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?

 

Embrace the Future!

beach-blue-embrace-future-jetty-favim-com-1820722016 was a tough year; A roller coaster ride may describe it for many of us. In fact, it was probably one of the most passionate and volatile times of my life.

I, like many of you, read the combative and impassioned pleas on social media regarding the elections. I listened to report after report on the news. I heard the warnings of friends and foes just like you. Was it just me or wasn’t there lots of negativity throughout the year? Many times I felt that I should disengage from social media. Social media was not so social throughout the year.

Can you recall any positives?

Think, You see, if we aren’t careful, all we will recall will be all the negatives. Stop. Think. Reflect. Weren’t there some positives? Of course, there were.  You see, again, if we are not careful, all we will do is focus on the negatives. We will allow the negative to drown out the positives.

Yes, that’s what I said, the positives. Didn’t you experience positive things in 2016? Even if you had a challenging year physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, I bet if you would focus, you will find that you have probably had many positives threaded throughout the year.

John 16:33 says, “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.” This is what we as Believers should focus on; not on the problems in the world. The Word of God tells us the He has overcome these things. Do you believe Him? I do!

Regardless of what negatives may have happened over the last year, are you going to trust God? Are you going to choose to believe that He has plans for you? Are you going to focus on him and not on the things other people do or say?

When we let the voices of others overtake the voice of God, fear enters the picture.

f-e-a-rFEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. When people say things, always remember, they are speaking from their perspective. That perspective is shaped by their life’s experiences, just as my perspective is shaped by mine.  We can mean well, but the truth is, what has happened in our lives will color how we see things. If my environment has painted my mind to look at everything with a critical view, anytime I face something out of what’s familiar, I will experience anxiety. Fear feeds that anxiety, and if the people I listen to only sees the negative, that’s what I will see also.

1 Timothy 1:7 says, “God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

See, He has given us all that we need. We just need to trust Him to work out whatever it is that we have to face. God has your back. He has mine too. He has been dealing with the issues that people have struggled with for centuries; he’s more equipped to handle them than we are.