You probably understand life fully. Maybe you are one of those people who nods and smiles no matter what comes your way. I’m happy for you. Sadly, that’s not me. I mull and wonder and go over everything in my head believing that I can make sense of it, and once I understand it I will be able to fix it easily and sanely. You’re probably thinking that is fantasy. My experience would prove you right.
In a particularly tough season of life centered mostly on the challenges in my marriage, I was pondering, thinking, and praying one evening. If I could just figure out exactly what was broken between Budd and I then I could fix it and we would be golden…finally…but the solution refused to appear. As I fretted, I “saw” a picture in my mind’s eye. It was strange enough that I wondered if I should perhaps get some serious psychological help!
I was standing on an asphalt path (like a cart path at a golf course). There was nothing anywhere around except this black ribbon of asphalt that trailed off into the beautiful green rolling hills ahead of me. Standing on the side of this path was a very strange creature…a VERY strange creature. It had a demon-like face that looked something like a hyena. The creature was wearing a “Carmen Miranda” hat (a big fruit turban like the early actress used to wear in movies) and a dress made up entirely of garish colored ruffles. It wore pantaloons made of the same bright ruffles and was doing a can-can dance accompanied by the appropriate noises to be truly ridiculous. (You, too, are probably thinking that I should have gotten help immediately.)
As I stood there on the path staring in amazement at this creature I felt God speak to my heart something like this: “Kathy, the enemy of your soul cannot come on the path that I have created for you, nor can he pull you off of this path that leads to your best life. But he can distract you enough that you don’t grow or move forward into all that I have for you. You don’t have to be stuck here.”
Wow. It was a powerful moment and suddenly I realized how stuck I had become. I was so busy trying to fix the stuff of my everyday life that I failed to really lean into God, trust Him to know what’s best and to provide it. I was defining my life by its problems and so was not going anywhere…as though as soon as I fixed my marriage I would be good to go on everything else…as though I could actually solve it all and move on. Life doesn’t work that way. I chose at that moment to turn and walk away from the distraction and renew my pursuit of God’s love and life for me.
Please understand. I am not saying that we ignore issues and just blow them off. Not at all. But I do believe we can become so fixated on what is not good that we miss out on all the possibilities available to us. When I stopped fixating on the difficulties in my marriage and began to pursue personal wholeness (like therapy, health, enjoying my kids, owning my ‘junk’, etc.) I found that my relationship with Budd began to change. Apparently…shockingly…I was a part of the problem and my stuckness was not helping. Go figure.
We don’t always get to choose what happens in our life, but we do choose our response to it. Whether it is a relationship, job, finances, health or any of the myriad of life-events that keep us from joy and peace, we choose how much power we give it to define our life. Endurance isn’t just “hanging on ‘til Jesus comes” but it a mindset that presses forward, learning and growing through the stuff and stages of life. Don’t let the worst part of your life define your present or your future, even if it defined your past. Stop staring at the ugly thing doing the can-can dance and move on to life as its meant to be lived.
Is there anything in your life today that has you stuck?
Philippians 1:9-11 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. 11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ — for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
James 3:13-18 Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish plotting. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.
17-18 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. The Message