Growth Through Challenge

Sometimes it’s easy to feel defeated. It seems as if everything is stacked against us and no matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to get things on the right path.

The thing is, these times usually catch me off guard. Over the years, I’ve built a mental barrier to stress and chaos. Growing up in a household with eleven people, I was used to things being a little chaotic and not everything always going according to plan.

As I grew up and acquired my own set of responsibilities, I tried to maintain some sense (okay, a lot) of control over my life.

I schedule every second of my day. If it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t exist in my world. It’s not that I want to live my life like this (at least that’s what I tell myself). It’s just that I feel like I have to. It’s about control. It’s about the fear of something being out of place. Of not getting everything done. Of letting someone down, especially my husband or my children.

I need it all to be perfect. Or I may fall apart. And then God reminds me I was never really in control to begin with.

The past couple of weeks have been rough. Many things – not on my schedule – have taken a toll on my mental barricade. From getting in a wreck, to having a sick child, to finding out my husband may need surgery again. And just when I think I had a grip on everything, a pebble tipped the scale & it all came tumbling down.

Deep down I know it’s not something that would normally bother me. But for some reason, this particular thing did me in. It made me angry – and ugly, if I’m being honest. It made me a version of myself I don’t like. One I don’t like others to see.

I’ve broken down and cried over silly things. I’ve blown up about completely justifiable things. I’ve had to apologize at least twice for my behavior. I’ve scolded myself daily. “Get it together, Ashley. You can do this.”

We don't grow when things are easy. We grow when we face challenges.

I know this is just something I am working through. I know I will be okay. God will take care of me, like He always has. But sometimes, it’s hard not to lose it. It’s hard not to throw my hands in the air and scream, “Why me?!”

And then I see why – because I’m stubborn. Because while God knows I can handle a lot, He also knows I still need Him. He knows that one day, I am going to put a little too much on my plate and I’m going to be overwhelmed.

Truth be told, I have a tendency to take my relationship with God for granted. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I’ve never doubted the existence of God or His love for me. Even in the darkest times of my life, I’ve always had this overwhelming sense of truth that it was going to be okay. That God would take care of me. And He’s never proven me wrong.

I think because of that, I don’t talk to Him as much as I should. I don’t visit Him every Sunday like I was raised. It’s almost as if I tell myself I don’t need to – because I know He’s got my back. I tell myself He knows my heart. He knows how I feel, despite my lack of telling or showing Him.

It’s time like those lately, when I’m reminded just how much I need Him. It’s also in those times when God reminds me: He made me in His image. I may be stubborn, but His love for me far surpasses my determination to do this on my own. He knows I’m busy, but He’s not going to let me slack on our relationship.

God does know my heart – better than I do myself. I think that’s why He speaks to me in a way He knows will get my attention. For it is only through challenges when I truly acknowledge my failures. It is only in those times when my eyes are opened to the progress I have yet to make. God isn’t just watching out for me when I need Him. He’s here daily, ensuring the salvation of my soul.

It is during the challenges, though, when He’s speaking to me. He’s saying, “Come to me. Let me give you comfort and peace. Let me handle your burden today. You need rest my child.”

God doesn’t give us struggles so He can be reminded of our need for Him. He allows challenges in our lives so that we may be reminded of our need for Him.

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