Greetings Earthlings! It’s been a little bit since my last post, yet there has been A LOT in the little bit ya know what I mean?
Short update, I’m back in Texas, working temp jobs, interviewing for new jobs, DJ-ing and continuing to process all I have experienced in Australia while embracing my new/old normal. If you have been praying for my transition, growth, and perspective THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOOOOOUUUU!!! Prayer works and it’s made a huge difference in my life!! I have had many realizations, the largest being that things started going rough in Australia for me when I stopped trusting in God about my job search.
When anyone loses hope, honestly in anything, they start getting wonky. I think of the super villain Syndrome from The Incredibles (a cinematic masterpiece) who, as a kid, aspired to become a hero just like his role model Mr. Incredible. But once he was rejected of his dream to be Mr. Incredible’s sidekick, his faith in his hero was crushed and in his disillusionment he strayed far from the path of good.
Now I’m not declaring the start of my life of crime and vengeance due to my disillusionment in Australia but, like Syndrome, I am declaring that I’m currently suffering because I put my hope in everything else except God.
Just to clarify, hardship and suffering isn’t only self-inflicted, sometimes it just happens because we’re in an imperfect world full of imperfect people. Regardless, tough times are unavoidable and inevitable, a fact of life I am not particularly fond of, but it would be wise to accept it. For the purpose of this blog post I’ll be typing from the standpoint of suffering because of being sinful, stupid, sinfully stupid, or stupidly sinful. Whatever rings true for you. But I think it’ll be helpful no matter where you’re at.
As I have been listening to the wise people God has placed in my life, praying, fasting, and reading the Bible, a desire has developed within me to make the most of my self-inflicted suffering. It started to take shape into a guideline of sorts and I was moved to share it with you all because I am CERTAIN most folks out there can relate to messing up and suffering because of it. It’s been about 2 and a half weeks since I’ve started working on this and it’s proving to be a larger challenge than I imagined. A friend of mine helped me realize this guide will have to be a multiple post affair and with that, here’s part one…
A Guide to Savvy Suffering (Part One)
Suffering. It’s an uncomfortable word. Personally, it makes me itchy and I do not like the sound of it one bit. Yet, this is one of the tools God uses to shape us into beings more like Him and less like the world around us. You don’t have to look far into the Bible to see how God continues to use humans even after they have royally messed up. There are natural consequences to their actions, but it doesn’t stop God from loving, forgiving and striving to bring them closer to Him.
“For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” – 1 Peter 3:17
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” -1 Peter 5:10
Suffering is mentioned in the Bible (Well the NIV version) 150 times in various situations. In both cases you still see God moving powerfully and in such a way that results in growth, wisdom, and hope. I came across this article that explains the silver lining of sinful suffering in a great way.
“Suffering because of our sinful behavior, on the other hand, does not bring the same results. We are blessed in this “deserved” suffering in that God often uses such hardship to bring us to repentance; but by it we do not share in the same kind of blessings bestowed upon Jesus for His obedient suffering. Our “deserved” sufferings do not imitate the sufferings of Jesus, yet we can honor God in them if we turn from sin and acknowledge the justness of our punishment.” – (Deserved Suffering)
1. Face the Facts…With Faith
In Healing of a Wounded Idealist (shameless plug of a fabulous book), the Rentons pose that the mark of a matured idealist is one who can face facts with faith. Here’s a quote from their chapter on the prophet Elijah:
“He moved from being a bold idealist to what could best be described as a faithful realist. He became a man able to face facts with faith. He kept his confidence, but now it was placed in God and not an outcome. He learned to trust that God works in and through difficulties.”
Wonderful quote right? In light of self-inflicted suffering, you cannot move forward until you face the fact that the mess you’re currently in is your fault. If not, you’ll miss out on the teaching moment God is bringing to your attention. I know it stings, I’m going through it too remember? But there is hoooope:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Preach Bob. “All things” includes whatever you did to get to where you’re at now. The faith portion is believing that God will use even this mistake ultimately for your good, which turns it into a “happy accident”! Keep this in the forefront of your mind because if you don’t you will be swept away by self-pity and guilt. Remember, God allllready knows all that’s in your heart and all you’re capable of in good and in evil yet He still loves you and desires to mold you in to something greater.
Me: Ohhh my goodness I’m such a hot mess person my heart is so dark and ungodly I can’t believe this waaaaahhhh I’m so sorry God I’m ashaaamed this is a shock!!!!
God is not surprised, He still accepts you thanks to Jesus, and He won’t let you stay in your mess, take His hand and allow Him to pull you to the next level in your walk with Him.
2. Pick Your Posse (Props to my friend for this title)
On this journey of suffering and growing you’re going to need top-notch peeps who are fearless and formidable. CHOOSE WISELY. The company you keep definitely affects whether you will flourish or wither.
