Things have been getting more real over here on the blog lately. I don’t enjoy writing about things that I can wrap in beautiful paper and tie up with a bow because it’s not real life. That’s just not how it goes, and I don’t always want to write about my highlights and list the great ways I choose to do great things. I’ve been challenged by an encouraging friend to be more thoughtful and intentional in my writing because that’s when I and others will reap the most benefits (she doesn’t know she did this — hi, Rebekah 🙂 ) Sometimes writing and posting is therapeutic while giving others hope that they’re not alone and that there’s a solution. That’s simultaneously what I’ve been trying to do and why I haven’t posted as often. So, these posts that are more open and raw aren’t pleas for encouragement or compliments or recognition; they’re just me sticking closely to the premise of my blog, speaking the truth in love: inspiration for seeking souls.
After we moved to Arkansas in 2016, I wrote a post called Bloom Where You Are Planted. I was excited and motivated and ready to face new change and challenges — something that’s a little out of character for me, but I embraced it fully. In that post, I described plants being uprooted and given the choice to grow or fail where they’ve been planted. I said:
“Just like those plants, if not more so, we have the ability to bloom where we’re planted. And we can grow taller and more beautiful than they can because God will help us if we trust Him. It doesn’t matter if you’re living at home, in high school, in college, recently married, moving away or about to do any of these things – we are all in different seasons of life than we were before this moment, and we have to learn to bloom right there. Because you can’t change your situation but you can change yourself.”
In the past two years, I’ve been replanted four times, which is two times more than I expected — home from college, home to a new town with my husband, new town to another new town, another new town to another new town — you get the picture. Almost nothing has gone the way that I anticipated when we got married, and I think that’s been teaching me about the unpredictability of life and walking through God’s will. My patient husband consistently reminds me that life is full of change, and not much is going to go the way I’ve planned; God’s ways are higher than my ways.
As many of my readers know, we moved from Arkansas to Mississippi five months after adjusting and making friends. Our new town is smaller, with far fewer places to shop and eat, and slim to no Christians my age. It’s just different. Before you think I’m complaining: the church here has been more than accommodating, we like small-town feels and really don’t care to shop that much anyway, we probably like Zaxby’s more than sit-down restaurants, we’re close to our families, we keep in touch with our distant friends, and God blesses us richly. But I have to admit,
I haven’t been blooming.
I’ve been that plant that gets replanted and is like, “Whoa, no, stop. I don’t like it here; I’m just going to shrivel up instead.” I’ve struggled to answer when people asked me if I like it in my new home; all the things I don’t like have come sliding through my mind like a PowerPoint, and I just mumbled some kind of answer like, “It’s OK, I guess. The church is good.” I’m not naturally an optimist. I’m actually inclined to be more of a realist-pessimist, so I have to work at finding the joy and beauty in situations instead of looking at all the little things that went wrong and catastrophizing the fact that I spilled something in the floor. So, when we moved here, I was excited, motivated, and slightly less ready to face changes and challenges. For the first few months, I soaked it all in, got used to the roads and back ways to my favorite places, took time to try new things. But, I had been through that a few times already, and it was losing its appeal. I’ve become more like one of my struggling petunias outside that’s kind of alive, but kind of has dead leaves and stems, and has kind of happy petals occasionally even though it gets watered all the time (I like plant analogies. *insert shrugging emoji here*).
Instead of finding joy and thanking God for blessings, I’ve buried them and piled negativity on top.
Instead of being excited to wake up and walk my dog in the mornings, I’ve dreaded rolling out of bed.
Instead of joyfully going about my daily tasks, I’ve let them pile up and then complained when I felt overwhelmed.
Instead of asking God for satisfaction through His word, I’ve looked for satisfaction in Instagram feeds and an organized life.
Instead of looking ahead to the future with confidence, I’ve constantly looked over my shoulder for what has been.
This is a recipe for bitterness and the world’s most unpleasant person, and it’s simply one of the things that I deal with.
Once we got used to the new place and got everything situated, I started having these snowballing feelings, but I couldn’t put a finger on why (typical me), and I let them happen instead of confronting them until I felt consumed by them.
Finally, after about six months, I became fed up with them. I figured out the problem: I went from getting used to extra socializing to getting used to not much at all, which is a sensation I have never experienced. Before, I could text a friend and within a few minutes, we could meet up for dinner or a movie or just a cup of coffee on the couch. Because I’ve lived a comfortable life with friends minutes away and regular coffee dates, I’ve become blindly accustomed to leaning more on other people for support and less on God. That’s disheartening to think about and even more disheartening to write. But it’s true! It’s probably true for many of us. And it’s something we have to get a handle on for the sake of our souls and the Kingdom of God. I have to learn to find a healthy balance between letting myself be edified and encouraged by God’s people, but leaning wholly on God instead of totally relying on God’s people and sometimes being edified and encouraged by God.
What if every Christian chose to keep pressing forward with God instead of living in stagnant dissatisfaction with the world? What if my attitude looked like this?:
Instead of putting minor inconveniences on top of God’s blessings, I praise Him anyway and thank Him for all good and perfect gifts.
Instead of dreading the next day, I joyfully put my feet on the floor and tackle the day’s challenges.
Instead of letting my daily tasks pile up, I get them done immediately without complaining and keep myself from laziness.
Instead of looking for satisfaction in my “highlight reel” and a perfectly organized schedule and home, I accept imperfection and seek satisfaction through God’s word.
Instead of living in the past, I look forward to the future of my life and God’s Kingdom and reach for Him.
That is a major paradigm shift. It’s a necessary and simple and concept, but it’s never easy to adjust a habit-formed mindset. But, imagine the spiritual and physical work that can get done if I intentionally think this way! I’ve experienced it on good days, but rarely when my day goes sour, and that needs to change.
If we live with our feet in ever-shifting sand instead of standing on the solid Rock, then we’re going to be unstable if life doesn’t go the way we expect.
I want to include a snippet from my friend Rebekah’s blog post about her move states away from her comfort zone:
“As you are working through the transitions of your move, it’s important to keep two different “Better Day”s in mind. First, there’s that day somewhere off in the future when you’re driving around town and you think, “Whoa. This is that Better Day I read about in some random blog post about moving.” It’s that day when you have somehow managed to turn the anxiety down and the town feels like home and you’re genuinely excited about your niche. Granted, these days still kind of come and go for me (and really, they do for everyone) but that’s when it’s most important for me to lean on the best “Better Day”:
It’s that Better Day when God’s presence fills every hole of loneliness and doubt. It’s that Better Day when I am finally in an assurance so strong that I am no longer vulnerable in any shape or form. It’s that Better Day when I achieve the unmerited success as a “good and faithful servant”. It’s that Better Day when I am finally able to say, “This is it. This is the place I’ve been looking for.””
In the past six months of dealing with bitter and uncomfortable feelings, I forgot this important piece of truth: the point of blooming where you’re planted isn’t just so you can feel comfortable. It’s so that you can glorify God in every situation you find yourself in. So that you can say, “I did this thing. God helped me through. Everything is always going to be OK because of God.” So that you can work toward the true Better Day that Rebekah talks about above and you can please God in all aspects of your life — no matter what changes you experience.
Philippians 4:8-13 (NKJV)
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Count your blessings, give God the glory, and keep moving forward. Giving up is never an option.
Philippians 3:14 (NASB)
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. All glory goes to God. If you want to see more like this, follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. Feel free to print, pin, and share my posts on all platforms; I only ask that you link it back to this site. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day. 🙂