Seeking God In Pain
Let's talk about PAIN...doesn't that sound fun!? For real though, even though it's tough, I'm so pumped to talk about this...
Yes, pain is hard to talk about, but something that I believe comes along with pain is hope, and to me, that makes it worth it. I've been sharing my fertility journey for a while now and it's sparked so many conversations with women that have made me feel all sorts of ways; not alone (which is beautiful), scared, equipped, lack, hopeful, trustful, frustrated...all the feels!
Speaking about Jesus so openly does the same exact thing; people share, they judge, they love, they support, and they hate that too. What Jesus was preaching was hard and did cause turmoil, but it didn't cause him to just stop because he knew that it was worth it. And to be honest, that's how I feel about my journey right now.
When I get a message from someone telling me that I have helped them find more hope and pushed them to get to know Jesus more, it's leaning us as a whole into the cross and that is SO worth it to me. It's worth the frustration and all the other feelings that it brings me. In either of these scenarios, whether it be sharing about my fertility journey, or about Jesus, let me just make a disclaimer: it's not that I'm getting a lot of hate, I just get a lot of opinions, and some people truly just don't know how to speak when someone is in pain.
I kept thinking it would be so much easier to talk about the pain during of our trying-to-conceive (TTC) journey after we'd had a baby; after this season of my life. It's really hard to talk about during the midst of it. But I know that I'm not the only one in a painful season, so I decided to speak up now...during the hardest part. I'm speaking to all ya'll who are feeling this with me right now.
Prior to this trying time, for the past 3-4 years, I truly have felt like I've been on a high - don't feel bad if you feel this way too! If everything is working out for you and your relationship with God is solid, I celebrate that with you. You don't need to feel guilty for being in a good season when others around you aren't. We're supposed to mourn with those who are mourning and celebrate with those who are celebrating. If you're on that high, I'm giving you a high five and a huge big hug and praying for you to ride that high as long as you can, and rest in that. And if you are in a hard, painful season like me, I hope this encourages you in some way.
Tips For Seeking The Lord In The Middle Of A Painful Season
This little download is all about seeking God in the middle of pain, turmoil and suffering, and how to continue to seek God. This is solely from my own experience, reading the Word, and hearing stories from others.
1. Seeking God is consistent, regardless of our circumstance
Personally, I don't want to live a life of circumstantial faith, meaning that I only go to God when life gets hard. What I do believe is that seeking the Lord can and does look different in different seasons of our life and that's what I'm experiencing right now. For me, it's been really important to get in community and be surrounded by people who are praying. And not to be scared to ask for help and prayer, too. Those are really hard things to do because often if you're asking, you have to get vulnerable and explain why, and telling a painful story over and over can feel like stabbing a wound sometimes. But when you have people praying over you, it's so powerful. It's so important for me to share what I'm feeling and get in community so others can fill in the gaps.
What you're actually consuming during different seasons might look different too. When I'm in a hard season, I often read the hardest parts of the Bible because they always point me to Jesus. And that's where I need to be pointed because, without those stories of hope, it can get really dark really fast. Right now, my quiet time with God is giving me LIFE. I'm even finding myself waking up earlier to spend more time in solitude and in the Word. I've probably learnt more about God and his character in this season than any other time in my life and that is what is truly sustaining me right now.
God created laughter, so this is also a way for me to seek God. Whether it be getting around friends that make me laugh so hard or just fully allowing the times I feel like being goofy, to BE goofy and laugh at myself. In painful seasons, these lighter times can feel few and far between, so every time I get those, it gives me a new little boost. When you can let go and not feel bad for feeling good; for the laughter, it truly is so, so beautiful.
3. Just show up
Come as you are. You don't have to do anything to lay at the feet of Jesus. Sometimes when we're in the middle of pain and we don't feel close to God, we almost feel like we don't deserve his love, the hope that he gives, and the joy, comfort, and peace in this hard season, but that's not the God we serve. I'm learning that so much right now. I can literally come as I am, so vulnerable (some of the stuff in my journal right now is hard truths that I'm just laying at the feet of Jesus; "God I feel this way, but please take it from me - this is not for me, I don't want it right now").
Matthew 11:28 says "come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest". Sometimes in the middle of pain, we feel so worked up and highly strung and stressed and overwhelmed; there can be so much emotion that we never truly feel like we are resting, or able to enjoy restful time. I definitely feel that way right now. My body is feeling the stress that I've felt in this fertility season and all the unknowns of it. I've had strep twice now and I feel like my body is kind of taking all that stress on. It feels easy to rest in sleep and watching movies, but it doesn't always feel easy to go straight to the Lord and let him give you rest, but he promises us that. So if we believe in his promises, we can come, just as we are and lay it all at the feet of Jesus and know that he can give us the rest that life here cant always give.
