Have you ever waited for AGES for something to come through... but it just doesn't?
It’s challenging and it’s exhausting. Every day is a battle. That was my 2016 in a nutshell. While things were great in my career, things felt out of sync.
I needed a change, and I thought it would be simple. I was smart, hard-working, proactive and had a positive attitude. How hard could it be?
Turns out that it was incredibly hard. I had never spent so long waiting, praying, working and hoping for something as much as I did last year. It dominated my thoughts, my conversations, my alone-time, my tweets and even showed itself on this blog. Promising opportunities became dead-ends; frustrating mornings turned into irritating evenings, and all my efforts felt fruitless.
After what felt like a lifetime of making zero progress, by December 31 things has fallen into place. Amazing. But when you’re right in the middle of it, it’s difficult to see a way out.
So if you’re hoping for something, this is for you. This is my experience and the lessons I learned. With these, not only will you survive the struggle, but thrive through it.
First, exhaust all your options
Making change can be overwhelming, especially when you’ve tried and things don’t work out. The older you get, the more you have to ‘fight’ for what you want. Most of the time, it’s a mental fight. You wonder why your prayers aren’t being answered. The truth is, if it’s right for you, you will get it in due time, but if you give up now your chances of success go straight down to zero.
Trying again (and again) can be demotivating. I can’t count the number of times I wanted to just give everything up and stay in bed. The lack of progress depressed me. But this is the beauty of God: your efforts are only part of the equation.
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” - Matthew 5:3
When you can no longer rely on yourself, you finally see that it was never really about what you could do alone. It was all about what you can do when you rely on God. Even when you've given up, He hasn’t.
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous [faith-filled, those that believe]
and his ears are attentive to their prayer” - 1 Peter 3:12
In the midst of the struggle, I held onto this verse. I said to myself: ‘ok, apparently I believe the Bible, so how can I not rely on this? Nothing seems like it’s working but God, You wrote this in YOUR book, so even though I can’t see any progress, something must be happening behind the scenes. Surely, you must be listening.’
It didn’t always feel effective, but it was all I had.
Even Jesus himself ‘told his disciples a [story] to show them that they should always pray and not give up’ in Luke 18. Then Jesus said to them, if the judge in the story would give a persistent woman what she wants “will not God [the loving Father] bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?”
God always listens, the problem is that we give up too soon.
How long are you willing to wait?
“Too often we pray ASAP prayers - /as soon as possible./ We need to start praying ALAT prayers - /as long as it takes/” - @MarkBatterson
Be open to ‘as long as it takes’. Be willing to wait. Developing patience keeps the desperation away.
Don’t get desperate
Waiting for the unknown makes us panic. I panicked so many times and tried to take things into my own hands, following paths that I knew weren’t for me. Those doors were shut firmly in my face and while it stung at the time, looking back I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.
“There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death [wrong-turns & huge mistakes].” - Proverbs 14:12
Why rush for something thats 50% of what you really want? Why not wait for something that 100% fulfils your desires AND more?
“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams” - Ephesians 3:20
Desperation makes even the worst decisions look good.
And if you’re wondering whether it’s possible for God to exceed your expectations, it is. After a year of struggle, an opportunity came directly to me: one that felt like it was tailor-made for what I need right now, one that I didn’t even realise that it existed. And if this can happen to me, it can happen to all of us.
But before this opportunity came, I had to learn one final crucial lesson:
“Don’t undervalue what you have because you’re comparing it to your future” - Pastor Ade
While getting what I had waited on for so long was incredible, it wasn’t the biggest benefit of this entire experience. The most valuable thing I got was this:
I learned how to make the most of today while I was waiting.
The desire to move on can drive you crazy if you let it. The reality is, if you’re making the effort and still nothing is clicking, then there’s a reason why you’re still there. Before I understood this I was frustrated at life, I was disengaged and deeply unhappy. Depressed. It was a vicious cycle.
That’s where gratitude comes in. I remembered that some years ago I had worked towards, hoped and prayed for the opportunities that I have today. I looked for the learning opportunities and positive experiences that I could pursue right where I was. That gave me the energy to make the most of my current situation. The waiting got easier, life got better and I realised this:
Getting your way isn’t the point, maturing into your full potential is. (James 1:2-4)
Recognise that your life is moving at the perfect pace. Today matters more than anything you can hope for in the future. Are you giving it your all, or wasting it?
“Who knows? Maybe you were born for this moment right here…” - Esther 4:14 (adapted)
What I care about the most isn’t the fact that my prayers have literally been answered. Although it was a major breakthrough in my understanding of how God works and how life works, who I’ve become in the process matters more. This is because the kind of life that I am creating, the career and relationships that I want take time and effort to build. Because of last year, I am bolder, more confident and well-equipped for whatever the next phase of life has to bring. This doesn’t mean there won’t be another struggle - there will be - but it will be worth the fight.