Waiting Room or Sailing Ship?: A Lesson on Perspective When You Feel “Stuck”

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Just a disclaimer before we begin: I am all sorts of wishy washy on this subject right now as I am in a “waiting room” of life– I’ll explain that more later– currently. Some days I am able to find joy in it, but most days I feel pretty miserable to be honest.

but what I feel lead to tell you all about today is the art of perspective shifting and how you really can have joy in the midst of your misery.

And that’s where perspective comes into the mix.

I am learning a lot during this season of life– probably why I am here in this season to begin with– but what I feel lead to tell you all about today is the art of perspective shifting and how you really can have joy in the midst of your misery. Key words there are: “in the midst” because I guarantee you that whatever “stuckness” in life you are feeling is not going to be fixed by simply switching your perspective on it– and maybe that’s a good thing and you are meant to be where you are in life right now– but this can help you to find joy, maybe not happiness, but joy is better than happiness anyways because of it’s source.

So, let’s start there.

Say it with me, “I am where I am in life. And it’s quite alright to be here in this moment.”

How did that feel? Did you believe the words coming out of your mouth? Were you able to say it at all?

If your answers to those last 2 questions were a great big GIANT resounding, “NO! And I won’t say that because it isn’t true anyway!”

I. TOTALLY. GET. IT.

BUT, what I do know to be absolute fact is that you stumbled upon this article and decided to get this far in it for a reason.

Now, let me pause here for a second to clarify. I don’t get every single situation out there. I would never pretend to, because it is simply not true and really very audacious. BUT, what I do know to be absolute fact is that you stumbled upon this article and decided to get this far in it for a reason. You may not know what it is yet. Heck, you may not know the reason for many years, but, Friend, I am so sure that you are where you are, right now, in this very millisecond, reading these words, because you were meant to!

And that is the first thing I need you to grasp, not fully understand, just grasp, bearly if necessary, before we move on. If you’re not there yet, it’s cool. I get that too. It has taken me quite a bit of time, and many MANY crying fits and wrestling matches with God, to arrive at a place where I even felt I could write this without sounding like another one of those insincere, totally-not-genuine-at-all motivational speakers who like to seem like they have everything in life figured out.

Friends, I have not arrived. I don’t really believe that I ever will. I don’t believe that anyone, ever, in the entire history of the World, besides Jesus, died having everything in their life and their spouse’s life and there best friend’s life and their best friend’s cousin’s brother in law’s life figured out. Okay, so that’s a bit of an over exaggeration, but isn’t that how we feel sometimes? Isn’t that what we put on ourselves and on each other?

I know I do.

Be reminded that you absolutely do have a Good Good Father whose identity is Love itself and who indeed has plans for your life no matter what things may seem like at this moment and in this season.

So if you are still stuck on that first point, it really is okay. Give yourself some time to meditate on that. Journal it out. Pray over it. Read Psalm 16 and 25 and Jeremiah 29:11 and Exodus 14:14 and Psalm 46:10. Listen to that song that just gets you. And just allow yourself to be completely raw and vulnerable before your Father. Be reminded that you absolutely do have a Good Good Father whose identity is Love itself and who indeed has plans for your life no matter what things may seem like at this moment and in this season.

Go on. I’ll wait. Because it is so important to me that you even just have a tiny inkling of how much you are loved, and how worth the pursuit and the pain– your pain and God’s pain too, because it does hurt Him when you are hurting– your heart is to your Heavenly Father.

This article will be here. So take your time before you continue reading. And when you are ready, let us continue with a story. My story. Or at least the most recent part of it.

And then came what I have begun to refer to as The Great Stripping Away.

Hi. My name is Carly. I’m stuck and miserable.

That is the way I would have introduced myself at a “Stuck Persons Anonymous” meeting, if there was such a thing, no more than a week ago honestly. That is how I defined myself and how I still have to fight hard against defining myself daily.

I think it all started around a year ago, when I began feeling restless at my job as a Case Worker for a non-profit serving homeless and at risk folks. I was uncomfortable and beginning to feel the first signs of burn out in my job, but other things were still going okay. All my basic needs were met, plus some not so basic needs. I had a boyfriend whom I loved and planned to marry one day, a couple of business ventures which I enjoyed and looked like they would probably become fairly lucrative in the next year or so, and I had begun searching for other full time job opportunities.

Everything looked….okay and fairly aligned with where a young twenty-something “should” be according to society. At least the society I am immersed in. And then came what I have begun to refer to as The Great Stripping Away.

In a matter of months, I had a very nasty break up with the boyfriend whom I had planned to marry, hit a seemingly impassable wall in one of the business ventures I had begun, lost regular contact with several Friends from church whom I had relied on and sought comfort and wisdom from, and really began to dread my job on a daily basis. So, I did what anyone else might do. I began to look for solutions, a way out of the rut I had suddenly and unexpectedly fallen into. I also began to complain bitterly to anyone and everyone who even looked like they were listening.

Truthfully, the very act of trying to move forward according to my plans was beginning to pour concrete onto and all around my feet.

And do you know what happened?

Nothing.

