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A Brutally Honest Birthday Reflection: It's Okay Not To Be Okay

Last night, I saw an older couple who were talking and were full of joy at seeing an old friend. I couldn't help but think to myself about what, if any, that couple had gone through in their lives. From looking at them, I assume they were enjoying retirement and grateful for the memories they were making. But I couldn't help but wonder if they ever struggled. Did they go through a season of life where they had no idea how they would make it?

As I turn 32 today, it is hard to see where God is amongst what I perceive as problems. I try to be the type of person who never complains, but at the same time, I don't know how much longer I can pretend to be strong. By no means do I think that this season will last forever, but I know this last month has taken its toll on me. The last month of my life has seen me pursue what I thought were numerous opportunities from God, only for them all to fail.

The most painful was being released from the church I was serving. For a long time, I have been battling the guilt of not being able to devote myself to ministry like I would like. I wanted to be a pastor who could visit people and devote my life to ministry, but countless poor choices led me to a place where I could not afford to devote myself to the church. Even the reality that I only went back to get my doctorate because I knew I would have student loan refunds coming in to help pay bills.

Pair this with the reality that I fell in love with working in the school system, and the foundation was laid for my ministry to crumble beneath me. Not only do I make substantially more money from the school, but it is also easy for me to make the staff and students happy. Just being me, people are glued to me. But there is a problem: God has never opened the door to getting a teaching degree. Plus, as easy as it is to be a teacher, it is not what gives my life purpose.

Even with the success in the school system, my heart wants to do more ministry, and that is what led me to question if God was opening a different door. I wanted to be at the church I was serving for years to come. I knew we lacked biblically qualified leaders, but I felt we were on the edge of moving the church in the right direction. However, the problem I was struggling with was how to honor God by stepping away from working for the school so I could expand my ministry and provide for my family on the church income alone.

I let the stress of this situation lead me to share my heart in a way that was perceived as anger. Although frustrated at the lack of participation in church services, I was more scared than anything. I know the Bible says there is no fear in love, but I am also a human who still questions why God has set me apart to share His Word. I feel like for every one thing that I get right, there are a half dozen, if not more, things that I mess up. I am not naive to the reality that everything I feel in this season of my life has resulted from choices that I have made that went against the Spirit's conviction.

As I write this, I don't have money for rent or the slightest idea how I can come up with a deposit since I am still living in my former church's parsonage. I gave up a long-term substitute job because I thought my next ministry door would be opened. Even the ministry I think God is preparing for me is scary because I know I will not meet their expectations. I guess the only way I can say it is that I am lost and only want to serve the Lord.

Honestly, that is all I have been trying to do. I don't get it all right, but I want people to know Jesus. I want them to know the God who loves people like me. Broken and ignorant people like me. People trying to do their best and making a mess of it all along the way. More than anything that is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing.

I would not pick this season of my life if I had a choice. I would not spend my birthday trying to hide from the reality that I am not okay. Or that I wrestle with the thoughts that my family deserves so much more than the situation I have put them in. I don't know how long this storm will last or how much damage will be done. But, regardless of the pain, I still trust that Jesus has a plan.

I hope that next year, I can write a blog post that shares all the wisdom I have gained from this season and that I have found brighter days. Just know whatever you are going through, it is temporary. Even if not on this earth, one day in heaven, all this will be no more. Today that is what I will rejoice in.

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