Never give up on your struggle

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We all have things that we struggle with from time to time. Some of them struggles may be on a daily basis. Some struggles may be small and others may be huge. Some may call their struggle sin, some may call them bad habits, and some may call them weaknesses, but no doubt that they are a struggle. For some of us they may cause us to harbor some guilt or shame that in return causes us to feel really bad about ourselves. They may cause us to feel as if we have let God down in some way. And if the enemy is using our struggle to try to defeat us we will feel like God is mad at us for our struggle. But there is hope for us.

We are not alone in our struggles because Jesus faced the same things that we face from day to day. He totally understands what it is like to be faced with temptations, trials, troubles, and all of the other things that we face. He knew that if it were not for God being within him that he would not be able to have victory over his struggles. And because we have Jesus within us we can also have victory. There is nothing that is impossible because we have the strength of Jesus within us. It may not feel like it in the moment but we are able to defeat our struggle and come out on the other side of it victorious. I am not saying that it will be easy by no means but I am saying that it is possible.

Maybe that is the real problem that we have with some of our struggles. We want it to be easy. We want to be able to get threw it with a breeze and not have to put much effort in it. We want the temptations to go away so that we do not have to tell ourselves no and deny ourselves something that we want. But most of the time that is not how it works. We have to fight for ourselves against ourselves for the better of ourselves. Now not all of our struggles are self made but the same concept applies. We have to go threw the hard part to get to the better part. And in some cases it is the outlook that we have about our struggle that makes it even harder to endure.

We can make our struggle harder by the way that we perceive it. If your struggle is a bad habit it is not going to do you any favors to think of it as something that is going to very hard to stop. It is not going to make it easier to think of the way that it is going to feel to stop the habit. But thinking about the freedom and the good that will come from stopping the bad habit will encourage you to do it. Thinking about something good that you can replace that habit with can give you the drive to do the good habit instead of the bad. If your struggle is a physical disability it will not help you cope with it if you think of the disadvantage that you have. It will not help you to deal with the disability if you always think about the things that you can not do. Instead think something like, “I may not be able to __________ but at least I am able to _______ and ______ and _______.”

God equipped us with what we need to be able to do hard things. He built us to be able to endure whatever life throws our way. He sent Jesus to walk this earth as a human, just like us, so that He would know what it is like to have to face hard things so that He can empathize with us. Because he knows the depth of the pressure and the pain that we face at times he is able to comfort us in the way that will be most comforting. Our feelings towards our struggle is no surprise to him either because he felt the same emotions. So even if you feel as if no one can understand what you are going threw know that God understands. If you feel as if you are all alone in your struggle know that He is with you. And if you feel like you will never be able to overcome your struggle know that with Jesus nothing is impossible. Never give up on your struggle because God will never give up on you.

What does life mean

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We often get what the meaning of life really is confused. We think of life as the things that we achieve such as our house, cars, career, money, retirement, and so on. But when the end of our life comes and someone speaks at our funeral they do not talk about the house that we had, the car that we drove, the job title that we had, or the amount of money that we had in the bank do they? No, they speak about the kind of person that we were and the contributions that we offered to society. They speak about those things because that is what really matters when it comes to life. All the other stuff is just things that hold no value of life.

Through my own experience, and from hearing from others, I found that as long as we are searching for our meaning of life in external things we will never discover it. For many years I searched for fulfillment of the void that was within me in all the wrong places. Because we grow up hearing that life is about you growing up, getting a degree, finding a good career, getting married, having kids, going on vacations and creating memories, saving money, buying a house, retiring and relax, those are the things that we seek for fulfillment in life. While all those things are a part of life, they are not our meaning of life. They are not what is going to make us at peace with ourselves and have wholeness in life. And they are not the things that we will be remembered for when we are gone.

We were all created for the purpose of God and until we step into being who he created us to be we will not be whole. We will continue to feel like there is something missing in our life as long as we are out of line with his purpose for us. We will be in constant lack until we step into the shoes that he prepared for us to wear. There is nothing that you can sustain in this world that will fill the void that you have in your heart. For it is only when you become the amazing person that you were created to be and share your qualities with the world that you will come to know the true meaning of life. Life becomes full of meaning when we start living our purpose of life.

