Are you facing and overcoming challenges at the moment?
If you are, I want you to know that He has a purpose for every difficulty you go through.
This is Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane before He was betrayed and captured. I have said this simple prayer over and over again when my soul is so burdened by the trial I am going through.
Wild Fire that Started the Challenge
Two years ago, life decided to send a wild fire that ravaged everything in its path my way. I had to leave a place I had called home for 16+ years, move to the other side of the world and start over from scratch in all aspects of my life.
I am originally from Indonesia. My mom brought us to the U.S. a year after there was a huge political unrest in our country that led to government overthrow and a riot targeting the Chinese Indonesians. There were incidents of houses, stores and cars that got burned down and sexual abuse against the minority. I was in the second year of high school when that riot happened.
For the next 16 years, I learned English as a second language, went to college and built a career in the pastry industry. I love pastry. My pastry instructor at school entered me into my first competition. He saw my potential even before I knew it myself. We won 1st place. Afterwards, I took every chance to compete and volunteer in workshops with world-renowned pastry chefs.
My Dream was Shattered
In my personal life, I am an introvert by heart. But, over time I came out of my shell. I volunteered at church on Sunday mornings playing with the babies. My free times were filled with hiking, rock climbing, retouching paintings to be donated to hospitals all over the world. I was also playing with the kids at the Center for Puppetry Arts, and doing life with my church peeps.
My work permit ended in December 2015. Despite having given my all for the past 6 years in my work, my employer was not willing to sponsor me for permanent residency. I was so stressed out because I could see that my time in the U.S. was coming to an end, and there was nothing that I could do about it.
This had been home for me all these years. I have followed the rules, gone to college and built a career. I was supposed to make it here, but my dream was shattered to pieces.
As I was preparing for my move, I got rid about 90% of my material belongings. I was left with only 3 suitcases. My books, clothes, and household items went to either Goodwill or donation bins. My pastry equipment went to a dear friend. We, pastry people, love our gadgets. I had loads of cake pans, cookbooks, liquors, and sugar blowing equipment that I had to get rid of. I couldn’t justify the cost to move all of them across the continents. Things that I couldn’t donate went to trash.
It saddened me so much as I was going through this and throwing things away. All I could think about was how much money had gone into purchasing all these (and the hard work that had gone into earning that money).
The Hardest Part of Overcoming Challenges
It took me 3 months to tie up loose ends before I could leave. I was in limbo and I saw my life crumbling piece by piece. The hardest part was saying goodbye to my community. I had been active in my church since its beginning. I saw them almost every Sunday for 5 years. They had become a second family for me.
One night, we were doing a volunteer appreciation night. My pastor called me up the stage and told my whole story to the church. He was saying nice things about how God was calling me into an uncharted territory to help spread His message and all. It was all too much for me.
I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life or how I was going to survive this ordeal. Spreading His words was the last thing on my mind. After I got off the stage, I couldn’t control my tears and I ran to the restroom. My pastor’s wife had to come over and check on me in there. She prayed with me and left me alone to give me some space. It took me a while before I got myself together and back to the service.
After I got everything taken care of, I flew back to Indonesia. It was 2 weeks before the second anniversary of my mom’s death. My mom had worked hard all her life. She never finished elementary school and her work had been very physically demanding all her life. When I got news that she passed away, I was still in the U.S. and couldn’t come back home.
Downward Spiral of Depression
Now, I was back here but I had lost the life that I had built, which she had supported with lots of sweat and tears of herself. I felt huge sense guilt for not making it as I am the first one in my family that had gone to college. I was the one who was supposed to make it. If my mom hadn’t passed away, I would have been the cause of her heart attack.
I was thrown into a downward spiral of depression. I was physically hurting from the stress, disappointment, anger and guilt. My head hurt. My whole body ached. I cried myself to sleep and I cried when I first woke up in the morning – when I first came to consciousness again and remembered what was happening.
Negative, toxic thoughts ran over and over in my mind like a broken record. My faith took a major beating. If this was for my good, why did it hurt so much? Why didn’t God answer my prayer? Why was God punishing me after I had been serving faithfully all these years?
Over time, I did heal. I grieved my loss. I shut out the world and focused on healing. It was hard to feel Him with me through all this. But, the words of the Christian music are my affirmations that He is with me and He has walked ahead of me.
Trials that Seem Impossible
There is one Christian song that sums up my whole experience at the moment perfectly. It is “Even If” by MercyMe. I love this part of the lyrics:
A little faith is all I have right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul.
I don’t know why He gives us trials that seem impossible to overcome, and I don’t know what challenges you are facing at the moment. It could be losing a job, getting a cancer diagnosis, losing someone you love, dealing with chronic pains, or losing the life you have built for years. This is our garden of Gethsemane. Even when your faith takes a major beating, I want you to believe that He has a purpose for every trial you go through.
My faith in Him is what pulled me through the dark valley of depression. He didn’t move my mountains, but it’s OK. I am a hiker and a rock climber after all. So, I will hike up that mountain one step at a time and I will climb over the boulders one rock at a time.
When I grow weary of traveling alone on my own, I will rest and take in the view. Then, I will pick up my walking sticks and hike up again. Before long, I will meet others along my journey and reach the mountain top.
If you are going through a huge, devastating trial in your life at the moment, I hope that you will be able to find that peace, strength and grace that will enable you to say, “It is well with my soul.”
Blogger: Herlina Kwee
Blogger Bio: She created her blog to encourage and inspire people who are going through a tough time in their lives, overcoming challenges and to create a community to support each other. She is a nature lover, loves hiking and she is a pluviophile – a rain lover.
Blog link: Making LOL
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