Oceans Deep

Finding & Following Jesus in the Deep End of Life

What To Do When You’re Not Living Your Best Life

Hello, my dear readers—and bless your sweet souls for reading my sporadic, inconsistent posts. Remember the days I wrote regularly every week? Perhaps one day I’ll return to that…

But for now, words are few and far between. In part, it’s a season of life issue. Mothering three children four and under—and one with special needs—is exhausting. There’s simply only so much time in a day or week to devote to things other than keeping my tribe alive.

And yet in part—perhaps in larger part—it’s a season of heart issue.

November marks 6 months since we packed up our California life and headed back East. To say the past ½ year has been a roller coaster is…well…putting it mildly. I wouldn’t exactly describe these past 6 months as “living my best life.”

No, a far more accurate description would be Survivor. Or something along the lines of The Hunger Games.

And I don’t know about you, but I detest the feeling of living in survival mode … most especially when it comes to my faith.

I’ve been in a season of doubt—a season of struggling and wrestling with God over things I can’t make sense of, no matter how hard I try. It’s an arduous task, reconciling the God we know and love with pain … it’s an even more arduous task when we’re reconciling that God with our own pain.

Many times I’ve sat down to write, only to close the laptop in discouragement, knowing the doubt and mistrust with which I’m struggling. Y’all know me well enough to know that I’m not interested in writing (or reading!) empty words about the faith journey … I want to write something that’s genuine.

But you know what God has been so patiently, graciously showing me? Our struggle doesn’t have to stop our faith. Like Job, like Jacob, like so many other Biblical characters, we can keep walking the path with God while we wrestle with our doubts and fears.

Sometimes trusting God and His sovereignty comes in an instant, but oftentimes it comes after days, weeks, even months of struggling through it—and that’s OK!

The most important point is that we continue to wrestle it out with Him. That we keep placing our trust and hope in what we know in our heads to be true of God, even when that truth hasn’t found its way into our hearts just yet.

A recent devotion I read recounted the story of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah, and I continue to be struck by Abraham’s display of steadfast faith. If anyone had reason to suspect God might be cruel or lacking in goodness, it was Abraham.

God promised something amazing—the miracle gift of a son after a lifetime of childlessness (see Genesis 15). But then Abraham had to wait, wait, wait some more for the realization of this gift. And then, after enjoying several years of fatherhood, God asked Abraham to sacrifice this long-awaited, much-adored son. My mom brain yells what???

And yet, Abraham never faltered. He trusted God and believed He would provide—even if that provision came in the wild form of raising Isaac from the dead! (see Hebrews 11:19).

That is some crazy awesome faith. And I find myself asking how?

It’s simple, really: Abraham knew God. He walked with Him. He talked with Him. Over and over, Genesis tells us that Abraham “called upon the name of the Lord” (see Genesis 12:8 ESV).

Abraham’s faith was the natural outflow of his personal relationship with the God of the universe. He’d been enjoying a front-row seat to the character of God and thus knew that God is good. That He can be trusted. That He is faithful. Even when our circumstances have us feeling like we’re taking crazy pills.

Abraham’s ancient faith speaks volumes to us today—if a man who walked and talked with God trusted Him enough to sacrifice his beloved only son, then we can trust Him as well.

Even when it’s a struggle.

Perhaps you too find yourself living in a bit of survival mode. Maybe your faith has taken a hit or you’re wrestling with God over the pain in your life. So what can we do when we’re not living our best life?

First, know this is a season.

Seasons, by definition, don’t last forever. And every season has its purpose, its place, and its blessings. Search for the blessings. I’m the first to admit that oftentimes, wrinkle-faced squinting is required to discover something definable as a blessing … but I promise you, the blessings are there. Even in darkness (see Isaiah 45:3).

Second, try to focus on what you can learn and do in this intense season.

God uses everything in our lives; there’s not a scrap of material that goes unnoticed or without purpose. Ask yourself the hard question: what is God possibly trying to teach me?

Do I need to realize and accept my lack of power to control outcomes?

Am I controlled by fear?

Am I allowing anger or bitterness to take root in my heart?

Jeremiah 29:13 says, You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart (ESV, emphasis added). We would all do well to ask ourselves what may be stopping us from seeking Him with our whole heart.

Lastly, and most importantly—keep going in faith.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other, step by step, moment by moment, day by day. You don’t have to have it all figured out to follow Him. We don’t have to have a nice, neat explanation to remain faithful (though of course, that would be nice!).

We can simply cling, sometimes in ugly desperation, to the promises of His word.

I’ve been camped out in the Psalms almost constantly for months now, and to me this is the perfect place to turn when you’re in need of rest and comfort from your Heavenly Father. In particular, I love the word of Psalm 92:12-15—

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him (ESV, emphasis added).

Isn’t that a beautiful promise and the very definition of living one’s best life? Flourishing in Him. This is God’s heart towards you and me … we must hold firm to the truth of such words, even when our eyes fail to see their reality.

I’ll leave you with a beautiful quote from Elizabeth Elliot who, when speaking of handling our pain, said:

Lift up your hands, denoting your love, your acceptance, your thanksgiving and your trust that the Lord will make of this situation something redemptive and good.

Keep clinging, dear one. Keep wrestling. Lift it all up to the One who can and will bring it all together for good, one glorious day.

Blessings,

2 Comments

  1. Found this in my inbox recently and wanted to say thank you!!

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