In life, things happen—both good and bad. That’s just how life is. We all desire good things, of course, but unfortunately, bad things are inevitable. Just when things are going well, it often seems that something happens that steals the life we know, robs us of our joy, and strips us of hope. When these types of negative disruptions take place, it stops us in our tracks, oftentimes draining us of the ability to live life with joy and happiness--the way Jesus intended. It can cause us to disconnect from life.
Jesus told us a lot of encouraging things, but He also knew we would face difficult challenges. In John 16:33, Jesus warns us that, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” His purpose for telling us this was so we would know how to handle life when troubles showed up. He was letting us know that if we fully depended upon Him as our source of life, we could be at peace. Yet peace is sometimes difficult to find. When faced with troubles, we often disconnect from our life, people, and the support that is essential to our ability to thrive.
If you’ve grown discouraged, frustrated, and disappointed with life or if you’ve disconnected, I want to personally welcome you back to LIFE!
You might be saying to yourself, “Well, you don’t know why I disconnected from my life. It was painful. It’s easier this way. You can’t possibly understand what they did to me. I lost everything!”
And my reply is if you’ve given up on life and are just going through the motions with no real joy, disconnected from the life you once knew, then I’m talking to you. And today I want you to know it’s time to take back your life and walk in peace as an overcomer! You need to know that just as Jesus warned, you’ve simply had an encounter with trouble, but take heart…He overcame, so you can too.
At the beginning of this year, after seven years of facing and maneuvering through intense troubles (feel free to Google me), let's just say I experienced a case of extreme exhaustion. During that time of hardship, I made a decision that I was going to overcome. Jesus had warned me, I understood, and I was willing to step up to the challenge. But while facing and dealing with trouble, I neglected one important detail: myself. Even as a woman of faith, willing to sacrifice for others, I simply wore myself out.
Even when I was worn down, it was hard to slow down. I’m a people person, and I’m always concerned about everybody else. I want to see everyone reach their maximum potential. Faced with literally being in bed for 30 days—as well as endless doctors’ appointments and mounting medical bills--I had to resolve a few things. I couldn’t continue at this pace, so I obviously needed to make some adjustments in my life before a total disconnect occurred.
First, I had to ask myself a few questions: How did I get here? Why did I allow myself to get here? And what am I going to do about it?
For me, the most important thing I did was to make certain that God was totally first in my life. I needed to consult Him before taking every step--not just some steps. Not that He had lost the No. 1 spot, but on occasion I had become so busy with life, children, and taking care of everyone and everything that I overextended myself.
Set right priorities. Intentionally put God first in your life. Schedule time for Him, attend church, get to Bible study, volunteer. It's a small price to pay to make certain God is directing your life.
As I lay in bed the first 30 days, I so missed being in the presence of God in church. Now I'm even more appreciative of the opportunity we have to worship freely and gather in the Name of Jesus.
Second, I needed to set some boundaries in my life, starting with myself and my family. As much as I want to make every game for my kids, the reality is that I'm not going to be able to--yet I'm still their biggest cheerleader. Support your children but not to the neglect of your wellbeing or the wellbeing of others. Focus on the things that are really important: quality family time, personal time, etc.
Also, I can't make every event in the city. Yes, I'm a social butterfly, but I realized I can’t and don’t have to attend every play, dinner, or celebration. I sent lots of cards and flowers and edible floral arrangements, and I found that most people were still appreciative. So I guess it’s true, the thought really does count.
Set limits with others. This was a biggie—and one where God had to do the greatest work in me. There were people that I thought I could depend on, and when I was down, I found that I couldn’t. That made me angry, because I would be there for them; as a matter of fact, that was part of the reason I was worn and ragged. I had to reel in my emotions and say to myself, no one owes you anything; give them to God. God reminded me that I had done my part--I planted a seed in their life, and now it was up to others to water it. So, in setting my limits, it helped me to forgive and let go.
There is so much more that God revealed to me during this time. But by the end of January, not knowing what was wrong with my health and down to a size 0 (yes, zero), I came to a solid conclusion—God wanted to welcome me back to life. Though my troubles had come to disconnect me from life, Jesus came “that [we] could live life to the fullest” (John 10:10).
So, I regained my spiritual strength, activated the power within, recommitted to life God’s way, and demanded my life back. And you know what? He welcomed me back with open arms to LIFE.
To this day, I don’t fully comprehend why bad things happen, but I choose to believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you wiser, stronger, and a help to someone else. If you recognize that God is equipping you to rise above the power of your pain, you can begin to take your life back.
Dr. Renee Hornbuckle is senior pastor of Agape Christian Fellowship in Arlington. She hosts the annual Women of Influence Personal Development Conference as well as an Internet show, Real Living With Renee. It is available at LifeStream.tv.