I love those days when you lean in a little closer to God. Those days when you crave being in his presence because you know He’s the only one who can give you the peace you’re looking for.
The best place to go when you’re pressed by the world, is to press into him.
I wish those days happened for me every day, but they don’t. Sometimes I lean into my own understanding. Sometimes, I stress instead of press.
Sometimes I worry over every minute detail of my day while other times I allow one particular thing to consume my thoughts, steal my joy, and impact the truth that God is in control.
It’s almost as if I pick a theme for my day. Do you ever do that?
Like one day the theme seems to be that you aren’t living up to the world’s idea of good mothering. Your teenager tells you she only likes you 20% of the time, your 2 year-old sits down in the middle of a grocery store aisle while people stare, your 3rd grader’s teacher tells you he’s behind in reading.
Another day, you look in the mirror and the theme seems to be you criticizing your outward appearance. You’re too fat, you’re too wrinkly, and what you thought were blonde strands of hair are actually wiry, gray monsters that seem to stand up taller and straighter than all the other hairs, as if calling attention to the fact that life is passing you by faster than you can get anything done.
Other days, the theme is disappointment. You’ll never earn that promotion. You’ll never make your husband happy. You’ll never be good enough for your mom. Everyone else seems to be so much further ahead in life than you and all you have are some gray hairs and a lot of closed doors you never decided to walk through.
You’re not good enough. You’re not smart enough. You’re not pretty enough. You’re not young enough or old enough.
The theme might be fear. You’re afraid because the cancer is worse than you thought. You’re afraid because your teenager seems to be slipping further away from you. Pieces of a hopeful marriage keep flaking off and you fear being alone. You fear letting life pass without purpose.
The list could go on and on.
Despite the theme, however, God is faithful to provide your needs. He knows precisely what is weighing heavily on you from day- to-day and He knows exactly what will change your perspective. He provides a person to comfort you when you’re scared. He provides hope when you feel empty. He sends encouragement to you when discouragement rears its ugly head. He provides doors through which you can walk. He provides windows into your own soul if you will make the decision to look through them with wisdom. He even allows hurtful situations to happen because it is in those that you learn, grow, and work toward the purpose He has created specifically for you.
What if you could learn to dance upon disappointment?
What if you allowed God to crush every lie, doubt, and fear?
What if you allowed yourself to see your beauty through the eyes of the one who created you?
What if you made a decision, ahead of time, that quitting is not an option?
How would your life be different?
The other day my theme was, “You’re not good enough”. I was allowing some things from my past to seep into my present and doubt my purpose. You know just as well as me that finding your place, your purpose, the thing that fuels your heart and soul is not always easy to achieve, especially when you have someone breathing down your neck, telling you that you’re worthless.
For some people, it seems like their purpose is written on their forehead. They might be amazing at football. They might be exceptionally talented at playing the piano. They may be off-the-charts intelligent. They may have a keen awareness of different scientific procedures, or maybe they grew up with a talent for working with their hands – creating things from wood, glass, metal, or even food.
Then theres you; Jack of all trades – Master of none. It’s not as obvious. Just when you think you might have it figured out, you doubt yourself and decide it’s not for you. Either that, or you allow someone else, other than God, to determine whether you’re worthy enough to do it.
There was a time in the recent past, when I was forced into rethinking my professional plans. Actually, it could be described as a shove into ice cold pool water when you least expect it. You know..you get a little mad. You get a little worried. You’re not sure what to think – am I going to drown, will someone throw me a life preserver, or will I make it to the surface on my own?
Then I heard this song:
I could just sit. I could just sit and wait for all your goodness, hope to feel your presence. I could just stay, I could just stay right where I am and hope to feel you. Hope to feel something again.
I could hold on. I could hold on to who I am and never let you change me from the inside. I could be safe. I could be safe here in your arms, never leave home, never let these walls down.
But you have called me higher. You have called me deeper and I’ll go where you will lead me, Lord.
And just like that…something stirred in my heart. A new yearning for something deeper and more meaningful in my life. An inspiration that penetrated deep within for allowing God to call me higher; to use me in a way I only thought possible in my dreams.
