Relationships are messy. They bring happiness and suckiness, tears of joy and tears of pain, clarity and confusion, and everything in-between.
I recently trudged through a breakup that, despite being one of my shortest relationships since my boyfriend-for-a-day in the fifth grade, rocked my world much more than I’d like to admit. The days following were full of confusion, prayer and, of course, the essential post-break-up healthy dose of Taylor Swift radio.
But in the midst of all of this, God reminded me of some important life lessons that I have clung to. While they may not be profound, they are truths that have helped keep my focus in the right place through life’s inevitable bumpy roads.
Stay Obedient, and Leave the Rest Up to God
Sounds simple, right? All we have to do is what God calls us to do, and He takes care of the rest. The only problem is that obedience can sometimes be so freakin’ hard.
In a very extreme way, God made it clear that my most recent relationship wasn’t right. I knew obedience meant giving it up, but that didn’t make it easy. It meant giving up a relationship that had seemed so right—so promising, so wonderful—and trusting that God knew best and had something better in mind, even though I couldn’t see what that was.
While obedience is often anything but easy, we serve a God who loves to bless obedience. He sees the big picture and wants us to trust Him and not lean on our limited perspective or understanding of the situation. Because, frankly, we can’t see squat. He, on the other hand, sees our future, has a plan and has a résumé chock full of experience making beautiful new beginnings out of shattered dreams. I’d be a fool to trust my judgment over that of a sovereign and loving God.
Don’t Waste Your Trial
Whether trials come through our poor decisions or God just simply allows them, they are there to serve a purpose. I often want to fast forward through the difficulties of life to get to the more enjoyable parts, but that would defeat the whole purpose of the trial, wouldn’t it?
God wants to use trials to mold us and refine us. To make us more like Him. To draw us close to Him. To bring glory to Himself through our lives. On my own, I’m a hot mess of selfishness and pride (though thankfully, a work in progress!). But looking back at my life, I can vividly see how God has used trials, especially those related to relationships, to shape my character and bless me in incredible ways as I’ve trusted in Him.
He is in complete control, and only He can work our life messes into something beautiful. He wants to use our trials to help us grow. Your heartache isn’t a waste.
Remember That God Doesn’t Owe Us Anything
We live in a world that constantly bombards us with messages telling us we deserve things—a new house, an amazing job, a marriage with the love of our life, happiness. These are obviously great things, and God, in His grace and mercy, often blesses us with them. But not because we’ve done anything to deserve or earn them.
Carrying an attitude of entitlement and focusing on what we think we “deserve” is an irrational response to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us. We were made to glorify him with our lives, and we often lose sight of that and instead seek to serve and glorify ourselves. We so easily get caught up in comparing our lives to those of others, wishing we had something they have, and we forget that we have been blessed with a unique journey and a unique purpose that God has planned just for us, with unique blessings from Him along the way.
If we spend our lives chasing after someone else’s plan, we miss out on fulfilling God’s plan for us, and we will be miserable as we fail at striving for something that was never meant for us.
Treat This Stage of Life as a Gift
We hear it all the time: Marriage is a gift. Singleness is a gift. Children are gifts. But do we always believe it?
Each stage of life comes with its own set of blessings and challenges, but Paul shows us that, through Christ’s strength, we can find contentment in any situation. That’s easier said than done, but ask God to help you learn that sort of contentment.
Years ago, I told God I wanted to be the type of woman who was ready for whatever adventures He brought my way, and He hasn’t disappointed. While some of those adventures have initially seemed intimidating, stepping out in faith to take part in them has made for the most rewarding times in my life. He’s allowed me to travel the world, live and work overseas, go to grad school, take advantage of incredible career opportunities, and build life-long friendships with amazing roommates who have helped me learn and grow along the way. I do hope to one day experience the adventure that is marriage, but had God fulfilled my college-age dreams of marriage and kids in my twenties, I probably would have missed out on many, if not all of those other adventures.
While this has especially been a reminder for me with relationships, it’s true for all aspects of our lives. We live in an instantaneous society that constantly tells us that we can have what we want, when we want it. But it fails to reveal what we might be giving up—or the consequences that may await us down the road—if we fail to wait for God’s timing.
We’ve all heard that the best things in life are worth waiting for, but sometimes this waiting period also requires a ton of discipline and tough decisions to be made along the way. Be open to God changing your perspective or desires, but don’t settle because you’re tired of waiting or because a tempting “second best” comes along. I’ve seen the extra heartache that comes with plowing ahead and doing things my way instead of waiting for God’s way. His way is always worth the wait.
In the meantime, keep growing. Keep saying “yes” to God’s adventures. Keep striving to be the best you can be in whatever situation He places you in. Because at the end of the day, it’s not really about arriving at a certain destination or milestone in our lives—it’s about glorifying God on the journey.