Finding Oneself in the Midst of Adversity

Finding oneself in the midst of adversity

Man, have you ever been rocked so hard in life that you look around and don’t even know who you are anymore? You thought you knew, but then you got leveled by a blitz that you didn’t see coming and were left confused, distraught and even disillusioned…

If not, consider yourself blessed…Well, kinda…

I’ve been on a heck of a journey for a while now that could be better described as a “Hell” of a journey at times. I went from being the “faith preacher” to questioning everything that I once so adamantly esteemed as “gospel”. I never questioned my spiritual salvation but I have to admit, just about everything else was brought under the microscope for evaluation…

As things seemed to go downhill in a whirlwind, I found myself struggling with maters that before were non-issues. Feelings of inadequacy, feelings of inferiority, feelings of embarrassment, frustrations with positioning, frustrations with not only a lack of progress but even a perceived gravitational pull backward despite my greatest efforts to progress…It felt as if I could not win no matter what I tried…and in the midst of this, the analysis of my “faith” began…

I questioned things like, “Do I really believe that?”, “Is what I have always believed about this true?”, “Why isn’t this thing working like it’s supposed to?”, “Are all these faith preachers actually just people who haven’t had to go through REAL fire, so it’s easy for them to talk about walking by faith?”, “Would they be so nonchalant about telling people about faith or prosperity or favor or healing if they had ever actually had to walk that road themselves?”, “If they have, then why isn’t it working for me like it has for them?” …etc. Does this sound familiar or am I the only one who has had these questions?

While pondering these experiences, my thought patterns and all that I have learned today, I’ve also been thinking back to relationships that have originated during this bizarre season of confused direction in my life and I’m wondering what others may actually be thinking about me…Considering the fact that I haven’t been able myself to deduce who I was during different junctures of my recent journey, others have probably been equally if not more confused than I have been about “who I am”. Especially if they didn’t know me before…

It’s been really awkward for me, and I think uncomfortably obvious to others that I’ve felt that way. For instance, in most first encounters, people will politely ask you “What do you do”… Well, I don’t have a readers digest answer for that question. I used to just say, “I’m a cop” but now any answer I give leads into an onslaught of additional questions.

For a while I said, “I’m a preacher” but then I got the questions “where do you preach”…No “readers digest” answer there, as I have to explain to them about having been a pastor for 9 years, the feeling that God was directing me elsewhere and I’m no longer a pastor but I minister online and travel and teach classes, blah blah blah…

Then I said, “I’m an evangelist” and people would ask “Oh do you do that full time?”…again, super long story…

Then I told people that “I am medically retired”…soliciting a plethora of questions about why, how, blah, blah blah…

So finally, I just started saying what seemed simple, “I’m a stay at home dad”…to which the response is commonly a weird look and an awkward “There’s nothing wrong with that” type of response indicating that maybe in some peoples minds there is…

So I can’t win with an honest answer, not to mention the fact that any answer I give seems to solicit sympathy or empathy or whatever from the person I am talking to and I feel really uncomfortable as they look at me with their “eyes of compassion”…It’s just weird and awkwardly uncomfortable…I’ve actually considered just making something ridiculous up just to make the other person too uncomfortable to ask any additional questions…something like, “I’m a hit man for the mafia” (if you say something like that with a straight face, it messes people up-HA)…So the typical “fake it til you make it” response has not been an easy sell for me…as a manufactured smile does not hide the awkwardness in my demeanor because I just don’t know what to say…

I have tried to not display it publicly…I’ve put on a smile and when people would ask “How you doing?” I would respond, “It’s all gravy on this train baby!” They’d laugh, I’d smile, and we’d go our separate ways…but what was displayed on the outside didn’t necessarily reflect what was transpiring on the inside…at least not to those who only casually knew me…

Contrary to the common perception, what I know is: I’ve not laughed like I used to, I’ve not been as out going as I once was, I’ve not been as confident as I once was, I’ve not been as assured as I once was, I’ve not been as driven as I once was, I haven’t had the relationships that I once had, I’ve not been as happy as I used to be, I went from having the Midas touch where everything I touched prospered and turned to gold to feeling like everything I touched caught on fire and burned before it ever left the tarmac. I’ve questioned my abilities, I’ve questioned my gifting’s, I’ve questioned my calling and election, I’ve questioned whether or not everything I had once desired and dreamed about was a façade…Battle after battle with little time to breathe in between had left me a little more than un-calibrated (if that’s not a word, it is now) to say the least …Talk about a life shift being the catalyst in a paradigm shift!

