What Not to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

Life has a way of going a certain way. Sometimes it makes you happy, sometimes sad, sometimes you’re angry, sometimes you’re rejoicing. But no matter what, life always goes a certain way. Believe what you may, that it’s destiny, or fate, or you can believe what I believe, that is, God is sovereign over all things and truly does make it all work out for the good of those who love him (Rom. 8:28). I can’t go into detail every time I decide to write a blog post, not because I am embarrassed or because I am too prideful to share, but rather because I know that I am called to build people up; sometimes full disclosure doesn’t build anyone up, rather it distorts and destroys what should be used for good. Within this post, I’d like to help anyone that might not know exactly the next steps he or she might want to take, what EXACTLY they ought not to do. There’s a wise Romanian proverb that translates to this: “A smart person learns from the mistakes of others, a fool doesn’t even learn from his own.” Basically, whenever someone sets a bad example, take that as a LEARNING moment in life. Remember what went wrong and do the right thing.

I want to open up a little bit so that if even one person reads these words and can use them to grow and be encouraged, then I’ve done my job. If you are easily convicted by stronger language, then maybe stop reading the post because I am going to get a little gritty and real for the sake of those who think the church is made up of nothing but healthy, super spiritual, GOD-IS-GOOD-ALL-THE-TIME-type Christians… because it isn’t. It’s made up of spiritually dead sinners who have been saved and brought to life by Jesus Christ, who still struggle and fight daily to overcome he who is in the world because the One within is greater and stronger. The purpose of this blog post is to encourage anyone that might find themselves in a similar situation and hopefully give them a slight focus on the light at the end of the tunnel that is seemingly nonexistent. This post IS NOT for the sake of giving haters ammo to use against me and to disqualify me from God’s calling upon my life. I already know I am unqualified for whatever God is calling me to; but that’s the beauty, just like Steven Furtick says, “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” Whether or not you like him doesn’t matter. This truth is beautiful and freeing.

The last few months haven’t been exactly peachy keen. In fact, they have been downright awful. Now if you’ll permit me to be frank and honest with you, they actually have been simply sh**tty. I can look back and point to at least a few of the terrible mistakes I made and can only advise you and hope you don’t make these choices yourself. It isn’t easy to pick yourself up once you’ve fallen down, and unfortunately a lot of times, when others find out, either they keep us down because they don’t want us to get back up. But sometimes, it’s even worse than that…we simply don’t allow them to help us back up, even when they try.

The first of many of my mistakes was that I cut out my closest friendships in a time that I needed the most closeness. The Bible speaks of friendship all over, however in Proverbs 18:24, 13:20, 27:17, and 17:17, we can get a clear understanding of the purpose of friendship and the ways in which it influences us. During a time that I wasn’t too sure which direction was up and which was down, I could’ve really used the guiding voice of my friends and mentors who have always been there for me during the good times. If they were with me in the good, surely they could’ve reminded me what it was like while I sat and basked in the bad. Most people have others they run at the first break of good news. Most people also have those they need to confide in with the ugliest parts of themselves, without feeling judged or hated. 1) Be a good friend to those in struggling times and don’t push them away because of the pain or suffering or poor choices they’ve made in a difficult time. 2) Don’t ever cut your closest people out; that’s a sure way to start on a dark road that’s headed nowhere fast.

Second, I cut out my God time. I don’t know about any of you all, but when I am doing great in life, I enjoy my time with God. Maybe I feel more connected because of my surrounding experiences, which I know and understand shouldn’t be the primary reason for my joy…but I’m human. I’m still learning how to do this thing we call life. Especially when you’re doing life with God, you don’t have it all figured out. Anyone who tells you otherwise is full of crap. There is no formula to this life, but there are some key elements that can help you move forward better. These being prayer, the Bible, and fasting. Because I was so blinded my my anger towards God, I couldn’t connect with him, even after waking up morning after morning to get on my knees and beg him to answer me with tears in my eyes, sorrow in my heart, and heavy burden upon my shoulders. So what was my solution? I decided to cut him out completely. This was easily one of the most stupid, foolish, and irresponsible decisions.

Third, I cut out church. Yes, the church isn’t just some building or location for worship, it’s the living body of Jesus Christ that we have been grafted into. However, there is a physical church I attend (as should all believers do), and in this time period, I just stopped. I got mad at God and decided that maybe it was because of the church. I made nothing but sorry and pitiful excuses as to why maybe the church had some role in this season of my life. Thoughts were rushing in and out of my head, “oh they’re too … or too …”, “maybe if XYZ didn’t … so much, maybe I’d actually enjoy being here”, “I can’t stand that … does that like this”, and so on. This is just evil. There is no place for bitching and criticizing other believers in such a spiteful and ugly manner. It’s so easy to point fingers when you aren’t doing anything yourself, not to mention, when you don’t do ANYTHING, none of the blame goes to you because you’re in the lazy safe zone. That’s where I entered for a period of time… and I’m supposed to be on the board of youth leadership right? Church cannot and should not get cut out from out lives. I feel something deeply wrong whenever I don’t attend even one or two services back to back. I can feel the fellowship draining from my reserve tank and the accountability slowly fade. How much more is this true for those who stop going altogether and simply grow numb to whatever conviction used to be there?

