Feeling Good About Feeling Bad

Posted by on Dec 2, 2014 in Gary | 24 comments

Sick in Bed

A courageous friend of mine wrote this “confession” on FaceBook and asked for feedback:

“I’ve tried to discover my calling or purpose or dream or whatever for decades and have failed miserably. It is nearly impossible for me to dream or look positively toward the future. I’m ….. years old and …. and …… yep I’ve got every excuse in the book and a few more.”

I think this could be written into a book of common confessions. Why?

  • I think we all hope for more from our life then we are presently experiencing.
  • I think we all interpret the mystery of our life as failure.
  • I think there is more to us and to our life then we see.
  • I think that the multitude of voices that we hear are confusing: the voice of God, of Satan, of the flesh (ours & others) and of our redeemed heart.
  • Added to all of this are the combustibles and accelerates of physical and emotional pain.

So, here is what I’d say to my friend who wrote this and to my friends who are reading this.

First, there is something glorious that God has been doing in your life; an interior reconstruction that perhaps you’ve not fully seen yet, like in Extreme Home Makeover or Restaurant Impossible.  So we despair over our seemingly dilapidated or failing life.

God, fully aware of our present condition and His current work, says “Do not lose heart…though outwardly [you] are wasting away, yet inwardly [you] are being renewed day by day.”  2 Cor. 4:16.

I have to hold on to this as absolute truth or despair will take root and debilitation will set in.

I heard Mike Bickle say, “Satan wants us to feel good about feeling bad.”  It’s very tempting and easy to abide in the despair of a wounded past and a difficult present – it’s a welcoming and familiar place. That’s why Jesus told us that we need to abide in Him to bear much fruit.  Mike went on to say, “We are saints struggling with sin; not sinners struggling with God.”

So, hold on to the truth and to your faith.

Secondly, there is something that you can and must do.  You must offer what you have in order to acquire more clarity, while resting in the fact that you can only offer what you are aware of and have capacity for at this moment.

Ultimately, validation comes through the enacting, the creating, the bringing into existance what we believe or hope is true about the weightiness or giftedness of our life.  Affirming words are very helpful, but it’s only through trying, offering, risking, experiencing that we come to know what is true about our calling.

Thus, Paul wrote, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect (fruitless). No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10 NIV).

So, I can assure you that you are a different, stronger, better man than you were in earlier days because God’s grace to you is effective, is fruitful.  Now, in God’s strength, put in the effort and risk to “fulfill [your] every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NASB)

What is something that you’d like to do or are aware of that’s good?  Go do it, whether big or small, visible or invisible, according your current ability and capacity.  More clarity will come from that place.

It is helpful to remember that:

  • Maturity is not the absence of struggle
  • Faith is not the absence of doubt
  • Strength is not the absence of weakness
  • Success is not the absence of failure
  • Gains are not the absence of losses
  • Passion is not the absence of discouragement
  • Hearing God is not the absence of silence
  • Wisdom is not the absence of uncertainty

Remembering and walking with you,


24 Responses to “Feeling Good About Feeling Bad”

  1. Mark Scribner says:

    Thank you, Gary. That is a great response to questions that we all carry within us. The war to separate us from truth is everlasting, and we all lose the battle sometimes. I needed to be reminded that TRUTH is there in front of me even though it may be veiled by life’s deep longings and questions.

  2. Drew Hampshire says:

    Wow!!! Well spoken Gary-VERY encouraging, I’m keeping this on hand for the seasons that come and go.

    • Drew, this is so good to hear. I love to help people with clarity about their calling, but I’m passionate about encouraging / giving hope to people in their discovery, development and deployment of their calling.

  3. Darren Barkman says:

    Very timely today, Gary! I just went through a couple of weeks of great discouragement, like the vision I believe God has for me was getting buried under the cares of this life and would be snuffed out. My dear pastor reminded me that the trials are training, preparation, for what God has in store for me. Don’t miss the lessons in the midst of the journey -sometimes they can be more precious than the destination itself! Galatians 6:9, Habakkuk 2:2-3

    • Darren, that’s really good. Thank you. The journey/training is such a large part of our calling and walk with God – developing the strength of heart to be able to handle the desires of our heart well.

  4. “We are saints struggling with sin, not sinners struggling with God.” BAM! Freedom! I know about 400 people I’m taking that to, once in fully absorb it into my spirit. Thank you, from God’s “red-headed step-child!”

  5. Gary,

    This season of life is, perhaps, the season of greatest fruitfulness for me. This last 7 days, however, has been a microcosm of the many-pronged assault and just flat-out Resistance. A whale of a cold (I almost never get sick); renewed bouts of wicked sleeplessness (a 20-year battle); tasks piling up like a host of jetliners circling to land on a 1-runway airport; ALL piling on in combination with lies, discouragement and isolation. Today’s POST was helpful – like someone waking me up from a nightmare. The RELIEF is palpable. Thanks for offering your life and words.

