What To Do When You Feel Stuck
This article first appeared here.
We are born dreamers. It is no longer just the “American dream” to be successful and fulfill one’s purpose— almost anywhere you turn today the message is clear: “We can achieve anything we put our minds to!” We grow up believing that we can be anybody; we can have anything we desire. We are people of movement; we are doers. We are passionate and eager to get in the car of life and get moving. But often the plans we spend so much time crafting and stressing over take a turn in different direction. For those of us who are trusting God to direct our steps, we find out that with Him the journey can look very different than what we envision. We find out quickly that our ideal timeline and God’s are often at odds. We don’t want to idle, and we aren’t huge fans of detours— especially when they come with a lengthy list of lessons to learn along the way.
Imagine how the Israelites must have felt after a year of wandering in the desert, and then again, a year later. A decade into the journey, some must have lost hope that God was indeed leading them at all, and after twenty there had to have been murmurings of a coup. A few millennia later, here we are still grumbling at God when He doesn’t give in to our plans, and our schedule. What the Israelites undoubtedly felt is the same thing that we tend to assume— that God is cruel and withholding from us for sheer entertainment. We tend to think that He’s looking down on us, laughing, as we sit just steps from the other side of a breakthrough, lesson, or door. We shake our fists at the One who is keeping us wandering in the desert in isolation, while others are enjoying their #bestlife in the Land of Milk & Honey. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. The land of promise and provision is where God wants us to live, but sometimes there needs to be a pause before we can rush right in.
Because we live in a culture with a hunger for speed and quantifiable results, we don’t understand the importance of the pause. We see “rest” as necessary for the weak, and we dismiss its importance. We tend to be easily excited, but fickle; we start strong and fizzle quickly. We spend a lot of our time dreaming about what’s next: achieve the next level of success, hear the validation, and then hustle on to the next thing.
We struggle when it feels like we are doing lap number 10 around the mountain— just as the Israelites who wandered under Moses’ charge. So, what do we do when it feels like we’ve been camped out too long— when we are eager to move on, but it feels like God hasn’t opened the door for us? What do we do when we feel “stuck?”
1. Remember what you started.
In general, our culture tends to be full of starters, but short on people who can finish— not just “finish strong,” but actually complete what they set out to do. Perhaps God hasn’t moved you on to the next assignment because what He gave you to do, you haven’t quite finished. Why would He release you into something new, or different, if you haven’t been faithful with what He’s already given you?— with where you are right now? Why would He give you “more” if you weren’t stewarding well what He’s already placed in your hand?
If you’re feeling stuck in life, maybe a good first question to ask yourself is, “What was the last thing God asked me to do?” Or, “what did I tell I would do?”And then do a self-check to see whether or not you’ve completed those things or not. If not, this becomes your new starting point.
2. Realize that you might not be ready to move yet.
You may feel like you are ready, and you may have convinced yourself that you are, but there may be a possibility that you have more to learn before God moves you forward. Maybe the level of responsibility, influence, success is not something that you’re ready for. Perhaps you still need to grow or heal before God releases you into the next leg of your journey.
Just as important as finishing the actual tasks that He gave you, is the fact that maybe your character is being refined right where you stand. You may not realize it until you’re on the other side, but what is happening inside of you is preparing you for what lies ahead. Ask yourself, “What lessons am I learning right now?” Then make sure to spend some time writing it out and discussing with someone else. Often we tend to have to “re-learn” things that we didn’t take time to process while we walked through them the first time. Another great question to ask is, “Who has God put in my life to love on, or learn from?” Maybe He hasn’t moved you forward because there’s someone who’s supposed to go with you, and they just haven’t caught up yet.
Head on over to crosswalk.com to read more ideas on what to do when you feel stuck.