Stay on Course, Even When It’s Painful

 

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.
2 Timothy 4:3-4

When I was homeless and searching for I didn’t know what, some people thought I was on a romantic adventure. Occasionally, someone joined me. In a few days, they quit and high-tailed back home. It was way too intense for them. It was intense for me too, but I couldn’t go back to the violent home I had left. I wanted to be in a family where we loved each other. I never met one of these families and I didn’t know if it was possible. But I believed it was better to die searching than live in a world without love.

When I was hitchhiking across the US, I met a Mormon family in New Mexico who seemed to love each other. The dad told me to get on my knees and search for God. I wasn’t ready to pay that price. A few years later I drifted into a Mennonite community in Tennessee, where I met several families who loved each other on a level never thought possible. I wanted that. But I faced two major obstacles:

  1. Having a loving family came with a price. I had to invite God into my life and follow his ways instead of my own. That meant giving up immorality and self-centeredness. It meant learning how to work and support a family.
  2. I was severely damaged inside from the violence I had experienced in my childhood and the damage I had done to myself with hard drugs. Even if I paid the first price, I had no guarantee I would succeed.

I took the risk. I’ve endured pain at levels I didn’t know existed. Sometimes it got so hard for me, Gina didn’t know if I would survive. But I’ve stayed on course. I’ve pursued an impossible dream.

My family and business are my treasures on earth. My leadership role has pressured me stay on course and keep climbing upward. If I slip into false reality—that makes me feel better—my family and business start falling apart.

Truth gets too painful for me, and I need a break. On my stupid days, I dive into the negativity hole. I numb myself with food. I escape into a movie or TV show. Then I spin into depression and isolation. I become harsh and moody.

When truth gets too painful for me and I lean on my wiser self, I reach up to God and reach out to people I trust. I invite God and my friends in and show them what a mess I am inside. They love me despite the mess. I find strength and courage to face painful truth, stand up again, lean into the harsh wind, make tough decisions.

God reminds me to stay the course, even when it hurts. Following God is more about doing what’s right than doing what feels good. When my patience wears thin or wears through, look up to God for an extra dose of patience.

Reality becomes super intense and painful. Not everyone is willing to endure the pain. Our ears and eyes search for someone to show to us an easier way. Watch out for these people. And don’t become one of them.

Phillip

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