So out of that stirring, yearning, and inspiration, came the birth of Lettered Roots. As I began this journey, I continued to pursue the other world of practicality because I felt like I didn’t have a choice, but since then, door after door after door has been slammed in my face. I started thinking about how sometimes God will allow doors to close because those doors aren’t meant for you to walk through. He’ll take what you thought was your purpose and give you the desire for something new. Sometimes it takes a desperate situation to drive you to God for guidance. We all need a push sometimes. We need motivation to do what we can’t do and get us started in the right direction.
So I felt like I needed to refocus the other day. I was feeling defeated and unsure of my direction. Refocusing for me is pressing into God. It’s a knees-down meeting with my Father. Do you have a particular spot where you go to meet with God? Mine is my closet. There’s just something really intimate to me about meeting my God in a small, dark space, away from distractions.
So I went into my closet, made sure there weren’t any spiders lurking around :), closed the door, and got down on my knees. I met with God and asked Him to bring my focus back to Him and that if there was any area in my life where He needed me to grow, to reveal that to me.
And He did. Boy, did he speak. Because He knew exactly what I needed to hear. He led me to a series of sermons and it was within these sermons that He told me these things:
Kelly, you are never going to fulfill your purpose until you commit to your post. I leave a lot of it up to you. How far do you want to go? I allow you to decide, within certain parameters, how much purpose/potential you want to fulfill. I pushed you here because this is the direction I need you to go. See, nothing you have been through will be wasted. Nothing you have been through was for no purpose. I have always had a purpose in mind for you.
But this is a window; an opportunity with an expiration date. You have been praying for me to give you an opportunity and while it may not have been what you expected, I’m waiting for you to seize it. Kelly, you’re good at starting stuff, but the moment your hands get tired and the ground gets hard, you stop. What a terrible place it would be, standing in the future looking back on this window of opportunity wondering what could have been and what you should have done. This window will not be opened to you forever and although you have stepped through, I have NOT asked you to stop. So here’s what I want you to do:
- Visualize yourself fulfilling your purpose. See yourself passionate! See yourself stronger than you’ve ever been. See yourself wiser than you’ve ever been. See yourself helping others. See it before you see it! We should understand, as Christians, how to see the unseen. We should understand more than anybody, the hope of an empty grave.
- Look forward to the battle as if it has already been won. To view this victory, you must see it before you seize it. Hebrews 11 says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”
- Focus on one thing. Open one window at a time. You can become discouraged in the fight when you have no focus. If you look at how big the enemy is, you will always lose strength, heart, and courage. If you look for MY activity, I will show you what to work on.
- Celebrate every win, even the small ones. There is going to be enough hard stuff in your life for you to continue to replay your regrets instead of review your victories. Stop and take a minute to celebrate. But be realistic about where you want to win. You’re not going to win at everything. You will lose some things along the way.
- Remember that you cannot please everybody. You’ve got to let some people down in order to aim your life into the direction of your destiny.
- Do not stop until I tell you to stop. Work this window. Determine your decision in advance. Quitting is not an option. It is not an option to stop short. Before you get discouraged, determine to keep going.
- You don’t perform at your level of potential. You live with your problems and pain and sometimes you live in your past and it makes you unable to predict your potential so what you’ve learned to do is stop short. You do it because your fear of falling short, your fear of failure takes over. The reason you don’t try sometimes is because you care too much. Fear of finding out that you don’t have what it takes causes you to keep something in reserve. Its not that you don’t care; its just that the last time you cared, you got crushed.
- The pain of falling short is nothing compared to the shame of stopping short. It’s better to go all in and give it all you’ve got and find out it wasn’t enough than to wonder “what if”. Theres no shame in falling short – stopping short though, that’s different. Failure hurts for a minute; regret stays with you. Keep going!
- You are not going to experience victory weeping over something that’s dead. You’re not going to see victory in this season if you’re stuck in the last one. Everything you need for victory within this season is within your reach.
