When you need reminders of God's Goodness

I have an aunt who introduces me to people by saying, "This is my niece. She's so smart. She's a Technical Writer. She makes flower arrangements, and she lived in Italy.” I then must explain to said stranger what I do in my career, because as impressive as it sounds, no one knows what it is. I then have to clarify that living in Italy was almost a decade ago, and I don't speak Italian. It's so funny. This happened recently, and I found myself secretly frustrated with the sharing of these details of my past.

You see, 33 years of living is full even though not long. There were seasons where I lived recklessly sinking in sin, financial hardship, loss of friendships, and heartbreak. It's filled with so many detours and shifts that I sometimes battle with the fact that my life today looks nothing like I had hoped or planned. It's not entirely bad. It's just different. Some days the differences in my life compared to others in my peer group causes an ache, and I lose heart. If I'm honest, it makes me feel like a failure.

What I've come to appreciate about my aunt is the reminder of the good things from the past. Her words are the affirmations in my life declaring God’s goodness in my past. These memories are just as real as the less than pleasant ones.

When I was sinking in sin, God rescued me and took me on an incredible life-changing journey in Italy. It was that chapter in my story where I had space and time come to know Him more intimately and for Him to show me who I was called to be. Italy being a piece of history for my life encourages my heart today to believe that there are things that I don't even know to ask for in my future (Encouragement: Ephesians 3:20). It reminds me that just as far back as that journey was so are the sins of that 26-year-old girl (Encouragement: Psalm 103:12).

It's been in my career, while I'm not always passionate about it, I've seen increase and stability that I prayed for as I was trying to finish college. I’ve experienced unspeakable favor.

Making flower arrangements was birthed from an incredibly painful season where I needed to be pulled from the pit of depression. It was in starting this new venture that God was able to show me that just like a florist can take different flowers and arrange them into beautiful bouquets; He is the master florist. God is making all the seasons of my life, the ones laced with weeping, tearing down, death, and war; and He's replacing them with laughter, growth, new life, and peace (Encouragement: Ecclesiastes 3:1-11). One can't exist without the other, and it's this perspective that allows me to know that my past was not, and my present is not, void of His purposeful goodness.

If you're going to look back, trace His goodness in your life even in your most unbearable moments. Look back to see how God was faithful even when you were faithless. Look back and let it encourage your heart to perceive the new things He is doing even in the middle of a season that might not look the way you hoped. Be encouraged that it's His goodness that leads us to repentance, heals us when we are broken, favors us beyond what we deserve, and makes everything beautiful in its time.

My prayer for you

I pray today that you are reminded of God’s new mercy to carry you through today. I pray that you believe in His goodness despite your circumstances. I pray that you know that even if you’re walking through nothing you asked for that God will work everything together for your good. He’s just that good.”

Be encouraged.

Terasha BurrellComment
I Get By With a Little Help From my Friends

I’m here if you need me.
Let me know if you need anything.
I’m just a phone call away.

What do these statements mean to you? Death of a loved one, depression, a breakup, job loss, and other hard circumstances impact not only the heart that feels it the most but it also impacts our friends, family, and community.

When you are the one walking through the valley, it can be lonely. You want people to be there, but you sometimes don’t know how to let them in. If you’re the one watching your loved one walk through the valley, maybe you just don’t know what to do or say but you know you want to say or do something. A phone call, meal train, financial donation, and bright flowers are some ways I try to show up for my people and how I appreciate my people showing up for me. However, what about those no one knows what to ask for or to say times? How do we show up for our people when they need us the most?

Show up and stay. In my darkest season where I was navigating depression, what mattered most to me was when I’m here if you need me became I’m here lean on me. I heard a great analogy of the difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy (feelings of pity for someone’s misfortune) is you standing at the top of the pit someone has fallen into and maybe sitting at the top until help arrives. Empathy (the ability to share the feelings of another) is being willing to climb into the pit and wait with the fallen for help to arrive. The people who were willing to be inconvenienced and get in the pit with me, while most times offering no advice at all, will forever be the silver lining in that chapter of my story. The story of Ruth is a shining example of this when Naomi urged her to leave in the season that turned her bitter. Instead, Ruth replied,

”Don’t plead with me to abandon
you or to return and not follow you.
For wherever you go, I will go,
and wherever you live, I will live;
your people will be my people,
and your God will be my God.
Where you die, I will die,
and there I will be buried.
May the Lord punish me,
and do so severely,
if anything but death separates you
and me” (Ruth 1:16-17 CSB).

I admit I might not be as ride or die as Ruth because I have too many questions, but can we stop doing life with people based on what they can do for us and simply commit to being the one that stays when their story turns dark and see them through as best as we can?

Find a way. In the Gospels, there is an account of some men that carried a paralyzed man on a stretcher to meet with Jesus as He was teaching. The crowd was too thick for them to maneuver their way in the front door, so they climbed to the roof and “lowered him on the stretcher through the roof tiles into the middle of the crowd before Jesus” (Luke 5:19b CSB). When it’s time to move on behalf of your loved one, you will know. My brother drove three and a half hours without hesitation and stayed two days calling counselors and outpatient facilities to secure my appointment to continue therapy during the darkest days. My friend Melissa sent me voice notes every day praying over me when I couldn’t pray for myself. Homes were opened up for me to stay in guest rooms, and I remember waking up to hearing prayers outside the door as I slept. I believe it was because of their faith, along with a few others, that I was able to walk into the healing found in Jesus.

All you can do is pray. If all you can do is pray, then it’s best to do all that you can do. I know it can hard to watch someone you love walk through a hard time, but we aren’t always called to intervene with what the Lord has ordained or is allowing to happen in their life. The Bible doesn’t always promise a way of escape from trial. It promises us endurance. Jesus told Peter this when He said, “Simon, Simon, look out. Satan has asked to sift you like wheat, But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31-32a CSB). Prayer is the most powerful weapon we have in our arsenal to care for our people. Prayer protects our loved ones when nothing else can help. Prayer leaves room for God to give you direction on what to say or do. Praying that their faith will be strengthened is powerful. Praying for revelation is powerful. Prayer.is.powerful. Be it distance or even your loved one not accepting your outstretched hand, your prayers will fill in the gap and usher in a grace that will meet their pain to carry them through the fire.

Wherever you find yourself in community, family, your coworkers, etc., can we be a people that commit to doing what we can, if we can, and when we can to help the people that God has placed in our life to get by?

Be encouraged.

But wait: Maybe you’re like me, and you need some practical tips to help you walk out this thang. I got you covered.

Terasha BurrellComment