There are seasons of life when things are tough.

When you are crawling through the mud and you cannot see God’s provision. When questions abound, and it feels like you are gritting your teeth and clinging on to a thin thread of faith…as fragile as the threads of a spider’s web.

You try to be strong and you try not to cry, you try your best to press on and yet things just don’t go right.

Sometimes, I am gently reminded of that difficult season of my life. I suspect God wants me not to forget because He is still teaching me to look at it through new eyes.

I remember the pain, the deep shame, and especially the utter feeling of helplessness….of not knowing what I was going to do next. I remember so clearly the days when I was already seriously considering going to culinary school because I just couldn’t study. (You must understand I’ve never shown interest in cooking all my life.)

Today, I can see more clearly and acknowledge that one of the most terrifying experiences was the sudden fall from a Somebody to a Nobody. It is big in the eyes of a teenager although it was only on the small scale of high school.

At home, I remember being forced to go exercise and I would end up sneaking out for food. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking, it’s OK I’m just gonna stay fat and ugly. I’m gonna build enough gates and walls to keep my life safe and unchallenging, and numb. I’m gonna get a small, stable job, I’m gonna have a few friends that I need to keep me happy enough, and that’s that. That’s all I can hope for in this life, and I’m gonna live it small.

I think it was a life some looked on with pity, others sighed and said ‘what a waste of tremendous potential’, and yet others withdrew from because of the sheer inability to act normally around me.

All of a sudden, I couldn’t rely on my own ability anymore…and it felt like God was so slow to show up. It felt like God let me down…a deep, deep disappointment.

Sometimes, God sends gentle reminders…Remember that Jas? Well, it will never, ever happen again because there has been a turnaround. Jas, that season is over.

I am completing the restoration work, healing the bitterness, removing the humiliation, strengthening your heart, and releasing you to dance through your life again. You are already finding and will continue to find new identity, new strength, new direction, and especially new confidence because I picked you up and turned your life around.

When the next storm comes, when you cannot see a way out, you will know with full certainty that I AM THERE because you’ve experienced my provision.

When others go through inexplicable pain, your story will be an encouragement. You will help them go through their storms. You must not believe your story was trivial, or not worth telling. You must not look at how many books you’ve sold or count how many people shrugged it off – you must remember that it was a divine assignment. Even if I had asked you to write it for ONE person, you should have done it too! I am proud of you! Even as you are focusing on honing your other writing skills now, you must never, ever, trivialize the ability to tell personal stories…remember to always tune in to the message I want your life to deliver…and GO deliver it well.

You will celebrate your life…and even look back on the painful season not with regrets, but with a confident smile!

Wow! I find that sometimes it is so easy to forget how God has provided, especially when you enter a position of strength. In our own human way it is so easy to cut ‘God factors’ out, especially when bad times are far, far behind you already.

Yet God is so good to send specific reminders to remind me that it was His grace that carried me through, and not my ability to reorganize and restructure my life. He even showed me that those two years were not wasted years. Those were experiences He allowed to happen, and I cry when He reveals that He was actually there with me in the pain, journeying with me and hurting for me, but slowly but surely, making a beautiful quilt of my life.