Turning Your Pain into Purpose
- 2010 30 Sep
Is God withholding something from your life? If so, it could be that He is preparing you for ministry - a ministry that will turn the bitter areas of your life into a blessing.
That's how it worked with Nicole.
Nicole couldn't imagine her life being complete without a husband.
"All my life I've wanted a healthy partnership with a spouse who was also my best friend," Nicole says. "Even as a child, I dreamed of finding my 'Prince Charming' and building a life with him."
So Nicole went after what she wanted…and ended up regretting it.
"During college, I clung to the first guy who paid attention to me, even though I now recall the Lord calling me away from him."
At that time, Nicole didn't have a relationship with God and she continued to cling to an unhealthy relationship out of fear of being alone, even though she was being neglected and emotionally abused. After several years of dating, she became pregnant and she and her boyfriend married.
"This was a do-it-yourself project that failed miserably!" Nicole said. "When my daughter was 2, my husband admitted to having an affair and I was brought to my knees.
"I turned my life over to the Lord at that point and tried to be a godly wife, but he was openly opposed to my relationship with God and eventually left during our seventh year of marriage.
"While I will never regret having my beautiful daughter, I do regret not trusting God enough to walk away from this unhealthy relationship that cost me many years of pain, not to mention a lot of turmoil for our daughter. Looking back, I see why I can fully trust the Lord when He withholds something from us, even if we think it's what we want. I've learned the hard way that ‘Father knows best!'"
Nicole is in her mid-30s now and has been single for almost five years. She has gone through a spiritual recovery program, as well. But, she says, "The Lord continues to withhold dating relationships from me."
A couple years ago, Nicole decided it was time to no longer fight her circumstances but to see what God wanted to do in her life, in spite of them. Along with a widow and a divorced mom from her church, Nicole began a ministry called Single Parent Fellowship (SPF) at her church.
"Although I was initially hesitant about starting it, this ministry has blessed me beyond my dreams and we are now being led and ministered to by a family pastor at our church who has taken us under his wing."
The group meets weekly for prayer, parenting book discussions, Bible reading, and fellowship. They also plan activities together like movie outings, ice skating, camping, and trips to the mountains together. One Christmas the church bought and delivered Christmas trees to all the homes of those involved in the ministry. "We have all become extended family and I am happier now and less alone than I was when I was married!" Nicole says. "More importantly, the Lord has forever changed my heart for single parents. He is even using me now at my workplace to encourage other young, single moms in their journeys."
What caused Nicole to go from merely surviving to thriving as a single mom? What turned her desperation for fulfillment into a desire to serve others? She allowed God to meet her where she was. And by doing so, her desire for fulfillment developed into a desire to serve others. And there, she has found fulfillment!
What are you still waiting for God to bring about in your life? A husband? A baby? A career? The accomplishment of a dream? Could His area of withholding be your place of ministry as well?
Here are three principles to help you direct your desperation into a delightful end that will bless others and bring blessing into your life, as well:
1. Realize God Knows What He's Doing in Your Life
Although Nicole was disappointed to be divorced and desperately wanted another man in her life, she realized that she could continue to make mistakes and get into another bad relationship if she insisted on her way. So she chose to trust that God is in control, that He knows what He's doing in her life, and that His timing is far better than hers. God knows what He's doing in your life, too. It's all about trust.
2. Reflect on What God Has Already Given You
Nicole was able to see her blessing among the bitterness: a beautiful daughter that came out of a miserable marriage and a closer relationship with God that she hadn't known before. Focusing on those blessings, she moved forward as a single mom who was determined to make the best of it. What do you have right now that is a blessing in your life? Focus on that and ask God how He wants to use you right now with what you have.
3. Redirect Your Focus onto Others
Instead of continuing to dwell on the fact that she was lonely and lacking, Nicole chose to be a part of a ministry that ended up not only making a difference in others' lives, but hers as well. God has a way of blessing us when we choose to bless others. Look around at other women who may be longing for the same thing you are and ask God "How can I minister to women who are in similar circumstances?"
Are you a woman who is still desperately seeking something? Then, like Nicole, be a woman who desperately seeks God. As you take your desire for fulfillment and lay it at God's feet, He will give you a heart of gratitude for what you have and contentment in your circumstances. And He just may give you a ministry out of it, too.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and the author of several books including When Women Walk Alone and Women on the Edge, from which this article was excerpted. For more on Cindi's books, speaking ministry, and free resources, see www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.