Character Over Comfort

No one enjoys being in pain. No one enjoys struggling or desperately searching around for something to grasp onto to somehow make life seem more “worth it”. No one enjoys being ill or struggling to make ends meet, paying bills, fighting with family, or any number of negative things which plague the world we reside in.

One thing has become blatantly clear to me: When your life crumbles into a million tiny pieces, it takes a LONG LONG LONG LONG LONG time to put it back together again.

Sometimes I become violently ill with a case of the “shoulds”

I should have…
I should NOT have…
I should be…
I should have done this…
I should have done that…
I shouldn’t have become…
I shouldn’t have gone…
I should…
I shouldn’t…
I should…
I shouldn’t…

I should. Or should I?

I sometimes think that the “shoulds” are even worse than the “whys?” At least when you ask why you’re asking a question and seeking a resolution. The “shoulds” are only a merry-go-round that is practically impossible to get off of. The “shoulds” are Satan’s way of trapping us in the past, making us question the present, and instilling fear inside us of the future.

This morning I was cuddled up on my couch under my electric blanket with a nice hot cup of coffee (makes me happy just remembering it!) and I was reading Sarah Young’s devotional “Jesus Calling.” (which by the way, I HIGHLY recommend it – this is the third year I’ve gone through the book and every day is something different. It’s always able to instill hope in me and provide comfort. Find it here: Jesus Calling)

Here is just an excerpt from today’s devotional:
“It’s alright to be human. Rejoice in My love for you, which has no limits or conditions. Your weakness and woundedness are the openings through which the Light of the knowledge of My Glory shines forth. My strength and power show themselves most effective in your weakness.”

When I read this I had to smile and chuckle a bit to myself. God always provides us with exactly what we need when we are in need of it most!

Because you see, lately I’ve been reflecting over my life. We all have moments or dates or periods of the year which cause us to pause and look back. I think that that is an okay thing to do, so long as you don’t get stuck there. We aren’t living in the past – we’re living in the here and now…it’s something I have to constantly remind myself of. I look back and I get stuck – sucked in by the ugly monster rearing it’s head and roaring all the “shoulds” right in my face. Satan ropes me in by presenting the long list of everything I did wrong and all the ways I “messed up”.

And then God shows up. God shows up and says, “It’s alright to be human. I already know all your weaknesses. I have forgiven you for all your past mistakes. Take my hand and let’s move forward. Walk away from the “shoulds” and the mile long lists of past regrets.”

My birthday is fast approaching – once again, a reminder of the vast difference between where I am and where I always envisioned I would be – a cruel twist of the knife in my back that reminds me of everything I did “wrong” or everything I “should” have done differently. An ever present nudge that tugs at my soul reminding me that I’m not healed, fixed, better, and that there is still progress to make.

It’s times like these that I need to show myself compassion and kindness. And that’s an area of my life that needs improvement. I’m a very kind person – I’m compassionate, empathetic, and loving. Towards others. But for whatever reason, that same gesture of love and forgiveness that I display outwardly, I find so very difficult to turn inward towards myself. We all have progress to make in different areas of our lives and if you struggle with this as I do, I would encourage you to make an effort to somehow (and if I figure out how, don’t worry – I will totally share with you) turn that love inwards.

I digress.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that it takes a long time to heal. It takes a long time to fight demons which have been present for most of your life, regardless of whatever age you may be. It takes a long time to figure ourselves out and to come to terms with whatever our findings are. Sometimes it’s SO easy to see the change that needs to take place in our lives, but if it’s something huge, it can take a long time to change our course and direction.

When I examine my life thus far, I am trying to focus on how God grew me through all the discomfort. If we’re always comfortable and happy then how can we grow? God used severe trauma and pain to help me grow in ways which I haven’t even fully discovered yet. The fight isn’t over. Satan is still trying to pull me down and win me over – but my God is greater and He will use whatever small battles Satan may win, to help me grow in ways which I can’t even fathom.

2016 is still young. This year I’m trying to make even more discoveries about my SHAPE:
My Spiritual gifts
My Heart
My Abilities
My Personality
My Experiences

I would encourage you, whether it’s in reflection of the past or anticipation of the future, to try your very hardest not to get sucked into Satan’s trap of despair and hopelessness. When you look at your life, try to see the ways that God has grown your character and be thankful for the way that discomfort has ultimately shaped you into who you are today.

And if there’s still progress to be made – which, there always is because we’re all human – attempt to make that progress while turning compassion and kindness inwards towards yourself.

We’re all climbing mountains, and with God’s help – we CAN make it to the top!

God bless – have a wonderful weekend everyone!

“My light shines on every situation you will ever face. Live radiantly by expanding your focus to include Me in all your moments. Let NOTHING dampen your search for Me.” – Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, page 20.

“Before you can live a part of you has to die. You have to let go of what could have been, how you should have acted and what you wish you would have said differently. You have to accept that you can’t change the past experiences, opinions of others at that moment in time or outcomes from their choices or yours. When you finally recognize that truth then you will understand the true meaning of forgiveness of yourself and others. From this point you will finally be free.”
― Shannon L. Alder



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