When Things Don’t Work Out

You were so close. Everything you wanted, everything you’d been working for was right within your reach. Then it was gone. You had thought this would be the moment your dreams came true and suddenly things just didn’t work out the way you had expected. We have all experienced varying degrees of this phenomenon. A job that didn’t meet expectations, a sporting event we had expected to dominate, a relationship that fell apart, friends who betrayed us, the list could go on and on.

Expectations get crushed and then comes the hardest part.

Moving forward.

Proverbs 13:12 (NLT) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

When what we were longing for fails to come to pass we become disheartened, weary and prone to giving up. When we put forth our best efforts and things still don’t work out we begin to question why we should even try. It is at this juncture that our that our future is forged. Will we give in to the weight of failure or shine with resilience.

Recently I experienced a season where it just felt like nothing was working out. I questioned everything. I doubted everything. I felt like giving up, or at the very least wasting all my time with the meaningless, empty things in life. My prayer time was dry, so why pray? I’d read His Word only to feel as if His voice had abandoned me. Sleep seemed to escape me at every turn, I felt restless and void of hope.

Still, I endured. I took stock of what had helped me grow in the past and made myself accountable for how I would spend my time. I limited my time engaging in entertainment and forced myself to persist in prayer and study. It did not seem as though I would ever feel normal again, but I refused to stop.

Eventually breakthrough did come.

If I have one message today, it’s don’t give up.

I don’t do this too often, but I wanted to share an excerpt from my journal. In the midst of my dark season, I wrote this. It started with me just trying to figure out what in the world I’m feeling and turned into a prayer of sorts.  I share in the hopes that if you find yourself in a similar season, you might be encouraged. You are not alone and eventually light will shine through the darkness.

Don’t give up.

Endure.

I’ve always been a positive and healthy person. I’ve experienced painful situations, but throughout I always felt like me. I dealt with them, processed them and moved on. I don’t feel like myself anymore. It’s like my personality is dampened. There are small moments where I feel normal, then they are replaced with feelings of isolation, sadness or anger. Last night I felt healthy. Now, once again my sleep is disrupted and I’m angry. Scared. Lonely. I can’t crawl out of this pit of despair. I’m numb, apathetic and just lost. Hope seems far away and I don’t know where to turn. Is this depression? Is this normal? Am I just broken? I’m not myself, this is not normal for me. God feels like a ghost. Will this last forever?

Maybe I’m the ghost. Shipwrecked and abandoned on an island, far from familiar. Lord, revive the dead in me. If only I could salvage something within my soul to renew a sense of security. A soul compass to point in the direction of healing. A spiritual saline to cleanse and renew my withered heart and find life again. Lord, revive the dead in me. You alone are the source of life. In You alone is there hope. Can I crawl close and rest in Your shadow? A reprieve from the elements threatening to tear away my identity. Can You remind me of Your voice? The voice that calms the sea. The clarifying voice of creation. Though I feel lost, deep down I know the only way to be found is to get lost in You. Lost in wonder. Lost in the magnitude of who You are.

How far from home must I have wandered for You to feel so small? When did I leave? When did I set out to make my own way, to build my own house apart from You? Tear down the walls I’ve built. The walls of false comfort. The very walls meant to protect me destroy me, cutting me off from my source of rest.

Revive the dead in me.

May I return to the home of Your presence? How long will You feel distant? How long must I wander in the vastness of this void? Fill me. I don’t know how long I can endure before the crippling call of failure lures me into its clutches begging me to forsake it all. Fill me with Your life. Do not delay. Forgive me of any sin and help me to endure.

May the horizon of hope fill my vision again.

Amen.

I Need Friends and So Do You

Psh, I don’t need people! We like to tell ourselves that sometimes. People leave us hurt, rejected and many times we feel like we’d be just fine without them. If like me, you’ve thought that before, you’re wrong. We need people.

Five Months ago everything in my life changed. I moved 1200 miles away from the place I had lived most of my life. As a single guy, this meant leaving behind not only everything familiar, but everyone I’ve ever known as well. Moving to a new state, by yourself means starting completely from scratch when it comes to friendship. Yes, I can stay in touch with those people I’ve known and loved for years, but they can’t satisfy that need within me for genuine relationship. I can’t go get coffee with them at a moments notice. For that, I must find new relationships.

There is a need in all of us for relationship. In some seasons we are very aware of it, while in other seasons we might get by with minimal contact, but it is certainly only a season. Eventually, we need genuine friendship.

We are busier and more connected than ever. The number one reason for not making time for relationships is that we are too busy. Between school, our jobs, our family and keeping up with social media, television, movies and books who has any leftover time to invest in new relationships or even keep old friendships alive? We are constantly in contact with people over social media and that is more than enough to fill my emotional need for human companionship. Except that it’s not.

More often than not, these online relationships leave us feeling hollow and a bit lonely at the end of the day. The tendency is to invest more time on social media to try and find the soul fulfillment we so desperately long for while neglecting the real face to face relationships that actually bring it. The result leaves us feeling more isolated than ever before.

The Bible says this about isolation.

Proverbs 18:1 (ESV)Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

The more we withdraw from face to face relationship with people, the easier it is to lose perspective in life. When we are isolated, we make decisions that we otherwise would never make. Isolation leaves us longing for something to fulfill the need that is lacking. That need causes us to pursue unhealthy desires that deep down we know will leave us empty.

True friendships, however, satisfy something deep inside of us. Maybe it’s the laughter. Maybe it’s the part of us that comes alive as the discussion goes beneath the surface. Deep friendships do something deep within us. It reinvigorates us and brings us energy. We can never replicate that kind of soul fulfillment with superficial or online relationships.

How would your life change if you made an intentional effort to build room in your life for deeper relationships? It doesn’t have to be an impossible time commitment. It can be as simple as grabbing coffee once a week or getting breakfast before work.

We are all built differently and have different needs, but everyone has this internal need that can only be satisfied with friendship. My challenge for you today is to spend less time trying to satisfy that need with entertainment or social media and begin to invest in face to face friends. Remember, don’t rush! It takes time for a friendship to grow deeper, but don’t stop trying to keep your life full of friendship.

You need it and so do I.