I had an amazing opportunity recently to attend a Question & Answer session along with my mother-in-law just before a Kari Jobe concert. I’m so glad that we did because it was awesome to get a glimpse of her heart in person.
While we were there, she and the lead singer of the Rend Collective Experiment answered anything from questions about her dog, Hippie, to questions regarding their writing inspiration and also gave advice to worship leaders. It was pretty great, and it felt like I was having a one-on-one conversation with them (minus the little fact that the questions were coming from a Twitter feed and not from me, directly). At anything rate, she said something that has played over and over in my mind since that night:
“Never underestimate the season that you’re in.”
Besides just being a great reminder in general, it really hit home with me during my current circumstances.
I whole-heartedly believe that everything we encounter holds a purpose. If we are honest (which is just my m.o.), it’s an easy phrase to file away for the good times, and overlook or try to brush past during the harder times.
Knowing this is true doesn’t make hard times less painful. It doesn’t mean that it won’t hurt or scar. And it certainly doesn’t make us immune to sadness or give us a “Get out of trial free!” card, just because we say we believe it. We are never promised a life free from tragedy simply because we believe in an ever-loving, all-powerful God… But it DOES mean that when we DO face these hard times, we can rest assured that the God of the universe, the one who literally formed each star and placed each individual freckle or beauty mark onto our bodies – this God… MY God is greater than my circumstance at that moment.
The season that I’ve personally been in, lately, has felt full of growing pains. I had been coasting and then suddenly things weren’t as easy peasy anymore. I couldn’t really point out any one difficult moment that seemed to signal the beginning of this stage, for me, but looking back I can see that it has gradually been pushing me further and further.
Difficulties with coworkers that are beyond my control. Family struggles that can’t be ignored. Big changes in Studly’s and my life. Sudden major work projects popping up with near-impossible deadlines. I mean… Even trouble at the vet, with the dog! Just random stuff popping up all over the place. And throughout all of it, I feel like God’s also been growing my levels of empathy, when I’d frankly just rather be mad and annoyed with people.
There’s been this reminder that people have their own “stuff” that impacts their behavior, whether they can recognize it or not. That to some, their perspective is their “truth,” even when it is actually quite the farthest thing from absolute truth.
Man… I really didn’t plan to get into any of that, but I guess it came out for a reason.
I’ve also just been in this state of “transition” for quite some time with regard to my heart and church and music. Studly and I have actually been outside of a traditional church for several years. And it’s important to note that this is not easy for me.
I was raised in church. Pastor’s kid through and through. And in our house, you didn’t miss church unless you’d thrown up more then once before we left to get there. And that was the case for Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and even Wednesday night youth game time… Not to mention any other event that my parents had to attend. Basically, it was not optional and not only did we have to be there, but we had to LIKE it, dadgummit!
So when Studly and I left our church a few years back (which is a Tory in itself), we jumped right into finding another. Unfortunately, it was really not an easy process. I won’t get into it right now, but it really was tough and we just couldn’t seem to find a church that had what we needed at that point in our lives. We prayed and prayed, but just didn’t feel like God was encouraging us to attend any of the ones we’d tried and also didn’t feel him pushing us in any other direction to finding one. I was totally uncool with this.
It took me quite a while to be okay with this, and it wasn’t something that I really became comfortable with at any one point, but it seemed more like it happened gradually, and then one day, I looked up and realized that I didn’t NEED it.
**I feel it’s necessary to add in this disclaimer: I do not encourage anyone to take this as me saying it’s a good idea to leave your church or that I support people not being involved in a church body. In fact, I always always always encourage the opposite. This is just the retelling of a story of a season that we went through, personally. Now back to our regularly scheduled program…
I’ve learned SO much through this season in my life. And though it’s something I used to swear I’d never do, I think it’s been extremely humbling. God has had a purpose for this season in our lives and because of that, I’ve grown in ways that I, myself, wouldn’t have if we had stayed in the church or if we’d tried to just attend somewhere to be able to check that box, so to speak, in our lives.
So when Kari said to “Never underestimate the season that you’re in,” it really hit home. I can look back and see the growth. And frankly, I can see some of what I’m having to learn now, even still. Without the season in my life, I wouldn’t be the person that I am, today.
Who I am in Christ doesn’t depend on my status as a churchgoer. It doesn’t rely on how many of my friends are saved or whether or not I agree with gay marriage. My salvation does not require that I read a certain version of the Bible, follow Joel Osteen on Facebook, and repost conservative political articles when I come across them.
My job is to love others; to strive to be like Christ in every facet of my life; to be an example of his grace to this cold and confused world. And I absolutely believe that it has taken this season in my life to truly grasp that on a whole new level.
I hope that this is something I can remember and look back on for many years and that it’s importance and impact doesn’t fade. But more than anything, I hope that I can remember to be present in every season of my life, and not forget to place value in where God has me, rather than where I think I should be…
Ha! As if I could possibly know better than He does.