- Are you more interested in posting than progress? You’re in a posting world. Everybody wants to be a guitar rockstar, but nobody wants to learn the chords. Preparation isn’t celebrated in our culture. But I need you to prepare. The ground must be plowed before the harvest can be plentiful. Kelly, you are not a planner. I need you to plan. Provision awaits preparation. The key to receiving provision is to make preparation before you can receive it. You have to do the ground work. I know it’s hard to be persistent when you can’t see the purpose. The training often doesn’t look like your purpose because I prepare you the most in the places that seem the most pointless to you. Why would I waste more if you’re not faithful in what you’re in now? If you are faithful in little, you will be faithful in much. But just like I wouldn’t let a man pastor thousands if he isn’t willing to hit the streets to speak to 40, I won’t allow your success if you aren’t willing to prepare and do the groundwork. Stop looking at it as failure. It’s preparation. I’m preparing you for what I’ve prepared you for. All things work together for the good of those who love me and are called according to my purpose.
- Stop telling me to take the pressure away and start asking me how to handle it. I don’t need you to be perfect, Kelly. I just need you to make progress.
- I’m always working, so assume I’m working for you. Ask me to show you how I’m working! Ask me to show you the miracle already in progress!
- Sometimes it feels like life is pushing you around past your breaking point. It feels like there is so much pressure on you. The power comes from the pressure though. Joseph said that at the end of his life, seeing his purpose all along, he was able to say to his brothers,”You meant it for evil (his brothers pushed him into a pit) you were pushing me. But while you were pushing, the hand of God was pulling. He was pulling me. When it didn’t go the way I wanted it to, when they talked about me, they were pushing, but God was pulling.” Kelly, my hand has always been on your life. While people were pushing with one hand, I was pulling with the other. I was positioning you for exactly where I wanted you to be. I am pulling you and drawing you to me. I’m drawing you into purpose. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it feels like I’m pulling you backwards, but just you wait until you see the trajectory of My purpose!
- Are you expecting much less than I’m willing to give? What if I’m asking you to go deeper than what you’re asking? Kelly, you’ve been asking if you have what it takes. How about you take what you got and whatever you don’t have, I have. If you’ve got what you got, I’ll be what you’re not. And don’t you stop until I say, “STOP”.
Sometimes when you press into Him, He speaks in hard truths that leave you feeling a little (okay, a lotta) convicted. The biggest complaint from my ex-husband was that I didn’t plan. I didn’t prepare. I fly by the seat of my pants. I don’t like hearing that, especially because it’s something he used to say to me..but now that God’s saying it to me, I’m listening. 🙂
He’s also right that I stop short. When things get challenging, I give up because I feel like it’s failure. I feel like if it’s so hard, maybe it’s not my purpose. It’s not failure though, it’s preparation and sometimes preparation is hard.
Through years of struggling to find my purpose I’ve learned this – It’s really just a three-step process:
Step 1: Think about what you’re good at. Think about what other people say you’re good at.
Step 2: Think about what you’re passionate about. What could you do that would make you excited to get out of bed in the morning? What makes you want to jump up and down when you do it? Be realistic though because potential is limited. Just because I like singing, doesn’t mean I’m good at it. Remember: think about what you’re good at and what other people say you’re good at.
Step 3: Choose something that aligns with what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about. Then, run after it. Do NOT stop when it gets hard. Do NOT stop when you feel opposition from others. Do NOT stop when you aren’t seeing progress. Do NOT stop when you feel discouraged. You. Don’t. Stop.
As long as you’re doing something you’re good at and you’re passionate about, that’s your purpose. Even though it’s your purpose though, it doesn’t mean you won’t fail at some things. It doesn’t mean things won’t be challenging. It doesn’t mean that you won’t get discouraged. When you fail, God will be your success. When you fall short, God will pick up the slack. Whatever you do though, don’t stop short.
Failure hurts for a minute, but regret stays with you for a lifetime.
What are you not doing because you’re scared? What are you putting off because you don’t have the courage to step through the window? You better go. You better get moving. Your window is about to close.