“This is an opportunity to learn.”
This was a phrase my pastor used a lot as I was growing up. After awhile it started to bug me.
There were opportunities to learn when I made a mistake, when I stumbled, or when God was trying to teach me something. It felt like I was constantly being given the opportunity to learn something! I definitely did not understand the why behind these opportunities or why I should be thankful for them.
As I have grown older I have come to appreciate the idea behind his catch phrase. I’ve also come to understand the purposes behind these opportunities, to grow in faith and have my heart and pointed back to the ultimate Provider. I’ve also come to realize that God does not allow us to become stagnant in our spiritual walk so He allows these times to stretch and grow.
But, I have to say, that there are times when I’m praying I let God know that I’m tired! I’m tired of pushing, and slogging my way through, of learning, could I please have a break?
This summer has been a season of big change, big decisions and plenty of things to learn. Trying to figure out when (or if) I could go on vacation, looking for a new place to live, travels back and forth between Coos Bay and North Bend, doctors appointments, vet appointments, and fixing the car, all while watching summer drift by.
Opportunities to Learn
I had great intentions and goals this summer of camping at least once a month, getting back out hiking, and more. It just seemed every time I tried plans would fall through. It has presented opportunities to learn about – patience, building margin into my schedule, and flexibility when schedules and ideas get upended.
Trying to figure out my housing situation has been such a struggle. Where do I want to live? What can I afford? Why can’t I find ANY place that will take pets over 30 lbs!? (Bailey is definitely over 30 lbs and is a non-negotiable! Don’t these landlords know that?) Oh my, buying a house, is that even possible for me? This search has been full of opportunities to – learn even more patience and releasing the problem out of my hands and control into His control. It has also been a chance to dream about what could be.
I’m a fixer. I’m a troubleshooter. I’m a problem solver. So not being able to solve the problem of where to live has been so incredibly hard. Being in limbo has been emotionally difficult for me. (And poor Bailey too, thus a vet visit this week!) I like to have a plan with action steps to take and check boxes to mark off as things are accomplished.
That hasn’t happened this time. This time I’m waiting, and might be waiting for a lot longer then I would like to as I figure out my next step. I’m learning to approach this problem with open hands instead of tight fists. As much as I would love to force an answer, or create a solution, that only stresses me out and does not help the situation any.
Learning to “let go, let God”, has been a real thing this year. There are days I’m pretty good at it, and then there are days when I think things are not going as I think they should and try to grab control back. Those days rarely go well or as planned.
Opportunities to learn to “lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him” have been presented left and right this summer!
Remember, Prayer is an Action Step
In my efforts to create plans, check boxes, and solve problems, it is easy to skip this important step. Praying about it. Lara Casey says in her book, “Make it Happen”, that prayer is an action step.
It may feel like you are not “doing” when you take time to pray. When you slow down, quiet your heart, and pray, you move out of the hustle and bustle and into a slower pace and state of mind. This slower pace often feels like you are Not Doing what is needed. All to often we confuse motion with real action.
The reality is that we are doing exactly what is needed in order to hear His leading and direction and we often to need to slow down enough to see the next step prepared for us.
In this area, there will ALWAYS be opportunities to learn. Our first instinct is to go fix it ourselves, to create the solution we see in our heads. Unfortunately, our first instinct to seek God first does not come naturally and is something we have to train ourselves to do. How different would our lives, and the messy situations we can so easily get into, be if we would first seek God?
This week, take time to appreciate these opportunities to learn, even the hard stuff. It won’t necessarily solve the problem, but when we realize the purpose behind them it can help adjust our attitude toward them and point our hearts and minds where they need to go.
Marta Goertzen is an entrepreneur, writer and nature photographer. She daily explores the trails and beaches of the South Central Oregon Coast with her buddy Bailey. You can follow along on their adventures on Instagram. She is also the author of several books including her newest, “Choosing Gratitude: A Daily Quiet Time Journal”.