Struggle seemed to have captured me the minute I asked to go deeper in Christ. My romantic relationship with the perfect match (on paper) ended suddenly, my lucrative job fell through, and God began to show me parts of myself that were not so great. Before I knew it, depression enveloped me.
Months went by and the only thing that seemed to greet me were closed doors. Opportunities would present themselves, opportunities I knew I was qualified for, sometimes overqualified for, but I received rejection after rejection. Even the things I usually used to comfort myself, fell through, over and over again.
Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.1 Peter 4:12( NLT)
Then a morsel of respite presented itself in the form of a job. The job required a huge salary cut and no benefits, but it was job that would allow me to work in the house of the Lord. Though I could hardly live off of the money I made, I was convinced that this difficult season in my life would finally come to a close. God had heard my prayers
Those who plant in tears will harvest in shouts of joy.Psalms 126: 5 NLT
Months later I was laid off without notice. The salary I could hardly get by with vanished and I felt I had hit rock bottom. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of shame. I had never been laid off before, and even though they informed me it had nothing to do with performance and everything to do with lack of funds, their explanation did not seem to add up. I had such a horrible experience working there that I felt it was personal and extremely callous.
Shame ballooned into a deep sadness. I had never been without a job and I used to take pride in that. My family and friends lived so far from me and several of the people I felt closest to in Texas, suddenly became too busy for me. I felt that I had made a huge mistake trying to follow God’s instructions, and slowly my heart began to harden against Him. I was broke, felt purposeless, and wasn’t sure why I was needed at all in this world.
But in that dark and empty place, I learned to be vulnerable, something that I have struggled with my entire life. I learned that I needed people. Because I lacked, I was forced to ask for help, and though I felt embarrassed, I recognized that I couldn’t survive without help. This need to depend on others, broke me.
In my brokenness all of my flaws surfaced. I discovered I struggled with pride, un-forgiveness, stubbornness and a lack of self-discipline and this shocked me.
I realized that my pride obstructed me from being vulnerable, from asking for help, and making connections with people. My lack of self-discipline impeded my ability to fast and be more prayerful. Even though I was still in a place of blaming my issues on the Lord, who truly only has plans to prosper me, I knew that in order to climb out of despair, I had to trust and depend on Him.
My stubbornness transformed me into a bad listener. I was (and I am still working on this) someone who interrupted a lot, did not take advice much, and was skeptical of other people’s opinions. Though I believe my somewhat defiant personality can be a strength in that I tend to forge my own path, it’s also a weakness that has hampered me from being more successful and listening to good advice.
Lastly, after my somewhat traumatic experience at my last job, un-forgiveness pooled inside of me. I am usually able to forgive quickly because I give many people the benefit of the doubt. But I felt burned, humiliated, and let down by people who were supposed to mentor me, build me up and support me, for they are my family in Christ.
It took me a long time to realize that I was struggling to forgive them because I felt justified in my un-forgiveness. Not only were they wrong but I protected them, and continue to, by never fully disclosing what I felt I was forced to endure. But God revealed to me, after I fasted and prayed, that my heart could not thaw unless I forgave, and that I should be even more forgiving of my family in Christ. Christ forgave me and endured the cross to save us all, even though we did not deserve it. So who am I to not forgive people who probably do not understand the pain they have caused me?
In this season of brokenness, I discovered beauty and rest. I learned to be content, even though this season isn’t over just yet. My circumstances may not be awesome but I serve a God that is awesome.
I have learned to improve myself, and even though it’s been incredibly difficult, it stretched me and pushed me to a place I would have never discovered. I learned the beauty in forgiveness and the beauty in recognizing my flaws and boasting about them because the power of Christ works through my weaknesses.
And those friends who abandoned me? I have forgiven them but also recognize that fair-weather friends aren’t friends at all. So I thank God for revealing them to me.
What has God revealed to you during your most difficult times?