Heartache. Loneliness. Job loss. Broken relationships. Divorce. Betrayal. Disappointment.

Life can really be hard. Whether it’s a tough season, years of trials on and off or a tragedy beyond your control, God has a way for us that doesn’t include losing ourselves in the pain.The Lord is good to us and He will reveal that our struggle is not who we are.

Going through some really “tough” and painful things as a young child and then as an adult doesn’t mean that my spirit has to be toughened. I remember people telling me to grow a “thick skin” and not to trust anyone. But I don’t want that to be how I live my life. Instead, I want to be soft and mold-able to what Christ wants of me. The Bible talks about boundaries to protect our hearts and forgiving, but keeping in mind that doesn’t always mean reconciling. So if the way is broken, I’ll go that way with joy. If the way is hard, I will go at it with acceptance. If the way is heart-wrenching, I’ll rejoice that God’s love never ends. Whatever it is, no matter how sad or painful or tough, I will allow it to grow me.

I know first hand how tough that is. I wanted to label myself “divorced” and throw in the towel and not get back in the fight for hope after all was lost. Losing myself in a time of sorrow was comforting. There were no expectations of what I needed or wanted. Yet, there was also no hope.

Days grew into months and I could see my struggle trying to grow into my identity and who I am. My struggle tried to take ownership of all of the plans God had for me, the purposes God was calling me to. My insecurities poured out from the struggles I faced like a burst of water from a broken pitcher. I tried to stop the leak but the more I did, I felt ashamed and embarrassed. Finally, I surrendered to them and let them come. I laid them bare before the Lord and looked them straight in the eye. Rejection, unwanted, unloved, insecure, fearful, hopeless. I saw them for what they were; awful realities I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. But as ugly they were, trying to hide them made them appear more apparent in my life. During this season, God drew me close to Himself, reminding me that those are the very same things he struggled with too. My weaknesses suddenly became Christ’s strengths in me.

I threw myself into every class, Bible study and book that addressed these “struggles”. The Lord gently has been showing me that although they existed in my life, they were never meant to form into part of me. Rather than being made up of brokenness and struggle, I am made up of being loved, adored, and pursued by God.

My struggles do not define me therefore, I don’t have to run from them or toward them. I am not a victim to my struggles, nor in denial that they are there. I can take an inventory of the challenges I face, list them out and boldly look them straight in the eye while at the same time, knowing they don’t “own me”. I am free to live in Christ and in the identity He has for me. Embracing who I am: forgiven, loved and fully accepted as I am. That gives me hope which is the key to a bright future because He promises good things for me. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to not harm you, but to give you a hope and a future.”

The struggles pushed me to God– and that is where I found my self. My true self. I never thought I would be so thankful for the hard things I’ve endured, but I am! I don’t think I would be the woman I am today without each and every one of my struggles (can’t believe I can say this!). I am complete in Christ and so are you sister, friend. No matter what it is you have walked through in the past or are stumbling through today, you can be encouraged that these seasons will change. After a long, cold and dark winter, you will find new life emerging from your heart. There will be the sweetest, tiniest bud that appears when you least expect it and you will shout with joy that the Lord has not forgotten you. Even now, He sees you so keep watering your heart with His love and truth. You are so worth it.

If you are walking through a struggle today or in this season of your life, just remember that this difficult time does not have to define you or your future. Yes, you are walking through it, but you will one day wake up and see it as a distant memory. Seasons do change–keep your head up.

Great is the Lord and His promises are coming! You are not alone… God is with you and I would love to pray for you. Leave me a comment below and thank you for being vulnerable with me!

In His Faithfulness,

Jessica

Fun fact: The picture below is from the Spartan race I did this year. I would have never signed up for these kinds of things 5 years ago, but after facing a bunch of hard stuff, I realized that in the overcoming, there is power and FUN. Instead of avoiding hard things now, I sign up for them, crush my fears and add a new level of confidence to my identity each time. It’s a great way to embrace the victory that I have in Christ. Is there anything you do that encourages you to overcome? I’d love to hear, leave a comment below!