As part of our “Best of” series to kick off the new year, today, we’re sharing Olivia’s story of her struggle with chronic pain and the surrender of her dreams, shared in her own words.
I am a dreamer. Always have been and hopefully always will be. And I’m all about big dreams being fulfilled in other people’s lives. I’m so thankful for those in my life who support my passions, and I want to be known as a supporter and cheerleader in the lives of others. . . . I’m always looking to the future with my mind churning with possibilities for the next grand caper. A visionary, you could say.
Perhaps that is why I began to ache in a place deep beyond the physical pain that became the new normal for me this year. See, my freshman year of college did not go as planned. Health issues that had been slowly expanding for over a year spiraled out of control. What we believed to be the problem was found to not be the culprit, and by second semester I was left in a tangled mess of unknowns, diagnosis with an autoimmune disorder, and dead ends with every diet, medicine, doctor, and supplement we tried. Suddenly, although the pain had not changed drastically from first semester, my mindset felt more hopeless, and I began to wonder if I would have to live this way forever. And that meant the death of dreams. Or at the very least, the delay of dreams.
In the midst of that struggle, Olivia’s heart shifted. Instead of living for temporary happiness, she now prioritizes living the holy life God has called her to. Even if her big dreams don’t come true, Olivia is confident that better days are coming.
Our culture believes we can create our own happiness. If we hustle hard enough and strive long enough, we will arrive at the place where our dreams are fulfilled. We can “achieve” happiness. It’s the American Dream—the land where anything is possible. The land where you “treat yo self” and pleasure is chased, sometimes at the expense of anything else. As a Christian, it’s easy to believe if we follow God’s will for our life, all should be smooth sailing. His plans for us are good, right? I can testify that they are, but I can also testify that things will not always be easy. God certainly cares about our happiness, but He cares about our holiness more.
I don’t want to preach the prosperity gospel, so I’ll be careful here. But the nature of trials are that, in general, they pass. Or at least they become less raw with time. And for the believer, I know better days are coming. If not in this life, in the next. So with hope as your anchor and gratitude as wind in your sails, keep pressing on in courage and trust! God is good, and He works all things together for good. Keep dreaming those big dreams, but seek holiness above happiness. . . . I kinda think you’ll find both in the process!
What about Your Story?
Does Olivia’s story remind you of your own? Maybe you’ve:
- Dealt with chronic pain or . . .
- Surrendered your cherished dreams . . .
- Or struggled to lay down your desire for happiness for God’s call to holiness.
No matter what twists and turns your story holds, you can trust God, the Author of your story.
In their book, You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, Nancy and Robert ask,
What has God permitted to be a part of your story that seems inconsistent with His goodness and love? Might He be allowing that “thing” He hates in order to accomplish that which He loves?
As we were discussing this theme with our friend and film producer, Stephen Kendrick, he put it this way: “God likes to use really, really bad things to do really, really good things.”
Every story has difficult chapters, but whether it’s chronic pain, or surrendered dreams, or another plot twist you wouldn’t have written for yourself, you can trust that in God’s redemptive plan He is using really, really bad things to do something really, really good.