So Much More Than Words 

  • ckstubbswrites

Earlier today, during my devotional time, it dawned on me just how hard I am on myself.

I was in the middle of talking to God, when I suddenly felt the heaviness of self-condemnation weighing me down. I thought about the progress that I made in life and how small it seemed compared to other people. I thought about how I’m still struggling with things that I thought I would have overcome years ago. I thought about my flaws and the things that I’m still learning to do right. These thoughts of self-condemnation consumed my mind, so much that I began to weep. I literally broke down because it all felt like too much. Too much pressure. Too much healing that I needed. Too many flaws—I felt like I was drowning in my inadequacies. In the midst of my break-down, the Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart. He told me that this isn’t how He intended for me to live my life. He reminded me that God never intended us to live with self-condemnation as our constant companion; He wants us to live each day with joy, and peace.

As time passed, the tears continued to flow, and the pain of my inadequacies were still present, but in the moment, God continued to speak. He reminded me of two simple, yet profound practices to implement in my life to destroy the stronghold of self-condemnation. I want to share them with you.

1. Celebrate your progress: Learn to celebrate the progress that you make in life—no matter how small it may seem. This is something that I often find hard to do, but I intend to work hard to make it a habit in my life. Oftentimes in life, when we do not make the sort of progress that we were expecting, it can cripple us. If you’re anything like me, you become disappointed in yourself and your ability to the point where you begin to lose confidence. However, God is teaching me otherwise. He is encouraging me to celebrate my progress, no matter how small. I know that this will take time, but each day, I will celebrate any progress that I make—it may be small and insignificant in my eyes, but it is surely not small in God’s eyes.

2. Remember God’s Grace: God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). This is a truth that I constantly hold onto in my life, but I sometimes forget when self-condemnation comes knocking on the door of my heart. God however is teaching me that when I am tempted to focus on my shortcomings and the things that I often struggle with, I must always remember that He is a gracious Father. He is not waiting to condemn me in the midst of my pain and self-condemnation; instead, He is willing to help me and to bring healing to those areas. God’s grace gives us the strength that we need to persevere; His grace reminds of just how much we are loved by Him. He reminded me that if He is more than willing to be gracious to me in the midst of my shortcomings and self-condemnation, why can’t I show that same grace to myself?

Self-condemnation is very real, and it can be very damaging to our sense of self-worth. It robs of us joy and peace of mind and it distorts the beautiful image of ourselves that God meant for us to have. If you struggle with self-condemnation—I get it. I know what it’s like. I know how painful it feels, and I also know how challenging it can be to overcome. But, I encourage you to put into practice these two simple steps and watch God work. Nothing is too hard for Him. Day by day, I know that He will heal me, and I believe that He will do the same for you.

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  • ckstubbswrites

Have you ever wondered if the pain or the hardships that you’re experiencing are purposeless? I have had many moments when I experienced deep emotional pain and crippling physical pain. In these moments, I found myself asking God: “Am I suffering for nothing?” If you’ve ever asked that question, take heart, because you are not alone.

The thing about life is that it will always bring some sort of suffering or trial that causes us pain. I’m not saying this to be negative or morbid—Jesus actually tells us that in this world we will have trouble, but He reminds us to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). This is a beautiful reminder for us that troubles and pain aren't uncommon in the Christian journey and that Jesus knows and cares about the suffering that we face. Although this is true, walking through pain and suffering is still hard. It is still dark, and we still often find ourselves wondering if what we’re facing is meaningless. I found myself ruminating over this idea of wasted pain for the past few days. I constantly wondered whether or not all of the hardships that I faced served a greater purpose. I wondered if my pain would be wasted, so I asked God, “Am I experiencing this pain in my life just so that I know what it’s like to suffer, or do you have a plan for it?” In the midst of my asking God this question, He taught me two important things about walking through pain in our lives:

1. Our pain is never wasted. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” When God brought this verse to my attention in the midst of my pain, I was reminded that His plans for me are to prosper and not to harm me. His plans for me are good—period. While the pain in my life is hard to bear at times, it will not be wasted and God will use it for His glory. This pain that I’m experiencing now will play a role in the good plan that God has for my life. I may not like how it feels, but I know that God is going to use it for my good. It will not be wasted. The same is true for you.

