There are days my life feels like a boxing ring. I’m tired, beaten down from round after round against my circumstances. They taunt and tease me. My faith, embattled and wearing thin — me, exhausted.
I had one of these days recently (the round after round of losses), and although I did everything I could to stay ahead of it, I knew I was going down — and fast.
All I wanted to do was crawl in bed and act like destiny wasn’t waiting for me to get my act together. I wanted to watch Netflix and let my heart be carried away by the emotions of fictional characters (if only so I could numb out my feelings). From my bank account to my personal failures at meeting goals — it felt like everything was screaming at me that I was a failure and God wasn’t coming to help.
The thing about beaten-down-days is that we come to find out who we are.
There are challenges and questions I face in times of difficulty I don’t have the opportunity to understand during times of abundance.
There are hidden issues in my worldview and understanding of God that don’t get revealed until I am put under extreme pressure — like a cardiologist’s stress test to find where the heart is faltering so it may be fixed.
As I took a walk to clear my mind on that beaten-down day, I realized I’d been listening to the wrong narrative. I didn’t feel I could afford to do anything — including be happy or have peace. I thought I had no resources, no time, nothing I could do. But that wasn’t true.
Joy isn’t a luxury — it’s my life raft. Without leaning into joy and thankfulness, there was no way I was getting out of this alive. I can’t afford to take the time to work out? False. Valuing my health was an investment I couldn’t afford to ignore.
It’s alarming how convincing lack’s sneaky voice can become in my ears, forcing me to look at urgent, fear-based needs instead of the long-term potential. It is lack that tells me I can’t afford to enjoy my life or be true to who I am in difficult seasons. It hinges my identity and purpose on circumstantial evidence.
It is abundance that says I can be who I am, wherever I am.
Abundance looks at the big picture. It’s concerned with longevity and legacy. It says that no matter where I am, no matter what I have, I can do something to invest in my future.
For the rest of the day, I made choices despite my circumstances — or rather, to spite them. I wasn’t going to let lack boss me around or steal whatever this season was trying to teach me. I slowed down enough to enjoy my husband. I made the healthiest lunch I could from our sparse fridge, and I savored every bite. I sat outside in the sun and read a book — because I am not afraid for my future and can afford to get some Vitamin D while learning how to be a better writer. Our problems didn’t dissolve by the end of the day, but I went to bed feeling powerful and free.
I promise you: your daydreams and desires, Instagram and Pinterest are not there to tease you. You are bigger and stronger than the conniving persuasion of comparison and envy. Dreams are there to lead and inspire you in seasons of lack. They can remind you that you are heading somewhere and this is only temporary. They can help you to continue to courageously dream when your heart is racing for the hills in fear and wants to shut down — just like mine was.
Promise me: don’t lose your heart. Not ever, no matter what happens. Don’t leave it behind — don’t leave it underneath those stacks of bills or collection notices, don’t shove it aside for instant gratification or numb it with food or emotional fantasy and Netflix.
This is a test of the heart, not a tease or failure.
You’re finding where the cracks are, what sputters or flutters — not so you can feel like a failure, but so you can grow and be stronger than before. It’s happening not so you would be punished, but so you would be re-aligned with your heart and identity — and the God who made them.
Even when we have nothing else — when bank accounts hit zero, people walk out, or our lives look nothing like our carefully curated pinboards — who we are doesn’t change. Either we put our identity in the temporary or the eternal. This season will pass. Nothing can take me from me. Nothing can compromise my God-given agency to make powerful choices.
When I have little to no money, I still get to choose how to use it. I may have little to give, but I can laugh in the face of scarcity and give $5 away if I want. I choose how I react. When I can’t afford gym classes, I still get to choose what to do with my body. I can walk, dance in my house, or find a workout online. When the world says I have nothing, I can choose to be who I am. I can choose hope when I don’t feel it and peace when my peers are freaking out.
If I think I need circumstances to line up in order for me to be the person I believe myself to be, I don’t really know myself. I may be beaten and bloodied, but I can still fight like hell. I’m not giving up on myself, my heart, or what God has promised me.
If I can remain me, and produce something beautiful during the times that feel like lack, how abundant and productive will I be when the season inevitably shifts? If I can stay true to me when I have every reason to give up, I can’t imagine how effective, strong, and joyful I can be when I’ve finally plugged up those cracks and healed what falters.
While you’re here, be true to you. This season isn’t here to tease you, tempt you, throw you off course or make your life a living hell. And it will end — it’s only temporary. But who you are? That’s eternal — and no circumstance can change it.