(This is a blog post to myself about two months ago, and probably to myself at several points in the future. And if anyone else is in one of these times right now, it’s for you too. Welcome. I wish I could give you a hug too, but that’s one of the limitations of a blog that I don’t think they’ve figured out how to overcome yet.)
The following is a quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor who wrote lots of great books on discipleship, struggled with depression, and joined a plot to assassinate Hitler (and also had an awesome grandma).
|Best resume ever, right? I want to be this guy.|
“Our real trouble is not doubt about the way upon which we have set out, but our failure to be patient, to keep quiet. We still cannot imagine that today God really doesn’t want anything new for us, but simply to prove us in the old way. That is too petty, too monotonous, too undemanding for us. And we simply cannot be content with the fact that God’s cause is not always the successful one, that we really could be ‘unsuccessful’: and yet be on the right road.”
Wow. There’s a lot there. So much that I’m going to go through it again, broken up with a little bit of my own narration. You should probably be able to tell who said what.
“Our real trouble is not doubt about the way upon which we have set out, but our failure to be patient, to keep quiet.”
You can pray and pray about God’s will and end up in a place that feels frustrating and lonely and way too quiet, and wonder if God is even listening at all. Or you can make a ton of noise, trying to cover up the nagging feeling that things aren’t all right and they never will be. It’s hard to listen and wait, and most of the time, we feel like we shouldn’t have to.
“We still cannot imagine that today God really doesn’t want anything new for us, but simply to prove us in the old way. That is too petty, too monotonous, too undemanding for us.”
We want to be heroes. All the time. We want to do something that matters and touch others’ lives in ways we can see right away. And we want to have clear and inspirational encounters with God, just like that chapel speaker or person in our small group talks about. There are always more things to do, ministries to join, virtues to develop. But then the daily routine of life happen. And we feel small and tired and inadequate and overcommitted and exhausted. It is too much. We have failed.
“And we simply cannot be content with the fact that God’s cause is not always the successful one, that we really could be ‘unsuccessful’ and yet be on the right road.”
There will be times where nothing goes our way. There will be times when people hate us, when bad things happen for no apparent reason, when the words won’t come and we wonder if we made the right choice and the last things on our mind before bed are fears and failures.
And we still might be doing exactly what God wants us to be doing. No matter what it looks like from the outside.
So, let me tell you something that no one else might be telling you right now:
You are not a failure, even if you had goals you didn’t meet. Or if someone else had goals for you that you can’t ever seem to meet.
You are not a failure, even if you feel like you haven’t done anything worth remembering or being proud of.
You are not a failure, even if you don’t know what you’re doing next, or you have been rejected, or you are surrounded by people who seem smarter and more talented than you, or you have absolutely no idea what God is doing.
You are not even a failure if you know exactly what God is doing, what you’re supposed to be learning from these hard times, and—emotionally at this moment—you do not like it and do not want it and wish God would just go away and leave you alone.
Please, don’t listen to the lies that tell you that something is wrong with you if your life is hard and God isn’t answering your prayers the way you want. Tell that to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He understood that life in Christ is not about being successful.
It’s about being loved.