The last few months have proven to be the most uncomfortable leg of my journey thus far. Circumstances have been less than ideal, and my life has slowly been stripped down to a place of uncertainty and longing. I have seen my family unit snuffed out. I have walked away from the home that I had stored my dreams in. I have found myself at the beginning of a path that I didn’t willingly choose. There have been days when I handled this curve ball like a true champ, but honestly, they have been few and far between. Most of the time, I feel like I must have packed my joy away with the rest of my belongings, deep in the back of a cold storage unit. I know it’s in there somewhere, but the effort that it would seemingly take to dig it out at this point requires more energy than I’m currently equipped with.
However, every now and then there is a glimpse of light at the end of this long tunnel. Today, that light came from a dear friend of mine who knew I could use some inspiration. This sweet friend, who spends her days in the office two doors down, sent me an email with a link. The subject line read “Powerful.” Within a minute of receiving the email, she was standing in my office saying, “I figured you would get this.” As she walked out of my office, gently shutting the door behind her, I clicked on the link that would ultimately revitalize my spirit.
It was a segment from “Oprah.” The speaker was Randy Pausch, who is a college professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Randy is dying from pancreatic cancer, and while he is still undergoing treatments, the doctors have given him mere months to live. But Randy hasn’t let this prognosis diminish his spirit. Instead, he combined inspirational thoughts on how to live and offered them to his students in what is now known as “The Last Lecture.” The speech in its entirety is incredibly thought provoking and wise, but it was one sentence in particular that struck me like a bolt of lightening. Randy was speaking about his football days, when a coach “rode him very hard for long hours” in practice. He was miserable after this, feeling as if he had been beat against a rock. But another coach standing by saw the tenacity that his co-worker had used on Randy. He told him that if the coach didn’t care, he wouldn’t have pushed him. He knew that you didn’t keep working someone who you’ve given up on.
In these last few months, I have attempted several times to make sense of the turmoil that my spirit has been caught in with little to no avail. There have been questions upon endless questions that fly through my mind like missiles. I long to curl up on God’s knee and ask them, if only to find a shred of comfort residing there. But the answers, while laced with love, have been short.
“God, why didn’t you save my marriage?”
“Because I didn’t.”
“God, why am I stuck in this place?”
“Because this is where I have you.”
“God, what’s next?”
Quite frankly, this has been a little more mystery than I typically prefer from my Deity.
However, I have learned through this process that God isn’t in the business of making me comfortable. When life is packaged all neat and tidy, it’s easy to forget the One who gave you the gift in the first place, and I feel that God is calling me to a place of gratitude for what He is ultimately building in my life. I realize that this journey has put me on a path to make new choices, better choices, choices that glorify God regardless of what comfort level I might be walking through.
As a result of this journey, God is changing the tape playing in my mind. In the past, (the past being as recent as this morning!) it has been easy to get caught in questions like “God, if I go through this pain, will you reward me for it down the road?” and “Lord, I know you know what you’re doing, but could you just make something go my way?!?!” I realize now that these are dangerous questions, because they place the focus on my earthly comfort instead of the divine plan that God is working in my life. I wholeheartedly believe that God wants me to be happy. He wants me to be fulfilled, and ultimately I believe He wants me to be comfortable. But it has become obvious through these past months that He will not sacrifice an opportunity to stretch my faith and allow me to experience His grace in increasing abundance just so I can live a lounge pants kind of life. In times of trial, whether you allow your heart to believe it or not, it’s easy to feel as though God is farther away than you’d like. It is with this feeling of apparent abandonment that the questions come.
But today, God has whispered to me through the stillness. I know that His goal is for me to be fully revitalized while in this place of discontentment. His desire is for me to live up to my full potential, and to see his bountiful plans for me unfold with glorious magnitude. I know this, because, like Randy’s football coach, He is pushing me to limits that I didn’t know I had, pressing me to examine aspects of my character that until now have been collecting dust in the corner. He is working me to a new level of discomfort so that my eyes see only Him.
Today I asked Him, “God…why?”
And today He answered,
“Because I haven’t given up on you.”