There is a podcast I occasionally listen to called Out of the Ordinary. It's hosted by two ladies - Lisa-Jo and Christie - who mostly talk about life with the goal of showing that beauty is found in ordinary things and that God works in and through our ordinary lives. One episode, Lisa-Jo shared that she had a question, she really had no idea what the answer was going to be, and it made her feel a little uncomfortable.
As they were beginning the conversation, Christie said: "I believe in the goodness and grace of conversation and connection - that if we just share and we connect, something good bubbles up. Maybe that will be a solid answer, maybe it will be a hint of an answer, maybe it will just be the next step..." I have found this to be true in my life. If I have a problem, I might start talking to someone about it and even if I don't get the answer in a complete package, it does often lead to a new insight.
Conversation can do that; other things can do that too. Things like (for me) writing. A lot of times - in fact this is one of them - whatever it is I'm writing about, I really don't quite know where it's going to end up. In that way, writing can be a little bit like prayer. When we come to God with questions, we don't know the answers and God may not give us complete answers, but He often does reveal a little something. Emily P. Freeman calls these "arrows", things like a small new insight or an idea or a step we could take.
This can happen through conversation, it can happen through writing, and it can happen through prayer. Honestly the three of these things overlap a lot in my mind. Today, the question I have is what to do when you're stuck.
Have you ever been stuck? We have a term in our family that we affectionately call "the tunnel of sadness." There is at least one of our children who frequents this place. Of course it's not a real place, but a person goes there when he/she has had something happen that causes sadness, but then rather than dealing with it and moving on, this person essentially sits down in the tunnel and is just stuck there. And it's really hard to get him/her out.
Of course it's much easier to see this stuck-in-the-tunnel problem when someone else is experiencing it, but I would guess that most of us have gotten stuck - whether it's in the tunnel of sadness or the mud of regret or the loop of shame. Perhaps this is part of being human - albeit not a very fun part! I don't know anyone who just loves getting stuck. Most of us want to move on.
Sometimes I wonder, why does God allow us to get stuck? Shouldn't there be some kind of tool He could give us that would just zoom us out of there? Then again, maybe part of the reason God allows us to get stuck is because there is something we can learn while we're stuck that we couldn't learn as well if we just moved right on.
Think of Psalm 23, when the writer says "Even though I walk..." (not run, not jump out of, but walk through) "...through the valley of the shadow of death..." - sounds like a very unpleasant place to be. Of course, it is probably significant that it doesn't say "Even though I'm stuck in the valley". Rather, "I walk through"... so the next time I find myself stuck, instead of frantically looking for a quick way out, maybe there is something to this idea of walking through it, paying attention to it, asking God what I'm supposed to learn from it, and not stressing so much if I'm there a little longer than I want to be.
On a related note, when I see someone else stuck, I often want to just zoom them out of there, clap my hands and say, Hey! Get out of there! That's not a good place to be. And maybe sometimes there is a place for that. But other times, what if I would walk with them through that tunnel? Not drag them out of there, but just come alongside of them gently... really, maybe that's what Jesus does for us. He says, Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you - even when you're in that tunnel, I'm going to come in there and I'm going to walk with you. Maybe that's what we can do for each other.
Wherever you find yourself today - if you're stuck, or you see someone else who's stuck - may you be reminded of God's abiding presence and His desire to walk with you, to help you or someone you love, move through this tunnel, even if it's not quite as quickly as you would have hoped.
Art by: Sally Greer (@sallyeverafter) In this digital painting, the artist wanted to capture the compassionate love Christ has for each of us
Pray with me...
... Lord, remind all in the ACSD community of Your abiding presence wherever we are
If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. Psalm 139:8
... Father, help us to be patient and to learn and grow in times of difficulty
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
... God, make ACSD a place where many experience the presence of Jesus walking with them
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly on Wednesdays throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at email@example.com.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory