My pastor’s words hit me so hard, I stopped dead in my tracks. Do the work. I thought. You have to do the work.
My 2017 wasn’t ideal, I got laid off, again. I entered a long distance relationship for the second time, something I swore up and down that I wouldn’t do again and honestly, I entered 2018 with no idea what the hell I was going to do.
The thing that no one makes clear when you’re in college and growing up is that you are literally on your own. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a support system, but at the end of the day, you are the only one with the power to determine your destiny.
I’m a writer. I freelance and I’m working on a book series. So, I hear the word no a lot. Like, a lot. I even have a folder in my email full of nos from book agents, job opportunities and pitches to editors. It seems cryptic doesn’t it? Who wants to relive their failures over and over again? I don’t. But it does fuel me. It’s a reminder of where I’ve come from and where I’m headed.
Last week marked three months of unemployment. It doesn’t even feel like it’s been that long. I didn’t realize it until a coworker posted about it on Facebook. Then this sinking feeling set in. Like, damn. Here I am, again.
If nothing else, the last two years have tested my faith and brought me closer to God in ways that would not have happened otherwise. When you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, like no one understands what you’re going through or even cares, God does. He’s always there, He’s always listening.
This time around when I’ve been at my worst, I’ve cried out to Him. “Lord, what are you doing?” or “What am I supposed to learn from this?” or my favorite as of late “What is your plan? Show me your plan, order my steps.”
Over the last three months there have been some opportunities that felt perfect. Ones that I knew I was going to get, but then I didn’t get them. As I write this, I have about 20 days to figure it out. Twenty days until my lease is up and I have to move back home.
Last week, I read a three-day devotional titled When God Says No. It was just what I needed. Growing up in church, I was always taught that God doesn’t say no. He either says yes, or, I have something better. That brought me comfort. It still does. Every time I get a no, I believe it’s because God has something better planned. And if an opportunity that seems so perfect wasn’t right for me, that means He’s really got something amazing up His sleeve. He even says so in Ephesians 3:20:
“God has more in store for you than you can even imagine.”
And He does have something amazing planned. For me, for my family, even for you reader. Even if you don’t believe in Him or haven’t opened your Bible in weeks, months, years, He is still working on your behalf. What’s amazing about God is that He doesn’t hold grudges. He doesn’t hold our failures against us. He continues to work on our behalf.
Growing up, when my dad told me to do something I didn’t want to I’d ask why. His response would almost always be “it builds character.” I don’t even think I knew what he meant at the time, but I knew it was a battle I couldn’t win. So, I’d complete whatever task was asked of me and move on.
Over the last few months I’ve asked my heavenly Father why I have to go down this path. Why whatever He’s trying to teach me had to happen this way. As I read day one of the aforementioned devotion, I got an answer:
There’s that word again. Character.
In my short 24 years of life, every no, every denial that felt like the end has always really just been the beginning of something great. It’s hard to see when the sky is so dark and the fog so thick that you can barely see to take the next step. But that’s what faith is.
I’m writing this knowing that I have no idea what happens next. I don’t know what God has in store for me. But I know it’s great. This waiting, this heartache, is preparing me for something better.
I want to close with a short story. On Saturday, as I wrapped up my workout a song from my god-fathers wedding playlist came on shuffle. It immediately brought me to tears. The song has a message of encouragement, of holding on and pressing forward even when you want to give up. It says that there is a master plan in motion being set by our creator. And what He has for you friend, is really going to blow your mind.
So, if your find yourself in a slow season. A time of depression, unhappiness or failure. It’s okay. Know that you’re not alone. Know that you are valid in how you feel. But please, keep going. I promise you, the best is yet to come.
There is power in prayer. If you’d like me, or anyone who may be reading this to pray for you, leave a note in the comments and we will lift you up in prayer. If you don’t want it to be public, you can email me, or DM me on Twitter. You’ve got this!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11
I have a lot of friends on Facebook who like to share praise reports and I’m thankful for them because they remind me and others of the great things God does for us. But so often I find myself reading these praise reports on my newsfeed and wanting to know more. What did God bring you through? What scripture did you read? Do you have a Spotify playlists of uplifting songs to recommend?
Maybe I’m nosey I am definitely nosey. But God puts us through tests, so we can share our testimony! Everyone isn’t going to want to share all of their business and I understand that. But I told myself if I was going to make this blog all about me and my life, I was going to do it right. And for me, the only way to do it right is to be honest.
I’m being tested right now. My faith is being tested, my mind, my willingness to succeed. I feel like I’m being attacked in every aspect of my life. It’s like the world is saying “Welcome to adulthood Brittany, not as great as you imagined is it?”
No, it certainly isn’t.
But I think about the past few months and although it’s hard, I am thankful for how close my struggle has brought me to God. Before losing my job I was pretty unhappy. For so long I had dreamed of moving to a city on my own and taking it by storm. I wasn’t worried about making friends or even failing because I just knew I wouldn’t. So to be in the position I am now is hard. I feel like a failure. I heard about stories of job loss, loss of a loved one and other tragedies, and how it brings a person closer to God and I foolishly thought that somehow I would be exempt from that pain, that I’d never experience it simply because of who I am.
But I am nothing without Him. I didn’t wake up this morning without Him, I haven’t been able to make ends meet for the past few months without Him. Everything that I have and everything that I don’t have is because of God. Although I believed in Him when I had my job, when I was in college and even growing up, I did not believe that what I had was because of Him, but rather because of me. I couldn’t see that it was His grace and mercy that allowed me to be so blessed.
I believe it is impossible for us to know what we’ve got until it’s gone. I was in a place that made me unhappy, that I dreaded going to every day, and so I complained and had a nasty attitude. I was not thankful for the fact that I had a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, a reliable car to drive and a consistent flow of money, so I lost it.
I know God has something better in store for me. His word says so. He has plans to prosper us and not harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). But we can’t receive a blessing we aren’t ready for. That our hearts are not ready for.
I’ve always been told that God takes us through hard times, so that we draw near to Him and in the past three months, I have. I’ve spent more time with God than ever before and I’ve watched myself changed. I’m more positive, I start my day off with prayer and devotion, and in the last few weeks I’ve taken the time to pray for people who have hurt me.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have a long way to go, but I thank God for how He has grown me during this tough time. And even though I can’t see it, I know better days are ahead!
Let Him do the same for you, submit to Him, talk to Him. Tell Him what is on your mind. Seek Him and trust that He’s got it all figured out. If you’re not sure where to start Bible.com just launched their new website and it is fantastic! So if you’re a person who want’s to read devotions on your laptop or home computer, you can just go to the website, they’ve got a lot of great devotionals as well as multiple versions of the Bible. So check it out!