This year will mark one of my biggest years of growth.  Spiritual growth.  Emotional growth.  Brain growth.  And you don’t do much growin’ without growing pains.  This year was easily one of the most painful.  Do I say that every year?  Am I getting punier, or do the trials just keep a’ coming?  Now comes the time for the scabs to dry up, slough off, and reveal fresh new scars.  Slightly tender wounds.  A little pink in the middle and somewhat raw.  Healing wounds, nonetheless.  Thankful for the healing.

On this trek of self-discovery I have learned a thing or two about myself, but mostly, I’ve been deeply entrenched in my identity in the Savior.  Who and how God has made me in his image.  How I fight it, surrender to it, work it, and fit it into this life He has planned for me.

At times it seems like it was much of a mistake.  “Are you sure, God?”  If this were just a bit easier, if there wasn’t so much pain, if this didn’t hurt, if this process was simpler, if…

I want to go back to the ooey gooey feelings of goodness of life that make me feel like a princess.  The ‘life is good’ feelings.  Lots of smiley face emoji’s.  Much of the time these last few years, however, my job has been to hang tough.  Quite possibly, a good majority of my life.

I am reminded of the amazing 1990’s band N.K.O.T.B..  For those less fortunate, the acronym stands for “New Kids on the Block.”  Yeah, yeah they didn’t last long. But they worked it while they could.  “Ooooohh oooohhh oooohhh oohhh ohh!  Just hanging tough!”

Christianity is very much embracing God’s glory and dwelling in His sovereignty.  It is absolutely about hanging tough.  Much fewer smiley face emoji than you think!  I consider Abraham, Moses, Joseph, and Job as I say this.  They didn’t earn their credibility as Milli Vanilli and fakin’ it til they made it.  They went through the school of hard knocks and learned to trust God the hard way.   By living it through and through, even when it felt so very bad.

I think for us post-Messiah folks, it is accepting less when you thought and hoped God would give more. It is taking pain instead of pleasure, when you know the pain could be taken away.  It is enduring the storm and still praising His name.  It is working hard and honestly in all of your dealings – personal, public, business and pleasure-and feeling like you’ll never get ahead.  It is continuing to earnestly seek him and devote a portion of your life to Him in the storms, in the hard times when you don’t understand, and most often, even when you don’t feel like it.   Those feelings, oh those feelings.  I have been fooled a time or two!  Isn’t it just a little ironic that “feel” and “fool” are so closely spelled?

I have long been a slave to my feelings.  I still struggle with doing what I want, or don’t want, instead of embracing the difficulty of doing what I ought.  I have been a victim of life’s discouragements instead of a victor in my identity as Christ’s chosen.  Without these tough, rugged roads, there would be no reason for me to seek  Him for my strength, to continue my learning, gain maturity and achieve the growth that I have.  The teacher of life is so smart.  Sounds kinda wonky, and maybe a bit obvious, but we wouldn’t get to where we are without being where we’ve been.

Praise and thanks to God for allowing me some hope and purpose for the pain among all the hangin’ of toughness.  Amen.




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