To help you figure out what your purpose of life is let me tell you about an exercise that I once did. Say that the end of your time on this earth has came, what is it that you would want someone to say about you when they speak at your funeral? Get a piece of paper and that those things down. Now what is on that paper thatis not currently a reality for you? What would you need to do in order for them to become a reality? This exercise help me quit a bit and I pray that it helps you. I would live to hear about what you discovered about yourself when you do the exercise so feel free to leave me a comment.

You are not alone in your struggle

Do you want some encouragement and to know that you are not alone in the struggles that you have faced or that you are facing? I have been connected to an amazing women that has a blog and a podcast called struggling blessed but not alone. She has started a podcast that airs every Friday where she interviews different people about the struggles that they have faced or are facing and how God brought them through it. She interviewed me this week about my testimony and how God has birthed a new person within me. If you are interested in hearing my interview listen to her podcast and if it speaks to you share it out to your friends. I want to thank Teresa so much for the opportunity to tell my story and hopefully get the work of God out to many people.

Unmet expectations

I recently learned something that has brought a great freedom to my life that I would like to share with you. It is something that I think many of us do not realize that it is something that we do. And it is something that steals our joy from us. Let me start off by giving you an example so that you will be able to fully grasp the issue. Lets say that you have a friend that is going through a tough time. They are facing some financial hardships and it is causing them a lot of stress. Out of the goodness of your heart and the love that you have for that friend you help them pay a bill. They are grateful and show their appreciation by cooking a meal for you. You are at peace with the situation and your friendship moves forward. Well awhile down the road you are going through something and need some emotional support. You go to the friend that you helped out earlier and share what is on your heart. That friend listens but offers no advice or help. You feel hurt because you were there for them when they needed you but they are not offering anything to help you in your time of need. All you really want is for them to tell you that it is going to be okay and to do something for you that will lift you up. But you have not said to them what would make you feel better for the moment. So the conversation ends with you feeling even more hurt than before you talked to that friend. You feel let down and feel like that friend isn’t so much of a friend like you thought they were. It’s not like it would take much to fill your need, right? I mean you helped them with money and all that you are needing is some of their time and inspiring words but they can’t seem to give you that. All you are asking for is some of their time, but, have you actually asked them? You see, this is where the problem actually is.

You went into the conversation with your friend with an expectation of them offering words of advice or encouragement and to do something kind for you to show they care for you. You went into it with expecting something but did not tell them what you needed, therefore you did not get it. And because you did not get what you were expecting you are let down and disappointed, possibly severely hurt. But to how much fault can you really put on your friend for it? Is it their fault that they did not know what you were looking for from them? Was it their fault that they did not know what you were expecting from them?

We often have expectations of others that are not met simply because we did not communicate the expectation. We look to others to fill a need of ours and it is not fulfilled simply because the person did not know the need. We think that a person does not care about us because they do not do something that we would do. Just because we show love in one way does not mean that we can expect others to show love in the same way. Or just because it is in our nature to do things in a certain way does not mean that it is the nature of everyone else. To one person it may mean the world to them for someone to tell them they are appreciated and to another person they may need to be told and shown in some materialistic way in order for it to mean as much as it did to the other person.

When we go into something with expectations that are unknown to others we are setting ourselves up to get disappointed and hurt. We have to make sure that we let our wants and needs be known. We can not expect others to do things the way that we would do them. And we can not get mad when we have unmet expectations that have not been voiced.

I know that there are many things that we think is a natural “know that you should do” thing but it may not be what another person would do. Let’s say that you asked someone to go pick up some lunch for you and you will pay for their lunch as well. Because you paid for their lunch for going and getting it for you, you don’t feel that you need to say thank you. But the other person’s feelings are hurt because you did not say thank you to them for going and getting it. They feel like since they thanked you for buying their lunch that you would thank them as well and since you didn’t it hurt their feelings. But you don’t see it because you feel as if you showed your appreciation by buying their food. They had an expectation of you saying thank you but you didn’t and instead of them saying something about it they choose to not say anything and have their feelings hurt. I know that may not be a great example but hopefully you get the point that I am trying to get across.

