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I have lived my life treading water and honestly, I'm tired. How do you break free of the cycle?

I related so much with this young women, dirt tired and exhausted from, not just from the bruises of the rocky journey, but the effort it takes to cover it up.

I love this quote, "You will always grow through - what you go through," because it reminds me that going through it is part of the process. Human nature is we look for a way around difficult situations.

While we're trying to hurry and get to the destination, the real message is in the journey.

Jesus spent 33 years on this earth with us being ostracized, abused, chastised, humiliated, blamed and assaulted. Some of the abuse was physical, but much was verbal, mental and emotional. So for those of us who have endured assaults and violence, Hebrews 4: 15 reminds us that our God understands, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin."

Her reference was to a chapter in the book called 'Treading Water', where I found myself dog paddling and pushing against the water, but getting no where. It's that place in life where you're working extremely hard, yet you seem to be going in circles. On the surface you appear to be fine, yet no one is aware that you are slowly going under. In the physical realm we can only go so long before we finally , out of sheer exhaustion, succumb to the elements, give up and drown.

As victims of abuse, (any abuse, domestic violence, spiritual abuse, negative self talk, etc) drowning is our greatest fear so we fight even harder. We're afraid we can't make it on our own so we stay. We're afraid no one will believe us so we say nothing. We're afraid our kids will suffer so we endure the pain. God on the other hand is calling us to let go, stop fighting the water and trust he will catch us.

In Joel 2: 25, there is a promise from God that I had to wrestle with and gain clarity on before I could trust God enough to let go. “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you."

The first half sounded so good, it was the lifeguard meeting you out in the deep with a lifeguard tube, finally hope that I will survive. God was saying He was coming to my rescue and would rebuild all that had been stolen from me. Don't worry BJ, I've got you. My soul rejoiced in hearing this, but then I read, "My great army which I sent among you," and I hesitated to grab onto the tube. What? Is this a trick? Can I trust you? For many of us this has been our walk with God. A back and forward dance of 'I trust you / I don't trust you' and like a child pulling petals off a flower we sing, "He loves me / He loves me not, hoping to end life on, 'he loves me'. I finally grew tired of hoping and needed to rest on something solid. So, instead of assuming it was a trick I began to entertain the other possibility, what if there was something positive in the swarming, crawling, consuming, chewing locust that God sent my way that I had been fighting against all my life?

Swarming: flock, throng. Those things in your life that seems never ending.

Crawling: slow moving. Those that are there but not life ending, rather bothersome.

Consuming: exhausting. Not just on going, but overwhelming

Chewing: gnawing, biting. Not life threatening, but they hurt.

As I began to categorize painful events in my life, I found they all fell into these four areas. The swarms in my life has been sent to develop my endurance muscles for the long battle ahead. Preparing me for the marathon God has mapped out for me. Then you have those things that are just a bother, but it's easy to get out of sync because of them. What if God was using this to teach me to stay focused on the task at hand? These are our crawlers and you just want them off of you. Our consumers, may be the hardest, because they are our strength trainers. As with lifting weights, they are the ones where you feel like you can't go on and will be crushed, but without them, you'll never get to the next level. And lastly, the chewers I believe hurt most, because they seem personal. Friends who have let you down, acts of kindness used against you, trust broken or betrayed.

When I came to see God's goodness among the "bad" in my life it no longer appeared bad,

but necessary. Like in the Karate Kid movie, it can be extremely frustrating in the moment because we don't yet see the why, but all lessons in life are trainings. They may seem unnecesary, mundane, even painful, but all is in preparation for what lies ahead.

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