Grateful for the frustration

I spent a lot of time last year in what I would call “career frustration”. The last couple of years, really. If you know us at all, you know that a year and a half ago, we had to shut down a church plant we started called Connection Church. It was a painful, humbling experience. There were a lot of reasons why that I won’t go into here. Some great things were happening in the church, but in some other, significant ways it was failing. Susan was in the middle of cancer treatment that year…a lot was going on. I took some time to recuperate and get my bearings, and then began the search for my next job.

There were several possibilities that I pursued to varying degrees in the months that followed, into the first half of 2010. Potential fits with 4 or so local churches that went to various levels of conversation, but in the end never materialized. There were a couple of out-of-town possibilities – one in Rock Hill, the other in High Point – that we explored. When Susan had her recurrence in the spring, we felt it was best to pull out of those opportunities.

Needless to say, from a career-advancement perspective, we were in neutral. Nothing moving. Nothing happening. Nobody hiring. Frustration mounting.

I now know why.

I got to spend so much time with Susan this last year and a half. So much time with the kids. I went to almost every doctor’s appointment, every chemo infusion, every kid’s event Susan couldn’t go to. I had flexibility in my schedule. I was there, I was present. I have no regrets about how I used my time. If I had a high-pressure job, I wouldn’t have been able to say that. If I were leading something big, if I had to travel a lot, I don’t know how we would have done it. If we had to move out of town, away from our network of family and friends…don’t even get me started. We would have been in serious trouble.

I’ve had an intense clarity on this in recent days. There were huge reasons why God was not allowing those opportunities to surface. At the time (when we thought Susan was in remission) I was frustrated with the lack of movement – now I know why. I had a tremendous, unusual opportunity – to be there for, support, and serve my wife in ways that she needed.

I am so grateful for this season of “career frustration”. I see now that God had a reason for it. It was a reason that was good and important. There will be plenty of days ahead for job and ministry and career. My days with Susan were precious and few. God gave me a tremendous gift by not allowing anything to get in the way of the time I got to spend with her.

What I wonder now is – am I focused on the frustration, or am I looking for the gift in it all? I am so, so glad I didn’t miss it.


16 Responses to “Grateful for the frustration”

  1. John Says:

    It is a “Holy” frustrationfrustration you speak of, Jerel. Thank you.

  2. Brandon Isom Says:

    Thanks for posting your heart Jerel. I needed to hear about Career Frustration. God used You to speak to me today! So thank you!

  3. Steve Lennartz Says:

    Jerel, there is no doubt in my mind that God was protecting you to allow you the time with Susan and the kids and know that he will use you in a mighty way, He has a plan for you.

  4. Catherine Warner Says:

    yes, Jerel…this is what we have been experiencing and trying to discern where God is moving…and of course, to follow him. No regrets, brother! Kingdom is always, always, upside down and inside out of our expectations, isn’t it? Nothing Jesus said made sense to his disciples or his followers..until they watched it all play out. Maybe it is just the limitations of our humanity.

  5. Catherine Warner Says:

    I don’t know if, amidst the adjustment and grief it is possible to see or know it, but you were given an enormous gift. Not just because you have been able to be so present to Susan and the kids over this past year and a half, but because you were given a rare opportunity to touch the edge of our world and to glimpse eternity. I couldn’t see that when my dad died…but was given another chance with a friend a few years later. It was Life changing, to say the least, to touch the reality that our faith has established.

  6. Brian Early Says:

    That is such great insight Jerel. Thank you for sharing that. I mean that. Your insights at this time and how God is speaking and leading feel like they’re right from the throne of God.

  7. Rhonda L Says:

    Thank you for sharing your career frustrations…….and the true blessings of them. You are helping me see the silver lining in my daily life every single day……your words, while I think are very therapeutic to you, are inspiring me to live fuller, laugh harder, parent more intentionally and LOVE EVERY DAY! Thank you for blessing me by sharing.

