I am learning how to not quit, but it's ugly and messy. I won't tell you it's possible keep going through the mud of circumstances without getting dirty. Instead I am choosing to share my experience so you will find the energy and strength to wade through your mud, firmly grasping Jesus' hand. Pull up your boots and fasten your overalls. We're about to get dirty.
I still struggle daily to move forward. My guess is that you do, too. Join me and Jesus as we beat back these three swine that are trying to make us quit:
This statement is true, yet I compare myself to other business owners, moms, and wives incessantly and subconsciously. "Her business looks super successful, but didn't she start after I did?" "Her kids look so happy all the time (as I scroll through Instagram)." "Her husband seems really happy. She's definitely a better wife than I am."
The yardstick of comparison hovers above my head, always ready to reveal my position in life. My business, mothering skills, and marriage live on the wrong end of the yardstick, and all the effervescent, happy business owners, moms and wives live care free on the other end, taunting me with their awards, princess-themed slumber parties, and elaborate date nights. The enemy whispers "Who do you think you are? You'll never measure up. They live this way all the time."
The enemy just revealed his hand. I caught him in the lie. Did you catch it, too?
When you find yourself on the wrong end of the yardstick, picture this alternative, but more likely reality:
The business owner is owned by the bank and playing the financial shell game trying to stay afloat. The princess slumber party ended early because of the horrible fight between mom and dad, and made for juicy gossip at school on Monday. The elaborate date night was her last effort to win back his attention and affection.
God revealed to me our human tendency to dress up our reality, and to put lipstick on a pig. Ask Him to reveal the same to you. Look past the lipstick and glitter. The people on the other end of your yardstick wish they were on your end of it.
DREAM BIG! NAME IT AND CLAIM IT! THINK POSITIVELY AND IT WILL HAPPEN!
These have been on repeat in my mind (the sterilized "Christian" version of course) for the last five years since starting my business. I have listened to 90 audiobooks, most related to business and self improvement. Wonderful books, brilliant authors, valuable advice. I thrive on learning new concepts and driving the ship of my business. Wait. Whose business is it anyway?
I knew in my head God is the Provider. He gave me the idea for the business, and I said, "Thanks God, I'll take it from here." I never admitted it intentionally, but my actions revealed my unwillingness to surrender to His will. I just knew I would succeed within 3 months by applying my brilliant formula:
Wake up early + listen to more books + make cool products + [...] = RENEE'S SUCCESS
My expectations left no room for God's guidance. After witnessing my self-imposed deadlines whoosh by without the success I craved, I spiraled into an insidious depression. I still functioned, but my boots were caught in the thick mud. I ate out of the pigs' trough because I didn't have the will to find better food. Every task required more energy than I had in reserve. I walked through Willy Wonka's colorful candy factory with grayscale glasses on. I slept, and slept, and slept.
Jesus didn't scold me for almost giving up. Jesus stepped into the pig pen, fought off the swine, walked on top of the mud with His nail-pierced feet, and extended His hand to lift me up. This looked like doctor appointments, medication, prayer, finding myself in His Word, crying and more crying, allowing Him to wipe my face and snotty nose, and letting Him lift my chin. He gave me a thread of truth over and over from the beginning, "Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33 NIV. I hadn't sought Him first - I only expected "all these things".
What are your expectations? Are you expecting this guy to treat you like a treasure instead of a dispensable commodity? Are you expecting your grown child to get back in touch with you? Are you expecting this pregnancy to be the one that takes? Are you expecting your life to change for the better, but it's always just out of reach?
Your expectations are not unreasonable. I can only encourage you to seek first His kingdom, allow Him to lift your chin, and take hold of His outstretched hand. He will walk with you through the mud while you wait. He will be there to comfort you if the expectations prove to be too lofty this side of heaven.
Sometimes I act like God made a mistake. Why would He use me to carry out His will? Shouldn't He know better? I'm flaky, selfish, and tired. The mud is too thick. I don't have what it takes.
I'm not a good business owner; I have only owned a business for five years.
I'm not a good mom; my kids are just incredibly resilient.
I'm not a good wife; my husband just has an extra helping of patience.
I heard a phrase recently that shook me to my core. Paraphrased, "If you look in the mirror in disgust you are telling God He made a mistake." I'm slowly allowing this truth to sink in. I'm determined to reverse it.
Which doubts haunt you? The Bible has so much to say about our identity in Jesus, such as: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit - fruit that will last - and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you." John 15:16 NIV
The enemy whispers doubts constantly to push your face down into the mud so the pigs can trample you, making you ineffective.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10 NIV
"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8 NIV
Are you recognizing that the enemy wants to make you impotent? When you see the person in the mirror as a mistake, incapable of stepping up to God's calling, the enemy shoves your face into the mud with his foot. Stand up and walk on top of the mud with Jesus. One of my dear friends Jen would always say, "Head up, shoulders back, and own it!" Own your identity in Jesus! He has called YOU to carry out His plan!
You have what you need to keep going through your difficult circumstances, as long as you have Jesus on your side. He will walk alongside you so you don't have to compare your true reality to others' augmented reality. You are uniquely in this position to eventually help others going through the same thing, just as I am called by writing this for you. You can manage your expectations and lean on Jesus' strength, not your own. He is faithful to lead you in the best path for you. Do not let the enemy make you think the pig trough is all you deserve, that you aren't wanted at the feast on the other side of the pen. Stand up out of the mud and reach out for Jesus' hand!
I would be honored to know that you read this post, and welcome any respectful comments!
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