We have such dreams for our lives – graduate from college, marry our perfect match, move into that house with the white picket fence, give birth to perfectly healthy babies, land that dream job, and so forth… Then reality hits. Sometimes it’s just one dream that feels out of reach and other times the broken dreams seem to pile up one on top of another.
Such was the place I found myself. Happily married and ready to start a family, but suddenly negotiating the world of infertility. My dream of a family was falling apart. I wasn’t sure if or how we’d ever move from ‘couple’ to ‘family’. On top of that, I was traveling out of town every week for my job, working inhuman hours and I knew I had to change jobs – but to what? Not to mention I was working too much to have the time and energy to start a job search. Throw in a few more missed expectations and ideals I could never quite live up to and the stress of it all began to drag me under.
I was drowning. I was carrying such a weight of worry I could hardly breathe. Panic attacks became a new normal as I wrestled with the reality that I couldn’t fix it all on my own. This was not how I pictured this phase of my life playing out. This wasn’t the place I wanted to be.
Sometimes you have to sink in order to grow closer to God.
As we entered the first round of in vitro on our journey to start a family, I became convinced science had mastered life. Doctors and scientists could spark life in a test tube. This was our answer! Science would give us a family. Oh, and I’d make this job situation better and I’d somehow find a solution to all the other stresses. I thought if I just pushed hard enough, I could solve all my problems.
So, when none of those worked out – when we didn’t get pregnant, when the job opportunity fell through, when I couldn’t see a way through the other issues – I began to sink. If I couldn’t solve my problems, then who else could? I felt lost, overwhelmed, and alone. I had my eyes focused on the storms around me and I couldn’t stay afloat.
Will you allow yourself to drown under the weight of the world or will you cry out to God for help?
A friend suggested a radical alternative as I shared this struggle over coffee one morning. A different approach that seemed crazy to me and unlikely to produce the results I wanted. He suggested I try handing all of this over to God and let Him carry the burdens a while. His answer to my problems was to cry out to God for help.
At that time, I believed in God and knew he was real, but thought of him only as a distant, supreme being; not someone who is intimately involved in our lives. I prayed, but never expected a response. So, I couldn’t imagine how this would help. What could God do about my problems, after all?
Despite my reservations, I was desperate, so I decided to give prayer a try. I went home that morning and began to pray for God to start carrying the burden for me. I even tried to visualize handing over the worries which felt so heavy on my shoulders.
It took several weeks of praying this before I began to notice the change. Several weeks for me to start believing the words I was saying in that prayer and to open my heart to the possibility that God might actually answer. I slowly began the feel the weight on my shoulders get lighter. I began to feel my chest unwind a bit and I could breathe easier. Then I noticed I wasn’t as worried and anxious about all the issues, all the things I couldn’t fix in my life. I started to feel at peace with life, even with all its problems, and I began to feel hopeful about the future.
What had changed? My life circumstances certainly hadn’t changed. I was still traveling across the country for work every week. I still wasn’t pregnant. Nothing had really changed, yet I felt different. I felt calm and at peace.
What changed was I asked God for help and he answered. He was right there beside me the whole time, just waiting for me to ask.
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. (Matthew 14:30-31a NIV)
When you start drowning in life’s storms, let God be your life-preserver.
Life can be tough! There are no promises of an easy life in the Bible. Nowhere are we told that if we just follow Jesus then our life will be full of good things and easy times. No, no promises of any sort like that.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33 NIV)
What we actually get from Jesus is a promise that life will be hard. He’s clear that we will face trials and hardships, some of which will not be resolved to our satisfaction on this side of heaven.
If we have faith, though, we can approach these trials with hope and peace, knowing Jesus is by our side. We may not see the resolution we desire in this life, but as believers we can rest in the hope that God is by our side throughout the journey.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-30 NIV)
When we begin to drown, we can allow ourselves to be pulled under or we can cry out for help. Not that we necessarily choose to go all the way under, but sometimes not calling for help, thinking we can pull ourselves out on our own, produces the same result. It’s hard to ask for help or even to know what help to ask for.
What will you choose? Go it alone in your struggles and drown in the stress and worry? Or, cry out for help and give God a chance?
This “drowning” experience was the turning point in my faith journey. It was also the turning point in this struggle. Even though it would still be months before any change in my situation, my heart began to change. I began to face this challenge with hope and peace, knowing the end results were in God’s hands – no matter how it all turned out.
So, what storms are you facing in your life? Does it feel like you’re drowning and about to go under for the last time? Reach out to God and let him be your life preserver. Ask for his help and let God carry the burden for a while.