In seasons like that it is easy to get an “I don’t care” mentality about everything…it’s like you enter into “survival mode” where you have two choices, hold on to your life preserver and just breathe or let go and drown… If you’ve been there then you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about! It aint easy…but just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean the experience is not profitable…Nothing worth having comes without a price…

My experiences have shown me that God uses all kinds of mediums to convey His voice…The bible, other people, a note or blog like this one, a book, an experience, and sometimes even a still small voice in your subconscious…He’s used all of them to speak with me at different times but most recently, it was a still small voice that seemed to make more sense than anything else I have considered…

As an analyzer, I would be an idiot to deny that there have been some significant lessons learned from going through much of what I have. And the fire I have endured has given me a perspective that I was not afforded before…I believe that I am better for having experienced it and I will be a more effective leader for having done so…BUT it seems like it has been going on for a LONG TIME…In actuality, it’s been years…

A few nights ago, I was contemplating the amount of time that I have spent in this place of “limbo” and I said to God, “God, I’ve spent a lot of time in this season don’t you think”… Before I even finished the thought I heard the quiet voice that I referred to earlier clearly state, “You had a lot to unlearn”. I actually laughed…for one I knew that what I heard was true but it also seemed so direct and so far from what I expected that it just hit me as funny…

Since hearing that statement, I’ve considered it at length and the more I think about it, the more I realize the depth of truth in it. We’ve all got a lifetime of experiences that have molded and taught us to think and respond as we do today…Not all of those experiences/teachings have been positive, productive or even correct…How often do we hold tightly to unproductive ideals just because that is what has been modeled or instructed, never really considering the impact of our actions and/or perceptions? In my life, it has been revealed that there were A LOT of these issues to confront…and I never realized it before I was pressured to do so…

I started out this note with the statement, “have you ever been rocked so hard that you look around and don’t even know who you are anymore? If not, consider yourself blessed…Well, kinda…” and now I would like to explain what I meant when I said, “Well, kinda”.

Mark Batterson wrote in his book, Wild Goose Chase, “I’ve come to realize that getting where God wants me to go is not nearly as important as becoming who God wants me to be in the process”.

I’m not sure that I would have come to the conclusions or deductions that I have without having gone through the “journey” that I have been on over the past few years. I wish I were in a place where God could just “tell me” what I needed to know so that I didn’t have to go through these kinds of experiences but, at least in my own life, following God’s direction or coming to God’s perspective rarely leads me down the path of least resistance. It usually involves a lot of work, seasons of discomfort and a willingness to place things that I would prefer to keep on the sacrificial alter, if for no other reason because it’s easier to do so…and somewhere in that mix, at some point, is most always an intense desire to throw in the towel…

I’ve wanted to throw in the towel many times in my life…I’m glad that I didn’t quit because as I’m thinking about it now, I’m not sure anything worth having ever comes without the opportunity to give up before reaching it. That’s just been my experience, but it has been a consistent aspect of it… maybe you can relate, maybe not…

I am not saying that God created all of the problems for me to face as some kind of test of my character. As a matter of fact, I’m confident that many of them could have been avoided all together if I had been obedient in some other places…but mine is a perfect example of God working all things together for my good…Using seasons that are more “self-imposed” than “God-imposed” to perfect and finish the good work that He has begun in me…

Do I think that God may have “extended” my stay in these self-imposed seasons until that work has reached a point of reasonable completion in me? Yeah, I think that may be the case…But in that case, a time delay is not a “set back” it’s a “set up” for future progress without similar delay…in other words it’s simply God’s way of taking initiative to teach His son something in the midst of the learning opportunity.

That consideration changes my perspective of the scripture, “In all things give thanks, for this is the will of God for your life”…Before, it seemed to me like those who quoted this scripture were looking for a faithless cop out in a season when they were “in the fire”…I often thought of people who recited that scripture as being too much of a pansy to stand up and fight against what was ailing them…and as a result, were just chalking it up to “being God’s will” because that is easier than fighting (which I still hold on to in many cases) but I now have a different perspective as it applies to my life…

Not that I thank God for the adversity or that I think that bad and hurtful experiences were directly His will or doing…(as I said before, I believe, at least in my case, that battles I’ve faced could have been avoided all together if I had just listened a little more closely and been obedient) but God has used the down time and perceived set backs associated with the negative experiences to perfect me so that I have come out far stronger and better equipped to handle adversity and lead others through it than I was before I was rocked to begin with…And in that, I can give thanks for what God has taught me and His faithfulness to turn it around for my good so that it didn’t destroy me but actually built me.

Instead of losing yourself in the confusion of circumstance, understanding this can actually help you find yourself right in the midst of adversity. I’ve heard it said, “You don’t really know what you are made of until you are squeezed and what’s on the inside comes out” and that revelation of who you REALLY are is as valuable as any other variable when referring to stepping into our destiny.

Regardless of who is speaking it or no matter what our circumstances say, God’s Word IS TRUTH!!! and it clearly states that God will complete the good work that He has begun in us…Excepting that reality can help us change our perspective and realize that life has not so much dealt us a “Crappy Today” as a “Fertilizer Filled” tomorrow…It’s all in how it’s applied!

Keep on Keepin on my friends! God is Faithful!!!

Oh, and by the way…Yeah, I STILL believe!

If you can dig it, say WORD!!!

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