Tag Archives: let God lead

When You Hit a Brick Wall: 3 Options

Ever feel like you’re beating your head against a brick wall?

What does your particular brick wall look like? Maybe it looks like a boss saying no to that promotion you deserve… or an illness that won’t improve despite your prayers and efforts… or maybe it looks like another negative pregnancy test.

While I’ve certainly faced bigger and scarier brick walls before, my current brick wall looks like a traditional publishing industry with very few opportunities for new authors. Maybe you can relate to giving your all and not getting the results you’re after. As a writer who has poured heart and soul into doing *all the things* to jump through the hoops publishers require, it’s discouraging, to say the least.

In many circumstances, including in the writing world, working hard and doing the right things often aren’t enough. As a personal example, one big-name publisher recently responded to my proposal with the encouragement that my manuscript was right up her alley—immediately followed by the fact that she couldn’t take on any new authors this year or the next. She could only re-sign existing authors.

Brick wall.

I’m starting to get a headache from crashing into this ridiculous wall… maybe you know the feeling.

So whether in work, health, or any other area of life, what do we do when we hit brick wall after brick wall? One of three things:

  1. We dig in.
  2. We reevaluate.
  3. We give up.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to dig in our heels until we achieve what we’re after. This approach requires plenty of tenacity and can be admirable and effective. But sometimes our goal remains elusive even after we’ve done everything in our power to get the outcome we want. Then what?

After considering the facts and taking the situation to God in prayer, sometimes our best option is to reevaluate… find a different path to a similar outcome and change course. Who wants to crash into a brick wall day after day if they don’t have to? Changing course might just be the best thing for our hearts, minds, and souls, even if it requires us to adjust our end goal.

The way I see it, the only bad option of the three is to give up. And when I say give up, I mean to throw up our hands in frustration and simply stop pursuing our goal. We should always be willing to change course or scrap plans, but not out of frustration… only out of obedience to where God is leading.

And sometimes, God may be calling us to set aside our pursuits, hand our difficulties to Him, and simply rest. (I say simply, but sometimes rest is more difficult than work!) Let me just emphasize that this is not the same as giving up. This is productive obedience when we follow God’s direction.

Giving up is destructive rather than productive. Instead of rest, we’re filled with anger. Instead of adapting our dreams, we’re filled with bitterness. Instead of pressing on, we roll over in defeat, and this is exactly where the Enemy wants us. Let’s not give him the satisfaction. Especially since God is inviting us to find rest in him with each step we take.

We may never discover the “why” behind our brick walls on this side of heaven, but the truth is this: We can rest in God all along our rocky journeys, change course as needed, and know that his higher purposes are for the ultimate good. All our striving and spinning wheels won’t change his perfect timing for his good plans. And someday, we’ll understand his “why” and even thank him for not letting us settle for the plans we thought were best. Maybe all these brick walls are blessings in disguise.

I’d love to hear about the brick wall you’re up against right now. Leave me a comment to let me know so I can pray for you!

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The Best Laid Plans…

Me to my three kids last Monday: “If we get your rooms sorted and deep cleaned this week, we’ll go to the beach on Friday!”

Kids: *cheering*

Me to my kids Thursday afternoon, after witnessing much hard work but still no completed rooms and noticing the kids moping, assuming they wouldn’t get to go to the beach: “If you keep working hard and do your best, we’ll go to the beach tomorrow even if it’s not finished yet.”

Kids, eyes brightening with hope: “Really?? Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Cue a much less stressed-out home for the rest of Thursday as I secretly hi-five myself.

Do you ever set goals for yourself, only to get discouraged when things shift course and your goal can’t be reached as intended? As a homeschool mom, I do this all the time. I tell myself things like:

“My youngest will memorize her addition and subtraction facts by so-and-so date.” (What if she doesn’t? Or what if she does but learns to hate math for the rest of her life?)

“My oldest will finish her writing program by the end of the semester.” (What if she does, but she’s just going through the motions, not actually learning? What if she starts to hate writing?)

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. –Robert Burns

I think Mr. Burns was on to something.

Here’s the thing I’ve been learning lately:

Prioritize progress and learning over completion.

When we prioritize completing a specific goal, we pile on the pressure and make the journey to the end more grueling than it should be, and then feel awful if we never do actually obtain our goal.

When we prioritize progress or learning, we’re generally more motivated to embrace the journey, no matter where we ultimately end up.

For instance, ask any high schooler what they want to be when they grow up and you’ll likely hear “a millionaire.” Played out in reality, however, how likely is it? Not very. They might even work long hours at a job they hate, advancing and advancing some more, edging ever closer to their monetary goal and wasting their days away in pursuit of their goal.

Perhaps a healthier goal would be more along the lines of, “find a satisfying job, work hard, and move up in the business as often as opportunities allow until I’m financially stable.”

Do you see the difference?

Which type of goal setter are you? Do you set big, specific goals, only to be disappointed when life turns a corner and the end result isn’t what you were hoping? (And life always turns a corner, am I right?)

Or do you set the type of goals where you can feel satisfied with yourself and the journey you’ve taken, even if things veer off course from time to time?

Really it’s just a collection of moments, hours, and days that make up our lifetime. Are we spending those hours living a life we can be satisfied with, even proud of? Or are we dissatisfied as we go through our days, with our eyes so glued to the prize that we’ve forgotten to live the life that’s in front of us?

Whatever your approach to the future, I encourage you to do a little self-reflection to make sure you’re on a healthy track moving forward. Consider these quick questions:

Am I stressed all the time? If so, why?

Am I trusting God with my future or am I only trusting myself?

Will I feel like a failure if (fill in the blank) doesn’t happen?

God wants to pour his peace over us as he leads us through our days. Are we letting him?

Maybe God has given you big, divine goals. Go after them without putting your self-worth on the line.

Maybe he’s asking you to go a little easier on yourself in order to accomplish the deeds he has planned for you in the everyday (which maybe you keep missing because of your laser focus on what you’ve deemed most important).

A pic from our recent trip to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Preserve in CA!

The point is, don’t miss the forest for the trees. Take a deep breath and embrace the moment, hour, and day you’ve been given. Take off the pressure you’ve put on yourself and feel the lightness that it brings.

 Being driven is a good thing, as long as your drive is submitted to God’s plan for your life. And oh, does he ever have a plan for your life. A good one. In his goodness you can rest assured.

What has been your experience? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Also, feel free to drop a suggestion for future blog post topics! Thanks for reading and have an awesome week!