2. Pain won’t last forever. 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV) says, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” This verse brought me so much comfort when I read it in the midst of my suffering. It was like God was debunking all the lies that I had conjured up in my mind that my pain and suffering was for nothing. I was reminded that not only does God care, but that pain and suffering does not last forever, and God Himself will restore me and make me firm, strong and steadfast when this season ends. I think what is so beautiful about this verse is that God says that He Himself will restore us and make us strong after we have suffered a little while. How beautiful is that? If you’re walking through a painful season of life, please remember that this season of suffering won’t last forever. God said so.

Your pain is never wasted. God has a plan for all of it. The heartaches, the heartbreaks, the emotional stress, the physical stress, the grief, the disappointment—all of it. God will use it for His glory and He will work it all out for your good (Romans 8:28). If you find yourself struggling through a season of suffering and pain, please take heart—your pain will not be wasted and it will not last forever.

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  • ckstubbswrites

Dark seasons are very real. I often think of them as seasons when not much makes sense and you feel as though God has somehow deserted you. I know, this isn’t the "Christian thing" to say, but I pride myself on being honest. When you’re in a dark season, it’s hard. It’s confusing. It’s disappointing. It’s scary. I can speak freely about this, because I know what it’s like to be there. I know what it’s like to be facing trial after trial, and not being able to fully understand why. My dark season wasn’t easy. There were many moments when I felt as though I wanted to give up. There were days when I would look up and ask God, “Why?” or “How did I get here?” There were nights when I would wake up and just cry because it was difficult. It was very tough to walk through, but, I can tell you one thing—even in the dark, I knew that God was with me.

I’ve learned that dark seasons can teach you not only a lot about yourself and God, but life in general. Oftentimes, when we’re in dark seasons, it’s difficult to find the right perspective and it’s hard to fully believe that any good can come out of it. This blog is for the person who has found themselves smack-dab in a dark season. I see you. I know what you’re feeling. I understand your pain and confusion. But, can I tell you? You are not alone. I’ve been there, and although it hasn’t been easy, I’ve been able to learn and grow so much in the midst of the darkness. I want to share with you three things that I learned when it was dark in my life:

1. Light is always present; you just have to look for it: In my dark season, I learned to look for the light. I trained myself to be grateful for the good days and to see good, even when I didn’t feel good. The small things that I once took for granted, I began to appreciate more and more; like, feeling the sun on my skin, driving with the windows down and allowing the cool breeze to blow through my hair. It’s amazing how much more you begin to appreciate those small, seemingly insignificant moments when you’re in a dark season. Walking through darkness has made me more appreciative of the little things. It’s made me more eager to search for the light everyday, even if it is only a small spark.

2. Growth happens in the dark: I’ve learned that I’ve grown the most in my life when it was really dark. I learned not only to appreciate life more, but to trust that God will take care of me. Because it was so dark, I knew that the only One who could truly help me is God, so I went to Him. I spent time with Him. I cried out to Him relentlessly. I spoke to Him daily about how I felt in the dark place and how difficult it was for me. The thing is, in the moment, I didn’t feel like I was growing; I actually felt like I was regressing. However, after some time, I realized that my faith was becoming more firm. I was becoming more confident in God and much bolder than I was before. I realized that God often does His best work in these dark places because He helps us realize that everything that we need is found in Him.

3. The morning is coming: Even in the midst of my dark place, I knew that the morning would come. I can’t explain it, but while I was experiencing deep pain and uncertainty, I knew within myself that the joy that I longed for would come. I often found myself being reminded of Psalm 30:5 (NIV) which says, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Morning is coming. In these dark seasons, many tears are shed. Trust me, I cried until I couldn't anymore in my dark season. If you’ve been weeping, I’ve come to encourage you to take heart. The dark cannot last forever. Morning is coming.

Dark seasons are hard; but, I believe that they are valuable and necessary. They teach us about life. They teach us about God. They teach us about ourselves. I want to remind you tonight, if you find yourself in a dark place, remember that you are not alone, and you’re going to make it through. It won’t be dark forever; morning is coming.

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