Him and my family. That was a huge error on my part. I don’t think I would’ve recognized the extent to which I was loving the gift instead of the giver without being forced to slow down and reflect upon my life. The gift is still a big part of my life, but it’s not the thing that runs my life anymore.
4) Surrender to your husband.
What the ?? I’ll be completely honest and tell you this one really came from left field – it was not from my brain. I’m in a Mom’s group at my church and this topic came up. I was sharing something and a friend of mine asked me point blank, “Do you submit to your husband?” Whoa. What? I have never been so uncomfortable. My chest tightened, I sat up and pushed my shoulders back and said, “I HATE that word! It’s like I am less than, and in this feminist world I have learned that I should stick up for myself.”
Through our conversations I realized surrendering doesn’t necessarily mean that my opinion doesn’t count, but it means that I should do away with my own self-righteousness, allow my husband to lead our family, that I should support him, love him, and respect him instead of wanting things to always be my way or think that I’m always right. By letting go of some things that were standing in my way, I have experienced much more fruit from my marriage.
Looking back I know this struggle made me stronger. God identified some sins and weaknesses in me that I didn’t even realize were a part of my life. Would I like to go through the struggle again? Not anytime soon, that’s for sure, but through it I learned valuable lessons that I know I wouldn’t have otherwise.
“The more we face struggles in this life, the more our perseverance, character, and hope grows. We must move forward with the hope that God is using our challenges to prepare us for bigger things to come.” – Patricia Shirer
That’s my hope – that God is preparing me for bigger things to come. Thanks for the rescue, God.
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