Navigating Disappointing Seasons



I had a rare day off and felt God’s tug to write. I was in a mood and not feeling particularly inspired to write but decided to be obedient. I word-vomited this literary gem:


“I don’t understand why people won’t accept help to overcome their fears. It’s like they’re too scared to face the fear (duh). But I’m offering it – in many cases, FOR FREE. Just like you, Jesus. Salvation, love. All for free and so many reject it. Jesus literally died for them, and they still don’t believe He is who He says He is.


Why?


Because the enemy lies to them? Because they think they’re in control and don’t need Jesus? Because they think they know best?


I spent many years feeling sorry for Pharaoh. I’d talk to God asking Him why Pharaoh had to be the bad guy. ‘But he was your child too, God. Why would you create someone to take on such an awful role?’ Eventually, I came to peace with all these questions and settled on filing it away in my ‘His ways/thoughts are higher than my ways/thoughts’ file.”


As I stream-of-consciousness’d my way through this non-Pulitzer contender, I found myself surprised at what poured out through my fingers. In the midst of pouring my heart out came God’s voice: “People reject me all the time, Alani. And I offer the greatest and most perfect gift in the history of the universe. All the love and encouragement and joy in the world, and they still say ‘no’.”


Heading to the kitchen to make my breakfast, a social media notification pops up. “A complete stranger wants to connect with you.” When I click on the link, I’m met by a fellow military spouse who saw a comment I made in a career group. She reached out because of our mutual work in protecting the world’s vulnerable and had a question about employment opportunities. What I did not expect was for it to turn into an impromptu coaching session. Where for an hour, I am sharing my story of what God did in my life and career and listening to her express the deep desires of her heart to make a difference in this world for the most vulnerable populations. And as we dig deeper, she discloses missed opportunities to apply for jobs due to imposter syndrome, and God creates an opportunity for her to disclose that she is also a believer.


This. Is. My. Jam.


As I’m encouraging her, what I realize I know for sure is this:


Sometimes God brings us to places of unemployment, inaction, and isolation to work on our foundation. When He strips all those comfortable things away – that cushy job, the stable paycheck, your family – this is an opportunity to turn heaven-ward and ask, “What is it you’re trying to teach me, Lord?” Because the warfare I experienced in Iraq has nothing on the spiritual warfare I’ve experienced in anti-trafficking/anti-child sex abuse spaces. Had I not done the foundational work of understanding who God really is and who He created me to be, I would not have been able to withstand what I’ve experienced over the last five years. And there is no professional experience – success, failure, rejection, joy – that goes to waste in His kingdom. One day, that career you think has been haphazardly cobbled together will come to a perfect place where all those experiences meet. And it will ALL make sense.


I hated every minute of bodyguarding at the Pentagon. Until after I left that job and was asked to fly to Kenya and guard missionaries going to-and-from court to seek justice on behalf of their co-workers and client who were murdered by the corrupt Kenyan police.


I detested every new job I had and the requirement that I spend excessive amounts of time in uncomfortable spaces trying to build relationships with people I had nothing in common with. My first liaison event (ie: network) with a high-level Japanese government official was a complete flop on so many levels. But that experience and the resiliency I learned from years of learning how to build relationships all over the world taught me that their rejection or doubts would almost always be overcome with time. But only if I was willing to keep showing up and proving to them that my intention was to be a value-added partner in justice. And the pharaohs who hated me or completely rejected me and the help I offered? It was always in those weakest spaces where I could control nothing that God did his most impressive work.


No experience goes to waste.

No frustrated, f-bomb laden prayer or terrible blog post goes to waste.

No season of unemployment goes to waste.

No breakup goes to waste.

No rejection goes to waste.


God’s kingdom is the perfect image of efficiency and timing, but only if you’re willing to release the death-grip you have on the situation.


Because the truth is that you either believe God is sovereign over all aspects of your life or you don’t.


And so in the matter of two hours, God turned my bitter (and rather pathetic journalistic) offering into an opportunity. But I had to seize it.


What is God asking you to do today that you’re just not in the mood for?