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When things are harder than they should be {When Change Is Braver}

The lights are up. The house is decorated. AHHH…truly this is just my favorite time of the year! Only this year…it feels different.

Yes, we have another child this year. That’s a good different. There are actually a lot of good difference. Isn’t that the case for all of us? Every year the Lord brings sweet changes.

Growing changes.

Blessing changes.

Changes that make the songs and story times at night sweeter.

The challenges that come with change–seem more exciting with hope.

And bigger vision appears for just maybe…what He might can do with this beautiful mess that He seems to be gracefully transform into His story instead of our own.

But this year.

This year. I’ve found myself with a weight. A weight that came with an attempt to make things easier–isn’t that the hope often when some changes are made? Only as it turns out, it’s just not the right fit for us. Months ago, I recognized this. But as a mom. I thought–by golly. A commitment is a commitment. We will trudge through it. Pull up your boot straps and march through it. We will rise to the occasion! We will look for the silver lining. We will look for Him. We will trust Him to get us through to the end. We will run this race (obviously not marked for us) WELL…and at the end–there will be dancing. And we will be gloriously refined and better because–We. Stuck. With. It.

{But some times. It’s more important to recognize this isn’t the race marked for you.}

Each month the weight got heavier and heavier–and heavier. It’s like moving a heavy dresser. You don’t want to put it down because you are afraid it might land on your toe. And you don’t want to take a step with it closer to the finish line because it feels like you might drop it. You find yourself holding it. Using all your strength because the weight of it soaks up every ounce of strength you have. And you find yourself just standing there. Holding this incredible weight. Not moving forward…which is some times really backwards when everything else you should be doing is brought to a stand still. Because your hands are full with this dresser…other tasks go undone…and before you know it–you are paralyzed…and all you know…this is not working.

So you try harder.

You look for support. You make a friend or two for the journey.

And you may even find a friend in the same position. Only to realize instead of one person holding a heavy dresser–there are two people holding not one but TWO heavy dressers.

When a weight is not yours to carry–essentially not your path to walk in, no amount or form of comradery will make it right.

This momma is being very vague I realize, but hopefully vulnerable and authentic enough to allow my journey to be used for others and to encourage someone else who might find themselves in a pickle–a fish completely out of water.

Now let me say something about letting your yes be yes and your no be no and commitment.

There are absolutely times in our lives where commitments should be filled, honored, kept.

Vows and commitments like marriage are intended to be kept. Always. Because of sin, however, brokenness happens. Commitments like parenting are intended to be kept. Because of sin and brokenness–this some times doesn’t happen. We don’t walk away from these kind of commitments just because they are hard, because we fall out of love, because we don’t feel like ourselves, because we are tired. Richard and I have been married for 10 years and even in just 10 short years, we have had to work through things. Some times seek help. And do a lot of dying to ourselves. It has always been more brave to stay and try harder than to give up. These are what I would call Biblical commitments where we know it is God’s will for us to work through them (and until sin of abuse and adultery are present–the challenges are there to refine us, grow us and eventually become more like Him.)

There are also what I call “small commitments”. (But trust me–no commitment is a small one.) They are still commitments (some times contracts even). Volunteering to be a room mom for the year. Your child signing up for ballet. Registering your preschoolers in spots at a local church for the school year. A season baseball commitment for your son. Agreeing to teach the 2 year old Sunday school for the first early morning service at church every Sunday until the following summer. Starting a small group that meets in your home every other Tuesday night. The list goes on what a “small commitment” might look like.

Before I even say another word about commitments–let me word play a little here. Commitment according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “a promise to do or give something.” So a commitment is essentially a promise. A synonym for promise–is contract. So really…we could kind of lump these together having same/similar meanings. Before going further, what does the Bible say about a promise? Psalm 15:1-4 says…

He keeps his promises
even when it hurts.

I think we have to be very careful in knowing how to truly be believers who keep our word–who keep our commitments and stand by our promises. Yet there is also a fine line of when it is okay to “quit”–and change is actually right, justified, best and truly braver than staying.

For us. Right now. I’ve been carrying this weight–trying to hang in there. I’ve now found myself at a point where I’m essentially frozen–unable to really think about anything else. It feels all-consuming no matter how much I raise my plate for Jesus to carry my yoke. And just maybe–it’s because I’m carrying the wrong yoke. Baby girl–you put that yoke down. I didn’t build that one for you to carry. No wonder it feels like it doesn’t fit. And there will be times when we need to walk away–and find the right one. I really believe that some times the Lord will speak to our hearts and ask us to take a bigger risk in walking away rather than finishing a race that we weren’t meant to run. I also believe He will provide a way out and peace will follow when it is His will to change paths.

But until then–what questions do you ask? I wanted to share a few of mine with you in hopes that this will help someone also processing a hard decision where a commitment has been made.

1. If you are able to complete the commitment with God’s strength, can you see where you might be changed and refined to be more like Him? Do you think it is possible to finish with His strength and still be able to carry His peace and joy?

(If your answer is yes–pray about keeping on! Trust Him to give you strength! Be honest in your weakness with others and pray for the Lord to call the body of Christ to walk with you through it. If your answer is I’m not sure or no–keep asking questions and praying…it might be time for change.)