  6. Gary – thank you for these timely and encouraging words. While I have sensed some clarity of calling in the last several years I have felt deeply discouraged and even opposed in some key personal relationships. Failure, shame, disappointment are words that have been haunting me for more than several months. There are days when discouragement/despair envelops me. I needed to hear from Him through you today.

    • Terry, I’m sorry to hear about the deep discouragement you’ve had to fight through. Fear, shame and disappointment are big common enemies. Hang in there. Wear THEM down through your resistance.

  7. Ron Britton says:

    Gary- I am reminded of Psalm 25, when I read your comments today- Thank you, Gary.

    Lord, show me your ways
    Lead me on your paths
    Guide me and teach me your truth
    You are my God and Savior
    My hope is in you all day long

    I recently memorized this passage and it gives me great encouragement daily against the Evil One.

    Peace and Love – Ron

  8. Jerry Lind says:

    Well said, my friend….well said. You are soooo incredibly gifted in being able to communicate these “calling” truths in such an encouraging way. And I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you. And thanks for responding to the “friend” on Facebook; he’s a good man with a life experience that most of us couldn’t handle.

    From my own life experience, I’m so grateful for how you taught me so clearly about your second point: (my paraphrase) – “Do what you can where you are with what you have! This has saved me from many a day where I would have been very discouraged prior to “Gary Barkalow”. Thank you!

  9. Barbara Keepers says:

    After 14 years of caregiving and having the freedom to be with a church body again the Lord let me know I was coasting instead of digging deep and looking for more of Him. So many want to fill my time with what they see as my “calling” and I am excited and overwhelmed as they bring forth things I love. But He brings things that give me a breathless trepidation and wonder. Your article confirms my desire to offer what I have and to let Him sift it all out. God seems to always keep a fire burning for more and more of Him. I praise him for you and others who He uses for His glory!

  10. Michael Wright says:

    Encouraging. I feel like I am in that place where I am majorly stuck in a hole and I have no idea how to get out. I am being challenged in my career like I’ve never been – feels like I am SO going against my Calling and my soul is being sucked out of every day. It can really drive me away from leaning on God I must say, but I am stuggling to find and hear God’s voice in all this. Part of me feels so blessed, but part of me just wants a way out. All I know to do is to fight my way through this. After hearing so much of what God has said to me at Calling retreats and bootcamps, i am amazed that I can still feel so “lost” in walking in my calling and purpose. Appreciate this post and what you do Gary.

    • Michael, wow, I’m sorry things are so hard right now. It might be good to get a day away from everything and listen to your feedback session (GA Oct. 2012), look at all of your exercises again and look at your notes from WAH. You may hear God more clearly. Sometimes it’s hard to hear God when there is a flurry of fear, disappointment, shame and hopelessness.

  11. Jack Harrington says:

    Gary, thanks for the very encouraging word. It seems so long since I was on the Calling retreat (Oct 2010). Still praying for breakthrough into my calling. This year has been one of the most challenging of my life. So much assault from so many angles. I was almost taken out…but I’m still here. And still believing God has good things in store. Just yesterday, my wife and I were having lunch at a restaurant and a song came on, “The Best is Yet to Come” by Frank Sinatra. I have to believe that’s true. Bless you my friend for being a vessel of hope and encouragement.

    • Jack, I’m so glad that “your still here”. Yes, the best is yet to come for you or as CS Lewis said, the best is yet to be revealed. Have you looked at your retreat exercises or listened to you feedback session recently? With the idea that some of our feedback is time-released, perhaps there is some clarification in the current moment for you. Hang in there my friend.

  12. Gary,

    Thanks for this post. I am in the midst of continuing to walk with God re: my calling. Honestly, there are days when “feeling bad” seems to be the theme – no response to outreach, no doors opening to bring my calling to other men, etc. There are, too, days when “feeling good” means that I am more and more connected to God’s heart for my heart. I just returned back from my second Wild at Heart Advanced Boot Camp – I first discovered John’s ministry back in 2008 when I first read Wild at Heart. While I know you started The Noble Heart prior to my first Boot Camp experience in 2009, I always consider you a part of the “team” that I found in the Band of Brothers DVD series. I look forward to reading your book in the near future as I keep trust and faith that God is doing a greater work in my heart than I can truly see. Sometimes, the fire that burns in my belly causes me to ache for the hearts I long to go after, rescue, awaken. At times, I ask the question, “Why, God, why isn’t this bearing the fruit I thought should be ripe by now?” God lovingly continues to call me into tending the soil of my own heart as He shapes the future I cannot possibly imagine.

    • John, you have written so well the journey that we’ve all experienced of trying to take the effect of our heart to others – it’s a difficult but necessary training ground.

Leave a Reply