Fourth, I stopped being self-aware and became self-critical. One is healthy and one is absolutely destructive. This is one of the most important things to realize as a Christian. A very dear professor and woman of God said that one of the most important things she would advise any believer is this: “Always be self-aware.” It sounds so simple, yet it really isn’t. Being self aware doesn’t just mean to understand the location of where you are at the moment in time you’re there. Rather it means that you understand yourself. You understand when you are tired and need a break, whether it’s from school, ministry, family, friends, your job, a combination, etc. It means you know what your strengths are and focus on those, while also understanding your weaknesses and struggles so you could better yourself. It means knowing when you have to open up to others and bring people alongside you in difficult moments instead of shutting them out. It means understanding that you DON’T know everything and that you could really benefit from others’ help. It means that you can go out and seek counseling or therapy when you’re losing it. It means you are able to identify the triggers that set you off and the ones that motivate you. It means knowing your “love language” and how you best communicate your feelings to others. It means all of this and so much more. Be self-aware.

So what? Right? No one ever wakes up one morning and thinks “oh hey, I want to cross the bridge from ‘doing great’ to ‘absolute friggin’ disaster’. I thought maybe I need to try things on my own for a little bit. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Life never got so dark so fast EVER before. And the truth is, I can’t pinpoint exactly one wrong choice that brought me to this place, rather I think it was a combination of several of these different choices. However, I can tell you that because of these decisions, I faced a darkness and depression that I had never faced before. That grey cloud hanging over my head just wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t pray it away, I couldn’t wish it away, I couldn’t talk it away, I couldn’t. But God could and God did. But it required some serious effort on my end. I finally decided that I needed help, that I needed community and people, that I needed my church, that I needed my pastors and mentors, that needed to be open and honest, AND YES THAT I NEEDED TO GO BACK TO COUNSELING AND GET SOME THERAPY. There is no shame in any of this. I think it’s important to be able to open up your heart to someone in a safe place where you know there is no judgement and confidentiality and support is at the pinnacle of the session.

I thank God for this dark valley that he let me go through. Although I felt alone through it all, he was right there, every step of the way, cheering me on and rooting for me to make it just over to the other side. Little did I know of the blessings and victory that would lie before my eyes once reaching the end of it. Jesus said in Matthew 9:12-13, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” The fact of the matter is that we all need Jesus because we are sick and need his healing and salvation every single day. If you are not sick or in need of healing or salvation, then I guess you probably don’t need Jesus… and that’s the worst place to be in. Check yourself, check your heart, your mind, your desires, and refocus yourself. Don’t let the enemy keep you down and beat you any longer. Stand back up and take what’s given to you by Christ, freedom and grace.

I hope this post encouraged you, I really do. If it did, please let me know. If it didn’t, I’m sorry, maybe it wasn’t for you. If it offended you, good; I hope this is the first of many challenging posts you read from me. God bless you all and I look forward to this next season of life.

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Just Like Them

I read from Luke 22 this morning and some things stuck out to me. Peter is my favorite character in the New Testament (besides Jesus…that’s a given) because I see so much of my character reflected in him through his actions, words, and attitudes. I see his responses and I realize they are so similar to mine. I love identifying with Peter. But, Peter made some serious mistakes. I mean… this man denied Christ THREE times! He could’ve stopped at one denial and repented, but instead he denied Christ three times. Once it was done, he realized what had just happened and he ran away and wept bitterly. There was a conviction that took place in his heart.

On the other hand, in the same chapter, you read about Judas Iscariot betraying Christ by selling him for silver. This man betrayed Jesus Christ and didn’t even feel bad. He was so greedy and corrupt that it didn’t even faze him, probably until it was too late unfortunately.

In verse 24 you read how the disciples even began to argue about who would be greatest in the Kingdom of God. It’s like WHAT?! You are with the Lord Jesus Christ and you care about which one of you is the greatest? OBVIOUSLY that concern shouldn’t have existed, but they were flawed.

That being said, it’s funny to me how we elevate the disciples on such a pedestal sometimes because of how much the Spirit of God worked through them. Although it is true that they were much more mature as apostles, they were very immature as disciples. What I would like to remind us today is this: we are just like them. They didn’t always make the right choices or think the right things.

In more ways than one, the disciples of Christ weren’t that different from us. They were also imperfect. They often feared, worried, and displayed anxiety. They argued and quarreled amongst themselves. They showed contempt on certain occasions. They highly esteemed the wrong thing sometimes. Sometimes they worried about their image before people more than they worried about their image before God. Really though, the list goes on.

I’m not at all saying that we shouldn’t take example from them. What I am saying however, is that we cannot beat ourselves up for the shortcomings, flaws, and problems we sometimes create for ourselves. Realistically we must remember that we are humans; by default, this means we are flawed and sinful. Remember Adam and Eve? It was through them that sin entered the world and forever changed the course of humanity.

Today, I’m sure you might be reading this at home in your comfy spot, maybe you’re at the breakfast table starting off your day with a blog post or two, or maybe you’re waiting for your next class to start and quickly skimming through this for some hope that you might pass your finals in these upcoming weeks, you might even be at work reading this right now because you don’t feel like doing your job.

That’s okay. Take a step back and remember how greatly these men were used by God as apostles, these men who were once immature disciples, FULL of flaws. Even as apostles, I’m willing to go out on a limb here and assume they sinned and made mistakes. After all Romans 3:23 reminds us so wonderfully… “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Let’s take what we see in Luke 22 about Peter, about Judas, about the disciples, and realize that we aren’t very far off from each other. We are just like them. Both are flawed and both need Jesus. Be encouraged today that our Lord is alive. Be strengthened that he is with you. Be blessed to know you have salvation in him. Don’t lose courage or be dismayed about your flaws. Look in the Bible and see what these flaws teach you about yourself and what God thinks of you, even with all of them.

If you took the time to read this post today, I bless you in the name of Jesus and I pray victory over your day today.