Guest Blogger: I have a basic theory on “souls” that I compare a persons inward being to different types of materials. Based on their drive, their countenance, and their quirks they are cotton, silk,cashmere, velvet, burlap, lace-you get it. My dear friend, Elizabeth and I have had the opportunity to get to know each other this year, and we quickly found out that our souls are made of the same material. We think and feel deeply, and love to journal almost as much as we love to laugh. I’ve been so blessed by her thoughts, encouragements, and personality, and I was very excited when she agreed to let me post some of her thoughts in my blog! Elizabeth’s story encourages me to struggle well. She challenges me to delight in my Savior, realizing what a prize He is, and she reminds me that the end will be so worth ANY amount of struggling! Be blessed!
“This summer I went on a pretty thrilling hike. In a jungle. In Indonesia. Down to a 300 foot waterfall. Where few had ever been to before. So many thoughts, feelings, and sights are attached to the memory of it.
The struggle it was to get down. The sliding down steep mud and grass. Holding onto ropes and maneuvering down bamboo shoots with small openings cut out for our feet. The hundreds of eagle-sized bats swarming high up in the sky above us. The work that it took to make it there but thinking the whole time about how beautiful it might be at the end. Making my way down, although slightly treacherous, generated in me a feeling of tension but also a deep, excited joy. I didn’t even know what was at the end- our guides thought it was best not to reveal to us what were about to see until we got there ourselves. So I continued down the steep, rough path with anticipation, simply knowing that the end would be good.
I’ve been struggling through the season of life I am in currently. Facing unknowns about my future. Experiencing pain from feeling misunderstood. Battling against weakness. Fighting inward tensions that feel paralyzing. Making my way down a steep, rough path.
Yet at the same time, I almost feel content. Somehow, I am experiencing peace and comfort and incredible joy. And even the pain and struggle, although still present, although still strong, feels almost right.
I think I am supposed to be having this struggle right now. I think God is moving. And He’s leading me somewhere I need to go.
Can pain really ever feel comfortable? I think the closest to it, is knowing- DEEPLY knowing- when in pain, that it ultimately is going to bring about something good that will be worth it. When I have such a deep assurance in my soul that the outcome will be beautiful and will bring a harvest of righteousness, then although pain is still pain, it becomes the closest to comfortable it can be and a quiet, surreal joy follows that is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb 12:11).
And what if the path not only feels rough but also feels lonely? Can loneliness, feeling misunderstood, or unknown, ever be seen as a gift?
The past few months, I have collected a number of experiences that have completely changed me and in some senses have thrown me into a tumultuous whirlpool of questions, tensions, emotions, transformations, and new perspectives… It’s all come together in my mind like a big, beautiful secret that makes me feel alone in my inward battles as a result. And that feels painful.
Yet, the inward questions, the silent wrestling, the lack of feeling truly understood, has forced me to scream questions that I have never asked before with such sincerity.
“God, do you hear me?”
“Did you just see what I saw?”
“Do you know the struggles I’m experiencing? Every emotion running through me?”
“Are you really with me, Father?”
The answers to these questions have left me showered in hope and overwhelmed in comfort.
The loneliness in my struggles has been a gateway into recognizing what deep communion with my Father entails. The moments of being richly fed by His Word and His presence have continued to multiply. The peace and sincere satisfaction in knowing Him and being known by Him have overflowed into thankfulness and life that seems too good to even be true. And it’s not that other people haven’t been able to give to me and support me in very meaningful ways. It’s just that my Father’s communion and presence amidst the struggles have been limitless, rich, deep, and beautiful beyond comparison.
God, have you given me so much grace that I can honestly say that the quiet war I am experiencing right now is a gift from you? That the struggles, the moments of weakness, the anxiety, the steep and rough path I am walking is-no question-the perfect path for me right now?
It’s throwing me into Your presence. It’s grounding me deep in your Word. It’s granting me a view of Your plan. Your purpose. Your desires. It’s nudging me to pursue Your wisdom. To hear Your voice. It’s establishing for me a stronger confidence in the hope of one day seeing the prize. Seeing Jesus. It’s a challenging, treacherous path that is taking me somewhere beautiful.
So yes, I have struggles. I ask questions about the unknown that leaves me with an inward tension. I often feel like it’s a burden that I have to carry alone. And it takes work to keep walking.
But I’m discovering that these things, although not comprising an easy and effortless hike, are proving to be bridges rather than barriers that are taking me exactly where I need to go. The path is tough, but there is comfort in deeply knowing the path is being carved out by my loving Father. And that leaves me gracefully struggling through it with peace and joy that is priceless.
And who knows, maybe it will lead to something as incredible as a beautiful, massive waterfall in the middle of the jungle of an unchartered area on an island in Indonesia.”