Welcome to Week Five of the Follow Your Call Series!
I'm excited to welcome my friend, Beth Steffaniak, as she shares a powerful story of waiting on God when doors are slamming shut. I absolutely love Beth's blog, Messy Marriage, and her insight and wisdom will most definitely encourage you today!
Have you ever felt God’s calling, only to feel as if the door to that calling has slammed shut in your face?
I felt that way many years ago. At the time, it felt very disorienting and disappointing, to say the least!
But sometimes it’s important to take a step back to see what God is really calling you to before getting frustrated with what seems like a closed door.
Years ago, I felt called to minister to married couples and wives. In fact, I got my master’s degree in marriage and family counseling way back in my mid-twenties. And, for the most part, God continued to open doors for my pastor husband and I to minister directly to married couples and spouses in many settings and at various times from that point forward.
I think that’s why it was so disorienting for me to experience this particular closed door when it came.
The senior pastor of our church simply did not want to offer these coveted opportunities to me or my husband. He knew that we both—in particular, I—wanted them. But still no go.
Since I held a marriage degree, felt God’s calling, and came prepared with lots of experiences, I assumed that opportunities would be handed to me on a golden platter. Instead, it was more like a glass of cold water was served to me on that golden platter and promptly thrown in my face!
My pride was wounded and my heart was sick with frustration. In some strange and faulty way, I had determined that this pastor held more power over my life than the Lord of my life did! I certainly gave him this power—choosing ultimately to feel like a victim for many years.
God was so patient and gracious with me during that season of no opportunities and no sense of direction. Through my Bible study and prayer-life, God helped me to turn away from my angry ruminations and complaints. This would allow me to get up once more and walk towards “God’s door” (or doors), instead of remaining broken and bitter at the one I had desperately desired.
This process took about five years or so for God to formulate and crystallize His new direction in my thinking. It certainly wasn’t an overnight experience, which actually helped strengthen my faith for the task ahead.
At some point, God ignited in my spirit the idea of starting a blog. So I opened that door back in February of 2009. But that first blog was too broad—spraying truth and inspiration in a whole host of directions. However, that experience also gave God the chance to hone and clarify the vision “He” had for me.
On October 10, 2010, God revealed something to me almost like a thunderclap. I was struck by this thought: Why not minister to married couples and spouses through a blog called Messy Marriage? The name really opened my eyes to the message God wanted me to share—offering hope to those stuck in the messiness of marriage.
It was as if God took my hand and turned the doorknob to a door with endless possibilities.
So here are 4 key takeaways to consider with your calling …
1. When a door closes, get busy praying, instead of pouting!
If I had continued to focus only on the closed door, I would have missed the sweet comfort and intimacy God forged with me through that loss.
Are you in that frustrated place? Then I would encourage you to instead get on your knees. You can start with lots of tears and painful venting before the Lord. But let that eventually give way to prayers of thanksgiving and hope in your good God!
2. Wait patiently—knowing God is at work in the unseen.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
Little did I know that God wanted to do so much more in my heart and life than to give me some task to accomplish.
[bctt tweet="Sometimes the first accomplishment in your calling is letting God do His work in your own heart and mind, rather than focusing on a task for others. #truedoor #Godscalling #FindYourCalling " username="NicoleAKauffman"]
God was also using that time to prepare me for the demands of His calling. These are all unseen aspects of our lives that measure so much greater than checking off the next box on our “bucket or to-do list.”
Not only that, but Jesus was teaching me how to focus on Him, rather than on some personal goal or desirable door in my life. I think He teaches me about that nearly every day in some way.
It’s His most important lesson in all of our lives.
[bctt tweet="This is God’s most important test in our lives as believers. Head to CourageHopeLove to find out what it is! #importanttest #findyourcalling" username="NicoleAKauffman"]
3. Respond to the doors He opens with faithfulness.
I could have remained forever paralyzed by that first closed door. After all, Satan loves to swoop in and discourage us at painful junctures like these. He loves to tell us we will never amount to anything. Or tell us that the door closed, because we are not good enough to be used by God. Don’t believe it for a second!
After a short season of grieving, I listened for God’s next instruction. Then I followed through on starting to blog based on His prompting. I then set about to learn all I could from that experience as well. Then I quickly responded to the idea of starting another blog with a different name and more specific focus. Each step led me toward God’s good, better and best.
[bctt tweet="Go through each open door in search of your calling as God continues to lead you to His best. #persevere #befaithful" username="NicoleAKauffman"]
4. Realize that some doors close so that others can open.
When I look back now on that journey, I see so many ways that God was guiding and providing through a closed door. If God had not allowed that door to be closed ...
- Then I would never have been refined and strengthened in my faith.
- I certainly wouldn’t have have thought about starting a blog.
- Most likely, I would have been too busy working on the marriage tasks that my senior pastor would have given me and missed this other amazing ministry door.
Those jobs at my church might have been good tasks, but not necessarily God’s best for me and others.
Ironically, years later, that same pastor changed his mind. My husband and I were eventually given and now continue to have many marriage-mentoring opportunities in our church.
The moral of this story?
Sometimes God allows a closed door only to open it later with so many new and varied opportunities. And these new opportunities could never have been realized without that first door slamming shut in the first place.
So now I thank God in the shut doors and the open doors—knowing He’s bringing about His best out of both!
Beth Steffaniak has been married to her pastor husband for 31 years and they are now enjoying the early stages of an empty-nest, while also eagerly anticipating the arrival of their first grandchild in October of 2018!
Beth typically fills her days with blogging, life-coaching, mentoring, as well as speaking at marriage workshops and women’s events. You can catch her hanging out on: Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Instagram
To find more of Beth’s insights and posts, head to messymarriage.com, where she offers her e-book, Forgive U, along with 35 other free resources in a subscriber library.