life, My Faith

Only forward is the battle cry

What if this thing that feels like a curse, a hindrance, is actually a blessing? What if dropping the pretense of perfection actually takes me to the place God has wanted me all along? What if…?

It amazes me the number of people who struggle–well adjusted, strong women. These are women I’ve seen God use in my life and in others’ lives in mighty ways. To find out they have struggles makes them seem human too. It makes me realize they get it. And I don’t think less of them for their struggles. If anything, I think more of them for overcoming these struggles.

So why should I worry about what other people think of me? Short answer is what my momma told me…I shouldn’t. Maybe the worry about other people’s opinions is just another ploy of Satan to try and stop real change. Because let’s face it, real change needs to occur. These demons aren’t new here, even though it may seem like it. These struggles have followed me around for a really long time; I just used to be better at keeping the monsters at bay–or maybe I wasn’t really.

There are some amazing things about me. (Saying that seems weird and vain but I’m working on being kinder to myself. And it’s true. I actually do have a lot of great qualities…someday that might seem normal to say). There are places where I struggle, where improvement is needed. There are places God wants to work on me so He can better use me for whatever He intends. There are places where I need help to grow. But won’t that always be the case?

Here lately those shortcomings have overshadowed all the good parts. Those weaknesses had all but disabled any strength I had and left me wounded and bleeding out in the floor emotionally. They left me unable to do much more than exist, unable to even see the good parts, much less use them. Struggling just to breathe. And maybe in that Satan thought he won for a while. I almost gave up…again…on all the things.

But God’s mercies to me show up again and again when I need them the most. There has not been harsh judgement or any of the things I feared might happen. I have not found one person who thinks less of me (or if they do, they mercifully keep it to themselves.)

In the midst of the worst part of me, God provided for me. He sent me manna in the wilderness. He sent me people who wouldn’t let me give up. People who are willing to sit on my couch and watch the Food Network while I cried. He sent me people who let me sit on their couches, days in a row, when the loneliness got too much to bear. He sent me people who know pretty flowers left in the porch and a “hey, I still love you and you’re important to me” mean the world. He sent me people who know a simple text message reminder that I am loved and worthy of love mean so much more than words.

He sent me strong Christian women who pull up a chair, real or metaphorical, beside me and say, “look I get it. I’ve been here too. I’m praying for you. I know this is tough, but you will survive this. God wants to use you, even in spite of this and maybe because of this.”

He sent me people who know how to love me well to surround me with love and encouragement and acceptance and most of all prayers. He sent me this because God knows how to love me well. And for that I am always grateful.

Are there still challenges, still consequences, still learning? Of course. There always will be in this life. The only thing to do is press onward–only forward. Take the next step and then the next. Bring forward only the lessons that were learned and leave the failures where they happened. The past challenges us and changes us sometimes, but the present is where the good stuff lies. And the promise of a brighter tomorrow. Because HOPE here lives…there is always hope.

Maybe the edge of this valley is in sight. Maybe the promise of a better season is at hand. And maybe another valley will surely come, just like winter returns every year. But even in this there is beauty if you just know how to look for it.

And so the battle cry. Only forward–the best is yet to come.

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