The past 8-9 years of my life have been a whirlwind of growth.
Truthfully, I can only call it growth now that I have learned to see it that way, but rewind to several years ago and I would have just called it “problems.” I have had serious relational, financial, emotional and mental and physical health issues. For a while I began to wonder if I was cursed, like if somewhere in my life I had done something so wrong that I deserved to be severely punished.
Before I could get to a point where I could tune in to what was going on in my life, I had to tune out negativity (both mine and that from others), bitterness, and sorrow. When you’re going through challenges of whatever sort, it can be extremely difficult not to be consumed by them. I remember praying one day and hearing so clearly that it felt like the message was truly audible, “this lesson is not only for you.” My initial reaction was confusion and then frustration. I was really supposed to believe that I was going through all of these things for the sake of passing along a lesson at a later time? Wasn’t there an easier way?
Naturally, I am a person who wants to connect; I have a calling to connect. Sometimes, I wonder why my life couldn’t have been easier at times. Why did I have to go through all of the trials I’ve gone through? And then I think…who was I going to connect with had I not? Other people who’ve had cookie cutter, spoon fed lives? There are so many more people who are hurting than there are people who’ve had perfectly easy lives. Where and who could I serve had my life been without its share of tests? In our quests to be more Christlike, we welcome being like Christ in His righteousness and divinity, but turn our heads to being like Christ when it comes to His suffering. Jesus didn’t go through persecution, crucifixion, and resurrection for His sake. He didn’t have things to learn or areas of His life from which He needed to evolve. He suffered for our sake. So if He, in His perfection, was not exempt, how can I expect to be?
Everything I have been through is not in vain; my experiences have led me to be less judgemental, more empathetic, and more open-minded. I have, by no means, “been through it all,” but I have been through enough to make me supremely grateful for the depth suffering produces. There are more complexities in this life than I will have time to uncover, but I am certain that every circumstance births an opportunity for me to connect with someone else. I have been called to connect, and with my calling sometimes comes pain. We often shun the process because we think that if we were on the right path it would be easy and fluid all the time. The truth is, you can be on the right path and still have to go through some things that you would prefer not to.
Where there is struggle, there is growth. Consider this concept in nature – a flower must work to break through the soil so that it may bloom. The process is natural, but that does not mean that it is easy.
Earlier today I listened to one of Bishop T.D Jakes sermons that talked about how God is a potter. When a potter is creating, He does so in steps or phases. First, He forms the clay. Then, He fills it and from this, the clay will then be ready to serve its function. In the forming stage, the clay is molded in a way that causes it to turn into something different from what it originally was. If at any time during the forming process the potter were to remove the clay from the wheel, it would be unfinished and unable to fully serve its function. You are God’s clay; you are His masterpiece. He is forming you, filling you, and has created you for a specific function. Do not fret if you are temporarily being uncomfortably sculpted – you are being developed into something amazing. Do not fear the fire – it is there to refine you, not to destroy you.
You are where you need to be; your trials aren’t for nothing. You have simply been called to use them in a way that will not only benefit yourself, but that will also lead to the advancement of those around you.
Your process is saturated with purpose, and that is something I pray you will always remember.