Ever feel like you are one step from triumph and one step from the wheels coming off the tracks at the same time? For those of us that find ourselves emotionally wrapped up in what we “do” it can seem like there’s a thin line between feeling like a victor or a victim. When I begin to feel like I’m teetering on that line I make an effort to remember three things:
1. Life is seasonal. As a pastor I have to constantly remind myself that my life is full of seasons: our church, my family, myself, in the lives of others. As much as we’d like to we can’t park at one perfect spot in life. The writer of Ecclesiastes nails this idea when he writes: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” (Eccl. 3:1) Now deep down we know this, but it can be easy to forget when we’re in the midst of a down time. It feels like we’ve been here forever and things we’ll never change. That’s just not true. Do this: reflect on the various down seasons in your life that you’ve walked through. What were the nuggets of truth that you picked up during that time. Choose to see the wins and the wisdom God has given you.
2. Obstacles Can Bring New Possibilities: Author Michael Hyatt writes, “One of the best questions you can ask when something negative happens is this: What does this make possible?“. Asking this question allows you to take another look at your circumstances in a positive light. Seriously, try it. If you’re honest there most likely is an upside to the situation: more time with the family, less pressure at work, an opportunity to learn a new profession or trade, it could be anything! What you see as a negative, God is working for your good. (Romans 8:28)
3. You are not the sum of your successes or failures. We tend to fall into the trap of one side or the other. We either define ourselves by what we’ve achieved or by how we’ve blown it. This is a double edged sword. While we may feel great when things are riding high, we feel like we need to be on suicide watch when things hit the tank. We have to be careful not to hook ourselves up to the crazy train of our emotions. You’re value can’t be measured by your success in money, number of clients, promotions, Facebook likes, attendance, acclaim…..the list goes on. If you hook your self-worth up to external inputs you’re headed for a train wreck. ( I write more about that here.) You’re value doesn’t come from what you’ve made of yourself but from who made you.
I have a clearer perspective on my life and my circumstances when I bring my needs to the Lord and allow Him to speak to me. Spend some time praying about what you’re discouraged about. Don’t feel you have to filter your prayers. The Lord can take it! Pray about sharing with someone. Don’t default to isolation and throw yourself a pity party. Take some time to share with a trusted friend how you’re feeling and allow them to give you some feedback. Don’t retreat and shut own. If you’ve taken time to reflect and learn from your circumstances it’s time to move forward. Anyone can shine during prosperity, maturity shines during adversity by moving forward. I’m praying with you.
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