I have been MIA from the blog over the last few months since baby came. I’ve been waiting to get some clarity on a season of suffering. I’ve felt fried and empty, without anything to give.
Now I call that chapter: From Princess To Queen.
This has been one of the hardest years of my adult life. I no longer feel like a princess in the spirit. I’ve found myself in the tension of choosing between hardening and deepening, shutting down or getting stronger and becoming bitter or better. I could easily become the evil queen based on how I responded to these trials. I definitely have felt that way in many moments.
Welcome to what God has taught me in a mangling, sleepless, set-back filled season post baby.
Since June 20th, the day my baby was born, I have been experiencing change. It’s a change that has rocked and shocked me. It has caused me to question what I once thought to be true about God’s nature and how He felt about me.
On top of a traumatic birth experience, Kris and I have been hit with a setback almost monthly. I’ve felt like life is running me and I’m holding my breath, just waiting for a chance to come up for air.
*I’ve decided not to share the details of those hardships in order to avoid comparative suffering. The way we feel and process any hardship is what matters.*
I’ve asked questions that may or may not reveal my weakness of faith: Did I do something wrong? Did I not believe enough? Was I too lazy? Is God disappointed in me? Why has He abandoned me? Why isn’t he speaking to me? Is God with holding blessing from me to make me tougher?
Through it all, I’ve been paying attention to what I need to learn so the pain isn’t in vain. I’ve realized in seasons of disappointment and suffering, God is bringing us to a new level of training ground to work out deeper character and faith.
These are some of the gold nuggets God showed me through the process. Maybe it will help you:
I was asking the wrong kind of questions in my disappointment. Wrong questions that led to bitterness. A friend encouraged me to read the book of Job who went through intense suffering. As I read, I realized that Job and I had something in common. We were asking God the same questions. “Why me? What did I do wrong? Why aren’t you speaking to me?”
Job has a conversation with three of his friends that felt a lot like the conversations we have today about suffering.
Finally, a younger man, Elihu speaks up at the end of the conversation and calls Job out. His insight struck me:
Elihu says; “….He (God) may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn them from wrongdoing and keep them from pride, to preserve them from the pit, their lives from perishing by the sword.
It hit me that I had a problem with arrogance. God was allowing this suffering in order to save my soul from pride. I thought if I believed hard enough, then God would be present in the way I wanted him to. I was putting God in a box. If he answered my prayers, that meant he was faithful and good. How entitled of me.
Instead of asking, why me? I should have asked, how do you want to grow me? What can I learn? Where is the evidence of your grace?
The lesson is this: I can’t control outcomes to my prayers with obedience or how much I believe and contend. We can believe, hope and pray according to God’s will and hope we are in alignment. But we must not fall into the trap of believing we’ve earned a blessing or an answered prayer. That mindset sets us up for disappointment and resentment, which is toxic. Our faith has to be deeper than answered prayers. God is good regardless of how or when he answers. It’s to our benefit to believe that with our whole heart, even when we don’t understand.
2. “You’re not special in your suffering.”
One day, as I was lamenting and throwing a pity party, I heard God whisper in my ear. He said, “you aren’t special in your suffering. But you can be special in how you handle it.”
I was reacting weakly. I was rocked too hard and blown too much by every trial coming at me. I had two choices. I could let the trials of this season make me bitter or better. I’ll be honest, bitterness crept in for the first time in my life. It’s still slowly being uprooted, but I couldn’t shake it for quite a while.
Someone gave me a word that revealed to me how to get better rather than bitter. When I mix the Word of God ( represents the color blue) with my trials (represents the color yellow), it produces the color, seafoam green, which means “dream glow.”
Reading God’s Word sounds obvious, but is easy to neglect when you feel abandoned. I’ve been delving back into the Word I thought I knew so well. I’m seeing promises and parts of God I hadn’t noticed before. Through it, my heart is softening again. God wants to meet you where you are and bring a dream glow out in you too.
3. Crushed, but not destroyed.
I’ve never dealt with anxiety…until this past season. The word “nervous” wasn’t even allowed in my childhood. But, the waves of hardships and the pressure I felt sent me into anxiety attacks. My chest would tighten up and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I felt hard pressed on every side. It frustrated me that I wasn’t unshakably at peace. It made me feel immature. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 articulates it perfectly:
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
The problem is, I was letting the pressure crush me. I wasn’t trusting God. I wasn’t claiming His will to deliver me. I didn’t believe He wanted to.
But He did want to deliver me…He just wanted to produce fruit in me first. Fruit doesn’t grow on the mountaintops. It grows in the valley.
God wants to deliver you as well. Believe that. In the meantime, pay attention to how He wants to refine. We’ve been predestined to conform into the image of Christ. Trials transform us.
4. A battle for the mind.
It’s alarming how easily we can agree with evil, mean, judgmental and negative thoughts. I wasn’t guarding my mind at all. One day, I became aware of how terribly I was thinking about myself, my circumstances and even the people I love. It was out of control and I couldn’t believe I let it get so far. It was beginning to poison my heart.
Control your thoughts, don’t let them control you.
5. Battles are inevitable…
God is training us for reigning. David fought so many battles after he was anointed as king. He fought them with integrity, trust and prayer. Even after he started his reign as king, he had to battle. The one time he didn’t go to battle, he fell into sin. He had an affair with Bathsheba and had Uriah killed. His whole life came crashing down.
The point is, it’s better to actively engage in battles because it takes us to new levels of training ground so we can reign in this life. The moment we check out, we give our ground over to destruction.
The timing for this difficult season seemed inopportune as a new mother. But now, I’m thankful for it. It’s made me less judgmental, more compassionate and stronger. As the hardening melts away, a new confidence has emerged.
What have your battles worked out in you?
Thank goodness for new seasons. Thank goodness that God’s mercies are new every morning.
The training ground from princess to queen is hard, but I don’t have to do it alone. You don’t either.
I’m offering coaching and mentoring in your royal identity, Train To Reign. I’d love to walk out this journey with you. Let’s get our “dream glow” on together.