4. You don't have to seek God alone
God's community shows up for you when you literally feel like you cannot. If you don't have godly community in your life, my first piece of advice is to start somewhere, now. We can't sit on our hands waiting for godly people to ground us in hard times. We have to go out and seek God's people (join a church, small group, Bible study, or online thing), and once you get into it, you'll realize how life-giving it is (and even addictive). For me, discovering godly community felt like I never knew relationships until then, and I wanted more.
When you go through tough times, not only are those people physically going to be there to help you, but they are also going to be praying for you. And right now, I don't need anyone coming over to do anything for me; there's nothing that needs doing. I'm just going through a hard season (my desire to get pregnant is so strong that not getting pregnant feels super heavy), so right now, I just need prayer warriors. And if I didn't have all these people praying over me, I know it would be a lot harder to seek God. Prayer for each other helps to keep us all plugged into God as a community. I just love community - it has seriously transformed my life. Community matters SO much, so go out, start somewhere, get uncomfortable, put yourself out there, because God does really cool things in community.
5. The mission does not change
Our mission as Christians, believers, and followers of Jesus is to go and make disciples of all nations...in the times of celebration and in the hardest times of our lives, our mission does not change. It can be so dang hard to remember that when you feel empty, broken, heartache, and suffering, but your mission is the same; to go and spread the gospel. Because He has called you to do so, He will also equip you for that even though it feels really hard and you might not want to. This one is requiring a lot of prayer for me right now. I pray "God, don't let my feelings triumph the calling you've put on my life"...this is a very personal conversation between me and God at the moment. I'm finding it really hard to go out and fulfill that mission when I'm really freaking struggling.
6. We have all that we need
You might be desiring healing, babies, a job, a husband, for this season to end, but at the end of the day, we have all that we need. I have to ask myself, "Tanner, do you really believe that?". Do YOU believe that? Psalm 34:10 says "those who seek the Lord, lack no good thing". That is a hard pill to swallow sometimes. Living a life where I bear no child, but that I am promised that if I seek the Lord, I will lack nothing doesn't always gel for me. Not having a child = I still won't lack anything...that's tough. That is SO tough. That Jesus is enough, that the calling he has put on my life is enough, is so, so hard to come to terms with.
Would I be OK if I don't have a baby? My husband asked me this...he just wanted to know that I'll be okay no matter what happens. And maybe this sounds like we have some un-belief, but it's not that. Derick and I fully believe we will have a baby (I have a whole story behind this)…we fully believe that God is going to give us a baby, but that verse, man! On the days that I do have doubt and fear and I'm really struggling with the what-ifs, I think about those words and remind myself that I have all that I need. Sometimes, I'll admit, it feels like I don't fully believe that, but I have to surrender. I ask Him to rid me of anything within me that doesn't want that to be true. It's a bold prayer because there are certainly things I feel like I can't live without, that I actually don't need.
Genuinely, all I want is an unshakable faith...no matter what I go through, my faith will carry me. And I want that for you too! What a time to share Him when you aren't getting what you want. To some extent, I have always got the things I wanted in my life. Softball in college, check. Husband, check. College degree, check. Start my own business, check. Everything I've wanted, I've had. Because of a good work ethic and a loving, generous family, I feel like my whole life I've wanted for nothing that I haven't had. And right now in this moment, for the past 9 months, I have not got what I wanted, and that is why I believe this is so hard. I know this sounds spoilt and bratty, but its the cold, hard truth. I truly don't think I've ever desired anything like I do a baby.
This has been one of the most beautiful seasons, but also hardest seasons of my life. I've had women who've had similar experiences tell me that once they had their baby, they actually miss this season because they were so close to God. It felt like without a baby they had nothing, so all they wanted was Jesus. And that's truly how I feel - there is so much good in my life right now, so it's hard struggling to find contentment. Seeking God in the middle of pain feels so pure and bare and vulnerable and I am learning so much.
Remember, God is your protector, provider, the one who heals you, gives you peace and comfort and all the things you need to come out the other side with a stronger, more unshakable faith.
P.S. GIVEAWAY: last minute, I decided to do a BIG giveaway to celebrate my excitement for the Freedom Method Mentorship that just launched. If you win, you get a copy of my favorite NIV journal Bible + 45 min health & spiritual coaching call with me + 1 week of Voxer (free walkie talkie/text app) coaching following the call to help with accountability and momentum. BOOOOM!
To enter, 1. go and listen to episode 80 of The Chasing Freedom Show podcast, 2. screenshot you're listening and throw it up on your IG story and tag me @trainertanner and #chasingfreedom, and 3. leave a written review on the podcast. You can find it on Spotify, iTunes, or SoundCloud. Winner will be announced on 23 Jan, 2020.