But of those 15 people I've talked to, 4 of them (around 25%) have included some mention of "not living the life they expected." I find this really significant. I'm not off on a church retreat or a mission trip or a girls weekend. I'm at the beach, with my family, building sandcastles and making small talk with the people splashing in the waves nearby. No round table "tell me something interesting about yourself" conversations. And yet this really personal theme has risen up out of 1/4 of the conversations I've had with people I only know casually.
"This isn't how I thought my life would look."
"I can't believe this is my life."
"I never thought I'd walk through times like these."
No one was complaining, really. No one was crying or hanging their head in shame. But no one was celebrating, either.
I'm writing today because I figured that if my stats are right, 25% of you might need to read something about this "my life isn't going how I thought it would" thing. So here goes:
First things first: you're not alone. I'm willing to bet that none of you, as young women, said, "When I grow up, I'm going to struggle with my weight. No -- make that infertility. Actually, I'll probably grow up to be depressed and my husband will be a closet drinker." We don't plan this stuff.
Maybe you're like a mom like me, and the day-to-day challenges of parenthood are simply wearing you out. Maybe you're single when you thought you'd be married with a family, or maybe your marriage is crumbling. Maybe you're caring for a parent with cancer, maybe your husband left you for someone else, or maybe you got blindsided with the news that someone you love is struggling with substance abuse. Whatever it is, your suffering is preparing you for ministry. It's true. I know it. From your trials will come a splendid byproduct: the ability to get in the trenches and pull someone else up. And when that day comes, you're actually going to be excited to share your story, because you'll feel the Holy Spirit using you for His glory. Which is what it's all about. Expanding the Kingdom.
There's much more to be said about suffering -- how it produces endurance and enriches faith, and we can talk about that another time -- but for today, if you're in that 25%, take comfort in knowing that you are being groomed. Groomed for ministry. Groomed for service. Groomed to love. So get up! Stand at the ready! Your suffering will soon be the salve that soothes someone else's ache.
...God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4