Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Life Ain't Always Beautiful"

It is often our most painful moments in life that become our greatest victories.  The old saying is true, “That which does not kill you will make you stronger.”  But the key to walking through pain and heartache to strength and prosperity isn’t pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. 

Believe me, I was raised in the south too, by generations of hard working men and women who have seen themselves through hard times that you and I could never dare imagine.  And the phrases “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” or “put on your big girl panties” have rung in my ears more times than I can count.  Along with “____ or get off the pot” and “mind over matter”. 

All useful sayings and often appropriate, but what happens when you have pulled yourself up and put on your big girl panties and done your business and gotten your mind in order…and the bottom still falls out from under you?  What happens then?  You are face down in the dirt, a pit even, with no way out and no one to help you.  What do you do then?  All that advice is useless and discouraging even, making you feel like you must be made of lesser substance than every one around you.

It’s in times like this that we often do what we should have done in the first place.  We cry out to Jesus.  When there is nothing and no one left, we cry out to God, even those who claim they don’t believe start saying His name.  But when I’ve reached the bottom, my most desperate and painful place, and I find myself stretched out naked on the floor unable to help myself, and I cry out to Him, desperate for help and healing, these are the times that I see something great. 

But we hate this place…we don’t like to give up control. That’s what all the bootstraps business is about – you being in charge of your life.  It sounds great, except that every last one of us at our core is a mess.  Pulling ourselves together and looking nice, even just to impress a few people for an hour or so, makes us feel in control.  But we are really not, and when we think we are is when we are in the most trouble.

Facedown in the mud, in the depth of that pit, I found the most beautiful truth – it is not control that I need.  I need to submit.  In submission to the Father there is something even better than control: Freedom, Love, Wholeness, Security, and oh sweet, precious Grace.  When we come before Him in every area, recognizing that we do not, in fact, have what it takes, He fills us with His power and we are blessed – not because we deserve it or earned it, but we are blessed out of the abundance of His riches none the less.

And you know, “should” will just only carry you so far…we all have a jacked up “want to”, and that’s what we need to be giving to Him.  Instead of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, we need to fall down on our faces before Him, asking Him to change our hearts and minds, to raise us up in desire and discipline to serve Him and with strength and wisdom to press through what life throws at us. 

If you are going through a painful time, a trying time, and your struggling…stop struggling, just fall down on the floor before the one who created you, tell Him that you can’t do this, and ask Him to change you, to see you through…you’ll never be the same.

I’ll leave you with some lyrics that God often sings to me when times are painful.  I’ve heard Gary Allan wrote this song after his wife committed suicide.  

Life ain't always beautiful
Sometimes it's just plain hard
Life can knock you down, it can break your heart

Life ain't always beautiful
You think you're on your way
And it's just a dead end road at the end of the day

But the struggles makes you stronger
And the changes make you wise
And happiness has its own way of takin' it sweet time

No,life aint always beautiful
Tears will fall sometimes
Life aint always beautiful
But it's a beautiful ride

Life aint always beautiful
Some days I miss your smile
I get tired of walkin' all these lonely miles

And I wish for just one minute
I could see your pretty face
Guess I can dream, but life don't work that way

But the struggles makes me stronger
And the changes make me wise
And happiness has its own way of takin' its sweet time

No, life ain't always beautiful
But I know I'll be fine
Hey, life ain't always beautiful
But its a beautiful ride
What a beautiful ride

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