Memorial Day and Labor Day seem to be days of labor for me. When I’m not at work, I’ve got endless tasks that need to be done. When you don’t have enough money to pay landscapers, handy men or painters, you’re it. My mom also helps us out a great deal, but asks me to help her with her lawn and home in return; then there’s my mother-in-law, and our office. I do tasks here for a cut in rent. It makes me tired just to write about it.
I finally finished the screen porch project that I started the day before Mother’s Day. It was a much bigger job than I realized, and there’s a long list of projects waiting to follow. Immediately after finishing the porch, I was sanding a table and chairs that needed painting.
I still try to work out at the gym, go mountain biking occasionally, and certainly plan in some family time on top of the normal work hours that sometimes aren’t too normal.
Last month, it seemed that The Lord ratcheted things up at Truth Ministry. Our new website is up, and it was showing up extremely well on Google. Calls and emails are now coming in at a stronger pace. A new wives’ leader rose up to work with us. We met and felt led to hire Jill Mackin to be our Events and Partnership Manager. Also, a social media contractor relationship was started. We’re excited to see what that will turn into for us.
With lots of change comes added stress. Our finances were already tight, and now adding a third staff member makes it a bit scary. Some partners have stepped up to the plate, but we’ve got a long way to go. The stress (code for worry and fear) has been taking a toll on me. Last week, the stress was so bad that I stayed away from the office a good bit and worked on my screen porch when I didn’t have appointments. I didn’t want the project to drag on into the summer, but it also seemed to get my mind on something different; away from the financial situation that I have little control over.
Money has always been a struggle for me as it’s always been in short supply. Even when I owned my landscaping company and apartment complex, though we made a lot more, there was still the stress of making payroll, etc. It’s always torn my stomach up.In ministry, all you can do is let the financial needs be known and politely ask for partners or givers to step up, but it’s not like you can send an invoice. We have our Hope For Wholeness product that sells, but that’s usually only about one a week.
In the past, my mind was in constant escape mode from all the stress. As a sex addict, I medicated myself using fantasy, pornography, and habitual masturbation. This all started at the onset of puberty and just built up over the years as the responsibilities grew.
The biggest thing that The Lord has used to bring relief to my life is honesty, transparency, and vulnerability to those I allow to be close to me. Admitting that I’m struggling takes the pressure off.
A couple of times last week I texted to Nylene (our office manager) and Jill to please pray for me as I was coming in late or taking the day off. I told them about my stresses. It helped to admit the struggle I was having. It was intense!
Towards the end of the week, my mind was seeking escape. I kept saying “no” to the thoughts that kept trying to have their way with me, but it wasn’t easy! Yesterday morning I started a fantasy as I lay on the couch, waiting on the dog to come back from his morning constitution. I stopped it before it went too far, but it didn’t make me feel good that I had allowed my mind to go there. As I did my morning devotional, I stopped and texted my accountability partner, Rex, and shared it all with him.
Satan had been taunting me for several days. “Who do you think you are?” “Give up!” “It’s useless!” “Quit!”
Many times I’ve thought about how much easier my life would be if I was just a normal person. Several of my friends have left this type of ministry to go back to “normal life.” I don’t feel that walking away is the answer for me, though. It’s not what The Lord wants. I believe my calling is to walk vulnerably and honestly before you, to show you that it’s normal to struggle while crying out to God and others for help.
I’ve realized that this is normal. The first half of 1 Corinthians 10:13 is a verse that I really don’t hear mentioned often within the body of Christ. It reads, “there’s no temptation that has overcome you but what is common to man.” How do we know this is true unless we are vulnerable about where we are with each other? I believe our relief, our faith, our hope is to vulnerably and honestly walk out this journey with The Lord and with each other.
Is it stressful? Yes. Does it have to be? No. However, that’s easier said than done.
There’s a new Will Smith movie coming out. It involves a very dangerous, futuristic Earth that he and his son are returning to. At one point Will turns to his son and says “You must realize that fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.”
After admitting to my friend, Rex, then my wife, then doing a very honest video blog about struggling, my day went very well… until the evening, when I let something else bother me. Life is a series of trials. Talking about it with friends, my wife, and my Lord, brings relief. The Lord will supply my needs, but He’s also using trials to refine me.
How are you responding to your trials? Do people know you? I encourage you to let them in. Admit where you are and how you’re doing. I promise you that it will bring relief.
Fear is a choice!