I stayed put. Nothing changed besides the rapid decline in my joy, compassion, hope, passion. All of which I had come to identify myself with, and I think, if you had asked anyone they would have probably labeled me joyful, compassionate, hopeful, passionate on most occasions. But the more I pushed in the direction I wanted to go and dwelt on the current displeasing and disappointing circumstances of my life, the “stucker” I became. Truthfully, the very act of trying to move forward according to my plans was beginning to pour concrete onto and all around my feet. Before I knew it, I had become an empty shell of who I once was. And I was going nowhere with no one to blame but myself.

And Friends, up until about a week and half ago that is where I was. Meditating on the Cherry Blossom trees in the crazy bipolar weather in my area and wishing that I could be like them. Resilient. But knowing that unless something big changed in me I could not be resilient. I had allowed myself to be beaten by my own negativity and sinful distrust in my God– seriously Friends, it was no bueno, I have a draft sitting around of an “encouraging” post I tried to write that ended up just being a big old pitty party for one.

And then it happened.

I found myself in earnest prayer throughout the days again, earnest and often brutally honest prayer on both sides of the dialogue. And now, things continue to shift.

A complete meltdown which brewed and bubbled over after a one-two punch from my merciful, ever-patient Father in the form of a sermon on “calling”. I believe the dialogue between God and I at that moment went something like this:

“Carly, I want you right here. Right where you are.”

“Oh, you mean stuck, miserable, walled-in, disappointed and having no hope and no idea of any kind of appealing future for myself?”

“Yes.”

“What?! *sobs* I don’t understand. How could you *sobs* how could you want me here?!”

“Because I have great plans in store for you.”

“Well. Yes. I know that from your Word. But I’m really not understanding, and I am actually really angry that I, the one who has always been full of potential and had the world in front of me, am now watching all my friends freely get married, travel to other countries, and heck out of Delaware even, move out on their own, and all these great things, while I sit here doing nothing and going no where because I CAN’T!”

Silence.

“*more sobbing*” and then eventually, Worship.

And that’s when the nothing started. When I chose to stay there and ignore my Father’s pleas with me to listen to Him and drop the load of regret and disappointment I was clinging to before His gracious throne.

And throughout that week things began to shift, ever so slightly. I found myself in earnest prayer throughout the days again, earnest and often brutally honest prayer on both sides of the dialogue. And now, things continue to shift, ever so slightly, in minute movements back towards truth, and from that, joy begins to bloom, ever so slowly.

So here’s the shift: my eyes had gradually begun to turn inward, to me, and therefore away from the Truth. The only Truth, the only Way, and the only Life. I was, truthfully, feeling stuck and miserable and hopeless, so no wonder, while I was looking through a mirrored lens, all I could see was misery and “stuckness” and hopelessness. And that’s when the nothing started. When I chose to stay there and ignore my Father’s pleas with me to listen to Him and drop the load of regret and disappointment I was clinging to before His gracious throne. I stopped reading scripture and consistently dialoguing with my God, until I almost forgot how.

So Friends, I will not promise that whatever struggle and storm you are weathering right now will not tear you apart. I won’t promise that it will stop in the time period in which you would like it to either…But what I can promise, without even the slightest shadow of a doubt, is that there is a God who is Love Himself…

But my Father kept talking. Louder. Louder! LOUDER! Until I couldn’t help but hear him, and by that point what He had to say, the Truth, was so unappealing and foreign to me that it broke me, and ironically, finally worked its way back into my heart passed the shattered pieces:

“Carly, you are My beloved daughter. I know what I am doing. I want you right where you are. You are not stuck in a waiting room, but actually you are sailing with Me on My ship, according to My timetable. I know you don’t know where we are going, and that freaks you out sometimes, but just take Me at My Word. I do have plans for this journey, and they are meant to prosper you in a way that this world’s definition of prosperity could never encompass. My plans are not meant to harm you, no matter how many storms we weather together on this journey. Stop trying to figure out where we are going and look what I have already done! Look! How beautiful My seas are! Look! How beautiful are the birds of the air and the fish of the sea, which I created through My complete joy in Myself! Isn’t that much more enjoyable than staring out into open sea trying to make sense of where we are headed? I know you are scared but yes, My beloved, you can always come lie in My arms when these seas get rough. That is exactly where those storms are meant to drive you.”

So Friends, I will not promise that whatever struggle and storm you are weathering right now will not tear you apart. I won’t promise that it will stop in the time period in which you would like it to either…

But what I can promise, without even the slightest shadow of a doubt, is that there is a God who is Love Himself, and He delights to shower that Love on you and open your heart to it. He delights in being your safety when the seas get rough along the way. Focus on that Truth, and I can promise that no matter how long this unhappy, miserable, “stuckness” season– and it is just a season– lasts for you, you can take joy, and you will rejoice

FOREVER!

And, like I am discovering right now, as I bring this to a close, you may even be able to, by nothing but Amazing Grace, see in the midst of the storm, a glimpse, a small iota, of the bigger picture for your life and the value of the journey to your destination as the best and most exhilarating and transformative part of that big picture.

And so I will leave you with this quote from Oswald Chambers;

Watch some of the things that strike despair. There is despair in which there is no delight, no horizon, no hope of anything brighter; but the delight of despair comes when I know that ‘in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing.’ I delight to know that there is that in me which must fall prostrate before God when He manifests Himself, and if I am ever to be raised up it must be by the hand of God. God can do nothing for me until I get to the limit of the possible.

— Oswald Chambers, “My Utmost for His Highest”

Go and sail with your Almighty Father. And take joy in the journey!

Yours with love,

~C