I struggle--- A LOT. I struggle to get my personal "preferences" out of the way so that I can be open to whatever God wants of me. I struggle to not look out for my own best interests. I struggle to see the best in others and to stay calm when the stakes get high. Mostly, I struggle to put to practice all that He tells me is righteous and holy. And if anyone can mess up the best of things, it's me.
I might make a lot of mistakes, but God is changing my heart daily. As a Christian I take comfort in knowing that I don't have to rely on my own strength and ability to get me through.
Today, I came back to work for the first time in three weeks due to business travel. While I was away and alone, it was easy to seek Him. He spoke to my heart about some things during that time, but I knew I had to put these things into practice when I got home. All the things I struggle with are tested when I'm in the place where I feel most comfortable.
To be honest, I was not looking forward to failing, as it is inevitable that I fail so regularly. For me, failing is like a daily cycle--I might as well accept that it's going to happen. Even so, I started my day with some events that figuratively screamed out some of my biggest shortcomings. It's tempting to get discouraged very quickly when we realize how much we fall short.
But God reminded me, "Do not get discouraged. Don't let Satan win. Don't focus on your struggles."
Now as a Christian, I suppose you'd expect me to tell you that I obey every time, on the first time I'm told. I suppose you'd think better of me if you thought I don't struggle much and my that heart is completely clean. But that's not the case. He literally had to speak to me about this over and over before I would accept His truths about the situations and move on. I was frankly far too disgusted with myself to think that I deserved any mercy, and I resisted His --at first.
But God suddenly took away the sorrow I'd started carrying.
When I went to lunch, the young lady who works as a cashier was as chatty as usual. She was expressing her frustration with certain men. I admited that I am remarried in an effort to relate to her struggles. She seemed so surprised that I shared this with her that her face lit up. She said, "I'm no better than you, I've been married and divorced twice." The only word of encouragement I could offer her is that guys just think differently than we girls do. Our conversation didn't last but a couple of minutes at most. But before it was over she told me that she wants to do things right, if God gives her another chance. As I walked away she said in the most genuine tone I've ever heard, "Thank You for sharing that with me."
I didn't do anything. I didn't tell her any big secret. I didn't have any great advice to give her. I had just experienced a series of moments that left me feeling rather "weak" and exposed. But God used that short conversation to show me something. When we open up to others and share our struggles, He offers us strength while he uses those very struggles to heal someone else. Its not trivial, but it's also not always easy because sometimes I just want to clam up to the world in the midst of my hurt.
Everyone needs to be able to relate. We need to know that we're not the only ones to struggle with this or that. So many times I battle the fear of being shunned for sharing my story. But God always reminds me that sin forms in the darkness and when we share the inner most part of ourselves, we allow the light He gives us to shine. That very light just might be what others need.