The last year of my life has been by far the hardest. I’ve overloaded myself, fallen short, and discovered that I need God’s Grace more than ever. But through it all, the latter has carried me. God has shown me not just how great He is, but also just how fortunate I am, whether it be the opportunities I gain or the suffering I endure, it is all for the sake of His Kingdom and His Ultimate Goodness.
I’ve focused heavily on humility, sacrifice, and servanthood; three ideals that are not easy to understand for any individual, let alone embody. A large part of what I’ve learned this past year stems from the idea that “the grass is greener on the other side.” This is a common slogan, but is it actually rooted in Biblical truth? I’ve come to learn that there is strength and joy in the journey and in the current. God wants to give us hope and optimism about struggles that plague us, and He wants to see us thrive when we are under pressure, tempted, and tried.
After all, we are commanded to pick up our crosses and follow Him—and it’s easy to be faithful and virtuous when the grass is green. So while this last year has been hard, the lessons I’ve learned will be especially useful in continuing to grow and mature in Christ.
In fact, it is through adversity and trial that God helps us see how much we truly need Him. He’s there for us, despite the feeling that he might not be: “Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble. The Lord protects and preserves them—they are counted among the blessed in the land—he does not give them over to the desire of their foes,” (Ps. 41:1-2).
God knows exactly how we feel, as there is a reason we are taking up the cross after Christ. We are not leading others towards an individualistic way of living; we are emulating Christ and His Love daily. There is no doubt that this is easier explained than done, but through the uneasy times and the relaxing ones, God is with us.
This recent wave, for me, was filled with overcommitment in the form of employment and studies that led to less of an opportunity to recreate, have fun, properly anchor myself towards Christ, and sleep. The latter two caused most of my problems over the past year. I didn’t know what I wanted, where I was going, or who I could really talk to about it all. I was struggling deeply spiritually because I didn’t want to acknowledge that I was. I didn’t talk about it, nor did I even want to think about it. Professionally and academically I felt comfortable and at a different level than I could be spiritually, but that was because I was sacrificing the latter for the former, and that can never result in flourishing.
But in the end, deep conversations with people I knew I could trust turned into truth—truths exposed about myself, and my relationship with God. The problem was that I couldn’t live with failure and my own mistakes. I thought I didn’t deserve grace and that I couldn’t possibly ever turn the corner. All I wanted in that moment was to see grass greener. I wanted to move past the situation and into a state of success.
But God wasn’t done with me yet.
God has taught me a lot, and mainly that while I am responsible for my own sin, he’s covered my iniquities and is willing to save me, even though I don’t deserve it. That part still amazes me, but I now understand that it’s a gift meant to be used, and not a puzzle meant to be questioned. You wouldn’t open a gift on Christmas and start asking questions, you’d read the instruction manual (Bible) and start trying it out.
That’s exactly what I need to do.
And now I know that God uses our rough patches for good, and that they can be spiritually enlightening if we rely upon Him and speak to Him. I wasn’t praying enough, I wasn’t reading enough, and I wasn’t devoting myself to His Spirit. I had to learn my lesson so that I could use the gift He gave me. I had to see what God was saying, in order that I could truly trust Him.
Looking forward, I have an exciting three semesters left of college, but these semesters are going to be taxing and demanding. The lessons God has taught me are going to serve as invaluable.
Now that I’ve lived through this year of struggle and challenge, I’m truly ready to finish up college and continue my walk with Christ. So remember, before you can cross the bridge to get to greener grass, think about why you are where you are. All you may want is to get there, but God has you in this place for a reason. He will use it to teach you, inform you, and strengthen you so that you are truly ready to extend His Kingdom and live for Him.