Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5
Life can be rough as an elementary school kid, especially when you are trying to learn subtraction. After breezing through the alphabet, handwriting, and reading, my youngest daughter faced adversity a few years back for the first time in her blossoming educational career. She went from looking forward to homework to dreading the time when we took out her folder and got down to business.
Knowing her numbers wasn’t the issue. Adding them together was a breeze as well. The disconnect came when someone dared to take away three apples from her bushel of five. She couldn’t wrap her mind around subtraction. Her brain, which often goes a million miles a minute, screeched to a halt.
It was only a matter of time before frustration would get the better of her as she stared at the sheet of math problems. Dropping her pencil and head, she felt utterly defeated. In her eyes, there was no hope. Sensing the desperation, my wife went into Super Mom mode and swarmed in with a handful of M&M’s.
They went through each problem by taking away and adding back some of those delicious chocolate treats. By being able to see the problem, our daughter suddenly began to understand her homework and tackle this new subject. Confidence replaced the uncertainty.
You’ll have moments similar to my daughter where you’ll feel lost, frustrated and confused. Trying to grasp new behaviors, especially with your finances, and the heart change required of them will feel eerily similar to learning a foreign language or attempting to understand subtraction for the first time. Things just won’t compute.
Finding yourself in a rut, you’ll be on the verge of buying into the lie of mediocrity and status quo where you can justify your frustration by saying, “That’s just the way I am.” Statements like these are the equivalent of giving up and resigning yourself to be like this for the rest of my life. “Just the way I am” rationalizations cause pain, embarrassment, and resentment.
In the midst of the struggle, you have to get to the point where you confront the questions of “What is going to change? Can something different ever become normal?” With discouragement, setbacks and temptations trying to sabotage your plan for change; endurance and intention are necessary on your part. Since it is not a matter of if but when you face the temptation to quit, it is critical to come up with a game plan on how to prepare for those situations where struggle most often occurs.
Rather than endure, we often come up with excuses as to why growth is just too hard. As long as we have a reason why we don’t change, we have a built-in excuse to remain stagnant. Write down in your journal every explanation you’ve used to justify giving into the struggle. Today spend some time in prayer being honest with God about those excuses and asking Him to change your heart.
The process is never easy, so we must stay focused and struggle in the right direction. When you focus on something long enough, things are bound to change, and this change becomes normal.
- What excuses do you find yourself saying in response to the places where you are currently in a rut? Where do you need to exhibit endurance?
God, don’t allow me to be weighed down by my excuses. May I shed my many justifications to remain stagnant and be satisfied with status quo. Help me to trust the process and give me the endurance to takes those steps towards growth and deeper intimacy with You. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.