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4 Tips for When You Want to Move Forward, but Feel Stuck

  • Malinda Fuller Author
4 Tips for When You Want to Move Forward, but Feel Stuck

We are born dreamers. It is no longer just the "American dream" to be successful and fulfill one's purpose— almost anywhere you turn today the message is clear: "We can achieve anything we put our minds to!" We grow up believing that we can be anybody; we can have anything we desire. We are people of movement; we are doers. We are passionate and eager to get in the car of life and get moving. But often the plans we spend so much time crafting and stressing over take a turn in different direction. For those of us who are trusting God to direct our steps, we find out that with Him the journey can look very different than what we envision. We find out quickly that our ideal timeline and God's are often at odds. We don't want to idle, and we aren't huge fans of detours— especially when they come with a lengthy list of lessons to learn along the way.

Imagine how the Israelites must have felt after a year of wandering in the desert, and then again, a year later. A decade into the journey, some must have lost hope that God was indeed leading them at all, and after twenty there had to have been murmurings of a coup. A few millennia later, here we are still grumbling at God when He doesn't give in to our plans, and our schedule. What the Israelites undoubtedly felt is the same thing that we tend to assume— that God is cruel and withholding just to be mean. We tend to think that He's looking down on us, laughing, as we sit just steps from the other side of a breakthrough, lesson, or door. We shake our fists at the One who is keeping us wandering in the desert in isolation, while others are enjoying their #bestlife in the Land of Milk & Honey. But this couldn't be further from the truth. The land of promise and provision is where God wants us to live, but sometimes there needs to be a pause before we can rush right in.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Brooke Cagle

"What do we do when...we are eager to move on, but it feels like God hasn't opened the door for us?"

"What do we do when...we are eager to move on, but it feels like God hasn't opened the door for us?"

Because we live in a culture with a hunger for speed and quantifiable results, we don't understand the importance of the pause. We see "rest" as necessary for the weak, and we dismiss its importance. We tend to be easily excited, but fickle; we start strong and fizzle quickly. We spend a lot of our time dreaming about what’s next: achieve the next level of success, hear the validation, and then hustle on to the next thing. We struggle when it feels like we are doing lap number 10 around the mountain— just as the Israelites who wandered under Moses’ charge.

So, what do we do when it feels like we’ve been camped out too long— when we are eager to move on, but it feels like God hasn't opened the door for us? What do we do when we feel “stuck?”

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Omar Lopez
 

1. Remember what you started.

1. Remember what you started.

In general, our culture tends to be full of starters, but short on people who can finish— not just "finish strong," but actually complete what they set out to do. Perhaps God hasn't moved you on to the next assignment because what He gave you to do now (with what's in your hand), you haven't quite finished. Why would He release you into something new/different, if you haven't been faithful with what He's already given you— with where you are now? Why would He give you “more” if you weren’t stewarding well what He’s already put before you?

If you're feeling stuck in life, maybe a good first question to ask yourself is, "What was the last thing God asked me to do?" And then do a self-check to see whether or not you've completed what it is that you set out to do.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Caleb Jones

2. Realize that you might not be ready to move yet.

2. Realize that you might not be ready to move yet.

You may feel like you are ready, and you may have convinced yourself that you are, but there may be a possibility that you have more to learn before God moves you forward. Maybe the level of responsibility, influence, success is not something that you're ready for. Perhaps you still need to grow or heal before God releases you into the next leg of your journey. 

Just as important as finishing the actual tasks that He gave you, is the fact that maybe your character is being refined right where you stand. You may not realize it until you’re on the other side, but what is happening inside of you is preparing you for what lies ahead. Ask yourself, “What lessons am I learning right now?” Then make sure to spend some time writing it out and discussing with someone else. Often we tend to have to “re-learn” things that we didn’t take time to process while we walked through them the first time. Another great question to ask is, “Who has God put in my life to love on, or learn from?” Maybe He hasn’t moved you forward because there’s someone who’s supposed to go with you, and they just haven’t caught up yet. 

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Jonathan Zerger

3. Remind yourself the truth about God.

3. Remind yourself the truth about God.

Unlike the Israelites roaming together for an entire generation, we most often find ourselves wandering in isolation. If you have named your season “the wilderness” or marked this part of our journey as a “challenge,” chances are you also feel quite lonely. You may be part of a healthy church, community group, and have a great job, but because you feel stuck, it seems that you’re all alone. When this happens, you may have to remind yourself of a few things and  learn how to build yourself up.

First, remember that God is unchanging, and His promises are true. If the Bible says that He cares about you as a parent does their child, this declaration isn’t dependent on your life status. Second, God isn't surprised by anything. While you see only darkness and another uphill battle, His vision goes far beyond yours right now. Third, God doesn’t waste anything, so the season you’re in— though painful or solitary— is not a surprise to Him. He sees you exactly where you are. Your prayers, nor tears, are wasted on Him, and neither will you emerge from this place without growing stronger, wiser, and closer to Him.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Vladislav Nikonov

4. Recognize that contentment is a choice.

4. Recognize that contentment is a choice.

It's hard for us to remain content when all we desire to do is more forward. Our impatience, jealousy, and fear of missing out pull us into a darkness where we point fingers at God, instead of walking in humility, joy, and thanksgiving.  Contentment is a choice and a mark of maturity.

Make your gratitude list daily— and make it long. Thanksgiving is the easiest way to shift our eyes from what we feel God isn't doing (or what He's withholding from us) to appreciation for all the things He is doing. The Israelites camped out in the wilderness, grumbling about not being able to cross over into the "Promised Land." But the truth is that without God's provision of mana, water, and quail, they wouldn't have lasted 40 days, let alone 40 years.

These are the small details that we need to focus our eyes on purposefully. How is God sustaining you in your season of life? How is He providing for you, opening doors, and showing Himself near to you? Looking back to where you’ve come from, how have you seen Him answer prayers and provide for you? 

Photo Credit: Pexels

"His goal is our transformation, not quickly arriving at the destination."

"His goal is our transformation, not quickly arriving at the destination."

When we surrender our lives to Jesus, it means we have decided to let God sit in the driver's seat. It typically doesn’t take that long to realize (even from the backseat) that His speed limit and ours couldn't be more opposite. We want to get on the freeway and set the car to cruise 10 mph faster than we are supposed to drive, and He's content to stay in the slow lane. We ask Siri to find us the fastest route to our destination, and God tends to take the scenic route. He wants to stop at every overlook and tell us stories about why He created the different species of trees. He talks to the waitress at every hole-in-the-wall diner and each gas station attendant, without rushing the conversation or breaking eye-contact. He sees detours as opportunities, not delays. His vision is for the entirety of the trip, not just arriving in record time. And, most importantly, God is most concerned with what's happening in the car —in our hearts and our minds as we travel with Him. His goal is our transformation, not quickly arriving at the destination. 

Malinda Fuller is a homeschooling mom with a passion for thriving families and authentic faith. She has contributed content for Relevant, Huffington Post, Darling, Grit & Virtue, Thrive Moms and shares regularly on her blog and Instagram. Malinda and her husband Alex have been in ministry for over a decade, and her family currently resides in Northern Califonia.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Hian Oliveira





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