Updated: 7 days ago
Have you ever given a dear friend a piece of advice, only to have God later remind you of those exact words, except this time, it’s directed at you?
In 2007, I had a doctor tell me I might have a hormonal disorder called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). My hormones were unbalanced, I was dealing with some pretty big mood swings, and I was struggling with painful cystic acne on my chin and chest. I later had the diagnosis confirmed through more bloodwork and an ultrasound. PCOS is not fun. It is discouraging and exhausting. The symptoms range widely from woman to woman, but ask any of them, and I’m sure they will have personal stories of frustration and heartache.
My PCOS will probably never be completely gone, but the severity of the symptoms can be managed by diet, exercise, quality sleep and stress management. There are a slew of other actions I can take to help as well, but it starts to get overwhelming. I don’t know how many times I have started a program or a book, cut out a food, coffee, or sugar. I totally rocked it and was victorious!...for a while. Life got hard, or inevitably some stress/fatigue/holiday came along. I couldn’t be perfect, so I gave up and felt like a failure that was stuck and always would be. I haven’t been able to figure out how to stay motivated while keeping a positive attitude. I struggle with an all-or-nothing outlook, so I will do something hardcore and eventually burnout, when really, I need to be slow and steady and patient. Ugh.
Back to my stellar advice I was referring to - I remember writing a note of encouragement to a friend who was trudging through a time in their life where they were being obedient to God, but it was exhausting, tedious work that they weren’t particularly passionate about. I said something along the lines of, “I mean this in the kindest way - you are being so faithful in all this, but Jesus is way more faithful than you - hang in there.”
I wasn’t trying to be flippant or brush off their situation. Sometimes I think it’s easy for me to look at my struggles and believe that no one feels this way or understands what I’m going through. I thought maybe this person also felt alone and weary and wanted to give up.
It makes me laugh when the Holy Spirit reminds me of how I challenged my friend - now that advice applies to me! These past few months have been one of the driest and spiritually loneliest I’ve ever walked through. I haven’t been one of those people who have thrived throughout the pandemic. In fact, my selfcare (spiritual and physical) had almost become like that forlorn, dusty cheerio under your fridge. You know it’s there and maybe you should take care of it, but it seems easier to just not think about it. Despite my shutting down and hiding away, my “turtling,” as I call it, Jesus continues to be faithful to me. I’m not sure I can express how truly grateful I am that He waits for me. He is so deeply kind and patient. Maybe I need to extend that same grace towards myself, and be faithful to the process He’s leading me through.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 ESV
Jesus is calling us to continue on, relying on His strength. I don’t know what you’re going through. It could be financial, relational, physical - anything really! Focus on Him as you take the small steps forward, and never give up. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m going to keep trying, and calling on Jesus for His strength and encouragement.
There are so many things I have to do before I feel like I’ve “arrived.” I have goals I want to achieve with regard to my spiritual walk, physical health, finances, organization of my house - the list goes on! When I feel overwhelmed by the crushing (usually self-induced) pressure, I remind myself to pause, take a deep breath, and ask Jesus to show me what’s the best next step to take in this exact moment, no matter how small. God even uses what we think is insignificant, and He weaves it into our life. Some things seem trivial or tedious, when instead, they are small parts that add up to a solid foundation.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NASB
I’ve been trying to get up a little earlier every morning to stretch. I have a desk job, so it’s easy to slouch and have bad posture. I thought that taking 5-10 minutes to ease into the day wouldn’t make much of a difference, but I pushed myself to try it out for a few weeks and see what happens. I noticed that my joints feel looser, and overall I feel less stiff. There’s a sense of satisfaction that I’m taking a moment for myself and listening to my body through a few minutes of movement. No, it’s not training for a marathon or a heavy workout session, but it’s something I’m doing for myself. I do it while I’m still in my pj’s, which somehow takes away the pressure of performance.
Another small step I’m doing is slowing down the coffee train. I could easily drink two cups of the delicious go juice within the first hour at work. It genuinely makes me a nicer person. But, it can also increase my anxiety. My small action? I drink a glass of water at home before heading out to work. I still savor that first cup of coffee. Then I will pause and drink some water or decaf tea instead of automatically getting a refill. That little break in between cups of coffee gives me time to consider if I really need more caffeine to wake up, or if it’s going to push me over the edge. I have a sense of control in having a choice.
God doesn’t call us to be perfect - He calls us to surrender, and trust Him with the outcome. He is faithful. He is kind. He understands, and He is with us to the end. Steady on, my friend.
Vanessa lives in British Columbia, Canada, with her husband of 13 years and their 7 year old daughter. Born and raised in Montana, Vanessa loves going back to visit family whenever she can. She delights in learning about God, and sharing His heart with others.