Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
I confess, sometimes I struggle with this one. Oh, I don’t like to be a “victim,” but I also don’t necessarily consider all my trials joyful. Not that I have any more trials than the next person, but it is easy sometimes to sit in the corner and toy with our own troubles, isn’t it?
I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I think to much. I am not an analyzer when it comes to making decisions. I can tell you pretty much instantly where best, etc. I don’t analyze why someone did something nice for me or whether the man who smiled at me at the gas station might be a sociopath (smiles).
But I do tend to think a lot when it comes to painful problems and “should haves.” Sometimes it isn’t even should haves. Sometimes it’s just plain old ruminating, which never changes anything.
I do try to look at things that don’t go as planned or things that weren’t a part of ANY plan and figure out what might have caused me to stumble, what part I played, what I might do differently next time. Because let’s face it; there are some things we don’t want to have to go through more than once, so learning how NOT to go there again is worthwhile.
However, I can’t help but think of that serenity prayer that graces magnets and calendars and Thomas Kincade quotes on Facebook: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
I can usually tell the difference between what I can control and what I can’t control pretty well. It’s not usually that hard. And as far as changing the things I can control…I’m definitely not opposed to that. Granted, sometimes I wish I had thought to change them sooner, but that isn’t always the way it works. I’ll admit that sometimes I have a heck of a time accepting the things I can’t change. I wish I could sometimes. I remember reading about a woman named Amy Carmicheal. She wanted blue eyes, but her eyes were brown. She heard all about prayer and miracles, and every night she prayed that God would change her eyes to blue. Every morning she woke up and saw that they were still brown. It really hurt her that God wouldn’t just change that one thing. Eventually she grew up and went on to be a missionary. She felt called to go in and help women in a particular country who were being oppressed and abused, but in order to be able to safely help them, she needed to be able to blend in. Guess what? People native to that part of the world had brown eyes. Had God answered her prayer as a child, she would have been to conspicuous to do what she felt called to do.
Most things aren’t that dramatic, and most things don’t immediately or even in this lifetime reveal some higher purpose. Sometimes, to be quite honest, the fact that our lives didn’t go in the direction we had hoped just plain stinks. Hurts, grieves, pains, even angers at times.
But all the flailing and fist shaking and tantrums in the world don;t do a bit of good. They just make us tired and frustrated and, quite frankly, a bit crazy. So we let go. We accept, even as we are still tending the scars at times. We learn, we grow, we change.
I have learned that after years – decades even – of being afraid to rock the boat, ask for more, ask at all…..I need to learn how to speak up. I need to learn how to know it is okay to need and say so. I need to ask the questions and rock the boat…or else it will just sail without me.
We can’t change the past, and we can’t always undo hurt. BUT we can choose to NOT be a victim, to move on, and to deal. And when we deal and learn and grow, then the pain wasn’t for nothing. It was for good.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.