It was summer and wedding planning was in full swing. Today I’d be going wedding dress shopping with my mom, sister and best girl friends, Jill, Carie and Michelle.
I had made a few bridal appointments for my dress hunting adventure. I did some pre-shopping online just to see what types of dresses were out there. I have always been a fan of one-strap dresses, not only because I like the style, but also because I have a large scar on my chest that I wanted to conceal.
We arrived at the bridal shop and were given the details about where specific dress styles could be found. I had a general idea of the look I was going for, but I was open to trying anything on.
The girls and I picked out dresses and the fashion show began. I tried on all kinds of dresses: strapless, halter tops, sweetheart, fit and flare, mermaid and trumpet to name a few. I’m sure there are guys reading this that are confused by the lingo. That’s kind of how us ladies feel when you talk about car parts, farming or the stock market…zzzz.
I wasn’t totally sold on anything right away. Nothing that I tried on felt like me. On to the next stop…
The same procedure occurred. A small introduction, details about dress locations, searching and then another fashion show.
When I got engaged, my hair was blonde. I had always wondered what I would look like with brunette hair. I figured that now was the time to test things out and figure out what color hair I wanted for the wedding. So after I got engaged, my mom colored my hair. Thankfully changing your hair color is not a permanent change. If I didn’t like it I could always change it back. It helped that my mom was a hairdresser; so making this drastic change didn’t cost me a cent.
In trying on these dresses I was trying to envision myself in my dream dress on my wedding day and my hair color. As I was trying on the dresses I realized none of the dresses felt like me and I didn’t feel like myself with dark hair.
Thankfully these things are both things that can easily be changed, but some times in life we don’t have the luxury of change. Some times our choices come with unforeseen implications and even consequences.
Have you ever made a decision about life and later realized what you decided did not fit whom you truly were and later you had a ‘what was I thinking’ revelation? Maybe your decision fit a specific need or desire you had in that moment and you stuck with that choice because it was easy and too scary to make any sort of change without knowing what was on the other side.
Maybe you’ve journeyed down the same hallway to a better future, approaching the door that leads to the life you’ve dreamed of time and time again. You’ve reached for the knob of change because you were ready to inhabit a new dwelling place; a healthy place for your mind, body and soul, a place where the innermost parts of you could be at home, where you feel at peace and you experience the freedom and joy of being your true self.
I want you to know that you’re not alone. You’re not the first one to make a bad decision. Yes, your previous decision may have been a momentary lapse in judgment. Maybe you chose to partake in a life-sucking relationship, to inhabit a toxic environment, or took too many turns on the hamster wheel of poor financial decisions or perhaps you’ve harbored bitterness and anger in your heart and then, as if that wasn’t enough, unpredictable heartbreak hit. You really want to yell to the high heavens asking God, WHEN DOES THIS END?
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson after.
But what I really want to ask is: WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED?
Now I know that life is full of trials that extend far beyond choosing the wrong hair color, but the point is the freedom of choice.You have your free will given to you by God that allows you to choose. You get to choose what you’re going to do about your life!
I believe that every thing we go through in life serves to help us grow and to inspire others to do the same. Many people go through trials and refuse to learn. They keep doing the same things OVER and OVER but expect their lives to change. Maybe that person is you? You resist the rich growth that these yucky experiences offer because you refuse to see that there might be some value in your struggle. You’re too busy being mad, allowing your heart to harden in the dark, to step out and embrace THE LIGHT–Jesus.
In case you haven’t noticed, light is a requirement for growth of living things. The same is true for you. You need THE LIGHT to grow. Things that get light grow, change and become stronger. Things that are not IN THE LIGHT don’t grow. They might change but when they don’t grow, they soon die. I’m not talking about a literal death, although that may be true for plants, I’m talking about the death of hope. You can either nurture the spark in your heart that tells you to keep going because there’s sure, confident, hope in Jesus, or allow your growth to be choked out. You choose.
WHY ARE WE SO SURPRISED WHEN WE FACE TRIALS? GOD WANTS TO INCREASE YOUR FAITH; THEREFORE, TRIALS SHOULD DRAW OUT YOUR BEST!
My favorite Psalm that has become my chapter of encouragement in my life is Psalm 71. I love verses 20-21, 23 &24
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.
My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you—I, whom you have redeemed. My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long…
He promises restoration and a new start. Praise God for the reset button!
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. -James 1:2-6 & 12
My challenge for you is to reflect on the trials of your life with new lenses– even the trials that sting to think about and view the stories of your life as growth opportunities.
- What areas of your life have you grown in?
- What areas of your life do you still need to make changes in?
ACTION STEP: Share your new perspective with a friend. Encourage them to see the growth potential in the midst of their trial.
REMEMBER: We persevere because when our faith is tested, we grow!