The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of a Life Worth Living

“There will be failures and mistakes and criticisms. If we want to be able to move through the difficult disappointments, the hurt feelings, and the heartbreaks that are inevitable in a fully lived life, we can’t equate defeat with being unworthy of love, belonging and joy. If we do, we’ll never show up and try again.” – Brené  Brown, Daring Greatly, 2014

Over the past few years I have worked through something that has, and still is, changing my life – the power and the pain of vulnerability.

The five points that follow are things that I am still working on in my own life. I hope this post will help you in your own journey.

Life won’t go as you planned. And that is awesome.

I LOVE planning. I love researching all the tiny details of what I am going to do next. For me the planning process is part of the joy of doing something new. Whether that’s a trip, a new job, moving across the world or even relationships. I want to know all the possible details before I make a move. This is partially due to my personality, I just generally enjoy planning, but I also feel this way because I like to be in control. I even plan out what to do if things don’t go according to plan. I have backup plans for my backup plans.

But, thankfully, God doesn’t make life that simple.

He has these ways of redirecting us that range from a gentle nudge in a new direction to straight up hurling us off a cliff. Oftentimes when I start to forget that God is the one who has the BEST plan for my life that’s the moment when he decides to step in and intervene. In those moments my job is to just get out of the way and let him work. It’s not always as easy as it sounds but it is always worth it.

As a teenager growing up in a missions orientated church I always said that I wouldn’t end up doing a DTS like everyone else – that I would be different and that I was called to the workplace. That’s a calling that I believe still remains true, but God’s timing was different than my own and I’ve recently spent four and a half years as a missionary. I said yes to a five month DTS and God surprised me by calling me to serve full time with YWAM Montana Lakeside. I believe God brought me here because he wants to prepare me to be as effective as possible in my calling, whenever he decides it’s time.

Vulnerability hurts.

During the time that I lived in the States I had my heart broken or bruised more times than I ever had in the 22 years before. It’s not because American guys are especially mean, it’s because God has been developing my identity in him and giving me the courage to take chances despite the possibility of rejection.

And yes, sometimes it hurts. Laying it all out there, whether it be in a relationship, in a job or in a ministry, means taking risks and being vulnerable. Both of those things can often lead to pain, but it’s worth it! Through every heart-pounding jump out of my comfort zone and every disappointment and hurt, I have learned more about God’s love and care for me, and more about who he made me to be than I ever did in the good times.

Continue to points 3-5 below!

God surprised Sarah by calling her to a Discipleship Training School and into Missions. Could a DTS be a part of your story as well?

Yes! I want to find out more about a Discipleship Training School:

You get knocked down, you get back up.

So what do you do when you go for what you want and you fall flat on your face? You get back up. It’s really that simple. It’s been a hard journey to get here but I have learned that if you truly want something in life (and it is a Godly, Biblically-based desire) you have to keep going – even if you experience failure after failure. Use those times to grow, to lean into God’s love and to come back stronger to try again another day.

Wallowing in self-pity will only lead us down the long road of shame and insecurity, and that is not God’s plan for us!

You are enough.

“’You are enough.’
These little words, somehow they’re changing us.
‘You are enough.’
So we let our shadows fall away like dust.”  – Sleeping At Last, ‘You are Enough’, 2014

The artist Sleeping At Last perfectly sums up this point for me. When we fully embrace our identity as a son or daughter of Christ it changes us. When we realize that we are fully loved and cared for by God no matter how much we do or don’t do for him, no matter how we screw up or make him proud. We are always enough. If we understand this, it will change the way we react to disappointment, to heartbreak, to loss, to failure. We will transition from an attitude of, “I should have been/done/said this better” to one of, “Ok God, I tried and it didn’t work out. What’s next?”.

We cannot hope to have fully healthy relationships until we grasp this. We are not defined by our successes and failures. We are loved no matter what. We can love only because he first loved us.

No one is an island.

My last point is a little more practical.

I am blessed to be a part of a community of friends that challenges and changes me, that supports me. A community that I trust enough to show my true self to. These kinds of friendships don’t just happen by chance, they are the result of years of mutual vulnerability. They are the result of walking through struggle and victory together.

I have learned so much from seeing my friends walk through hard seasons, and from seeing them come out victorious on the other end. What a beautiful thing it is to partake in that process.

A life worth living is a life full of taking risks with God

Knowing that I have a good support network of friends means I have more courage to step out into risk and new things, because I know that if I fall on my face, there will be people to catch me and help me get back up. We can not live a life worth living alone. A life worth living is accepting that we are broken, imperfect, yet precious sons and daughters of God and that we are walking through the challenges of life with other broken, imperfect, precious people.

You may be feeling that you do not have this in your life, and, honestly, it is becoming a hard thing to find. We have to start by being willing to be vulnerable and intentionally building a community of friendships based on mutual honesty and shared life. These things take time and effort but the results are worth every beautiful, raw, messy minute.

Life was never meant to be easy – we are never promised that. But a life worth living is a life full of taking risks with God, stepping out into the unknown and trusting and hoping beyond our human understanding. It won’t always be a comfortable experience.

I am still a work in progress in all of the above, that’s for sure.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Phil 3:12

I was prompted to write this post because of two books I have read recently; Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly and Donald Miller’s Scary Close. These books have changed my life in how I relate to myself and others, and how I view vulnerability and shame. Some of the ideas in this post I have been inspired by these books. I strongly recommend you check them out. 

God surprised Sarah by calling her to a Discipleship Training School and into Missions. Could a DTS be a part of your story as well?

Yes! I want to find out more about a Discipleship Training School:

Ready to make the jump.

At YWAM Montana-Lakeside, we are all about doing whatever it takes to know God and to make Him known, together! We’d love to help you make that next step in your global missions education. Apply now!

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