“The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray” -Proverbs 12:26
The squad requirements I’ve come to so far for myself is that whoever is involved needs to be: Compassionate, Worthy of Imitation, Dependable, Loving, Honest, Encouraging, Level-Headed, Seasoned, Wise, a Perspective Changer, and Patient. No one is perfectly all of these things, but all of these qualities can be covered with about 2 to 3 people. The ones in bold are non-negotiable in my eyes, each of the people helping me through this time of growth have at least those main characteristics. These ladies in my life are what I would call my first responders. I had to understand that not everyone needs to know everything going on with me and that is okay. It’s counterproductive and unwise to have too many people involved and pitching their two cents constantly in an already tumultuous time. *Cue Hunger Games Reference*
So what do you do about these wonderful people who genuinely love and care? Make them prayer warriors and prayer partners!! At least that’s what I do, take it or leave it. For me, if someone asks what’s going on I politely say, “I would rather not talk in depth, but please pray for my reliance on God, perseverance, and for me to have a healthy perspective.” Pretty much everyone has respected that request. With others I’m a bit closer to, I ask them to pray with me and will be more vulnerable with them, it just depends. Position people however you need to in order for you to move forward, not backwards, in the process.
Please please please pleeeeaaassseee do not subject yourself to people who will constantly bring up your faults, drag you down with their own struggles, or distract you from growing closer to God. The first and third actually should be something to live by anyway, but for the second one, you simply don’t have the capacity to deal with as you recover. Get filled up with God first then you can pour yourself out again, it’s okay to take a step back in order to be more helpful later. This does not mean you should be self-centered however, but that you should be careful to not bite off more than you can chew. I’ll delve more into serving others in the suffering in part two 😀
3. Trust the Process, Don’t Rush the Process
The other day it dawned on me that this time of suffering in my life is a bit like a software update. It involves assessing and processing information about what has transpired and what is happening now. My mind, heart, and soul are learning new ways to cope and gaining insight on lots of things. In the end, I will emerge with “bug fixes”, “new features”, and “performance improvements”. Tech wise, these software updates occur in order for the app/computer/program to run more efficiently, smoothly, and quickly. In the same way, God allows us to bump our heads and experience hardship because He is trying to update our minds and hearts for the next phase of life He’s bringing us into.
Unlike a computer update, God does not tell us how many minutes or hours it will take before it’s done, but I fully believe He’ll make it clear when it’s time. That being said, don’t rush it! Also be careful to not think this is the last of the updates either. This has been a struggle for me, but as time has gone on it’s gotten a lot easier to go with the flow. When I first returned to the U.S. there were days when I cried because I felt like I ruined everything, other days I was able to be fully present in Texas and look forward to the future, it comes in waves and thankfully the waves have gotten smaller and less frequent.
A wise turtle told me, “Emotions always pass, let them pass through you as you readjust to life right now.” It sounded like mumbo jumbo when I first heard it, but when I felt my first wave of sadness probably the third or fourth day I was back in Texas I had figured out what she meant. The best way I can describe this, is that emotion is like a cloud that passes over you and you can choose to let it give it’s shade and pass or you can follow it long after it was supposed to have moved on from where you were positioned. If you do the latter you will end up somewhere you were never supposed to be.
Emotions in themselves are not bad, they’re actually a reflection of God. So many times in the passages about Jesus it was clear how He was feeling. Compassion, indignation, anger, sorrow, amazement, gratitude, and distress are just some of the emotions the Bible mentions He felt at different parts of His time on earth. He chose to allow those emotions to propel Him to heal, teach, and connect to others and to the Father. We have a choice as well to do good or not when our emotions pass over us.
When my wave of sadness comes, I’m real with God about how I am disappointed that Australia didn’t go as I had hoped and ask Him to help me see the experience in the way He wants me to see it. Even though it can be emotionally taxing, it brings healing and a deeper relationship with God way sooner than avoiding my emotions would. Trust me, I’ve tried avoiding how I’ve felt and it’s slowed the process and made it more painful. Praying, journaling, talking things through with a person I trust, and just existing in silence and nature are some ways I process the process. Also I ask God to help me be as patient with myself as He is patient with me. That’s a looot of patience.
“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” ”
-Hebrews 12:5-6/Proverbs 3:11-12\
As you go through this process, it’s good to be aware of which of these categories you fall into. Something a wise Brit taught me. I personally am in the “lose heart” camp, a guilty soul through and through, but for others, you may be more inclined to not understand the gravity of what God is trying to teach you. Neither of these are good responses because it distracts from seeing God’s love and encouragement in the suffering. The more you know the better it’ll go ♥️
I hope this has helped someone so far, thank you so much for reading! Stay tuned for A Guide to Savvy Suffering: Part Two!!
Moore Awaits ♥️