Growing Deeper When Things Get Rough

| August 30, 2018

“Just keep going” is the phrase that I keep repeating to myself. You see, right now, all I want to do is give up. I am tempted to throw in the towel on my dreams and settle for something mundane. I want to pack up my belongings, move somewhere else, and reinvent myself because things are hard right now. Almost nothing right now is easy and it feels like I’m fighting an uphill battle.

But instead of turning around and retreating, I’m choosing to dig deeper.

Deeper with God

Lately, I haven’t been feeling as close to the Lord because I’ve allowed myself to become distracted. It’s in the little things like missing a church service, skipping reading my Bible, watching another episode, and focusing more on work than the more important matters. But He’s been so sweetly beckoning me back to Himself. And cutting out distractions and running to Him is like returning home after you’ve been away for a while.

But there’s always a moment of hesitancy before coming back. Questions of worthiness and the voices of guilt and shame whisper loudly in my ears. I wonder if He’ll want to take me back again, which is ridiculous because He always does, but that doesn’t stop me from listening to the lies for just a moment. Then I remember Truth:

“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” Romans 5:10 (ESV)

If you’ve turned away from God, moved back to the shallows, or sprinted away from Him, I encourage you to take a step toward Him today.

Deeper with Dreams

Currently, I’m writing a devotional but it’s not going as I expected it to. In fact, I’ve never struggled this much when writing a devotional. My last two were written with relative ease and I felt fairly confident in my abilities and the message I was sharing. I knew this was what I was supposed to do and I did it joyfully (for the most part).

3 Ways To Grow Deeper When Things Get RoughBut this time is harder. I already gave up on this devotional once because I knew it would be difficult. I tried to write one on a different subject but I felt God redirect me back to this one. Protesting, I stamped my little feet. I argued with God, saying that my idea was better (oh foolish pride of mine), but eventually I submitted. And, even though I feel like this is what I’m supposed to be writing, it’s still hard.

The truth is that pursuing our dreams isn’t always easy. It’s actually really hard a lot of the time, but I think that’s by design. The pursuit of dreams, the hard work, and the persistence in the face of adversity can develop important parts of our character. Who knows, maybe the hard thing you’re working on now will be the thing that sets you up for success in the future.

Is there a dream that you gave up on too soon because it was too hard? It might be time to try again.

Deeper with Others

I’m the furthest thing from an open book that you can probably find. I struggle to let people in and have some major trust issues that the Lord is currently healing me of. Because of past hurts, I struggle to open up with others and when it gets to a certain point, I get scared and I’ll pull out. I have repeated this cycle for pretty much my entire life and, even though I’m aware of it now, I’ve found myself falling into the same unhealthy isolation I know all too well.

In recent weeks, I’ve found myself pulling away from the people who I trust the most. Cue the red flags popping up in my mind. Any time I pull away from others, it’s always a clear indication that there’s something rumbling in my heart that needs to be addressed.

The truth is, community has a way of revealing things in our hearts that we can justify away when we’re by ourselves. It’s my community who will courageously call me out when I’m acting less than who I truly am in Christ. They’re the ones who will redirect me when I’m acting like a spiritual orphan instead of a daughter of the King.

Have you found yourself isolating from community? If so, I encourage you to reach out to just one trusted person today—call them, set up a coffee date, invite them over—and let them back in.

What Now?

The phrase that I’ve been telling myself recently I’m going to share with you: Just keep going. Keep going deeper with God, with your dreams, and with others. It can be scary, hard, and uncomfortable, but going deep can be the most life-giving and rewarding thing we can do for ourselves and others. Today, take one small step in each of these areas and see what happens!

Can you relate what I’ve shared in this post? Join the conversation in the comments below.

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21 Comments

  • Reply Jessica Schneider August 30, 2018 at 7:41 am

    I needed this today as I’ve struggled the past few days with shutting down in regards to friendship, instead of embracing what God has given me. I am remembering the times of disappointment. I need to shut down those thoughts and move forward. Thanks for this timely reminder.
    Jessica Schneider recently posted…“Make Me An Offering”My Profile

  • Reply Heather Hart August 30, 2018 at 8:08 am

    I have so been there. When my youngest son was little, he loved the movie Finding Nemo, and Dori’s line, “Just keep swimming” is something that that has always stuck with me. That and God’s calling to not grow weary but fix our eyes on Jesus and just keep going. Thanks for this great post, Sarah! And welcome to the team.
    Heather Hart recently posted…My Overwhelming Fear of Failure & JesusMy Profile

  • Reply Yvonne Morgan August 30, 2018 at 8:45 am

    Great words of encouragement. God is always there, waiting to welcome us home again.