When I learned this aspect it caused me to be able to let go of a lot of offensive feelings that I had towards others and it enabled my joy to increase. I was able to understand that it was not that these people meant to do me wrong, hurt me, or cause disappointment. They did not know that I was expecting something from them, therefore they did not know that I was looking for them to do it. And how could they be deliberately hurting me when they did not know that they were doing something that was hurting me. I hope that I have explained this point good enough that it brings insight to you in ways that can free you as well. What expectations have you had from others that were not met and has caused you pain or disappointment? Did those people know that you were expecting those things from them or did you assume that they would give you what you were expecting?

I want to be happy

Our happiness largely depends on our beliefs. What we believe about ourselves, our past, others, and etc. has a huge impact on the amount of happiness that we have. If we believe that our past dictates our future then we will never be any happier than we have been in the past. If we believe that we are a victim or less than in any way then we are not going to be happy. If we believe that the way that others treat us is how we deserve to be treated then we will not be happy. The way that we believe about ourselves is the kind of life that we will have. We will never be able to be truly happy until we accept and love ourselves unconditionally. We have to get in alignment with what God says about us and not what the enemy has put in our head about ourselves.

Do you believe that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by God? Do you know that you are loved and accepted just as you are by God? Do you know that God has a good plan for your life, even though, you are the mess that you are right now? Do you believe that when he looks at you he does not see all your faults, wrongs, or failures, and that all he sees is the goodness of your heart? Do you believe that you are forgiven and should not carry guilt? We have to know, that we know, that we know that, God is for us and not against. That he loves us despite our issues. That he loves us unconditionally. And that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Not even satan can come between that love. We have to know that God created us just as he wanted us to be and that he created a masterpiece. Do you know that every part of who you are is of value to God? Only when we truly believe these truths will our happiness and peace be able to grow.

Our happiness can be derailed by the beliefs that we have formed about ourselves from our past experiences. If you formed a belief that something is wrong with you because of something that was done to you in the past then you will not experience true happiness. If you have formed a belief that you are a bad person because of something that you did in the past then you will not be able to be happy. If you formed a belief that you deserve to have less than the best in life then you will not be able to have the best. The bible tells us that when we come to Christ that the old has passed away and all things are brand new. It also tells us that our former selves died with Christ and a new thing has been birthed. We can not change what has happened but we can lay it to rest by putting it behind us and stepping into the new life that is available to us. We have the opportunity and the power to make our future much better than our past when we put the past behind us, as a distant memory, letting go of all of the baggage.

If we base our worth and value on what others think of us then we will not be able to be happy. It is said that 10% of people will not like you no matter what you do. We can not live our life trying to be who others want us to be. We can not be happy when we focus on trying to please others. Not everyone is going to like or agree with you and that is okay. We all have different opinions and perspectives on things and that doesn’t make them right and you wrong nor does it make you right and them wrong. We can have our opinions and we do percieve things differently and it is all okay. Just because I may not like or agree with you does not mean that I do not like you as a person. We can not base our worth and value on what others think. And if we lack worth and value we will lack happiness.

Our happiness starts with our belief of ourselves. The things that we want in life can only add temporary happiness. True happiness starts within ourselves. When we start to experience lack of happiness we must first ask ourselves what are we lacking within our heart. What core values are not being met. So before you start to chase happiness by buying things to fill the void ask yourself what you are lacking within and what you can do to change that. Start reading the truths of who you are, who you were created by and the immense love he has for you, and the promises of the life that is available to you. Sometimes we find the answers to our problems are right at our own fingertips.

Dreams can come true

  Do you remember when you were young and you would have a dream of what you were going to be when you got older, what kind of house that you were going to have, what kind of family you were going to have? It brought joy to our hearts when we thought of those things. We lived with an excitement of the future. We would tell all of our friends and family what kind of career, life, house, and family that we were going to have when got bigger. Then we did get bigger and many of the things that we once dreamed of changed and many of them did not happen the way that we once dreamed that they would. Our excitement may have faded with the reality of life settling in. Once the disappointments, failures, and rejections in life started to pile up we may have become discouraged to have any kind of dream at all in our lives.  Or our dreams may begin to fade when we realize the work that we have to do to achieve them. But it is important that we continue to dream a little dream for ourselves and our lives to help motivate us when it seems impossible for our dream to become a reality.

