My first lesson of 2017

2017 has kicked my butt so far. It has been the hardest start to a new year I think I have ever had.

Since graduating college, I got a new job and new relationships. Explored new places and had new responsibilities. Everything was new and exciting and I was in love with my life. It all felt too good to be true.

But as Matt Carter, one of the pastors at the Austin Stone Church, says:

We are always in three stages of life,

  1. Suffering
  2. Getting out of suffering
  3. About to enter into suffering…and I was about to enter into suffering without ever realizing it.

This past month I have been overwhelmed by loneliness, purposelessness, and emptiness. I felt like I didn’t matter, and that I wasn’t making a difference in anyone’s life. I have gone through heartbreak and struggled with where my value and identity truly comes from.

But if there is one thing I have learned so far in 2017, the biggest lesson that is on my heart to share with y’all today, it is this:

ASK FOR HELP

We cannot get through this life alone y’all.

People care about you. God cares about you. You are not alone. I have felt more alone than ever this year, but I know that that is a lie. I told my friends how I felt and they pushed me toward joy again, toward feeling again, toward community again, toward gratitude again.

It is incredible the people God puts in your life to help. It is okay to not be okay. I have needed help more than ever this month, and I would not be able to be where I am today or to have had the help or support I needed if I never let my needs be known.

Sure, it can feel scary to be vulnerable about what’s hard and to admit that we need real help. Not just the “yeah, I’d love some help with that,” kind of help, but the literal crying out for help. Desperately needing prayer, love, community, and support. My friends have sent me Bible verses and prayers, they have called to pray over me, taken time from their work to walk with me, eaten with me, cried with me, held me, and, most importantly, listened to me.

I have never experienced love like this before. Even though I have experienced heartbreak recently and have felt rejected and unloved, now that I am really thinking about it, asking for help has led me to feel more loved than I ever did before.

Our God shows up in incredible ways. For me, it is in work, it is in travel, it is in being able to literally call ANY and I mean ANY of my friends whenever I need to talk and I know they will listen and talk to me about anything I need. If I need to talk and cry about what’s hard, they’ll be there. If I want to be distracted, they’ll tell me about their lives. Or sometimes, all I need is to laugh really hard about funny moments we’ve shared. So many of my friends have been through what I am experiencing, and having them as examples of hope and encouragement has been beautiful.

Truly we go through suffering so we know how to comfort others. So many of my people have been able to relate to me, and nothing feels better when you are feeling alone and unloveable than for someone to say, “I know how it feels. It is shitty and so hard. But you will get through it and you will be stronger as a result of it.

I was so mad at God for making this month so difficult. But it has shown me to own where I am at, who I am, and that I need help. In whatever ways. And it all comes from Him. He is my rock. He is my provider. He knows what I need even though I hard core doubt that some of the time.

I just wanted for anyone who is reading this who may be feeling alone and unlovable to be reminded that you are NOT alone, and you are worthy of the most infinite, unconditional love in the world. I have learned the importance of asking for help and have seen so much healing come from it. My prayer is that we would encourage one another to let our needs be known, and that we would be people who love, support, and care for our friends deeply.

If you’re not okay, that’s okay. If you’re not always the strong one, that’s okay. If you’re often the weak, scared one, that’s okay too. You’re human. And it’s really challenging to be a human sometimes. Be gracious with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be loving to yourself. And embrace struggles and trials and fear as just another part of the human experience. God can bring you through those challenges and leave you not only stronger but also able to reach back and help pull others out of their struggles. But most of all, know that you are not alone. We have all been there at some point or another. And maybe if we can be a little kinder to ourselves, and to each other, we’ll find our way back to the light a whole lot faster.

~Mandy Hale

 

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