Have you ever looked at certain parts of your life and wondered, “Why is this part of my story?” More specifically, the hard stuff that caused pain, or maybe still causing pain. You wonder when it will end. When you’ll recover from the setback you never saw coming. If you’re like me, you had an idea of how you wanted your life to play out, but as the days or years have gone by, it isn’t turning into what you imagined. Maybe that thing you can’t get past seems to have lingered just a little bit too long.
We are six months pregnant with a little girl on the way. I literally cannot wait for her to get here. I want to love on her, see what she looks like, squeeze her, make her laugh, and watch her make fun memories with her big brother. Not to mention, it’d be nice to sit down and get off the couch again without any heavy grunting.
This is also our fifth pregnancy. We had our first loss before Levi. And in the last fifteen months, we lost two more. The word, good, wouldn’t be an adjective I’d use to describe my past year or so. I’ve very much had my fair share of “why is this part of my story?” thoughts and emotions. It was one of many negative thoughts I had during that time. Even though many people can relate to this type of loss, it didn’t help relieve any of my pain. Parts of my soul died. I lost a lot of my joy. Even when we found about out this pregnancy, I had trouble believing it and being excited about it. I just kept waiting for something bad to happen. Constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop isn’t the most settling of places to live.
We all have parts of our story we wish could be re-written. Everyone goes through something they never thought they would. Losing a loved one. Unmet expectations. A lost dream. An unwanted nightmare. A seemingly never-ending rough season. Things that knocked us down so hard, we thought we would never get back up. Unfortunately, most of the time we won't ever understand why they happen—at least not right away. Which I’ve found to be a hard thing to accept. And extremely frustrating. (Side note: I think the quicker we let go of the need to know why, the better off we are. I’m constantly reminding myself of this.) We can’t let the things that happen to us keep us stuck. Whether it was fair or not. Whether it was our fault or not. We can’t let a page of our story paralyze us—not when we still have a whole book to live in it’s entirety.
I’ve noticed when I start feeling stuck in a WITPOMS (Why is this part of my story?) mentality, I’m usually guilty of falling into one of two mindsets. Possibly both.
I think being ungrateful is one of the easiest traps we fall into. When I start comparing my life with other people, that’s when it hits most. I lose focus on what I do have, and pay too much attention to what I don’t. What we focus on grows. So, immediately when this happens, I find myself in a place of being ungrateful. One of the crazy things about ungratefulness is how slippery of a slope it is to fall down. And majority of the time, I have absolutely no clue what’s really going on in someone else’s life. Yet, I consider their life to be so much better than mine, for whatever reason. Hindsight has shared with me, it’s usually a stupid one. Whether it’s what they appear to be like online or in real life, I’m comparing myself to something that isn’t even real. Spoiler alert: It isn’t.
A change in perspective is a game changer. Let me rephrase, it’s an absolute life changer. One adjustment to your belief system can change the trajectory of your life. For some that may think they have nothing to be grateful for, I would ask, “Do you have breath in your lungs? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you go to bed hungry? Have clean water to drink? Hot water to shower with?” We have to be careful in what we take for granted. Some of the everyday things we don’t consider blessings, are things many people don’t even have at all. They could be things or people we overlook every, single day. We get used to them, and therefore, no longer appreciate. Lord, help us in any audacity we may possess in disregarding any of Your blessings as insignificant.
In the New King James, Proverbs 27:1 says, “Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.” I happen to like what the Passion translation says cause it’s a little more in your face. “Never brag about the plans you have for tomorrow, for you don’t have a clue what tomorrow may bring to you.” Booyah.
I’ve noticed when I try to stay in control of my life and hold on too tight to the plans that I have, I get real WITPOMS-ish. “I should be doing this by now, living here by now, achieved this by now.” Because according to my measure of success, these things need to happen. If you measure your happiness by checking off items on your life’s-to-do-list, it won’t satisfy you. Soon enough, you’ll only create another list. And the lists go on and on. Measuring achievement by any timeline other than God’s causes a lot of heartache. If we force something before it’s appointed time, the heartache we experience from our unwillingness to wait, would greatly outweigh the heartache in learning how to patiently wait for God’s timing. The obedience in the latter will yield amazing fruit. Whatever He has for us will be worth the wait.
When I give up control of my life’s plans or timelines and try to enjoy each and every day as it’s given, it’s so much more freeing. It’s cliche-y, yes, but it’s true. Try it out. Don’t just read and nod your head in agreement. Try putting it into practice. “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions?…” James 2:14, NLT. When we lay down our control, there’s so much less pressure trying to stick to a society-driven, misguided measure of the world’s success. That should never, ever be our barometer of victory. What we would consider an ideal timeline won’t be good anyway—not compared to what God’s plans are for us!
With the help of the Holy Spirit, I’ve had to reset my heart, and repent of my old ways of thinking. I’ve had to be intentional in being grateful for what I have. I’ve had to consciously let go of my plans, and give God the reins. I recently heard Tim Ross say, “When you follow Jesus, you don’t know where you’ll end up.” That made my head spin in the best way. I’ve had to intentionally choose joy. I’ve had to pause and take a look around to enjoy life, and count my blessings. Because I am blessed. I have an amazing, growing family. One who I happily married almost nine years ago. One who is currently pushing on my bladder, and the other who I stare at sometimes in wonder, because I can’t believe I get to be his mom. God is so good, but if I lose focus on the good I already have, I miss out on what’s right in front of me. God is everywhere. All the time. We just have to start seeing Him.
God’s plans for us are good. His thoughts towards us are good. And while we go through very hard things, He is always close to us. Don’t allow a WITPOMS mentality to define your entire story, but remember it’s only a part of your story. We can trust God with everything. If we give our complete trust over to Him, in addition to any self-made lists or expectations, the outcome will be more than we could ever ask or dream of and I can’t wait to see what happens.
Photo by Sage Friedman on Unsplash
Kylene Lautensack, colorfullbloom.com.