When You're Called to do Hard Things

My sister and I were talking recently about how, when you finally reach a life stage you've spent years waiting for, you suddenly have so much more wisdom about the previous phase you were in. It's easy for me to look back now and say things like: If I'd known I was waiting for Chris all those years, I would have waited another decade. 

First of all: this is true. I'd wait a lifetime for Chris. BUT, if you'd told me, when I was 26 and yearning to meet my husband, that I'd have to wait another decade for him, my heart would have ached with desperation. 

When you're in the thick of a waiting season, it feels almost impossible to trust that the goodness of the next chapter will be worth more waiting. 

Something that has always helped me when I feel stuck is this idea:

Every single thing we go through is a step toward our future. 

Some steps will feel like we're moving backward, but they are still steps we have to take. Some will feel like we aren't moving at all, but we have to stick them out. We can't rush through the hard parts. We have to live them and feel them. They shape us into people who are ready for our futures. They will not be wasted.

That job interview you thought you'd nailed, but didn't get? It's a step.
That baby you thought you'd be rocking by now, but, instead, were met with another period? It's a step.
That first date that went so well, only to be met by heartbreak? It's a step. 
The move you thought you'd make by now, but are still stuck in a city you don't like? It's a step.

These are hard, slow, painful steps, but, they must be taken. We have to press through them. 

I recently heard a woman talk about her experience fostering kids. She said people always tell her they couldn't foster, because it would be too hard to give the babies back to their families. She replied: When did we decide the Lord only calls us to do easy things? Sometimes we are called to do hard things and that doesn't mean we don't do them. It means they will be hard, but we do them anyway. 

I was so convicted. I want an easy button when I'm in hard seasons. I want an eject button when I'm stuck in the waiting. I don't want to take these steps! I just want to fast forward to the next chapter. But no. Because:

Every single thing we go through - the good, the bad, the hard - is a step toward our future. 

This is not a platitude that's supposed to make the waiting feel less painful. Trust me. We ain't got time for platitudes today! I understand how lonely and frustrating it can feel to be stuck in a situation you didn't intend to stay in for so long. It's like climbing a mountain that refuses to end, when you thought you were going for a one mile run. It feels fruitless and frustrating. Nothing can make you feel more helpless than being stuck in a waiting season.

This is, though, a reminder that there is always hope. There is always more to come. You will not be stuck here forever. Today is a step toward tomorrow. Give yourself grace. Rest when you need to rest. But never, ever, stop taking steps forward. 

5 Things I'm Loving Today

1. A recent sermon series from The Village Church about marriage. It is so convicting and well done! It really normalizes hard parts of marriage and encourages you to appreciate your spouse. Listen here: part 1, part 2, part 3.

2. Locked up Abroad: a podcast about people who were held as prisoners in foreign countries. It is so good! I'm obsessed. 

3. This gingham shirt from Anthro. I got it on sale and am in love! It's much cuter in person (: I'm loving the gingham trend. So sweet and summery!

4. This song by Jason Derulo. OBSESSED. Am I a child? Maybe, maybe. It's such a good jam! 

5. My library card.  Every time I check out new books, I am so happy they're free! I don't know why I spent most of my 20s buying books. The library = Amazon OG. 

For When You Feel Stuck

When I was in third grade, I fought one too many battles with strep throat. On a dreary, winter day, my dad took me to a specialist to see what could be done to save my raw, red throat. I sat in his big leather chair as he compressed my tongue with a wooden stick and I remember thinking it should have been attached to a popsicle. 

"It's her tonsils and adenoids," the doctor told my dad. "We're going to need to remove them." My dad nodded. I gulped, noting it felt unfair that an action as basic as swallowing could be so painful. 

"Don't look so scared," the doctor smiled at me. "I'll just grab a bow and arrow, ask you to lean back and shoot them off in no time." He laughed. I burst into tears. 

When I went back to school a few weeks later, I felt nervous to see my classmates. I worried they'd wonder where I'd been and ask me embarrassing questions about the surgery. After a few minutes in the classroom, though, I realized it was a badge of honor. I'd had surgery! I had something exciting to share. This was street cred. 

image via

image via

I was, what some would call, an active kid. Others would call it clumsy. By third grade, I'd had stitches in my foot once (almost twice), my chin and, now was void of tonsils and adenoids. I learned to wear my battle wounds proudly. Yeah, I've had stitches. Twice! And surgery, too!

I thought, recently, that my first day back in the classroom is what it can be like going to a party in your 20s.

Along with small talk, there's always the question of: "So, what is new?" When you're nine, you can answer that question boldly, honestly: "Well, I got my tonsils out. An adenoids! And I'm going to camp this summer!"

When you're 28, though, there is a linear progression people expect you to follow: Get a boyfriend, get engaged, get a new job, buy a house, have a baby. Perhaps grad school thrown into the mix - or a puppy. When you can answer one of those questions boldly, there is a certain comfort for everyone involved. There's a deep sigh of relief because you've hit a common conversational topic. And, because our world is more comfortable with all of us following this linear progression as a form of accomplishment than it is with the answer of: "Honestly, nothing is new in my life." 

When you're in a stale season, which we all go through, this can be really shaming. Like me with the tonsil doc, it can make you want to burst into tears. 

There are seasons in life when everything is changing and the question can be an easy segue, opening up conversation to share that you're engaged and moving and got a puppy, too! But there are seasons when things feel dry and endless, like you're wandering in the desert. Those seasons are for resting, not harvesting. They can feel endless and tiring, though. Like all of your friends are winning a race you didn't even know you were running. 

If you're in a dry, stuck season, first of all: trust that it won't last forever. You are not going to be stuck in it for eternity while all of your friends progress ahead of you. Your time is coming. (Let me repeat: your time is coming.)

Second: know that it's OK not to have a major life update to share. Don't give into the societal pressure to move quickly through life when it's really not a race at all. Remember:

You already matter. You are already enough. You do not need to hustle for your worth.

Just take a deep breath, smile and tell them you got your tonsils out. 

PS: I highly recommend this read by Shauna Niequist: You Are Significant With or Without a Significant Other.