2. Is being a part of this commitment encouraging your walk with Christ?

(If your answer is yes–even if the task is HARD–the Lord just might have called you to this to make you more like Him and to challenge you in new ways! if your answer is no–keep asking questions and praying…it might be time for change.)

3. Is your being a part of this commitment creating an unhealthy environment and state-of-mind for you to the point it is paralyzing your living fully for Him?

(If your answer is yes–seriously think about change. Pray that the Lord would show you clearly what you are to do–and trust Him in taking a risk to change and providing someone else to run the rest of the race for you.)

4. Are you wanting to quit because you feel like you aren’t “good” at it (sport, leadership role, etc)?

(If your answer is yes–don’t run too quickly!! Remember His strength is made perfect in our weakness. You can do this! I love the saying “God equips who He calls”, and I really believe it’s true. Oh my glory–being a mom to 5 young children is HARD…but daily He equips me. Not for the week–but for the DAY–some times just the MINUTE! Don’t let your kids fall into this either. Just because they aren’t good at whatever commitment they have made for the year (dance, sports, music, etc)–don’t ever let them quit just because they don’t like it or think they aren’t “good” at it–unless it is truly paralyzing their day to day lives. I’ll never forget the year Laney signed up for soccer. She hated it. She sweated during the first game–and she told me she doesn’t sweat;). We talked about commitment and we finished the season out. She doesn’t LOVE soccer, but she did well by the end of the season and developed at least an appreciation for the game. She also learned the importance of standing by a commitment.

5. Is the commitment hurting more than helping? Is it causing division in your family? Is it creating more stress where it effects your daily lives and is unhealthy for more than just the person committed to it–but starting to effect others as well?

(If your answer is yes to these questions–then seriously pray about stopping the activity/commitment. I also think it is helpful to seek wise counsel and share your answers to these questions with someone not directly involved in your decision process. Some times we can make mountains out of molehills, and we simply need another perspective. Other times, however, we can make molehills out of mountains for far too long and the sweet aroma we are supposed to have as believers turns into the smell of a skunk because we are miserable and not realizing we are making those around us miserable by staying in a commitment or on a path that truly isn’t the best fit.)

If you can’t tell, I’m a momma of my word. If I say I’m going to be there–I might be 5 minutes late–but I will be there. If I join a Bible study–as long as I’m not in the hospital I’m there. Now I’m forgetful some times, but I will never miss something just because it wasn’t convenient or I was tired. But there are times we will find ourselves in situations that are unhealthy or just not the right fit–and we need to bravely move on.

We also need to be bold and brave when we know the Lord is asking us to move on.

Never allow people pleasing, fear of disappointing those who are a part of the activity/program/etc or even just our some times irrational conviction to ALWAYS complete a commitment and stand by our word drown us and keep us from truly being where we should be. Because if we are in the wrong place–and we are missing the right place–by not moving forward we are moving backwards and many times hurting not only ourselves but those around us–as well as those who are a part of the thing we need to part from by our staying far too long. In His Word “let your yes be yes and your no be no” is about not swearing on holy things and instead just saying yes I will do ___ or no I will not ___. Do not confuse a decision that has the freedom to change routes with a vow before God.

And in Psalms where it says, “He keeps his promises even when it hurts”–is true of contracts either way you go. So if you sign a contract to purchase something or sign a child up for something for a time period (private schools some times do this) and it’s not the right fit–by all means do not stay only because it was the original plan and everyone is drowning. Do everything you can to make your needs known to those who entered the partnership/contract/agreement with you, but if nothing changes–it might be time for a change. Don’t spend too much time playing “what ifs” because “what ifs” are essentially “were nots”–clear indicators it’s not a healthy environment for you to grow in–or rather be stagnant or worse drown.

No commitment is always easy or fun or even always pushing you closer to Jesus. But if it never does–and it’s always hard–just maybe…it’s time to take a risk and be brave and move on.

The Lord is your shepherd. He guides–tenderly and FAITHFULLY. If the direction is not yet clear what you are to do–then wait. If the weight of the commitment is paralyzing–then move on bravely and boldly. And if you aren’t sure what to do–seek wise counsel, dig in His word and pray for direction and peace. He is not the God of confusion but the God of order–and He will show you in His perfect timing exactly what you are supposed to do.

Thankful for His grace.

And thankful the only person we are bound to–is Him…One who cares deeply for each of us and grafts us in and will never let us go.

Hannah - December 10, 2013 - 8:37 pm

Thank you for this post. It is timely. We feel we’re at a bit of a crossroads in life, trying to sort out what God is calling us to do…still mulling over many of the words you have written. Thankful that He never lets us go and that indeed he cares deeply!

Alyson - December 11, 2013 - 1:07 am

Yes to ALL this. In our journey of adopting a 15 and 11 year old, my favorite verse has become Is. 42:16. No matter what the situation He never leaves things undone for us. I, too, carry what seems like a whole bedroom suite:-). I stand in awe jus by the fact I am alive at the end of each day….lol. I have enjoyed the few posts I have read recently. Thank you! Merry Christmas!!