   Don’t let the disappointments, failures, or rejections in life stand in the way of you having dreams for your life and setting goals for yourself. Not everything is going to work out the way that we hope it will. But having a dream or a goal can help us to push through the hard times and motivate us to keep up the tough work to accomplish them. When we have failures and disappointments we can learn and grow from them. We learn from the mistakes that we make. We can use rejection as strength to keep on trying until we get the results that we are looking for. Jesus was rejected and He did not let it stop Him so we can do the same thing. 

   Our dreams can become a reality but it takes time, persistence, determination, and patience. We may take five steps forward and 8 steps back at times but we can keep up the work and not give up until we reach our goal. But don’t expect everything to go smoothly, having no set backs, complications, or failure in the process. When we expect too much it leads to disappointment and can cause us to give up on our dream, even though success could be right around the corner. Our dreams can become reality because everything is possible with Christ.

FREE FROM GUILT

Lets talk about sin, condemnation, and a guilty conscience. I do not think that some of us know how guilt affects us and how it can keep us from our best. And I also think that many of us hold onto guilt for things that we have done and have a underlying feeling that God is mad at us. I struggled with this, and still have times that I have that thought of, God is mad at me. But it is the following truth that I use to cover up the lie that the enemy puts in my mind.

First of all, yes, we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. The whole world is guilty of sin. And before Jesus, there was no hope for forgiveness. There was no way to take the condemnation and the guilt from us. That guilt caused Adam and Eve to hide from God because of their guilt of sin. King David spoke of how miserable He was because of the guilt that He had for all that He had done. And Judas committed suicide because of the guilt that He felt from His sin. So we can see how guilt can affect us in major ways.

But there is now a way that we can be forgiven and have no need to carry the guilt. We have someone that carried our guilt for us and cleansed our conscience. God knew what the guilt was doing to us so He made the way for him to be able to have mercy on us and for our sins to be forgiven. when we are struggling with guilt we have to remember that God is greater than our guilt. He sent Jesus to pay the price for our wrongdoing so that we can be in right standing with himself. He knew that if we were held down with guilt and condemnation that we could not have the life that He wants us to have. He knew that we could never step into our destiny if we had to carry our own guilt. So He made Jesus who never sinned, to be our sin, so that we could be His righteousness. He traded places with us. (If you want more scriptures on guilt I found this site to be helpful.) We serve such a merciful God, full of grace and unfailing love.

Jesus was sent to save us and not to judge or condemn us. He came so that we can exit the darkness and walk in the light, having a much better life. He came so that we did not have to be weighed down with condemnation and guilt, holding us back from being our best. The blood of Jesus took care of the punishment for our wrongdoing. And all that we are asked to do in return is to believe it is so.

Galatians 3:27 says, when you were baptized you have put on Christ. We were clothed in Christ. Our outfit is Jesus. We put on Jesus. We are covered with Jesus. We are covered with all that Jesus is. And since we are covered with him God sees Jesus when He looks at us. He sees all that Jesus is and not all that we are not. Because of Jesus we are seen as perfect in His eyes. Because Jesus was able to be the perfect person that God had intended for all of us to be, God sees us as perfect too. He sees the heart which is where our true identity resides. Because of Jesus, and our belief in him, we no longer have to wonder what God sees when he looks at us. We do not have to wonder if He sees all of our sins, bad attitudes, faults, failures, mistakes, fall backs, fall offs, and everything else that we are not. We can rest in the fact that we are seen as Jesus. We can come boldly to God’s throne not because of anything that we have done but because of what Jesus did for us.

Romans 8:1 says, “there is now no condemnation in those that are in Christ Jesus.” Acts 10:15 says “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” John 3:17 says, “For God did not send His son into the world to condemn it, but that the world through him, might be saved.” 1 John 1:19 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all righteousness.” Hebrews 8:12 says, ” For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins, and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” These are just a couple of scriptures to show you that because of Jesus you are NOT a shameful sinner that God is mad at and shakes his head every time he looks at you. You have no need to walk around thinking that you are not good enough, not obedient enough, not smart enough, not enough in what ever area that you feel not good enough in. You are enough because Jesus did it all for you and me.

