Imagine if we could all orchestrate life precisely as we desired. I’m certain most of us would seek out a pleasant, serene, and problem free existence. But would we also appreciate the immaturity that would necessary follow? While this isn’t my favorite truth in Scripture, I’ve discovered my greatest growth often comes during my most challenging times. This has been my guest’s experience as well.
Growing Through Hardship
Have you ever experienced a season in your life you thought would never end?
My struggle with infertility felt like it took forever. When I found out it was probably because my cycles were a little “off,” I thought, “No big deal. I’ll just take a pill, get back on track hormonally, and I’ll be pregnant in no time.”
Except I wasn’t.
Next I had minor surgery to scan my insides and make sure there wasn’t something else amiss. Two tiny scars and a lot of worries later, and that too was checked off the list—no problem there. It just boiled down to wonky hormonal imbalances. That and time.
Oh, time—the hardest struggle of all.
As the days passed, my obsession with my fertility only increased. Would it happen this month? How about this month? Surely, now…
Nope. Nothing. Two, then three friends had babies.
I began to realize pregnancy might never happen for me. I had to figure out a way to reconcile with that without it killing my soul. Finally, I surrendered to the truth—God had a plan for my life, and if it didn’t include birthing children, I’d adopt or figure out some other way to be a mom. Either way, I learned to embrace the hardship. I found joy in the center of my pain.
Long walks turned into meditative moments with God, and I realized, one way or the other, everything was going to be OK.
Later, I did get pregnant. Now I have two kids and two step kids, ages 11, 12, 13 and 14, and I look back on that time and see what I couldn’t see then: that trial was a testing period in my life. It was a struggle that taught me to rely on God, to trust His plan for my life, and to surrender my own desires for whatever mysteries He had in store for me.
It wasn’t easy. That time produced a bucket of tears and a lot of anguished nights. But the experience strengthened me as a woman of God. It helped me cultivate soul-survival skills I didn’t know I possessed.
The apostle James write that we should consider it “joy” whenever we face trials. As he says, “You know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
Because I learned to persevere in my faith even through difficulties and disappointments, I grew as a woman. I matured and ripened. It prepared me for even harder struggles I experienced later, including divorce and poverty. And it helped me blossom as a daughter of God, ready and willing to shove my own wishes aside to truly embrace whatever it is He has planned.
Hardship usually isn’t fun. But looking back on previous difficulties shows me God’s hand in a perspective I didn’t see at the time. I’m grateful for the hard times, for they’ve made me to woman of faith I am today. And I don’t fear the hardships ahead of me.
For as the apostle Paul declares, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).
If this post encouraged you, make sure to listen to Jennifer Slattery’s Thriving With Chronic Illness podcast episode on living our our calling even amid great challenges. You can find that HERE.
You might also enjoy her episodes on depression (found HERE) and anger (found HERE).
Get to Know Jessica!
Jessica is an award-winning journalist and author with thousands of articles to her name. She is the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, which has won 104 journalism awards during her tenure. She is author of More Like Jesus: A Devotional Journey (2018) and editor of Stories of Racial Awakening: Narratives on Changed Hearts and Lives of South Carolina United Methodists (2018), both from her newspaper’s the Advocate Press. She also writes fiction, represented by Bob Hostetler of The Steve Laube Agency, and her novel The Memory Garden won the 2018 Genesis contest for unpublished contemporary fiction from the American Christian Fiction Writers. A speaker and frequent contributor to Response magazine and the United Methodist News Service, among many other publications, she has a faith blog at JessicaBrodie.com. Subscribe to Jessica’s YouTube channel HERE.
If you’re looking for additional support, Jennifer and Jessica invite you to join Wholly Loved Ministries private Facebook group––a place where women can receive support, encouragement, prayer, and celebrate their praises within one another. Find us HERE.
Thank you for sharing your pain, Jessica. I’ve never experienced it, but I have some friends who have.
Once upon a time, in 2001, my husband and I built a new house on our land. Not large, but I’d never had a never-been-lived-in home before, and I was quite proud of our accomplishment.
Then, about a year later, my daughter and husband and their three young children moved from Minnesota. They moved in with us for “a month or so while we look for jobs”. We were happy to help them, but that month or so turned in to Four. Long. Months. I had to move my treadmill out of the guest room to the garage, and I’d escape out there daily, to get away from the constant noise. And I’d pray while I walked on it. I prayed that God would move them out…tomorrow.
Then, God changed my heart, as He does sometimes when we’re praying for a change in or for someone else. I began praying that He WOULD NOT move them…until we had all learned what He wanted us to learn. For me, that was huge.
Now, when I remember that time, I am grateful to God for what He did in my heart. Now, when I see the faint black marks on my white walls where my four-year-old grandson drove his trucks, I see God’s fingerprints instead of tire marks. And I remember that the youngest, an energetic red-head, learned to walk in my living room. And so many other precious victories. It was the hardest time, but it was a good time.
And I wouldn’t change those memories now for all the peace and quiet (and white, pristine walls) in the whole wide world. Thank you for causing me to remember again.
I love your maturity and how you tend to glance back at experiences through a lens of God’s love and grace. Such an important practice!