I was sitting next to one of my best friends in the whole world (who happens to be 3X my age and oh so wise) when she asked how my life was going. I was honest with her when I explained that while I was good, things weren’t exactly how I wanted them right then. I wasn’t sure about some future decisions, and my birthday was coming up which marked another year that I felt I wasn’t where I thought I would be at my age. I told her that while life really was good, the perfect plan I’d outlined for my life was now a pile of tiny splinters. I didn’t know which way was even forward at the moment.
She smiled at me and patted my back. “Ab get used to it because it doesn’t change,” she said. I nodded with a muffled laugh. But I sat there and thought long over her words. She is right, life doesn’t get easier. Which…sucks (okay I said it).
Life must be trying to teach me a lesson because I was chatting with my neighbor when she started talking about life being hard. She said that she was trying to figure out a new job after what seemed like an awesome opportunity turned out to be not so wonderful.
“God keeps choking me,” she said. My neighbor is from Argentina and with her thick accent it is sometimes hard to understand her. I was sure I heard her wrong.
“God keeps choking me,” she restated. “He wants me to follow His will and when I fight against it He has to push back and it can feel like He is choking us,” she said. When she explained it that way I started to understand what she meant. In my mind, I pictured God lovingly putting his hand out against our shoulder while we try to walk forward, but the more we push against His hand the more frustrated we get. We start to feel God is “choking” our progress. When in fact He is stopping us from going the wrong way.
As I have thought about these recent experiences I have come up with a solution to my uneasiness over the fact that life never gets easier. Sure, on our own life will always be hard. But with God, it always gets easier. Therein lies the solution—and not the solution to our problems (we will always have those), but a solution to make those challenges easier to manage.
I have wondered if I am forcing God to push back on me a little harder than is necessary. Am I so busy running towards the future that I think is mine that when God puts his hand out to stop me it feels like a brick wall? I have been known to be bullheaded and driven (sometimes a bad combination). How do we allow God to help us with our plan? This can seem challenging at times because He will never force decisions on us and very rarely does the right answer just come. We have to work for it, which makes for a challenging time.
My life is nowhere near picture perfect (I am getting the hint it never will be) but through my short-comings and trials I have learned a few tips that help me get back on the wagon when life seems almost unbearable.
1. Put Your Best Faith Forward
Having faith and acting on faith are two different things. Do you say you believe that God will take care of you but then fight with all your might against your trials and challenges? I know I do! If we really practice our faith and act upon the belief that God loves us and wants what is best for us, then we need to stop fighting against His will. Instead we need to fight for what we can do right now in the moment. It was extremely frustrating for me when I felt like career choice after choice didn’t seem right and nothing was working out. Over time I was able to release the white-knuckle hold I had to my career aspirations. I didn’t know what to do. But I kept trying and putting myself out there because I knew that something somewhere had to happen for me. I then started to understand that if you will allow God to mold your life it is always better. So when it comes to feeling God push back on you and try to change your way of thinking or direction, have the faith and trust to allow Him to guide you. We have to act on our faith. That might mean giving up what you thought was best or what you thought you wanted.
2. Keep a Journal
I have a journal that is just for spiritual experiences. It is my most prized possession because on those pages are the personal miracles God has performed in my own life. They share insights into my struggles, my trials, and how God has helped me so far. An author once called the little strokes of God’s hand in our life “Divine Signatures.” I love that phrase and use it when I find that I run into just the right person, find what I need right when I need it, barely miss disaster, or even find that my impossibly busy day falls right into place. Write down the times you see God signing His name to the little things He does in your day. This not only is a written record that God is aware of you, but that He cares about YOU.
3. Keep Moving Forward
Sometimes we don’t even know what forward is. I get that. Even when we are stuck we can usually make some good decisions in the meantime. Do what you can now. My father use to always tell me a story about an old miner who kept digging for years in a mine shaft looking for diamonds. After digging and digging the man gave up and sold the mine shaft to another ambitious miner. This man started digging in his newly bought shaft and discovered hundreds of diamonds within a few days. The first man was only a few days away from his fortune, but he gave up right before he discovered the diamonds. Such is true in our own lives. We never know how close we are to the right solution, the perfect job, changed hearts, the end of our trial, or our best ideas. God does, and if you don’t give up, you can keep moving forward in your own life knowing that you are digging in a diamond shaft with diamonds in your path. It is our job to keep moving forward knowing that better days are ahead.
Just now as I think about how much easier life with God’s help is I am starting to realize that when I told my friend I felt like my whole life’s plan was shattered and gone with the wind, that my plan probably was. His plan never is. Sometimes we forget where we are headed, and when we do God sticks his hand out to turn us back in the right direction. How blessed we are to know He does. No matter how hard our lives get, and knowing that trials are mixed with our diamonds, we can rest assured that we don’t have to wonder if we will ever find joy. God’s plan for you is full of it despite our hardships.