God’s Painful Grace

There was a time when I believed God’s grace to be something that was always comforting, always miraculous, always a blissfully joyful thing to experience. And it IS all of those things, but not always. Yes, God’s grace has brought me to thankful tears. God’s grace has brought relief and happiness to my heart. God’s grace has overwhelmed me as a loving force that cannot quite be put into words, where I’ve simply felt waves of love washing over me.

But, recently, as I have reflected on some very pivotal moments in my life, I’ve come to also notice a pattern of what I’ll call “painful grace”. This often comes in the form of shattered dreams, a broken heart, a lost job and the like. And it’s not until you’ve come completely out of the situation and (significant) time has passed, and the heart is open for lessons to be gleaned from the experience, that you realize that it was God’s grace at work in those difficult moments also.

At the time, we can rarely see it as grace, because we’re in the throes of pain and disappointment. We’re grieving, lamenting, mourning. It’s difficult to see clearly when we’re in the middle of grappling with the “why” and “how” of our agonizing experiences. But, in hindsight, we can see God’s hand of grace in those very situations.

Later, after the fact, we see that God’s grace in our losing that job was that He was moving us out of our comfort zone, or perhaps removing us from a place with no growth opportunity, or maybe removing us from a toxic work environment so that we could move onto the next opportunity that He had for us. If we’d not have been ‘moved’ from that position, we might have remained in a place of stagnancy and/or missed out on the next chapter God had for us for career growth and change.

After the fact, we see that God’s grace in that failed relationship was Him moving us out of an unhealthy situation, or saving us from a lifetime commitment with a toxic person, or saving us from a situation were we’d have been ill-matched or not truly valued.  However, by His grace, He ‘moved’ us out of that situation so that we could be free to move into a place of self-growth and healing, and/or into a place of preparation for a better future relationship.

After the fact, we can see that God’s grace in that failed business or shattered dream was Him repositioning us. He was re-routing us to an even greater purpose and more fulfilling dream. That ‘failure’ caused us to rethink life, upgrade our perspective, and brainstorm a new, more innovative plan or idea than we would’ve thought of if we’d have not experienced that failure. I once heard Bishop TD Jakes saying something to the effect of – ‘what if our failures are really our gateways to the next phase of our purpose?!’ [paraphrased]

Ohhh, God’s painful grace! We do not readily embrace it. We fight it. We even hate it, because at the time it does not seem like grace… It only feels like pain. But, if our hand is in God’s hand, shouldn’t we trust Him to lead us through this process? To refine us? To grow us? Even if at times His grace is painful?

©2019 Life Together with Kay Dee, “God’s Painful Grace”

photo credit: morguefile.com

My Battle With Success

Haven’t been on here in awhile.  Apologies. My life has been quite full. Being a mom never stops, it just changes a bit as your children grow older. I’ve had some transition on my job. Social life …ahh, I make my own social life. If I didn’t, I’d just be sitting at home bored or depressed. So, I go and I do things ON PURPOSE. Sometimes it’s exhausting, but, it fills my need for social activity and includes some things I enjoy. Dating…ha! Next subject. And dreams… I’m working to fulfill some of them.

I didn’t grow up in the church, but, I have spent a fair amount of my adult life in church because I became serious about my faith as a young adult and I continue on my journey to this day. I used to be married to someone who was heavily involved in church life and I saw all kinds of inner workings that left me a bit jaded and I’ve been working on healing from that. That said, I did receive some good teaching (and some not-so-good). I have heard multiple preached messages on using your “gifts and talents” for God.  In the church world, the whole “gifts and talents” thing took on a life of its own, and for lack of a better term, was ‘trending’ heavily for a while. Everyone was trying to find out their “gifts” so they could be successful in church and in life in general.

But, what is success? I have had to grapple with my own definition of success over the years. Of course, I was taught, mostly subconsciously, that success equaled monetary wealth. That is what everyone seemed to be striving for. I remember feeling somehow “lower than” or “less than” when I would go over someone’s really nice and fancy house. They’d have all of the amenities anyone could dream of. They’d have all of the games and toys that my kids wanted, but, I couldn’t afford to buy them. I have lived in rental properties for the majority of my adult life. I sometimes still battle with this feeling of inadequacy to be completely honest. But, is “success” only comprised of monetary wealth and the acquiring of things?

Success can be other things as well. It means different things to different people. I have had to figure out what it means to me. And I am still figuring it out as I explore my gifts. It seems I am gifted in areas that don’t naturally or easily produce income. And it still seems that part of my definition of success is related to money.

Let me give you background.  Having become a single parent due to divorce was one of the most difficult things I have had to endure and push through and conquer. It has strengthened me in ways I didn’t realize. But, can I tell you?? It’s been excruciating at the same time. I have wanted to give my children so much that I could not afford. I have felt so guilty about that for so long. And I am still trying to figure out how to be financially successful (in addition to my full-time job) to provide the very best way I can. You don’t know how many tears I have shed over the years out of sheer frustration over money.  That brought me to a point where I wanted to figure out a successful “side hustle” (side job or business). A few years ago, I did manage to stumble upon a niche side business that was well received, but only brought in minimal (and sporadic) income. It was enough to reinvest back into the business. Or sometimes after a drought, a random sale would come through at just the right time when I needed a little extra cash. But, beyond this, it did not flourish, so, after a few years of trying, I shut it all down.

Recently, I’ve decided to pursue things I am actually passionate about. I thought to myself “THIS will surely bring about eventual success because these are things I love.”  I told myself that growth will be slow and it will take time, but, it will eventually reach and help others and eventually pay off. However, I find myself impatient with the process. I have been wanting some form of success for so long, that I feel burned out from continuous trying and little return on my efforts. When I do create what I believe is meaningful / useful / helpful content, I only receive minimal feedback and I become discouraged. Still, I press on. I remind myself that at least this  time I am doing it from my heart instead of out of desperation.  Still, the internal struggle remains. Still, I wonder when will I “break through” to a place of reaching many and not simply a few. I want to be wise. I want to help others. Yet, I also want to be able to use these gifts to make things better for my family and myself financially at some point.

I think along with this, I feel the frustration of yearssssss of waiting for some other things to come to fruition; waiting for years’ worth of prayers to be answered; waiting for long-nurtured dreams to come true. It’s an accumulated frustration which doesn’t pair well with the process of beginning new things.  New things take an enduring patience which is something I must continue to work on. New ventures take lots of tweaking and trial and error.  New things mean you may fail as much as you succeed.  I know I have to hang in there and diligently move forward. The temptation is to look at how far I have to go instead of how far I’ve already come.  I remind myself daily that I will get there. I have always had BIG dreams in my heart and want to reach many souls. Still, I remind myself to  be thankful for the souls I currently do reach; and for the things I do currently have; and for the success I have already obtained over the years, though not easily seen with the naked eye.  Lord, help me to focus on the positive as you continue to grow my patience.  Thank you for teaching me needed lessons along the way to my personal success…whatever that looks like.

Thanks for reading.
ALSO…please find & subscribe to my podcast called “Life Together with Kay Dee“.
‘We are not meant to do life alone. We are meant to do life together in community (even online ones).’
Blessings.

~ Kay Dee