Recently, I finished the book Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist.
Disclaimer: I LOVED this book. Loved it. Loved it like:I finished it and I just want to start reading it again. Loved it like:I don’t want to loan it out because it’s that precious to me. So just be prepared for a lot of posts with stuff from Shauna because the parallels in how we think are terrifyingly similar.
In the chapter entitled ‘Phoenix’, Shauna shares this:
My friend Steve says that God doesn’t speak to everyone the same way, but that he generally speaks the same way over and over again to each person.
You can learn it the first time, or you’ll find that same situation or same kind of person or same opportunity starting you in the face over and over again.
I’m starting to realize this is true about me. Mostly, I’ve been living a same scenario over and over because I didn’t ask God for clarity. In the past, I have not prayed. I have not reached out in faith and trust to Jesus for help. My entire life I have created situations and made decisions out of MY own doing. I’ve forged and fought for relationships thinking that I was entirely alone in my quest to make them work. When they ultimately fail, I remained in the thought pattern that I was just doomed- maybe always prone to just sort of shitty circumstances.
I had an epiphany recently.
I have realized how often I acquiesce to the needs of someone else. I have realized how often I don’t fight for myself and allow circumstances to just sort of happen to me. I have thought I have been being agreeable and loving and doing what Jesus would have done. I have thought that I was better than some people because I was so forgiving. But there is a difference between being grace-filled and being used. I don’t really want to use that word ‘used’ as it has such a strong negative connotation – maybe a little too strong. What is a word for being unconsciously put on the back-burner by yourself and others? That is the word I’m looking for.
I don’t like this epiphany. I don’t like the hard decisions I’m required to make. I’d prefer to not know better and remain in situations that seem easier. Making grown-up decisions bout your life is really hard. Especially when so many facets of situations are seemingly good.
For instance, I really love cheese. I like aged cheeses and blue cheeses and soft cheeses like brie and sheep’s milk. But cheese is not that great for me. It’s enjoyable when I have it, but the aftermath of how I feel once I eat cheese is not good. Often, I will eat cheese knowing full-well what the repercussions will be. Because I really love cheese that much. But if I’m being honest with myself? Cheese is not good for me. It may taste good and make a meal more satisfying but ultimately it does not agree with me. The results are not positive.
No matter how much I love cheese, it’s just not going to give me what I need to be the healthiest happiest version of me.
That may be a cheesy analogy (pun intended), but I think it gets the point across that something that seems so great could not end up that way in the end.
Another thing? Pride.
Man, I didn’t realize what a prideful person I am. I have always considered myself pretty humble in most areas of my life. I’m encouraging to others and like helping them succeed. I don’t do things for accolades or praise. But when it comes to personal matters of the heart? I have prided myself on relationships. I have liked being able to say that even though some of my relationships were seemingly doomed, they came out of the darkest hours into the light. Love wins. I don’t like admitting that I failed at something. I don’t like feeling like no matter how much love I’ve poured into something or someone, it’s possible that it’s not enough to make it work.
What happens when you can have all the love in the world but you are going two different directions? How do you reconcile that in your heart and your head? What happens when your heart is going two different directions? How do you have discernment?
I have spent a lot of time thinking about where I’m at in life and where I want to be growing and expanding as a person and a child of God. I’ve been praying about it and asking friends and family to pray for me as well. The results have not been what I’ve expected. It’s interesting how you can pray for something with an answer in mind and then God reveals his truth to you and it is not anything you expected but an answer nonetheless.
I think I’ve finally realized some things about myself I’ve been trying to avoid. So here are a few things I’ve learned in the past couple of months:
- Compromise is one thing. Giving in completely is a whole other thing.
- It’s okay to say you feel a certain way and stick to it. It’s okay to say, ‘I don’t agree and this [insert thing here] is really important to me.’
- It’s okay to make the same mistake over and over again. God’s not going to stop showing you. Like Shauna said- you’ll either learn it or keep doing it over and over again until you do.
- Sometimes dreams end. Not because you didn’t give it all you had or because you didn’t pour your heart and soul into them, but just because they weren’t right.
- Making grown up decisions for yourself sucks. It sucks bad. Deal with it.
- You will walk through trials in this life. Maybe over and over. But you are not alone. Jesus is ALWAYS with you. ALWAYS.
- Having people you can rely on is so important. Find out who will be honest and tell you the truth and listen to them. People that really know and love you will tell you the hard things.
- Growing is painful. It’s going to hurt more than you ever though it could. The bigger the pain, the bigger the growth.
- There is a reason for everything. It may seem unclear and you may wonder how you will come out of a situation, but don’t worry. The lesson always reveals itself.
- There is an old saying, ‘If you love something, let it go. If it was meant to be, it will come back to you.’ Deep in my heart, I hope and pray and want to believe this is true.