Guilt effects many areas of our life, not just our spiritual part. It can cause a number of physical health problems. Guilt will cause people to become stressed, have anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, stomach problems, high blood pressure, heart problems, weight gain or loss, and many other things. It causes relationship issues. It can cause a person to think that they are such a bad person that they are getting what they deserve or that they do not deserve any better than where they are at in life at the moment. It can cause a person to be self destructive. And in extreme cases it can cause someone to take their own life because of how heavy the guilt is.

A person filled with guilt will often blame others for their actions. They will point fingers. Adam pointed fingers to eve when He told God about eating the apple. Because they feel guilty, but do not want to admit it, they will blame someone else for their actions. It keeps them from having to look at themselves and face their wrongs.

But thank God that we have someone who has made it possible for us to be free from guilt and shame. We have someone who knows and understands the flaws and hardships of being human. We have someone who made the sacrifice for our wrongdoings and we do not have to be punished. And since God is not punishing us why do we feel the need to punish ourselves. If you have done what you needed to do to correct your wrong, if it is a guilt from something that you have done to someone, then you have done what you needed to and could do. You can not make someone except your apology. But You have been forgiven by God and Jesus took your guilt, so receive that freedom from guilt and move on. Remember we all fall short. No one is perfect. We all mess up from time to time. We can never be perfect. All we can do is try our best and believe that Jesus has made our imperfections perfect so that we can move on, always growing in God’s timing.

The best investment

Do you ever have the thought, “I wish that I felt better, I want to be happier, I want to be less stressed, I want my relationship to be better, this is just too much”? Have you come to a point in an area of your life where you have settled for less than what you desire? Well what if you could do something to accomplish your wants and wishes. What if you held the key to the change that you needed? Can I tell you something, in many cases, we do hold the key but we settle for less for whatever reason. We decide that we aren’t going to live our best life because of what it will intel for us to do it. We don’t want to (or feel that we can’t) invest the time or energy that it will require. But if we are going to get to a place in life that we love then we are going to have to invest in ourselves. We are going to have to make the decision that we are going to make it happen no matter what. And then we have to start doing it.

You say, “but I don’t know where to start” or “but I don’t know what I need to do.” I suggest that you make a life investment list. That is what I have done a couple of times to help me get going. I would find time that I wasn’t overloaded with thoughts of what I needed to do or get taken care of and sit down with a pen and paper. You say, “oh it will never get done because I am always overloaded in my mind.” Well find the time because remember you are investing in yourself which takes time! Take a notebook and pen to the bathroom with you if that is the only place and time that you can escape everything for a moment.

Now write down this question, if I had 6 weeks to live what would I want to make sure that I did before my time was up? I know that may sound a little morbid but it does help us to put into perspective what is most important to us. It helps us to figure out what deep desires that linger in our heart. For me, it helped me to take out all the materialistic things and to focus on the more important things. See, I don’t think that anyone would want to leave this earth with regrets, wish I would have’s, or I should have’s. We would want to be at peace with ourselves. And that is a large part of us enjoying everyday of our lives.

If you knew that your time was almost up would you choose to waste time being mad at someone or engaging in a disagreement? More than likely you would be like, ” you know what, you may not agree with me but whatever cause I am not going to waste time arguing.” You would probably choose to take that walk that you have been saying that you needed to do just so that you could enjoy the beauty of nature while you could. You would probably have the conversation with that friend that you have needed to have for a long time. My point is that you wouldn’t be worried about having the best job position, the most money in the bank, the dream car, etc. You would do the things that were important to your heart. And that is how we are able to be in a state of peace, joy, and contentment at all times. It is not that we do not want better or change but we are at peace while we are on our journey to better.

So if you are in lack of peace, joy, contentment, or anything else, ask yourself the question, if I had 6 weeks to live what would I want to take care of, and you may find the answers that you need. Investing in yourself is the key.