Anyone feel like they live on hardship lane? Do the same cycles of horrible keep happening over and over again?
I felt that way for years, stuck on a never ending track of awful. In fact, if I had charted out my ‘terribles’…they always seemed to come around like clockwork and take me out.
After years of survival mode, living with a victim mentality, I learned a few things that not only changed me in the midst of the hardships, but stopped my perpetual cycles of expectation that something bad was always going to happen.
I learned how to sleep in the midst of storms.
The storms of life will blow their hurricane winds at you. It’s inevitable in this unpredictable world. But the faster you learn how to sleep in them, the more authority you have to tell them ‘Peace, be still.’
Here’s an excerpt from God Loves Ugly that might help your current storm:
Chapter 9, Trials
I’m not legally qualified with a diploma as a psychiatrist or a counselor to help others. I don’t have my master’s or PHD. I haven’t read books on the brain or studied what scientists and doctors have researched. What qualifies me to help others is simply this: I know all about trial by fire. I’ve been through the ringer and come out on the other side.
You’d be crazy to sign up for the fire intentionally. No one likes obstacles, hardships or mishaps—going bankrupt, getting a divorce, or losing someone dear. We might like what the fire produces in us after it’s all over, but most people wouldn’t volunteer for a flogging unless they had a few screws loose.
For most of my life when I would get hit with a hard time, a tribulation, an addiction, or a heartbreak, I would do anything and everything to extract myself from the situation as quickly as possible. I’d run from the flames, call in the troops, search for the nearest exit sign, and find as many shortcuts as I could. The problem with this approach to the fire is this: you might not have learned everything you needed to learn in the midst of that trial which means you might actually have to go through it again.
My friend Tyson is an incredible man. At the age of 30, he’s been married, cheated on, left, and then divorced. He has three beautiful kids, teaches at a school,
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is a pastor, brings students into his home to live with his family, and is more highly revered by those closest to him than anyone I’ve ever seen. I sat in his class one day as he talked about the knife-gashing agony that divorce brings to the heart. His wife had left him for another man with little or no explanation, got pregnant, had another baby, and his once happy home shattered into shards of broken glass around him.
You would think that he would have all sorts of amazing tips about how to overcome heartache faster, or 10-steps to healing that will get you back on your feet in a jiffy. And while he is writing a book right now on forgiveness and healing after a deep betrayal, his wise words to us that day in class were far beyond his years.
He told us to embrace the suffering.
Now, at first, I flinched, as did most of the class. Embrace suffering? What kind of a masochistic teaching was this, anyway? What kind of person wants to go up and throw their arms around misery, and then give it a hug? But the more he talked the more truth I actually heard, and the more he didn’t sound so crazy after all.
I wonder sometimes how much further along I would have been if I had learned this concept sooner. What if during every hard season I would have stopped to ask myself the question, “Okay, what do I need to learn from this so I never have to go through it again?” instead of, “How the heck can I avoid this bullet and get the heck out of Dodge?”
I’ve been in lots of relationships, business deals, family feuds, friend betrayal, church back-stabbings, and countless situations that brought more agony than a dump truck full of cow manure being poured out on my head. I’m sad to say for most of the circumstances, I simply ran for my life. I’d leave beaten and torn, tattered and wounded—crawling through the mud for the nearest harbor. It wasn’t really until last year that I started sitting down in the midst of a war and learning
how to rest. I started looking at agony, fear, pain, and
misery and saying, “Alright, buddy—you’re here, and I’m not running. What character can I take away from this pain? What strength can I glean from remaining still in the middle of a storm? What power can I obtain by learning how to stand in the heat of battle?”
The moment I started practicing this principle, the trials didn’t seem so big anymore. They weren’t pleasant by any means, but I loved who I became in the midst of them, and I loved that I could always find something to be joyful about—even in the worst situation.
I used to wish for a magic pill to end the suffering of my eating disorder. Our country is one of the most medicated countries in the world, popping all sorts of pills that offer instant gratification for symptoms and not problems. I am not against the extraordinary advances in medication, in fact, I think it’s phenomenal how medicine has helped millions cope and find healing. I don’t, however, believe that medication for emotional issues should be seen as the cure—especially in terms of depression. They can be vital helpers that get you stable enough to then find healing, but they should never be seen a permanent solution to a deeper problem.
I always hoped that one of my fervent prayers would result in a bolt of lightening able to zap me into wholeness. I begged for it, cried out for it, even screamed at God to come down in a chariot of fire and rescue me from this horrific pit. And in His wisdom, He did help deliver me and illuminate truth in a way that I actually got to be a part of the process. He took my hand and walked with me out of the fire—three steps forward, two steps back. Three steps forward, two steps back.
I learned His kindness and mercy, His gentleness and faithfulness, and His power and strength in the process of extreme pain.
Oh, I totally believe He could have kissed my boo-boo and made it all better instantly, but instead,
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He led me gently into the past, into the dark places of wounding, and began to heal the trauma—one terrible memory at a time. I got to be a part of the healing and I changed along the journey.
When you experience trauma, a part of you stays right there, stunned by the experience, unable to grow and mature. I had fragments of my soul that were still stuck as that little six-year-old crying on the playground or the teenager consumed by rejection at the dance or the child who had been touched prematurely in a sexual way. A part of your soul literally stops growing in certain areas where trauma has occurred. Until you go back to the suffering and embrace the pain and ask for healing, you might stay that little six-year-old in certain areas.
But I don’t want my soul to be fragmented from the past. I want to be healed and whole in every area of my life. I’m truly becoming that woman every day.
And so can you.
Don’t forget, today is your LAST DAY to order God Loves Ugly until September of next year! I sign my publishing deal next week, so the book won’t be available (unless I’m at a speaking engagement).
Grab your copy today at www.christablack.com!