The struggle is part of the process

IMG_8827Highs and lows are no cliche — they’re real things that we all face day to day. During the highs, we are invincible. Man, life is good, God is great, and things always seem to go our way. Relationships with family and friends are flowing and interactive, our partnership with our spouse or significant other couldn’t be better, we either just got offered the perfect job opportunity, our boss just gave us a raise, or we just aced a crazy difficult exam, and most of all, man is God on our side. He’s in our corner just pouring down blessing after blessing upon us.  That high can last days, weeks, or shoot, even months. People see our social media outlets, our perfectly photographed vacation this past weekend, our flawless, sunkissed skin and glowing smiles — wow, how great and easy their life must be!

But what about all the other days? The ones that aren’t hiking along a sunset lit mountain side overlooking the ocean? The ones where there is more fear, doubt, and frustration in your relationship with your parents, your siblings, or your partner? What about the days where rather than going to the gym or running 5 miles and eating that picturesque spinach and kale salad, you sleep in, don’t get out of your PJ’s, and eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a box of cereal while watching Law and Order re-runs? What about the days where you see everyone else’s life going so well and yours seems to be falling to pieces?

I think that being a Christian definitely gives a different understanding and insight to how to tackle these struggles, however it doesn’t necessarily make it easier. My “difficult” days aren’t necessarily easier or less frustrating now that I am saved as they were when I was depending on my own strength and understanding. I just have a new perspective on how to get through the tough times. I turn to the Bible, or to prayer, or to the knowledge and encouragement of other Christians. But… what about when there are Christians who are enhancing or causing your time of despair? This is something that has been bothering me for a while now and something I felt compelled to address? We as Christians are called to love as Jesus did. To love as Jesus did. To help as Jesus did. Then why when we are going through a difficult time, is it other Christians we are most fearful of? Fearful of being judged? Fearful of being condemned? Why is there so much gossip and judgement being passed by those who are supposed to be doing the exact OPPOSITE of that. Luke 15:11-32, Luke 7:48, 1 John 1:9, Matthew 6:14-15, Acts 3:19, Ephesians 1:7, Matthew 26:28, Mark 11:25 – I can go on and on about the acts of forgiveness Jesus imposed upon people. He died for our sins to be forgiven yet we who have been saved and forgiven feel as though our sin is lesser than others. You judge the young couple having premarital sex yet you’re going into your third marriage. You condemn the women snickering about the girl who walked in with a dress too short yet you gossip about the single mom in the front row, sitting alone and afraid. You scoff at those who don’t tithe yet turn a disgusted shoulder at the dirty, poor family who just walked into church for the first time. You are on the church board, you lead bible study, you go on missions — you are a GOOD Christian so you are above them. How is that Christianity? We all go through highs and lows in life and you don’t know that person’s story. You don’t know what they’ve been through.

When I have tough days I reflect on my life and look at what I’m doing to be the best I can be and what has led me to feel the way I do. Almost everytime there are things I did during those high days that did not align with who I want to be or how I want to live that led to my downfall. When we look at almost every story in the Old Testament, take Ezra or Nehemiah for example, the Israelites had the opportunity to seize the new life and opportunity God gave them but instead they forget the grace they were granted and resort back to sin and turning away from God. When things are good, we have no worries. We may praise and thank God but we neglect little things and eventually lose sight of the end goal. Then we fall. We fall and we ask God for help and for forgiveness. So as Christians we should seek to better our own lives each and everyday. We should uplift and encourage those struggling rather than judge them, and we should learn to hold ourselves more accountable to be like Christ. There will always be highs and lows but it is how you handle them, how you prevent them, and how you learn from them that matters. The struggle is part of the process, but make the struggle worthwhile.

To the one I once loved, thank you

To the one I once loved:
I never knew the kind of love that existed until our worlds collided. I never knew that kind of pain that existed until those same worlds came crumbling down. We broke each other’s hearts and left our lives in ruins. Sleepless nights, tear-stained pillows, and endless heart ache. To the one I once loved – thank you.
I was young and fearless when my heart first melted at your feet. Love at first sight and all, we fell for one another just as Nicholas Sparks and every country song described. Summer nights that never seemed to end, immersed in an unfathomable infatuation for each other. You were my first – first boyfriend, first love, first everything. We’d find old back roads under star painted skies and talk all night, sharing our inner most thoughts, hopes, and dreams. We fell harder each hour of each day. You told me you knew I was the one and that one day you’d make me your wife. You told me we were the lucky ones – the ones lucky enough to find the love of their life, the ones with a forever kind of thing. To the one I once loved – thank you.
Thank you for teaching me so much about life and love and friendship. Thank you for two years of earth shaking, world turning, fire starting, beautiful love; for the realest friendship and most encouraging support, for the copious adventures and myriad of weekend warrior trips. Thank you for being my love, my counselor, my nurse, my chauffer, my comedian, my rock, and my friend. Thank you for showing me how a man is supposed to treat a woman and teaching me to never settle. To the one I once loved – thank you for breaking my heart.

We live in a world where there is this precept that “falling in love” and “finding” the one is life’s ultimate goal. And I once believed that. But what I’ve learned is that love is not something that you fall into or find. Love is something you consciously and intentionally create. However I thank you because we are meant to fall in other ways – thank you for breaking my heart and allowing me to fall in love with Jesus Christ. Thank you for making me learn how to fall in love with life. Where my world was once left in ruins, it is now built on a stronger foundation, a foundation of faith that cannot be shaken. Where I once depended on you, I now depend on Him. Where our love once brought me a glowing joy, now I rejoice in His everlasting light. I now know that there is only one love that is forever and with that love there is always hope. To the one I once loved – thank you.
You set my standards so high that I didn’t think any man would ever compare. I never thought I’d love again in such a manner that I was able to love you. But love is something that we choose to create. To the one I once loved – thank you because now I know how to love the man that I end up with the way he deserves to be loved. Thank you for helping me recognize the mistakes I made in the past so that I won’t make them again in the present. Thank you for making me wait patiently for a man to come along, who will bring me the love and joy and happiness I pray that you find again as well. To the one I once loved, because of you I am a better partner, friend, and person. Because of you I discovered the faith in my life I had been missing. Because of you I can now be the woman, girlfriend, wife, and partner I am meant to be. Although it’s not you that I will be spending my life with, thank you for preparing me for the man that I will be sharing it with. Thank you for all that you taught me and gave me. To the one I once loved – thank you.