A New Year. There Was a Lesson in the Challenge…

When I hear someone try to tell me that a challenge I am facing will help me grow, I challengeswant to say hogwash! However, at my age, I can honestly say that many of my challenges have equipped me for greater things. I know, I know, you might say that I am only saying that because I haven’t faced what you are facing. That may be the case, but you never know what people go through. We don’t really share our deepest troubles on social media. At least I don’t.

Anyway, I would like to share a little about what I have endured over the last year and point out along the way that repeated challenges can get to any of us. Trust me, they have gotten to me. As for me, however, I choose to move beyond them. I learned long ago not to hold onto stuff. If you allow your challenges to get the best of you, you will most assuredly become beaten down, you may get despondent and decide to check out altogether. Counter your challenges. Find joy elsewhere, and I don’ mean in a bottle of drugs either. Find it in a walk, a run, with an animal, at a spa. Just find it.
I find joy in Christmas. The reason I love Christmas so much isn’t because of presents; it is in the people I get to share life with. The hustle and bustle of Christmas can be exhausting, but I always feel joy this time of year. This past year has been one of the most challenging I have experienced in a very long time. Things I thought I was done with years ago, visited me again but in grand design this year. I had not felt the sting of a person trying to demoralize and marginalize me in such a long time, that to experience it at this stage in life really shook me. I had to take stock of my life over and over again. I kept telling myself, “You must be crazy. You don’t need this. Why are you subjecting yourself to this?” I would ask God repeatedly if I was doing the right thing by remaining quiet, ignoring the actions of others, and staying the course. When I was about to throw in the towel, I would get an impression from God that I was supposed to stay the course. What I heard from God was this: “LaSharnda, don’t give up. I didn’t make you that way. Besides, trust me. I am teaching you a lesson. There is always a lesson in the challenge.” So I said, “Ok, Lord.”
At one point during the year, I felt that I was at my wit’s end. I was on my morning run, suddenly, a scripture began to play in my head over again. The scripture was Isaiah 43: 19 “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Well, of course, I felt God was about to break the cycle I had been experiencing. I waited and waited, and nothing happened. I got discouraged again. Too many things gave me hope throughout the year, only to get my expectations up and dashed back. To this day, I still do not know what God is doing in my life, but what I do know is that I am a different person today than I was a year ago. I know that I have learned some powerful lessons through my challenges.
Challenges can cause flight or fight, and even the strongest among us can get to the point of flight. Don’t feel bad when you finally throw your hands up and walk away, but before you do, I want you to ask yourself, “What lesson am I supposed to learn in this?” Take your time, pray, trust God, and trust yourself. Look at the challenge and determine what brought it on and decide what you can do about it. You always have a choice; you don’t have to put up with anything. However, you may learn to trust God more and rely on yourself less.
If you decide to stay the course, you may find that He is equipping you for something far more significant and even better than what you had before. The skills you develop during the challenges are skills you will take with you to the next level. You may also find that you are stronger, tougher, and brighter than you thought.

Learn from the past and look to the future.  God is about to do a new thing. Can’t you see it?

 

God is not Surprised..

God is not suprised 2If you have lived long enough, you have probably experienced rejection and disappointment with people you have trusted. You may recall being on top of the world one minute and deep in the depths of despair another. Because you have been treated so poorly, you may have questioned your own value and worth.  Don’t!

Too many times we turn our attention to people and things. We put too much value into what they are doing to us than into what God is doing in us.  The fact of the matter is, even though you may experience some “great” loss with a person or thing, it was never great; it was necessary. Although you may be going through a tough time because you may feel you have lost something or someone, think of it as a time of renewal because God is doing a new work in you.  The one thing you thought you needed, you will soon find out it was a blessing that you didn’t get it. So, don’t get mad with those who thought they were keeping something from you. No, they were doing exactly as God needed them to do, whether they know it or believe it.  Had whatever you hoped for worked out the way you expected it to, that thing would have kept you from being available for the greater things God has in store for you.

What I have learned through my own disappointments is that when I am disappointed, I question my abilities and I question who I am. Maybe I was trusting my own abilities too much in the beginning. Maybe I had forgotten to let God be first and I had allowed others in His place. Maybe the times I have felt used and alone in the wilderness, was really a time for self-evaluation, not self-criticism. Maybe it was time for God to get my attention so that He could complete a different work in and through me that would take me to the next level.

Remember, disappointments happen to us all. Although we may be surprised by the actions or inactions of others, God is never surprised.  He has my back and He has yours too!