The Struggle is Real
The Struggle is Real
by Jess Olivito
It's a new season of tests, trials, and transformation....and lately, it hasn't been pretty to watch.
Since the block party, I've spent a significant amount of time (and resources) writing The Sozo Group's Strategic Ministry Plan, and let me tell you... it's an extremely ambitious plan. When you have a little time, I invite you to take a peek at the plan on the website and humbly ask for your prayers as we locate ministry partners to help cover the ministry's start-up costs and meet the objectives. We also need prayers that the right volunteers and board members will step forward to help me execute this plan. And in wrapping up some of the last visionary details (in order to become a 501(c)3 "operating project" managed under The New Horizons Foundation), I find myself STILL fighting feelings of inadequacy. Why?
Because there's still so much about ME that needs to change. Yep, I said ME. And the changes I need to make (in regards to my personality and my behavior) are serious changes. The ultimate goal being much more like Him and much less like me. Yet on some days, I find myself just wanting to hide from the struggles that accompany true transformation. However, Romans chapter 5 seems to put things back into perspective for me:
Peace and Hope
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
- Romans 5:1-5 NIV
Probably the two biggest areas where I continue to struggle with holiness are: 1) when I'm working at the restaurant, and 2) when I'm alone with my teenage daughter. Both scenarios seem to bring out the worst in me. And while I do make an effort to pray before I going into either situation... on some days, I only last minutes before becoming outraged - either by a demanding customer (or teenage daughter) and become completely unglued...spouting off foul language like a truck driver. The result of my behavior is embarrassment and shame (after the fact) and then I start thinking to myself, "You seriously think you're equipped to lead an outreach ministry when you can't even deal with a rude customer or your own daughter's mood swings without losing your cool?" The struggle is real. And it's obvious that I'm not passing the test. So it's imperative that I work harder to trust God through this life-long sanctification process. And once I do pass this test, I just know I'll get promoted from serving chips and salsa.
You see, it's the contradiction that remains in my character that's causing the struggle and it simply needs to be healed. Right now, those in close relationship with me see not only my boldness and passion when I talk about Jesus, but are also witnessing my serious character defects and insecurities. But by meditating on God's promises, I'm able to keep going and am certain that freedom is right around the corner.
So I ask for your prayers as I continue working on myself (my hangups, my bad habits and my double-mindedness) and begin applying the blood of Jesus to a new batch of wounds that remain in my soul. By going through "the process" with Jesus, I'll be able to break bondage leaving God in a position to fulfill the vision for what He has already called me to do.
In February, I'll be going to my second women's retreat of the season (and God knows how much I need it). This particular retreat is themed "beYOUtiful" and I strongly believe Proverbs 31 Ministries' Speaker Nicki Koziarz will be offering lots of inspiration. The most powerful thing about women's retreats is being around other like-minded women of faith. Retreats always seem to motivate me to look deeper at my character for further revelation and deliverance. So.... if your home church isn't offering a women's retreat this year, consider joining like-minded women in Schaumburg this February for a life-changing weekend!
So while the struggle IS real (and quite messy), I know that my God is always there.. absorbing all my pain, insecurity, and fear like a sponge in an effort to cleanse my soul.