  8. Melissa Shelton Says:

    Oh so true, Jerel. When we face what we believe is an enormous frustration or obstacle, we can’t always see what God has in mind for us. And it’s difficult to be patient. Immediately after Dougie was born I lost my job. Doug had just started a business with a friend and we felt our life was blessed yet turned upside down. I was so wrapped in career frustration, as you call it, that it took me a long time to realize the gift God gave me – to be home with my family for their very young lives. Bella was only 15 months and Dougie was a newborn. We basically had no jobs. I remember talking with Susan about it one day in the yard, and sharing our families’ frustrations. She had such a positive outlook on it all. Obviously she had a better “vision” than we did at the time. After being at home with the kids for 18 months, I landed a very good job that allows me the flexibility to still focus on family. When one door closes… Thanks again for the blog. It is a blessing to so many people.

  9. Susan Walters Says:

    Susan has left behind a testimony that has changed my life. Knowing her and reading how she navigated this most difficult journey has made me desire to live more fully devoted to Christ. In the same way Jerel, your insight and devotion to her and to God’s provision in your life is a miraculous testimony in itself. If only you could really know the lives you have touched, the impact you have made, the difference the two of you have made for the kingdom across many, many miles! I wish it had not come at such great expense. Still praying for each of you, Susan

  10. Jill Angell Reynolds Says:

    I love being able to see God’s provision in hindsight after a very difficult or challenging time. It’s a reminder that He is always at work…which is especially helpful to recall during times when you wonder “why”? And I have been wondering that a lot lately.

  11. Charlotte Lennartz Says:

    I agree Jerel – you were given a gift – sometimes we never see God at work til later. Thank you so much for sharing.

  12. Lynn Marshall Says:

    Jerel your post of your career frustration reminds me how we often ask God for good things but He wants the Best things for us. How insightful that you are able to see that so soon. We are continuing to pray for your family.

  13. Joe and Jean Says:

    So happy for you that you have peace of mind and no regrets that you were “there” for Susan and your kids. Casts frustrations in a whole new light doesn’t it? Thanks for the insightful lesson!

  14. Chrisy Hatcher Says:

    This is very awesome to hear! God certainly knows so much better than we do what we need! I can very much relate to the “Career Frustration”. I would love for you and my husband to get together sometime!! We went through a very difficult situation at our last church, and we are now at a church that is not really the place we want to be. We have been in this place 4 years now though, and still not really sure why we are there! But, it is very encouraging reading your post that there are many unseen and unforseen things going on that we don’t realize! God has taught me so much about being content where we are at and learning to surrender all our hopes & dreams to Him. He has blessed us in many ways also at this church, and we know we have made a difference in some people’s lives, but we still haven’t had that “big” revelation of “Oh this is why we are here!” But, we don’t always have to our questions answered as you know, it’s just about trusting God and walking by faith. I hope we can talk more and get together with you!

  15. Adrienne Says:


    Thank you so much for this post. This really hit home. As you may or may not know I have been out of work since October 2008 and I have FINALLY had my first interview since then this week. It is for a job in Italy. Jim and I have been so confused as to the meaning of it all, the bottom line is that if the job/offer are good, I am going to have to take it. This means uprooting my family saying good bye to friends and family and it means Jim leaving school after 2 1/2 years of hard work. I can’t imagine all that we will have to say good-bye to for this to work, I have been questioning everything, How did we get here? Why would we work so hard to keep everything we have here just to have to give it up? I understand now, this past two years has been about getting to know my family again. Picking my son up from school him being home with me in the afternoon, and Jim being home a lot more because he wasn’t working and going to school full time. This gave our family time to get to know eachother again, because it seems like soon we will be relying on eachother more than ever before. Yes, we do have a small network of friends and family in Italy, but no one closer than an hour away. Plus, I don’t know how much we will be able to rely on them, but I realize that maybe God put this in place to prepare us for a time when we would be all we had. Thank you so much for keeping this blog going.

  16. Cheryl Says:

    I’m a few days behind Jerel but congratulations on the new book series . . . so happy for your and the children. Thank you for continuing to post on this beautiful blog. It helps to know how to pray for you and it’s wonderful to hear you excitement about the launch of your upcoming book.

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