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Have you ever tried to navigate a painful emotional struggle within a relationship, and you began to feel picked on, your buttons pushed and provoked to lash out? A few weeks ago, I encountered several painful struggles within a few relationships of mine.
I found myself beginning to feel this way, and I was simply trying to stay submitted to the Lord. I recognized this was a challenge set up for me, and I knew the Lord was counting on me to show Him I could remain submitted to Him in my emotions and in my attitude.
The Lord was teaching me the value of dying to myself and overcoming my situation in my submission to Him, but I was struggling. Can you relate?
Looking At Ourselves Honestly
I have found in these times the Lord is teaching how to relate to others in a better way as we navigate those painful emotional struggles. It can sometimes be removing our pride and sometimes it can be simply learning to rise above what we’d really like to do in that moment.
Rest assured, for any issue we have in our spiritual lives, God will provide a solution and a strategy to make it out successfully if we truly see the situation honestly and we are willing to hear truth and submit to Him!
Sometimes those strained relationships are as a result of our own failings, and we know it, yet fixing them isn’t always a simple solution. Are you willing to be a change agent in your painful struggle and hear the truth of your situation even if it’s humbling?
The Sailing Parable
I’ll never forget that morning. I entered into worship and was wrestling with one of my painful emotional struggles. With every song, The Lord drew me deeper into His heart. Then I began to hear His voice:
“Sea of your life”
“Your end is in your swim.”
“Search your heart. What are you rooted in and feeding on?”
I took down the words, thinking about them for a moment, and continued to worship. It wasn’t long before I heard more.
“I want to tell you something, Sharla. Those who worry are better off dead, but those who trust are like a smooth sail on the sea, gliding past mistakes and pain, always willing to improve. Sailing is an art. It takes practice. Don’t get hurt in the process because if you stop, you’ll never improve.”
“I’m on your side. Don’t give up. Trust me for the way out of your misery. I know the way! I say, ‘Let’s go here,’ But you say back to Me, ‘No.’ It’s hard to sail with an unwilling partner. Go my way in the distance. I’ll get you where you need to go.”
The Humbling Realization & The Kindness of Our Savior
As I was taking this information down, it was a little humbling, I’ll admit. For just a moment though, all feelings of embarrassment left me as I seemed to feel the wind in my hair like I was sitting at His feet by the Sea of Galilee, speaking in parables.
It was humbling what He said, yes, but in my awe, I noticed He spoke such comfort to me right at the heart of my issues. He encouraged me to stay with Him through obedience as He navigated our ship to find relief from my painful emotional struggles.
If I would just obey in submission within all of them, I could glide by my hurts and difficulties. Notice He didn’t mention anyone being at fault, such as someone hurting my feelings, and He didn’t shame me for condemning myself for the times I did lash out at others.
The Lord simply took me out of my painful situation and spoke peace and Truth in love. He also encouraged me by saying He was with me within my painful emotional struggles. Isn’t that just like Jesus?
Grace To Understand Even if it’s Painful
When I returned to this information later on to meditate on it again, it was teeming with revelation that I didn’t see the first time. One word could explode with books of knowledge and revelation that I may never even notice. I can ponder information for weeks sometimes, only partially understanding some of what He says.
God gives me grace whenever He speaks to me to understand and receive what He says. He knows what He wants to say (even if He knows it will hurt me to hear it), but His love is always closer to me. He is gentle and kind, and His faithfulness knows no bounds as He relates to all of us!
Winning in the Process of Painful Emotional Struggles
Looking at the first two statements Jesus made to me, it refers to our life in the Spirit. Swimming or being in water generally always relates to life in the Spirit in a dream or vision. (John 4:14; Zechariah 14:8-9; Rev. 22:1-2)
Our ‘end is in our swim’ relates to how we swim or conduct our life in the Spirit with others or with God. We can win the race set before us in a difficulty, but the process of getting there was not our finest moment. Maybe we arrived where Jesus wanted us ultimately, but we broke down or complained repeatedly in the process of our painful emotional struggles.
The whole question then becomes, did we truly succeed? We got to our destination, but we didn’t succeed in the process. We aren’t competing against anyone in this life for the ‘processes’ we have to go through in our painful emotional struggles, but God is looking to see how we swim. Which is something that is sometimes extremely important to Him.
Check out 2 Timothy 2:3-5 TPT:
“Overcome every form of evil (suffering hardships) as a victorious soldier of Jesus the Anointed One. For every soldier called to active duty must divorce himself from the distractions of this world so that he may fully satisfy the one who chose him. An athlete who doesn’t play by the rules will never receive the trophy, so remain faithful to God!”2 Timothy 2:3-5
2 Timothy 2:3-5 makes a very important point. We must play by the rules of the race laid out for us in every painful emotional struggle. We can ultimately “win”, but if we didn’t follow the rules exactly, we forfeit the trophy we raced for in the beginning.
It’s only a win if we pursue the process and tackle it, just like we tackle the challenge of running to win the race, or in this case, swimming to win a swimming race.
Sometimes, God will still allow us to be victorious, but will put us back through the lesson of that process at another time and in another situation. What God asks of us is not without importance. All aspects of a painful emotional struggle are equally important to Him.
What Are We Rooted in and Feeding On?
