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Aren’t All Restrictions Bad?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst off, I hope it’s obvious I don’t mean restrictions against harming yourself or others or anything of that nature. I’m taking about the situations and circumstances of life that limit and restrict us in big or small ways.

You should just press past them, right? Don’t accept limitations because you’re accepting defeat. There was a time I probably would have agreed with that, but the truth is, restriction is not the enemy. God can even use it.

As we continue reading Fight Back with Joy, Margaret talks about starting chemotherapy, the fear she felt, and how the limits felt crushing to her at first. It was a heart-wrenching chapter in many ways, but powerful in insight.

We tend to resist that which inhibits us. We pull away physically, emotionally, spiritually–or simply deny the existence of hardship… Such ongoing resistance handcuffs us to pain and unhealthy habits as we focus on the negative experience. –Margaret Feinberg, Fight Back with Joy

I really could have used this last week (although I might not have understood it until now). I got news from a friend–not bad news–just news that meant I wouldn’t see them nearly as much as I liked. This person has been a prayer partner and confidant that I desperately needed. I tried to be happy for them, but it turned out to be a rough week in a whole lot of different ways.

Finally on Friday morning, I was half asleep and half awake as I prayed. I realized (or He showed me) I was mad at God for taking this person away from me. Honestly, it shocked me when I came to this conclusion, but once I did, something changed.

I opened up to God and told Him how all this made me feel. I shared my fears and disappointments and reaffirmed that I knew He was the only One who is completely faithful and good to me. I had focused so much on the negative of what it would mean to me that I didn’t want to face it.

Once I faced it, it was easier to adjust.

We rarely choose what is subtracted from our lives, but we can choose how we respond. How we reorganize our lives to move forward. –Margaret Feinberg, Fight Back with Joy

It seems too much to bear, but in accepting the reality of what you face you can also accept the grace to move forward. No one enjoys or likes hardship or even change, but it is a distinct part of life. Trusting your heavenly Father and accepting what is happening gives you His strength to take a step into His life and destiny.

God may completely restore things to what they once were or He may do something completely different. As long as you find the place of acceptance, it won’t matter. You can find the place of trust and abiding in Him that is bigger than whatever you face.

Of one thing I am certain: my soul has become calm, quiet, and contented in You.
    Like a weaned child resting upon his mother, I am quiet.
    My soul is like this weaned child. –Psalm 131:2

What are your thoughts? Do you have trouble accepting what hardships or differences in life? What do you do about it?

fbwj-buttonWelcome to week 4 of our discussion of Fight Back with Joy (disclosure) by Margaret Feinberg.We are taking a sentence, paragraph, or passage that inspires, encourages, or challenges and writing about it. If you have a response on your blog, add the link to the widget below. Either way, head over to my friend and co-facilitator, Sarah Salter’s blog for her thoughts.

Whether you’ve read the chapter or not, please dive into the conversation!

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  1. Acceptance of hardships isn’t easy, but it’s necessary if we are to find our joy. Difficult situations and setbacks in our lives can teach us to lean upon our God more and more, and not rely on our own abilities.
    Blessings, Jason!
    Martha Orlando recently posted..Think About Such ThingsMy Profile

    • So true. I don’t believe God orchestrates our pain, but He will use it all if we bring it to Him. Thank you, Martha.

  2. We have a saying at our house to avoid acting out. “Use your words.” The rule -- we can discuss anything we just can’t be ugly about it. I think I can be that way with the Lord. I’ll pout, whine, and all kinds of unpleasant reactions to circumstances . . . but when I finally recognize the feelings and put them into words His peace begins to wash over me. And that’s what I need most. Jason I love how you share your story and the ways the Lord is working in the dailiness of life. Blessings!
    Deb Wolf recently posted..How to Stay Perfectly Balanced with Focal PointsMy Profile

    • I like that and I really appreciate your encouragement too. Sometimes I’m writing and thinking it sounds so trivial, but it’s teaching me valuable things. Of course, these are not new lessons for the most part, but they are valuable reminders. We all need those refreshers! Thanks so much, Deb.

  3. To me, hardships are life. In other words, to separate them out and constantly try to get rid of them means trying to avoid a part of life. The example of an amoeba in a petri dish fits well here. When put in a perfect environment without “hardship,” the amoeba dies. When put in a “normal” environment, it thrives. Hardships are necessary for us to thrive, and to avoid them means to stagnate and die. Now, that doesn’t mean I like many of the hardships, and they often seem unfair, but this perspective has helped me keep my attitude (my heart) right as I go through them.
    Kari Scare recently posted..The Way Things AppearMy Profile

    • Good point. Another analogy I like is our back--we need the tension there to stand up and move. We would prefer all the stress out and no tension, but it’s actually not possible or advisable. We don’t have to like the hardships to accept them and find His grace to move forward. Great thoughts, Kari. Thank you.

  4. I tend to resist change but I’m learning to embrace them.
    Barb Raveling’s new book, “Renewing of the Mind Project” has helped me learn to see circumstances and feelings from God’s perspective and has shown me how to accept things that I used to hold onto (without even realizing it)

    • I love how God gives us great resources to help our thinking. It’s such a battlefield, but He walks us through. We keep growing and changing by His grace. Thank you, TC!

  5. Thank you for your raw honesty and vulnerability, Jason. Ever so grateful for God’s restoration.
    Margaret Feinberg recently posted..When Singing “Let It Go” Is Far Easier Than Doing ItMy Profile

    • Well it started with your vulnerability in this case so thank you so much, Margaret. So appreciative of the grace you reveal in this book. God is so good!

  6. I remember when I read that quote from the book, Jason. It was like it reached out and thumped me on the head. Upon reflection, I realized how true it was. When I “stuff” things it never goes well with me. And I do it often.

    Hardship comes fairly frequently in my life these days. Sometimes I just try to ignore it, or do something to distract myself from it. I’ve been learning through books like Fight Back With Joy and The Grief Handbook that not dealing with struggles and loss is unhealthy.

    So, I’m working on honestly approaching these things with God. It’s easier to try to stuff it all but in the long run does nothing for our health physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    • Admitting how little I know and giving up on trying to understand everything has been terribly difficult for me. I used to believe if I simply knew why I did what I did or what caused that reaction or what preceded that behavior--I would be able to get past it. Letting that go has been freeing and I’m still in that process. I want to be healthy physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Hiding myself from God (like Adam and Eve) doesn’t hurt God, it hurts me. Thanks so much, Melinda.

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