Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Living

Ten Minutes to Joy

Perspective is everything, friends. I don’t think I’ve ever understood that quite like I understand it today. Being a leader is tough. You are always “on,” and you are oftentimes expected to deal with or react to or problem solve around everyone else’s emotions without conveying yours. You can’t be visibly emotional. You can’t even express your disappointment with the same freedom with which everyone else can. At the same time, though, you can’t appear emotionless. As one principal friend expressed yesterday, “You are perpetually on a tightrope.” After a trying emotional moment today, I found myself retreating to my office to pray for strength in private. You know those prayers: they’re the ones where you are so overwrought that you spend a significant amount of prayer time informing God about what you feel or what you just experienced. Then, mid-prayer I remembered Paul and his thorn, and my perspective shifted.

Image result for ten minutesI cranked up my gospel music and allowed God to enlighten my understanding. I’m sharing this with you today because someone out there needs this understanding, too. I could feel myself become more and more empowered. I could feel peace settle over me. There is nothing like being on the brink of giving up and walking away and ending up moments later with a smile on your face and joy in your heart. So here’s what happened in the ten minutes I sat alone in my office:

  1. My foundation was set ahead of time. This didn’t happen in those ten minutes, but it was a prerequisite most in need of mention. I can honestly say that going to church is not enough. I used to think it was, but today was validation that all this time I’m spending in Bible study is worth it. If I hadn’t been really reading, praying about my learning, praying about not being distracted during my study time, and making constant connections to my own life experiences, I couldn’t have walked away with joy today. This is the foundation to which we can turn when we don’t know what to do or say next.
  2. I let it all out. I had to take a moment to dump. I had to express my frustration, my anxiety, and my disappointment. I am human, but God doesn’t want me to keep turning to other humans. He wants me to come to him. I had to restrain myself in the heat of the moment, flee to my office in a way that didn’t look like flight, and go to him.
  3. I acknowledged God’s presence and permission for my struggle. This is the exact moment that my perspective change started to happen. He knows, friends. He was there. He watched it go down. Most importantly, though, He allowed it to happen. Why? For my growth and for God’s glory, I must be humbled (2 Corinthians 12: 7). He tells us to “endure hardship as discipline” so that it can “produce a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12: 7-11). It doesn’t make the situation easy necessarily, but it does make it purposeful, which for me means that I can be empowered to endure with my head held higher.
  4. I prayed for my enemies. Listen, friend, this is not me, okay? This is all God because I don’t think I’ve really ever prayed for my enemies. I didn’t ask God to remove them. I didn’t ask God to smite them with his mighty hand. I didn’t blame the devil for sending them. Instead, I asked God to provision his love, his grace, and his mercy to them. I asked that they find him and learn to love him for themselves. I asked that my life serve as an example to them of one who truly loves the Lord. When I saw them as those who don’t know God, I was saddened for them instead of angry at them.
  5. I quoted scripture. Do you remember that scene from The Exorcist where the priests are chanting “the power of Christ compels you” to get the demons out of that girl? Well, that’s basically what I was doing without all the cinematic theatrics. For me, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper” and “If God be for us, who can be against us” rang in my Spirit. This fortified my resolve to give it over to God.
  6. I remembered the path to destiny. When God had Samuel anoint David, letting him know that he would one day be king, David went back to the field to continue to tend the sheep to wait on the Lord’s timing. Then David basically had two jobs, playing the lyre for Saul and tending Jesse’s flock. Then he slew Goliath, which led him to military service while still playing the lyre for Saul during times of peace. Then there was the jealousy, attempts on his life, hiding in the mountains and caves. In short, there was some work David needed to do. There were some experiences that he needed to have to fully prepare him for what God had promised. Years passed between the anointing and the positioning. I saw my situation as preparation for my destiny. I realized that my hardships were sharpening me for the work God will later have me do, and I started to get excited. God wouldn’t spend all this energy crafting these storms for me if he didn’t have something wonderful up his sleeves for me.
  7. I thanked God. Friend, He wants us to “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (James 1: 2). I can appreciate the experience because it’s strengthening my faith and my understanding of God’s unconditional love for me. I don’t deserve any of the blessings I have, and I am so grateful for the grace He extends. I know He’s working on me for his glory. I know there are things He wants me to do in the uplift of his kingdom, and I am so happy to know that He hasn’t given up on me because these storms prove that. I thanked him. I glorified his name.

We know more storms are coming, friend. We know that they’ll be tough in new and interesting ways. We also know that if we keep the faith, we’ll be “more than conquerors through him that loves us!” (Romans 8: 37)

Be faithful through your storms, friend!

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