“God has a purpose for every season in your life—-even the seasons you didn’t expect and may not enjoy. When you embrace God’s purpose, you can teach yourself to experience contentment and joy even in a difficult season of life.”
Even as I heard myself saying the words, I felt the Holy Spirit’s tug of conviction. It was a few weeks ago and Jamie and I were hard at work filming the small group video curriculum for “The Adventure: Discovering Your God-Given Passion, Place, and Purpose.” We were filming the video about “Learning to Love Your Real Life” when the Holy Spirit gently (or not so gently) began asking me, “So ‘Des, how does this apply to the the current season of life that you don’t like?” It was truly a “Are you practicing what you teach?” moment. If I had to answer honestly, I knew that the Holy Spirit was challenging me to change my attitude. Let me explain—fair warning—-we’re gonna talk about a feminine issue. So if you’re a guy who gets queasy with talk about hormones—you might want to tune out. But here’s my issue—-a few years ago, I began experiencing one of the most “un-fun” seasons of life for many women—-the dreaded perimenopause. While I know that many women go through this without experiencing any symptoms, this has not been the case for me. Instead, this season of life has aggravated and exaggerated every pre-existing condition with which I already struggle. Being honest, I have not LOVED this season. I don’t love having pain. I don’t love hot flashes. I really don’t love crying over things that are no big deal. And I absolutely hate not having complete control over my life. I get annoyed that I can’t eat whatever I want because of food allergies. Although none of my symptoms are life-threatening and can all be attributed to “hormones”, I have to admit that I have struggled to “love” this season in life. And yet….. If I’m going to be completely honest, I have to admit that even though this season is difficult, it is clear that God is using it for His purpose. He’s using it to change me, to make me more like Him, and shape me even further into the woman that He wants me to be. You see, until a few years ago, actually for most of my life, I have been a people-pleasing perfection addict who would go to any length to impress people and make them like me. I struggled with shame and embarrassment because my life wasn’t “normal”. I never felt like I was “enough” so I worked as hard as I could to prove to others (but mostly myself) that I was worthy. And then came perimenopause. And things began to change. After a year of feeling constantly sick and exhausted and completely frustrated with fighting my symptoms, I had to face the truth and start making lifestyle adjustments. I had to start adding “balance” to my schedule. Rather than running myself ragged trying to prove I was “good enough”, I had to set boundaries and limits on my schedule. Prioritizing became a part of my life. I couldn’t say “Yes” to everything, but instead I had to learn to wisely discern what God wanted me to do and what I was doing to please and impress people. Self-care became a part of my routine. I had to learn to rest and relax and most of all, be at ease with it. Probably the deepest change for me was that I had to learn to be OK with myself just the way I am. To accept that God didn’t need me to do “everything”—-just what He called and enabled me to do. So yes, this season in life has been difficult and there have been many times when I’ve prayed like the Apostle Paul “PLEASE REMOVE THIS FROM ME NOW!!” And yet, at this time, God has chosen to say “No”. Instead, He’s using this season in life to change me. To help me learn to accept myself. To learn to rely on Him more. To realize that because Jesus is enough, I don’t have to try so hard all the time. In this season, I’ve learned a lot about contentment, about peace, and even joy in the quiet times. More than anything, I think I’ve learned about grace and mercy---how to extend it to myself and to other people realizing that we don’t always know what someone else is going through. So even though this season is hard, I know that it is good for me and that God is using it to work out His purpose in and through my life. As I reflect on these truths, I am reminded once again to embrace every season of life—-to go with it, faithfully following Jesus, and allow Him to use every season in our lives for His purpose. Once again, I choose to love the journey. So why am I sharing this with you? Well, mostly because I want to share with you that this truth is more than just a platitude. It’s more than just a far-off idea that we can aspire to but not really apply to our lives. Instead, I’ve chosen to share my current struggle so that you can see the practicality of this principle—how it can be applied to every day life. I want you to see that I really do understand what it is like to go through a season in life that you just want to escape. You pray and pray and beg God to just change your circumstances. Yet, God says, “No, I’m going to use these circumstances and this season to change you.” What do you do? Here’s what I’ve learned—-you embrace the season and the change. We choose to follow Paul’s example in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 and say,
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
We choose to relax, embrace each season, and allow God to work out His purpose in this season. We rely on God for strength, remain close to Jesus and faithful to Him, and embrace the truth that in every season He has a purpose, He has a plan, and He is working it out in your life.
That’s what I’m learning. Even though I may not love the season, I love what God is doing in my life during this season. I hope this encourages you to feel the same way.
Read more about Learning to Love Your Real Life in my new book: