Redeeming the Time in a Season of “Ugh”

I have found myself in a season of "Ugh"—"Ugh" meaning the sound that escapes your lips when your snowsuit-scarf-mitten-hat-covered child announces she has to use the restroom. Make no mistake, I'd rather be in a season of "Ugg," meaning furry leather boots imported from Australia, but unfortunately, "Ugh" is all I've got today.

In the course of our lives as women, we are bound to find ourselves in these unexpected and sometimes undesirable seasons now and then. Perhaps you didn't expect to be caring for your aging parents so soon or to be raising your grandchildren. Maybe it came as a surprise to you that staying home and raising kids would be so much . . . work!

I trust in my faithful God to enable me to redeem this time; He's never failed me yet.

Did you dream as a little girl about getting married and having babies, but you find yourself in your thirties and still single or single again after a broken marriage? Perhaps you're in college, the excitement of newfound freedom has worn off and you're just struggling to keep your grades up and maybe find one friend on campus who's a committed believer. Work, work, work; wait, wait, wait. Ugh.

The Bookkeeping Blues

My season of "Ugh" finds me, a few nights a week, in front of a computer screen. So what? You're a writer. That's great! Well, not exactly. As I've mentioned before, after an out-of-state move and owning two homes much longer than we expected, my family found ourselves in a bit of a predicament. This led to me accepting a part-time job outside of the home as a bookkeeper.

Don't get me wrong—I'm grateful for the position and for the opportunity to get "caught up." But frankly, in all of my "maybe I'll have a career someday" scenarios, I never envisioned myself a bookkeeper. Maybe a doctor like my dad, writing for a magazine, or even touring with Celtic Woman, but a modern-day Bob Cratchit? Nope, it never really entered my mind.

Most nights instead of cozying up to Quickbooks in my dark, empty office, I'd rather be curled up on the couch next to my hubby, or even (really!) at home doing dishes. My mind is at work, but my heart is at home. So what's a girl to do?

When faced with a season I'd rather not walk through, my normal response is this: Start wiggling, squirming, scheming even! My first thoughts are not, How can I glorify God in this season?, but, Is there any chance I could just . . . skip it?

I remember clearly having these thoughts when I was about eight months pregnant with our fourth child. "Wait!" I cried. "What are we thinking? I can't go through labor again? Oh no! There must be some way out of this!"

Of course, despite my best efforts, I found no other cure for end-stage pregnancy besides simply walking those next steps through labor and delivery. Now, in a new season of "Ugh," I don't want to just look for the escape hatch but to walk the next steps down this path in a way that would honor the Lord.

While We Wait: Four Steps Toward Growth

The key for my present walk, and perhaps for yours, is found in Ephesians 5:15-16:

"Making the best use of the time . . ." The King James Version translates this phrase as "redeeming the time." The definition of "redeem," according to the Oxford Dictionary, is "to gain or regain possession of (something) in exchange for payment." We redeem coupons. The Lord is in the process of taking a fallen world and redeeming it. We have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. While I wait for the Lord to bring about a new season in my life, I don't want to waste my time but to redeem it. Here are four steps we can take while we wait:

1. Evaluate the situation.

Looking back to Ephesians 5:15, I have to ask myself, Is my current situation wise? Is it the result of sin in my life, for which I need to repent? Is this clearly where the Lord means me to be right now?

In my case, I'm sure that there have been any number of foolish (sinful) financial mistakes in my past that have contributed to our present financial struggle. Our sin has consequences, to be sure. Your situation may be completely beyond your control or the result of someone else's sin. Whatever the case, we need to evaluate whether repentance is needed before we continue and whether the path we are presently on is one of wisdom.

2. Entreat the Lord.

Daniel 9:13 warns, "As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth."

We do not pray enough. I do not pray enough. In a season of "Ugh," we must pray for wisdom that we might use our situation to glorify God. We need to ask, Is this a situation where I can/should make a change? If the answer is yes, then we need to pray for the Lord to make clear the best timing and path for change. If our situation is not one that can be altered, i.e. caring for parents or young children, we must pray for endurance, that we would run well and press on toward the finish, unencumbered by sin and discouragement.

3. Employ tools to help redeem the time.

Most tasks that seem tedious or mundane can be readily turned into time spent "in the Word." Perhaps you can't have your Bible in your lap while you're bathing children (unless you have a spiffy waterproof Bible, like my brother. Did you know they make such a thing?), but you could spend the time singing praise songs or hymns with your kids.

Laundry folding, dishwashing, and, yes, even bookkeeping can be bolstered along while listening to a message online or perhaps catching up on the latest Revive Our Hearts podcast. One of my mentors used to redeem even the dreaded task of sock-matching by praying for each of her children as she folded whites. If we look for ways to redeem the time, God will be faithful to provide them.

4. Endure without squirming.

While I do pray that I can return to working from home sooner than later, I don't want to spend this season wiggling, squirming, and scheming. The Lord is using my "Ugh" to teach me many things that I clearly needed to learn. If I come out the other side of this situation with merely a few bills paid but nothing of eternal value, then, yes, I guess my time has been ill-spent. But I trust in my faithful God to enable me to redeem this time; He's never failed me yet.

Do you find yourself tempted to wiggle your way out of a season of "Ugh" right now? What are some steps you can take to begin to redeem the time? Feel free to share some tips with your sisters below. How do you turn the totally mundane into fantastically fruitful in your life? How will you spend your time for God's glory today?

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About the Author

Laura Elliott

Laura Elliott

Born and raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Laura Elliott now serves the Lord alongside her husband, Michael, five sons, and one daughter in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. Her passions include words, music, politics, cooking, and encouraging women to seek the God of Scripture in every season of life. Laura is a writer and vocalist, an occasional speaker, and the managing editor for Revive Our Hearts. In addition to the True Woman blog, Laura occasionally writes at shimmersome.com.

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