Lessons Learned the Hard Way
Have you ever learned a particular life lesson— the hard way— so many times that you finally think “Surely I’ve got this one down now! No need to go through all this garbage again!”
Yet again… you find yourself in the same type of situation, reaping the same horrible consequences, feeling that same wash of shame pour all over you from head to foot— because you screwed up in the exact same way again???
Ugh. Frustrating is not even an adequate word to describe my feelings in those moments. Perhaps… Maddening? Exasperating? Infuriating? Discouraging? Demoralizing? Depressing? Heartbreaking?
Yes, all of that. That is how I feel. Plus some “I must be crazy” thrown in there for good measure.
The reoccurring life lesson I keep learning over and over — each time a bit more painful than the last — is this: I must “follow the peace.” I must only move forward on a decision when I distinctly feel God urging me to move forward. I must not move forward on a decision if I have a very distinct lack of peace about it. If I feel nauseous, for example. Or fearful in a particular way that makes me want to sob my guts out. Or if there’s a weird, indescribable sense that this decision is going to create an exorbitant amount of drama in a particular relationship in my life.
The tricky thing is that sometimes God does lead us to do things that require a tremendous amount of courage. Sometimes He does call us waaaaay outside our comfort zone. Sometimes He does call us to do things or say things that will stir up drama and might/will be challenging beyond belief.
I get that, believe that, and have experienced that innumerable times myself.
But, in my experience, there is always a certain knowing associated with those God-led moments. There is an otherworldly, indefinable peace and assurance and a “this is right” kind of feeling linked up with those times when it is certainly God leading the way.
And I never regret waiting until I get that tranquil feeling in my soul.
Unfortunately, however, I often lack the ability (or the patience) to wait until I get that peaceful “go” in my spirit and, instead, I decide to “just go for it” anyway. I blaze ahead, assuming I know best despite the mass quantity of uneasiness and trepidation I sense way down deep inside.
And I swear to you: every. single. time I move forward while still sensing that general, unshakable, hard-to-explain wariness— I regret it beyond language afterwards.
How many times do I have to go through this before I learn to slow down and just WAIT until that “peace that passes understanding” arrives? How many bad decisions do I need to make? How many relationships do I have to complicate or bruise or distress before I finally just hold on until I feel that “knowing,” that “this is right even though it might be hard”…?
I had to learn this lesson again. Just last night. And this time the stakes were higher than they have ever been.
And, to be honest, it is still a bit of a mess. I’m still not sure how things will turn out or how much permanent damage I’ve done because I was so hasty, so incautious, so reckless. I’m still traumatized by how I accidentally wounded one of my very favorite people in the whole wide world due to my impatience. My self-imposed urgency to get my eager fingers in there and make something happen that wasn’t happening soon enough for me– it has done some serious damage and is requiring God and me and a few other folks to come in and do quite a bit of damage control.
It’s no good, guys. This lack of restraint on my part: it’s no good.
But you know what? Despite the shame screaming at me from every direction… Despite the regret that is pervading my every movement… Despite the fact that my personal history has shown that this is a pattern of mine and I am likely to do something rash and destructive like this again sometime: I am going to pick my crumpled, tear-soaked, repentant, war-weary self up off the ground… again. And I’m going to turn my face and my heart and my will to God again. And I am going to choose Hope and Faith and Looking to God again. And I will receive God’s forgiveness and compassion and grace again. For the bazillionth time.
And maybe? Maybe I won’t have to learn this particular lesson again…? Maybe this time it will really truly “stick”? (Oh, how I pray that might be so.)
Because here is the deal: Despite my self and all my many sins and screwups and foolhardy choices, the real TRUTH is this: God loves me anyway. He always has. And He is with me through it all. He always will be. And He accepts me even still— even though He knows how messed up and broken and weak (and even harmful) I am.
And the same goes for you, too.
Thank You, Lord.
~Hosea 6:1-3~ “Come, let us return to the Lord… he will heal us… he will bind up our wounds… he will revive us… he will restore us, that we may lie in his presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; Let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”
~Jeremiah 30:3-4~ “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you… will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful.”
~Psalm 37:23-24~ “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will to fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”
~Psalm 69:33~ “The Lord hears the needy and does not despise his captive people.”
* * *
What about you?
How do you find hope in the wake of “yet another” personal failure? What lessons have you had to learn the hard way?
Please share your story in the comment section below.