Grace through Frustration

Have you ever stopped to reflect the diverse array of emotions you experience in just one day?

Today I felt tired. I felt defeated. I felt fear. I felt hope. I felt appreciation. I felt gratitude. I felt frustration. I felt annoyance. I felt uncertainty. I felt reassurance. I felt confident.

I felt stillness. And, I felt wound up. In the words of my friend…just how much caffeine have you had??

Wow… that’s just one day in my life. So often, we experience one emotion followed by another…often the complete opposite. For instance, I might feel anxious over something only to then feel reassured by something else.

I read a devotional today about grace and confession. Confession of our sin and acceptance of the gift of grace from God go hand in hand. We can’t have one without the other.

When I began to recognize my anxiety for what it was and confess it to God, I began to more easily be able to receive His grace and the peace of surrendering my fear to Him. Believe me, it has been a journey.

Today, after eight phone calls, I finally spoke to a live person who was able to reschedule test. (Can you imagine what emotion I felt when she told me the computer screen she was looking at said I had been absent?!?) So, it is now rescheduled for a few days from now. I am going to study a few more days, but I am not going to stress myself out.

I was frustrated through this whole situation, but I reminded myself to stay calm while talking to the representatives. God’s grace in reminders to me that through the frustrations, glimpses of grace can be found.

My friend’s words echo in my mind… You’re so different. You are calmer now.

No, I am not perfect, but I am evidence of every day grace at work in every day places and spaces.

What is your everyday grace experience?

#write31days

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The Grace of Almost

Ever have those almost moments?

I have. 

I almost didn’t apply for my job because I thought it would be too far to drive, and I wasn’t sure if I was qualified.

I almost didn’t submit my story for a collection of short stories because I wasn’t sure if it fit what they were looking for.

I almost didn’t….fill in your own words.

Fear, doubt, uncertainty…they all creep in to create these almost moments.

I am happy to say that I did apply for that job, and I am quickly approaching my two year anniversary there. God is doing great things in my life there.

My story I almost didn’t submit? It was accepted.

God has blessed us each with gifts and talents. When we feel that nudge, we need to step out in faith and trust God to do the rest. 

What decision are you wrestling with right now?

One Step Forward…

The Write 31 Days challenge of October has passed. I hope my reflections on gratitude have been encouraging. The truth is, I have needed those God given snapshots of Gratitude moments as reminders myself of Who is in control. It certainly is not me.

A few weeks ago, my friend asked me to walk a labyrinth with her. As I slowly walked the path, I found myself face to face with the need to slow down. As I walked, the phrase do the right  thing played over and over in my mind. Like a broken record, the words repeated and repeated. As I approached the center, two rocks stared back at me.

Create freedom

Create freedom? Freedom from what? 

I prayed, knowing God had a message for me in those words. I needed to wait and listen to understand.

Fast forward….the weekend ended and I went back to life. Life happened as it does. As life happened, I realized the control of anxiety and fear in my life. 
Anxiety can be consuming. It starts as a fear then it escalates into all kinds of thoughts. Worry spirals quickly. Your stomach clenches. Your head might hurt. You lay awake at night. It feels so alone.

Thankfully, I have an amazing friend who has been encouraging throughout my struggles. I realized that what I need freedom from is the gripping hold of fear and anxiety on my life. 

I attended a Casting Crowns concert this past weekend and the lead singer and youth pastor Mark Hall shared that following Jesus is simply doing the next thing He asks you to do. And then the next thing. And next thing.

I have been praying over these words, focusing on one thing at a time instead of being consumed by all the worries of everything that needs done. Instead of worrying about doing the right thing, I am choosing to focus on the next thing.

This is a journey. It is not an easy one, but I have support and encouragement. I have Bible verses taped to my desk at work. I read them often. I pray a lot. If a need a quiet moment, I sneak away to the bathroom for a moment of solitude to refocus.

If you are dealing with anxiety, know this…you are not crazy. You do not have to travel this journey alone. Hope exists. 

This verse has been a huge source of hope and grounding for me:

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Matthew 6:34 the Message 

Life is not always easy, but God always promises hope and peace so you can take one step forward.