The next statement we’ll investigate is, “So, what are you rooted in and feeding on?” The meaning of this statement of Jesus was obvious, and it made sense in my situation.
It refers to where we are setting our mind in a difficulty. If I was hurt by someone, was I constantly obsessing about it? Was I rehearsing the event in my mind, or was I focusing on God and His word?
What I choose to ‘feed’ on, or set my mind on, will inevitably determine where my joy and focus are or the lack thereof. It will also determine if I will overcome the painful emotional struggle or not.
Truly, whatever you feed on, you ultimately empower. Let’s make sure we feed on the right thing! Isaiah 26:3 AMP speaks of where we need to keep our focus and Colossians 3:1-3 instructs us what to set our minds on:
“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].”Isaiah 26:3 AMP
“Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. 3 For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. ”Colossians 3:1-3 AMP
Worry & Trust
The next paragraphs discussed were in terms of sailing or any other new thing we embark on or want to learn to do. (For this post, trying to navigate our painful emotional struggles in a way that pleases God.)
The Holy Spirit used the sailing analogy, and it totally put me at ease. I could imagine myself gliding along the top of the still water effortlessly. Boats represent our lives, or sometimes ministries, in the Spirit (Luke 5:1-8), and water, again, is representative of the Spirit.
Next, He mentioned worry and trust in terms of doing something new. If you constantly worry about things related to doing a new task, eventually, you won’t do it at all! Fear of making a mistake will consume you. If you trust, you glide right past mistakes and pain. Trust in Him communicates so much to Him and comforts us.
Trust removes us from the need to figure everything out within our painful emotional struggle and allows Him to be God. It is submission to His Lordship. Trusting that He has it all figured out, because He knows the way ahead. It brings us comfort and allows us to focus on gliding upon the water instead of worrying about things we cannot control.
When You Are Succeeding but Pain is Still There
Notice the Lord didn’t even mention getting held up if you were trusting Him on that boat, but you encountered pain not of your own making. It is reassurance that when you are on the right path with Him enduring those painful emotional struggles, you can still glide and make spiritual progress!
Stopping isn’t a requirement in the face of difficulties—only trust, provided we watch over areas we must be willing to improve on too.
Sailing in the Spirit Takes Practice
Living life in our spiritual selves takes practice. There will be a natural ebb and flow. It will take time for us to settle into it and get our Spirit legs.
We will undoubtedly make mistakes initially and get hung up or bogged down. But eventually, with practice, maneuvering in hardships and painful emotional struggles will be smoother sailing and gliding. That won’t be only one hardship, but many, my friends. We must watch, prepare, and recognize what we are feeding on as our source of strength. It will assure our victory or our defeat.
We Can Trust God Because He Has Already Been This Way
The Holy Spirit reminded me at the time of this writing that He was with me in my painful emotional struggles and is also with you in everything you go through.
His Presence gives us the confidence to walk in areas of life we may struggle in. He told me not to give up in that emotional struggle, and He does of you, too.
He’s sailed where we are sailing and knows the way to victory. The Bible says that Jesus has already overcome the world. So, in essence, it is saying, “You know that hard thing you must go through? Jesus already did that and has the overcoming T-shirt to prove it!” John 16:33 TPT says:
“And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!”John 16:33 TPT
The footnotes on this passage further say:
“Jesus has taken away the power this world has to defeat us and has conquered it for us. Peace is resting in his victory.”
Halleluiah! That reminds us we can overcome every painful emotional struggle He asks us to because He’s gone before us in it. However, deciding that we don’t want to go somewhere He’s taking us will only be a lesson to learn at an even later time.
An unwilling sailing partner will cripple the whole crew, but if we trust Him, endure the hardship He’s bringing us to, trusting in peace that He’s leading us correctly, and obey Him in the process, we won’t stagnate. The next time struggles come; we won’t bog down. Gliding will be our new norm.
What the Lord shared with me that day was such a revelation for myself and others, but it wasn’t a new revelation at the same time. Sometimes, just the fact that He takes the time to lead us by the hand and remind us that He loves us and tenderly shows us what we are doing wrong is all that is needed.
Other times, like the day He showed me this, He took me outside my problem so I could see it differently, using a modern-day parable! His example was precisely what I needed to see to overcome my painful emotional struggles and allow my weary soul some rest.
The fact that He did all these things for me was ointment and a kiss for my hurting heart. Humbling—absolutely. Thank you, Jesus, my faithful friend. I share Your heart with those like me today. May this post for you also be like ointment to your broken, weary heart. I pray that it won’t stay broken and weary any longer!
My declaration and prayer for you today is that you also will be set free by the Truth of God’s word and the revelation of His heart like it set me free. All of this was a modern-day parable.
Jesus is still Himself, teaching His sheep straight from His heart. The question is, do you have eyes to see the message He is speaking here? I believe you do, and I pray it changes how you ‘sail’.
May you win the process of navigating painful emotional struggles and ultimately win the trophy in your total submission to Him in this area of life. May you also glide right by hurt and mistakes. For this is His hope for all of us that are in Him!
If you would like more information about how you can live above your circumstances, check out this post on doing so when God is doing a new thing in our lives. Surrender can be challenging. This post can help when God is asking us to surrender again.