Have you ever received a wonderful blessing, undeniably from God, only to find that it didn’t feel like you expected it would?
Last spring, we were having some trouble with our childcare provider. It was breaking my heart to leave Noah every morning and I wanted desperately to be the one spending the most time with him.
This led to fervent prayer on my part- for me to be able to not work full-time, for me to be able to wake Noah up and ease him into his day instead of rushing him out the door, and for me to be able to truly prioritize my family over my career. About this same time, God started whispering a new call into my heart. I felt the restlessness that comes before a change. I prayed that God would give me the flexibility I would need for whatever my next assignment would be.
After much prayer and searching, I felt confidence that God’s path for me included changing my employment situation. At the end of the school year, I resigned from my job and eagerly anticipated the joy and fulfillment I would get from walking in God’s will.
Fast forward to the middle of August. I sat cross-legged in the school library, scissors in hand. A former colleague and I were chatting and cutting out labels for the bookshelves.
I had only meant to drop by my former workplace for a few minutes, only to leave items I had unintentionally packed up in my personal belongings. Yet I felt the need to linger. In that seemingly mundane moment, I felt more like myself than I had all summer. I missed this career that was all wrapped up in my identity. I missed this place. It was a place of people who saw my gifts and called them out to me, a place where I was contributing to important work- important work that wasn’t finished yet.
And a wave of doubt rushed over me. Because this didn’t feel like it was supposed to.
I expected leaving my job to be a mountaintop experience. I expected to instantly begin feeling more joyful, to find fulfillment, to begin living with a sense of eternal purpose that would carry me through the tough days.
But…I didn’t even feel mediocre. I felt downright sad. I felt lost. I mourned my career and longed for clarity about my next move.
Have you ever been there? You know you should be thankful and you are thankful. But things just don’t feel like they’re supposed to. You should be happy, but you’re not…
Maybe you married the man you felt God chose for you, but now the newness has worn off and things are taking some real work.
Or you’re holding that precious newborn baby. You’re overwhelmed and sad instead of feeling excited and fulfilled.
Maybe you’re starting a new job that you’ve prayed for, but it’s a steep learning curve and you’re not sure who you can trust to help.
Or you’ve taken a huge step of faith into a new chapter of life, but you feel like crying instead of celebrating.
There could be a hundred more scenarios here. There are times in our lives when what we know is a blessing, doesn’t feel like a blessing. These can be hard times, full of contradictions and full of wrestling with how we should feel compared with how we do feel.
When a blessing doesn’t feel like you thought it would, explore those feelings with God. Even if it’s the last thing you want to do.
Resist the urge to shut Him out; refuse to let resentment settle in your heart. He does beautiful work in ways we don’t understand. He may be healing broken parts of your heart you thought were fixed. He may be molding your identity to match what He sees in your future. He may be giving you a story that someone else will need to hear.
Hang on. Keep on. Press on. Hold fast to God’s word. God is faithful and He is good. We can trudge through the valley of these complex feelings without camping out and staying there! What He meant as a blessing is a blessing and we can trust His goodness.
Father, thank you for the blessings you pour out on us every single day. You are always worthy of our praise. Thank you for your love that endures even when we feel ungrateful or confused about our situations. Help us remember that our hearts are deceitfully wicked and we can’t trust our feelings- we can only trust you. We ask that you help us feel joy deep down in our soul. Help us really appreciate the gifts you have given us…without wishing them away or focusing on how things used to be. In Jesus’ powerful name, Amen