But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. – Romans 5: 3-4
This is one of my favorite verses in the bible, because my experience tells me it’s true. We will all face problems, troubles, and difficulties in life. I don’t believe that God brings those tragedies most of the time, but I do believe God uses the hard times to mold us and shape us for our work in God’s kingdom.
I read a great example about this yesterday from one of my friends, an amazing woman, Julie Davis, who shared this post on Facebook:
“I just went to my closet to lay out my outfit for tomorrow. This is a nightly ritual even my closest friends don’t know about (except maybe Sheri Cory Fuchser). Before I can sleep, I must plan the next day’s outfit, accessories, and shoes (as a teen, I even kept track of it in a notebook!!!). On the surface, you might think that makes me vain, or snotty, or shallow. The real truth— is that this is something I still struggle with as a grown adult.
From the time I was probably 8 years old, I was conscious of the fact that I didn’t have what the other kids had. I didn’t have the clothes I wished I could have, but it was okay. I was at a great school, in a great place, with great friends, and teachers who loved me. I was confident in myself and a popular girl. The summer between 6th and 7th grade, everything changed.
My parents thought it would be a good idea to move us to a better school district. I know they meant well. I went from a young lady who was very sure of herself, who had friends and loved herself, to a scared girl who never felt like she measured up. We moved to the “rich” side of town, which meant that while my budget was as limited as always, I had to ride the bus with girls who had endless new designer outfits every day of the week. Anyone who grew up going to high school in Hendersonville can attest to this. It’s a different world. I wasn’t used to being the new kid, and my social skills were horrible. What made everything worse, was that I literally had three outfits for school, and they were bought at Kmart. I remember my parents taking me there, buying the outfits, thinking they had done their duty as parents, they were PROUD of buying me these Kmart clothes. Surely, these clothes were nicer than anything they had been provided growing up. Being a parent now, I see that they just had NO IDEA the world I lived in.
I remember having to be creative, logging my outfits in a notebook, mixing and matching the pieces however I could. I was a real life Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink, doing my best to cover up for the fact that I was wearing pretty much the same outfit every 2-3 days. I STILL feel feel the sting and tear up when I think of the insults I endured from kids who didn’t know any better. These kids had always had EVERYTHING they ever wanted, they didn’t know that BULLYING AND MOCKING ME FOR ALL THE THINGS I DIDN’T HAVE chipped away at my very soul. They didn’t know then, but I hope they look back NOW and regret the snide comments. I doubt they even remember, but in my heart, for the sake of the children I know they now have, I HOPE they get it now.
Fast forward to today: I am having a banner year in my career. I have been married 21 years, to a man who is my soul mate and my best friend. We have 3 beautiful children and 3 great dogs. I have never been happier, and I have everything I’ve ever dreamed of.
BUT, EVERY time I open my Facebook, another teenager has killed themselves because of the very things that almost did me in all those years ago. I attempted suicide no less than 3 times during those years, and by the grace of GOD, I’m still here, and so are my THREE CHILDREN, who would’ve never been born if I had given up.
Please share my post if it helps anyone you know. I remember the HOPELESSNESS, and how it felt, like it was YESTERDAY. You are not alone, and it WILL GET BETTER. Please don’t give up or give in. GOD loves you, HE made you special, and HE WILL get you through this, no matter how hard it seems NOW. PLEASE, hang in there, just one more day. Oh, and one more thing, I LOVE YOU TOO. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.”
See what God did there? I don’t believe God brought those hard days on Julie, but used it to forge her into the amazing woman she is today, and she is using her experience to help others. Thank you Julie for sharing your story with us!
Prayer: Lord, today I pray for middle school and high school students who are going through tough times. I pray for their families to be a place of support and understanding. I pray that all who are facing difficult days find comfort in your love and grace. I thank you for friends like Julie who share their stories to give others hope in their darkest days. Amen.