I posted this to Facebook a few days ago, but I feel the need to get it out there as much as possible. Why? Because I've been this girl hurting and in need of these words - words I may not have wanted to hear, but words that have completely changed me and how I deal with heartache, disappointments and trials.
Everywhere you look people are hurting and dealing with hard things. I've been coaching some people here lately who are hurting and it has made me so grateful for three things - CalvaryCommuty Church, Faithwalking and trusted friends.
In truth, I am a product of Calvary. No doubt! I've had years of being poured into, being prayed over and being challenged by the leadership and people of this beautifully flawed church family. What a slap in the face it would be to them for me to sit back, keep receiving and never give back in the very ways I have been blessed. I can't imagine being that girl because I am not the girl I was when I first started attending Calvary over 20 years ago.
Secondly, I am thankful for my Faithwalking journey. There are times when I just want to throw a tantrum and do things my way ( and I'm not saying that hasn't happened) but doing the hard work of becoming really me has been liberating, freeing and also really exhausting! It's given me tools to help me navigate life in a new way and I am most grateful.
And then there are friends... I've had my own struggles, frustrations and hard things to process on this journey, but I am surrounded by people who know me, really know me and yet still love me. Allowing them to speak into my life is not always easy, but then I never expected life to be easy and I'm not into being like everyone else. I want more - more from this life and more from myself. So I do hard things, sometimes after the tantrum, but I still do them, eventually.
So maybe you are one of those in the midst of a struggle, facing hard things. Press in. As hard as that may seem, this trial will pass but you get to decide who you will be when it's over. Don't allow the pain to make you bitter. Better, yes. Bitter, no. Tell your story to those who love you, are for you and who will challenge you to do hard things. Why? Because they want to see you become all God intended, not just survive this current crisis.
Then do the hardest thing possible for so many. Let your church family love on you. Predators go after the stray, not the pack! Never, ever, ever isolate yourself when you're hurting. You don't have to fake a smile just because you're in church. Church is where our hurts get nursed. Be who you are now, right at this moment, ugly cry and all, and forget about what people will think about that. If they haven't kicked me out yet then I think you definitely have a chance!
And here's the thing you really don't want to hear - the thing that will cause you to unfriend me right here and now. I can take it because I've been dealt it. Only you determine your happiness. No matter what horrible place you find yourself in or what's been done to you. If you give away your joy, that's on you. I can say it because I've been there. I'm not saying it's easy, just that it's possible to move on with a greater joy than you knew was possible and a heart that's healed. But the choice is yours.
Again, let's face it. Life can be difficult at times, but we have a really big God who is with us every step of the way. Press into him. Let him soothe your fears, your hurts and your dashed hopes. Rise up to the challenge of coming out of your trials better and stronger than when you went in. Don't waste a good trial!
Psalm116 became my daily bread during one of the darkest seasons of my life. The Word of God kept me. Let it do the same for you.