I am so excited to have my friend Stacy Pardoe guest posting today! She is here to share her wisdom and beautiful heart and encourage us through seasons of change.
It happened on a balmy August evening with locusts droning on like a reminder that the earth would keep spinning, even if my world had shifted in an uncomfortable direction.
We will all face seasons of drastic change in life, and that August evening threw me like few others. In a matter of minutes, every dream I’d been dreaming – every plan I’d been carefully laying down like a piece of some giant puzzle – fell to the wayside, and I was left alone with a radically shifted set of circumstances.
As the years have worn on, I’ve learned a few lessons about how to take the next step when the train of my life has gone off the tracks of change – even if it seems to have plummeted into the closest ravine.
If your autumn holds uncomfortable changes today, hold onto these truths to help you find the right path. It might not be the path you had planned, but we serve a Master Engineer who can make even this new path smooth and clear:
1. Fight Offense with all You Have
When life takes an unexpected turn, my most natural reaction is to take offense. If I’m not angry with myself for messing up, it’s all too easy to hold a grudge against another person, or, even worse, to hold a grudge against God.
The “If you’re not going to hold up your end of this deal, I’m done holding up mine” mentality has wrecked far too many lives.
We don’t serve a God whose ways can be easily understood, and sometimes his plans simply don’t match our plans. But it was never about holding up equal ends of the deals we make with him in our minds. God’s ways are above our ways, and there are times when his derailments are nothing short of grace – nothing short of gifts.Before you understand what’s happening, resolve not to take offense at him in your heart. This is more than a battle about your plans, your hopes, or your dreams; it is a battle for your heart, and the moment you harden your heart, you lose the battle – every time.
2. Feel Your Feelings
Refusing to take offense doesn’t mean we bury our feelings. It’s healthy to face your disappointment, your discouragement, and even your fear.
The feelings of fear and discouragement are not sins. God isn’t mad at you for being afraid or disappointed; instead, he is offering an opportunity to practice what you know about him. This is an opportunity to stand on what you know to be true, all while being honest about what you feel.
Unfelt feelings will eventually come out in unexpected and even inappropriate places and ways. Take time to face and feel your emotions. Then bring them to the light of God’s Truth by finding the written words that speak into what you are experiencing.
3. Look for What’s Right
When the bottom falls out, it’s easy to see only what is wrong in your life. It’s easy to forget about the three healthy children when the youngest falls ill. It’s easy to overlook the blessings of a job or a husband or a home or running water when the car breaks down for good. Even if ten things have gone wrong, keep reminding yourself of what is still right. Don’t stop giving thanks. Hold what you have with an open palm, but appreciate it that much more.
4. Do the Next Thing
Many poets and writers have held to the teaching of, “Do the next right thing.”
Doing the next thing is as simple as doing whatever needs done in front of you – one thing at a time. In grief, in overwhelming circumstances, and in despondency, there is still dinner waiting to be cooked, a floor waiting to be mopped, or laundry waiting to be folded.
No matter how simple it seems, sometimes the best thing you can do to move in the right direction is the next right thing.
5. Keep Dreaming . . . or Begin Dreaming again
If a dream has been crushed, you will need time to grieve the dream. You will need time to reframe it, to take it to the Lord as an offering and revisit everything from your motives to the practicality of the dream.
But don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop asking God to put big and beautiful plans in your heart. It hurts when dreams die, but maybe what feels like “no” is more like, “not yet.” Begin dreaming again.
6. Love the One in Front of You
Our grief can turn our focus unhealthily inward. While there is a time for self-care, there is a time when the best way to find refreshment is to refresh others.
Look for someone to love, serve, or help in your life. Love the one in front of you, and you might soon find your life back in the clear and wide way.
7. Pursue Fun
I’m prone to take myself far too seriously at times. Sometimes the best thing you can do when life has fallen apart is to pursue something you sincerely enjoy.
Take the kids to on an adventure the whole family will enjoy, plan a date night, have dinner with friends and don’t worry about your diet for an evening, or pursue a hobby you haven’t taken time to enjoy lately.
8. Take God out of the Box
Finally, maybe it’s time to take God out of your carefully constructed box. Acknowledge that he works in ways beyond human understanding, and affirm your trust in him through this unknown part of your journey with him.
His arm is not too short to save you.
His power is made perfect when you are most helpless.
Your emptiness is the foundation for his next miracle.
Nothing is too hard for him.
He is waiting for you to encounter his love in action in a very fresh way through this seeming derailment of your life. There are no promises that what comes next will be easy – that it won’t require back-bending work – but there is a promise that you’re not working through it alone.
If you would like to take a journey into a life that is less hurried and more intentional in the ways you connect with God and with others, my gift to you today is my free 21-day devotional Unrushed: Train Yourself to be Less Hurried, More Disciplined, and More Intentional in Your Relationships with God and Others. Each day of this journey will focus on one of the following: your thoughts, your relationship with God, or your relationships with others. This is a transformational journey into a life that is more present – more fully lived. Click here, and I’ll send this free resource to your email inbox!
Stacey is a lover of the woods, a passionate and imperfect follower of Christ, the mother of three blue-eyed children, the wife of Darrell, and much more. She writes words about her walk of faith in the in-between moments, and she mentors and teaches the Bible to younger women.
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