I have a common thread weaving through the tapestry of my life right now. Struggle. Not that I am personally facing a monumental struggle, in fact, I finally feel like I am walking in the light after years OF struggle. It’s the struggle of those around me that find me still facing the war of demons, circling the ones I love. The battle of depression, the war on addiction, the fight for marriages and the devastation left behind after a miscarriage. Evil is walking among us, eating with us, laughing with us, targeting us in our weakness and vulnerability.
I wept for the first time in months recently as thoughts of my own past struggles crept into my head. Seeing yourself on the other side is so freeing, peaceful and one we often think won’t ever come when we are in the midst of our darkness. The worst thing about struggle and tough seasons is that there is no time line for which they may end. While some may last months, others may be go on for years, even lifetimes. The timeline is not determined by whether we are worthy of the freedom but whether we are willing to do the work, to fight the battle. Looking back over my own struggle and learning the lessons that accompanied it, I realize it wasn’t so much that the struggle ended, it was more that I stopped receiving it, metaphorically. Miscarriage was my given war and there never really is an “end” to that. It wasn’t that I stopped having them, frankly, I just stopped getting pregnant. I finally had to accept that having another baby, while very possible, came with the equally possible reality of losing the baby. As long as I could get pregnant, I had to be okay with the outcome of losing it, then I could continue to try. This was my choice and no one else’s thoughts or opinions mattered on it. If I were to find out tomorrow I were pregnant, I would be elated with the hope of what could be while being aware of the loss that could happen. This is a fact I have had to accept and I do. It wasn’t that my struggle changed, my perspective did. I didn’t stop mourning the losses, I started celebrating the lives made. I take all the hurt, the pain, the loneliness and I use them. I resource the pain to keep my babies memories alive. Each of our struggles are different and unique. Some take more work than a mere change of perspective. Some take counseling, medication, walking partners and/or trained professionals to see you through it. There is no shame in this, only hope. Honestly, I am not 100% sure I don’t still need some of these resources. I have most definitely turned to medical professionals and friends alike to get me through my darkest days and I thank Jesus daily for them.
As I watch my brothers and sisters being circled by satan, I can’t help but hurt on how to help. How to say the right words without playing “Ms. Fix It”. No one wants to feel like a project or a problem to be repaired. Ninety percent of the time we just want to be heard, acknowledged and remembered. How can I make them feel seen without staring? I realize that as quickly as relationships are taken from us, they are given. I see new friendships entering my circle of real people that have already seen the freedom after addiction, the light after depression and the hope after a broken marriage. I see that these are my answers, my tools, my people to guide me through the relationship process of helping the ones still in need all around me. Maybe I can borrow their strength, their perspective, to pass along like a golden ticket to peace. Maybe I can be that ticket to another mom, friend or sister who is currently facing what I went through for years? Don’t we all have this opportunity? This chance to lead, teach and show mercy to those facing what we have already survived? For me, it’s miscarriage, marriage, raising 3 children, financial stress and financial freedom. It’s walking away from unhealthy relationships and embracing the hope of new ones. I have walked a fine line of depression, anxiety and fear throughout different times in my life and possibly will again in the future. It is never that the struggle ends, again, it’s the perspective of how you see it. How can we view what we have faced as wisdom and what we are facing as lessons to be learned. Through perspective.
Satan will not leave. He will not stop. His presence is as ever powerful as that of Jesus who equally wants us to know Him, love Him. Thankfully there is a very big difference between the two. Satan pursues us to steal, rob and destroy. Satan wants to take away our hope so that we will give up on all possibilities of goodness and turn to the destructive ways of evil. Jesus, He pursues us to love. To love him, love others and find the joy of patience, kindness and self-control. His pursuit is always present but allows free will. He does not force his ways but always makes them known, present. He can come through a soft breeze, a glistening sunset or a chirping bird. He shows up in people, in children, in animals. He walks in the light of opportunities given and blessings poured upon us. He is always here, but with Jesus, it takes surrender. Surrendering to your own wants, your own ways and taking up the cross of His will, His plan. A plan that may allow struggle, not to hurt you but discipline you. To prepare you. To teach you. I know discipline can sound like a harmful word because so many tie it to pain, corporal punishment or control. In reality, discipline is an action you take to protect, prepare and lead the ones you love most. When you take on the role of parent, you are now given the responsibility of a tiny human. You must show them the dangers all around that their tiny brains are just not aware of. You can not let them wonder the streets alone or get into a car with a stranger. You must enforce boundaries for correct behavior and consequences for bad behavior. These are our roles, our duties, to discipline the very beings that we would lay our own lives down for. So if we feel the innate duty to discipline the very children we have been given, why are we so resistant to the discipline placed upon by our own heavenly father?
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11
As I wrap up my thoughts, I can’t say a single struggle has passed. A season of hurt has ended or that the ones I love are no longer being targeted, but I do hope that for whoever is reading this, you can find a glimmer of hope that you will survive this season, this struggle. That He is still pursuing you, loving you and just waiting patiently for you to turn to him during this tough time. That this discipline you are receiving, while not pleasant, will be fruitful, will place you on the throne of righteous for those who come after you to lead. My struggle, your struggle, their struggle, all has one common thread, pain, and one common possibility….hope. My hope for you and me today is we can see the lessons and wisdom being poured over us. That we can then share this wisdom to comfort those coming after us.
Lets change our perspective to victor over victim, to over-comer not the overcome. Today is a new day. Dust off the shame and guilt of hours passed and put on the armor of the war ahead. This life was not given to be easy. It was given to teach, to serve, to love. If we see this life in the context it was given, then we can hang up the hat of pride and begin living the life of purpose. Sister, I am in your boat. While my struggle may display a different name, we are all on the same battle ship. Lets go win this war.