  • Reply Nancy E. Head August 30, 2018 at 10:05 am

    Great help for dark days of discouragement–which I’ve been in lately. Thanks for sharing this help. God bless!

  • Reply Melissa Henderson August 30, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Great message. I am thankful for opportunities to grow closer to Him. Each and every day, there are ways to find Him.

  • Reply Yolanda Belvin August 30, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    I have been there too many times to count as well and one of the things that seemed to justify pulling away is when pastors preach to get away from your old friends, that old group you used to hang with because we shouldn’t dwell with the sinners. Thanks for maturity and the Spirit that brings truth. I’ve walked away from friends trying to be the mature Christian that I am but the fact of the matter is, and as I have recently been reassured of, is this, if we stay away from the sinner how will they know what a Christian looks like, talks like, walks like? Just as Jesus remained amongst the common people, so in my opinion I think we should be the example of Christ in the community but not of the community, just as we are in the world but not of the world. I now practice being more available to others than I have in the past and keep my spirit man built up lest i fall. I think it’s all about balance. We shouldn’t get so puffed up about anything really because we have a Father who is with us always, this is my peace. I’m sooo glad He never leaves me nor forsakes me and continue to teach me all things true to mature me to where He needs me to be. I encourage myself and all of you to walk in love and be the blessing in spite of what you see. God is so miraculous in everything He does, all we need to do is let God be God and He works it all out for our good. Blessings always,

    • Reply Sarah Callen September 1, 2018 at 11:13 am

      Some of those relational situations can be difficult to navigate but, like you said, we have to use wisdom and listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying. So glad you were encouraged!

  • Reply Karen Friday August 30, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    Yes, Sarah. The Lord always takes us back when we have been away from Him. I’m praying over you for this devotional, that the Lord whispers to your heart and dictates the words resonating most with readers. “Just keep going” and I’m joining you!

  • Reply Marcie Cramsey August 30, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    My biggest dream is to be an author. I have self-published a book. I’m writing another. But I get what you’re saying, sometimes it’s just hard to stay motivated. But I do not plan to give up. Thank you for you’re thoughts!

    • Reply Sarah Callen September 1, 2018 at 11:16 am

      Marcie, I know that writing struggle all too well. Make a plan, surround yourself with people who encourage you and make you better, set aside time to learn from experts, and take one small step of progress each day. You can do this!

  • Reply Melinda Viergever Inman August 31, 2018 at 7:35 am

    This is great encouragement! We all get to those places where either we’re wrestling with God about the project, or we’re pulling away from him and don’t recognize it until we wonder why our hearts have grown cold. This part says it all: “It’s in the little things like missing a church service, skipping reading my Bible, watching another episode, and focusing more on work than the more important matters. But He’s been so sweetly beckoning me back to Himself.”

    It’s never a huge step. We don’t one day wake up and make a drastic turn away from God or what he has called us to do. Rather, it’s the tiny things that cumulatively add up. We find that instead of avoiding entirely the dark forbidden forest, we first just stay along the edges, or maybe venture in for only a small distance where we can still see the light through the trees. But now, we discover, we’re deep in the heart of the dark middle, and we aren’t sure how to get out.

    I love how you say that, at that moment, we feel Jesus “sweetly beckoning me back to Himself.” And we do, and he’s irresistible. And we turn, grasp his hand, and allow him to lead us back out of the dark place. The relationship we have with the Lord is the thrill of a lifetime. It’s the intimacy that always beckons our hearts and brings us home again. You’ve captured the dynamics of this so beautifully in this post. Well done!

  • Reply Leslie Newman August 31, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Thank you for the encouragement! So true in my life as far as the part about writing a book and how the things you want to do that seem like they should be easy never really are. But it’s all for God’s purposes and our spiritual maturity. Love that thought today.

  • Reply Jana August 31, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    I can totally relate to this. Something that has really ministered to me in the last difficult season of my life has been the phrase from Ephesians 6 – “and having done all, to stand.” For me, sometimes “keeping on” looks more like “simply standing”. It’s just “not giving up”. The key is where I’m standing, who I’m standing with, and what I’m standing on – those are choices I make. Recognizing that has been a gift of grace.

    • Reply Heather Hart September 11, 2018 at 3:08 pm

      Sometimes, just simply standing is all it takes to show Satan that we aren’t giving up or giving in. I know over the last year when I had bad migraines there were days that I would lay in bed and remember God was good, even if my head hurt worse than anything I had ever experienced. I couldn’t function, but I could cling to the knowledge that God was good. That’s what kept me going on the worst of days.
      Heather Hart recently posted…To The Worn Out Momma: Mom Guilt & JesusMy Profile

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