Have you ever been in a situation that you kind of asked for, but is turning out to be more overwhelming than you anticipated?
Have you ever asked for wisdom, but ended up feeling insignificant and silly when the door was opened for you to enter a room full of people who were way wiser than you? Have you ever prayed for strength but balked when the terrifying situation meant to call forth the strength on the inside of you presses you almost to the point of breaking?
Have you ever felt condemned by the very word that was sent to challenge and stretch you?
My answer is a resounding YES to all of the above.
The pursuit of purpose calls for growth, and growth means that you will inevitably face seasons of discomfort. There will come a point when you will be the most inexperienced, the most ill-equipped, and the most dependent person in the room. Your destiny will bring you into rooms full of wisdom and sound council, but you will have to have the right outlook and insight to receive.
I’ve recently been studying the gospels, and I have really been seeing the disciples in a new light. I think about how they must have felt. I read the parable of the feeding of the five-thousand with fresh eyes, and I was suddenly struck with the idea that being a disciple of Yahshua was not easy on the ego.
These men were constantly being challenged by Yahshua. He did not let them settle for mediocrity and He did not encourage their complacency. He confronted their shortcomings daily, often in very forthright ways. He pushed them beyond the sphere of their feelings and led them into unchartered waters when He told them stories with heavenly meanings that caused them to look within for the answers.
Yahshua was the living and breathing Holy Spirit that dwells inside of us today. He was their source of complete knowledge and wisdom. He was the wellspring of life and the abundant supply of strength and hope that they needed. He was their perfect example on earth.
And in light of His glory, I do not doubt that the disciples fought internal battles on a daily basis. We often speak about how difficult it was to follow Yahshua because of the ridicule that was associated with it. Many of the disciples died brutal, terribly painful deaths, many were rejected and reviled, many were ostracized and called insane, many were hated by rulers and leaders and became outcasts of the societies that raised them. I don’t doubt or diminish any of this, but from an internal point of view, I wonder how it felt to constantly sit in front of everything you aspired to be without being crushed under the weight of your own dysfunction and lack.
In my own life I’ve battled with overcoming self-condemnation. Sometimes my insecurity will cause me to be intimidated by and grow fearful of people and situations meant to elevate me.
Perspective is important, and choosing to maintain the proper perspective, particularly in seasons of stretching, is the only way you will not be crushed by the excellence of others when you’re not all you know you could be.
The reason why I began thinking all of this is because after Yahshua fed the five thousand people with five loaves and two fish, He sent the disciples off to their next teaching location and stayed behind to pray. While they were in the boat they found themselves stuck in a storm. Yahshua then famously walks on the water to meet them. The disciples were obviously shook, and when Yahshua got in the boat, Mark recounts the following…“They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.” – Mark 6: 52
That hit me right in the gut because I know what that’s like. Not the witnessing people walk on water thing, but the having a hardened heart when you don’t understand something thing.
I’ve shared my college story on my blog already, but to quickly recap. I have a BS in Civil Engineering. I struggled severely and spent most of my four and a half years in undergrad stressed out and confused. I made it through, but barely. I was a good student, but I didn’t grasp the concepts as readily as my classmates and it took a toll on my confidence and identified my lack of identity. Before I separated who I was from the grades I was raking in, I felt like a failure. But after I made the separation, I fought a new battle: the battle to remain teachable. When you are constantly surrounded by material you do not get and people who won’t stop insisting that you can get it when you haven’t got it, you end up with a hard heart. And when your heart is hard, you cannot be taught.
In the classroom I would have days when I was so sick of being challenged by engineering concepts that I became aloof and withdrawn. I didn’t ask questions and I didn’t care to. I didn’t understand and I didn’t care to. I didn’t get involved in my learning process and I didn’t care to. I didn’t take notes and I didn’t pay attention. I sat there like block of ice and I willingly wasted my time. I checked out, because at the time, that was easier than facing the reality that I was drowning in a sense of overwhelming defeat.
When I was checked out, any more information that I couldn’t comprehend only served to frustrate me more and drive me further into my shell. I didn’t want any more because I felt like I couldn’t take any more. I became uncharacteristically rude and dismissive because when I fight emotions, that happens.
So when I read this scripture, it resonated really deeply with me. The disciples didn’t grasp the first miracle, now Yahshua wanted to casually walk out on the water and tell them not to be scared.
I understand why their hearts were hard, they were sick of being challenged by information and happenings that they couldn’t comprehend. The reality of Yahshua’s glory was hitting them harder and faster than they were able to process. There wasn’t enough space between the miracles for them to put their self-loathing back in the right place, so they shut down altogether.
Sitting at the feet of greatness costs something, and I don’t doubt that the price for the disciples was a bit steep sometimes. I don’t think we count that cost when we consider all we will have to sacrifice for our destiny. We consider that we will lose friends and even family, we consider that people won’t understand us and life may be hard sometimes, we consider that we will have to change our environment to one that can sustain what’s growing on the inside of us, but we don’t consider that our pride will have to be put to death daily. I don’t think we consider that the renewing of one’s mind and the stretching of the spirit are painful processes. I don’t think we consider how draining it is to have to hold on to Yahshua and all He has proclaimed over our lives when the experiences we find ourselves in completely contradict His words.
The fact of the matter is that sometimes we get sick of being asked to be better. We get tired of people pushing us to be excellent. We get tired of being held to a higher standard and being reminded of our potential.
While it can be hard to hold on to the right perspective in seasons of stretching, I want to leave you with a little encouragement.
First of all, the Holy Spirit was sent to help us do hard things, and that includes becoming better versions of ourselves. When you walk into a room full of people with reputations that precede them, you can stand confidently in the knowledge that you wouldn’t be in the room if you didn’t belong there. Don’t allow the imposter syndrome to overrule the voice of Yahweh. Just because you are unable to contribute to the room just yet does not mean there’s not purpose for you being in the room.
There is a widely held misconception that if you’re not giving to a room you’re wasting space in the room. But the fact of the matter is someone has to pour out and someone has to receive. There will come a point in time when people will be looking to you to pour your Holy Spirit inspired wisdom out over rooms of people, but until then, perhaps you are there to receive.
Humbling is very different o cowering in fear. Insecurity will have you cower until your heart is so hard you can’t muster enough care to even ask the questions you were put in the room to receive answers to. Humility makes you aware of your own lack, but focuses on Yahweh’s greatness and His ability. Humility keeps your ears open, your eyes alert, and your heart soft and pliable. Humility will make a student out of you when fear sough to make you feel small.
If you find yourself in a season of life that is demanding much more of you than you feel able to give, if you’re surrounded by people who are more experienced, more outspoken, more graceful and confident than you, ask the Holy Spirit to help you become who you need to be in order to get the most out of the room you’re in. The disciples let hardness overtake their hearts because they didn’t ask Yahshua to explain himself. Keep an open and honest prayer life, ask for help, and face your insecurity head on. Do not give the enemy any room to rob you of a learning opportunity.
This is something I’m still working on, but I know that He who lives on the inside of me is greater than my confusion and disappointment in myself. He’s greater than my lack, and His strength is made perfect in my weakness. And best of all, He absolutely loves and adores me and wants nothing but the best for me.
He loves you like that too, He can be trusted.