My mom said this phrase when life wasn’t fair.
My family was a really positive, joyful, Christ-centered environment. However, when crap hit the fan and my brother and I would throw a fit for one thing or another, this seemed to be the “toughen it up, kid” and “just do what I tell you to do” phrase from my mom.
We jokingly say it, now. It’s one of those childhood memories that my mom wishes she could change. Or, at least she wishes she’d have tacked on “and then you go to heaven” or something…
(I’m throwing you under the bus, mom… but it gets better, I promise…)
It sounds like a harsh Debbie-Downer, but the wisdom is in the reality-check. When mom said it, it couldn’t be trumped. It was a “because I said so” phrase.
“Life sucks, then you die” meant sometimes life isn’t fair, and sometimes I’m going to have to work harder than someone else for no good reason. It meant sometimes people were going to be handed things on silver platters, when I worked my butt off. It meant sometimes I wouldn’t understand why things happened they way they did. It was a reminder things aren’t always going to go my way. I’m not always going to receive a thank you, a pat on the back, or be guaranteed another human will empathize or understand me.
And that’s okay.
Why? Because how I react to situations is more important to God than the situation itself. A mentor once told me, “God is more concerned with my character than my comfort.”
I’ve had a rough couple of days. Tonight, the thought of “life sucks, then you die” brought a smile to my face.
Growing up, this phrase was funny (not harmful, as some would contest) because I knew the depth of my parents love for me. Unlike a lot of kids, I never had to doubt their love or question their intent. Because of that, I was reluctantly obedient when the smack down came and chores just had to get done. I’d do whatever chore they made me to do, for however long I had to do it, even when it was more than my brother had to do, or harder, or nastier, or whatever.
I think it’s the same with God.
Because He’s shown me the depth of His love and I don’t have to question His heart’s intent, He’s bringing me into a season of obedience. Sometimes, I think God is looking for an obedient child who is simply willing to say yes.
God is revealing how He’s equipped me to do extremely needed things, while not necessarily the most fun or glory-filled things I’ve ever done for Him. I’m in a season of serving others so they can shine brightly for the Lord. I’ve had to take a backseat and turn over the things I prefer doing so others can rise up. While I like my ducks in a row and things perfectly organized, all areas of my life have taken on a full-spectrum of administrative process management roles. I’m pretty much killing myself with spreadsheets, project management systems, and enforcing processes. Just like houses needed regular upkeep and some basic structural support, the house of God needs it, too.
While most of these jobs seem “natural” as opposed to “spiritual,” I absolutely can’t do this without Him.
When I try to do it without Him, this high-capacity woman turns into a freaked-out, no-capacity woman.
There is fun stuff along this journey, but the tasks before me aren’t the most life-giving.
I asked the Spirit about why I felt so drained if I’m doing what He’s asked, and He told me, “That’s because life is in Me, not in what I’m asking you to do.”
Ya, that one burned a little.
Then, I asked the Spirit, “Just so we’re on the same page, of all the things I feel you’ve called me into this season, what area do you want me to focus on?” (This girl needs to know what duck comes first). He showed me a picture of me writing. Great. The one thing I always push-off my to-do list each day for a lack of time.
Here are my four big take-aways from my “life sucks, and then you die” conversation with God this week:
- Suck it up. Sometimes, I just have to endure situations because He asked me to be there. There IS joy in walking it out because Jesus is walking it out with me, and it matters to Him and His Kingdom. He knows what’s good for me even if I can’t see it while I’m in the middle of it.
- Ask the Lord. Just because God’s told me what He wants me to do from a big picture standpoint doesn’t mean I can slack on asking Him about what He wants me to do day-to-day. I have to stay connected with the Holy Spirit through each moment, or I will be completely drained and burn out.
- Jesus is Life! He alone is my life-giver, not the gifts or tasks He has given me. If I’m not asking Him to fill me up each day, I just don’t make it through the day. Period. Jesus is my peace in the middle of chaos and unfair situations. He is my rest in the middle of headaches, long hours, and frustrating people.
- People Pleasing. It’s an easy target for Satan to throw at my mind. I have to take captive any thoughts of people pleasing and give them to Jesus. Sometimes, I literally grab at my brain and hand it up to Jesus, just to let my brain and body be on the same page about it. I serve people with excellence, and I do it for the Lord.
I have to cling to the truth that He’s working all things together for my good because I love Him and am called according to His purpose (Romans 8). It’s not about me, it’s about Jesus and seeing His Kingdom come. This truth is what makes obedience to Jesus, through seemingly unfair situations, worth everything.
Sometimes, life sucks. And that’s okay.