I am dealing with a situation in my life that looks a lot like failure, but God has been dealing with me to understand that ours is an upside-down world. What the world sees as failure might be the start of a wonderful new road, or it may be needed submission to release control and trust, or an opportunity to hide in His mercy and depend on Him. What the world celebrates as success can contain seeds of self-reliance that can lead us away from God. And sometimes it’s just what it looks like: beautiful, blessed accomplishment.

But when you’re on the failure side of the coin, it can be hard to see life through a God-shaped lens, where a winding road is a place of learning and possibility. Anyway, it’s hard for me. When I’ve prayed and worked to change my mindset toward hope, toward bulbs growing just under the surface where I can’t see, I’m like a butterfly: free but fragile. When I share my story with trusted friends, I mostly get understanding and positivity, and I soar. In those moments, I can see Jesus continuing to lead me down this strange road I’m on, in love. But today, when I shared my story with two Christians I respect, it was met with a decidedly worldly lens, and I felt myself fall. No matter how hard I tried to maintain my hopeful perspective, I walked away deflated. They were seeing my situation just as the world would and does. They did not see potential for greater good coming from this valley season, but they preached detached acceptance, which is a perfectly appropriate response if you don’t believe in a resurrection God. I am a little flustered by their reactions, to be honest.

A Christian is by definition a pilgrim. We walk and learn and we live here, but here is not our home. When the worldly definition of success trumps the quiet work of God in a broken human soul, we have to check ourselves. After all, each of us falls short sometime. Everyone gets a turn in the valley.  But it’s an upside down world, and thankfully, here is not our home. I could twist my point of view toward hope with mental and spiritual gymnastics all day long, but none of it would mean a thing without grace. God is leading me in this time, and whether it’s just He and I who walk this road together, we will keep walking. As a wise sister recently said, we’re not lost. Sometimes we just don’t know where we are. There are a few things we do know, though. He makes good out of all things for those who love Him. He brings light from darkness, beauty from ashes, new life from death. He is good, and I’m choosing to put my hand in His as we move forward, step by step.

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