Life is filled with sanctifying tensions. Sin meets grace. Obstacles spark growth. Pain yields to joy. There are dark periods where we cry, often followed by light moments where we laugh.
But sometimes we get stuck.
When we’re stuck, we stay on the dark side, unable to reach the light. Sin feels undefeated. Obstacles don’t give way. Suffering persists.
Often we aren’t in a state of crisis or chaos.
We just feel stuck.
Life is just not what it could be. We aren’t moving forward. Everything feels like it is on hold.
And if we were honest with ourselves, it’s like being a frog in water slowly, slowly rising in temperature. There’s nothing really wrong – but we know if we stay where we are, we’re in hot water filled with regret and dissatisfaction.
Have you felt this way? Maybe you feel that way right now.
Since a breakthrough can mean different things to different people, the first step is identifying whether or not you actually need a breakthrough.
These are seven big categories of “stuck”. If you find yourself in one or more of them, you need a breakthrough.
Identify the Signs of Being Stuck
If you are feeling stuck right now, you probably want to jump immediately to what the breakthrough solution may be.
However, it actually might be more important to understand your current state than trying to escape it. After all, being stuck doesn’t put you in sudden, impending danger. It’s usually a condition that has been brewing at a low-simmer for a period of time – one worthy of grasping.
Do you relate to any of these seven symptoms below?
- Strong Armed
The above are different ways of being stuck. Naming the feeling or nuances that you resonate with can help you understand how to engage with God to experience breakthrough.
Sliding describes making one positive step forward but backsliding another two.
Stalled is feeling as if you are just waiting on something, but you don’t know what. Life is in a holding pattern.
Stalemated is feeling you have run out of options. Or each option you think you have is immediately blocked or leads to a bad outcome.
Strong Armed is a state of feeling forced or intentionally limited by someone else.
Surrendered describes your own feelings about the situation where you have given up as not changeable.
Surrounded is a lack of options, with hostiles all around without help in sight.
Suffocated is the lack of air to breathe, literally, the lack of inspiration.
Seven signs of stuck. Don’t gloss over this. Name the specifics of your situation so you can move on.
Which of the seven symptoms best describe you when you feel stuck?
Explore Possible Reasons for Being Stuck
When people desire breakthrough, it is typically because they have one or more of the seven symptoms of “stuck.”
Now we will explore possible causes of that “stuck” feeling: things we do or thoughts we think that lead us to the place called “stuck.”
Because we feel like we are going nowhere, these causes are Dead End Drivers. There’s some behavior that is driving us into these dead ends. Whether we are aware of these behaviors or patterns, they are like tiny misguided engines that have taken us down the path to where we are now. Our wheels are just turning and the engine keeps revving along.
Here are a few common Dead End Drivers:
- Determination (being overdetermined)
- Deceit (self-deceit)
- Doing (too much)
All of them stem from a life that puts ourselves above God.
Determination is normally good when meant as perseverance. But when someone is “overdetermined,” they are prone to blockage. Have you ever insisted on your way, your outcome, even when it runs counter to God’s priorities and commands? That overdetermination can lead being stuck and a need for breakthrough.
Despair is believing your situation is greater than God’s sovereignty. It means to disobey his call for us to have hope and joy and to lose sight of God’s truth for us.
Deceit refers to the self-deception that springs from our own heart.
Denial is remaining oblivious to a problem by denying there is a problem.
Deification means elevating a goal, outcome, or person above God.
Doing too much – busyness for its own sake or because of poor priorities – can leave you stuck in one place. And exhausted, too.
Doubt is being uncertain, maybe fearful, of a next step, decision, or of God, himself.
The list of stumbling blocks isn’t exhaustive.
Each of these need an examination of your own heart. This step of examination can hopefully lead to revelation into how we may be creating our own state of stuck.
It is then that we can experience God’s breakthrough.
Which of the Dead End Drivers might be operating in your life?
Here are some steps you can take once you have identified the blockers in your life.
Consider a Change
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. – Proverbs 16:9
What does it take to get Unstuck?
When we feel stuck we often need to take some action that will lead to the breakthrough. The action we are searching for is the catalyst.
What we really want is not the catalyst, but what a catalyst brings: change.
Change. Isn’t that what we ultimately seek when we are searching for a breakthrough?
Doing the same things we did that led us to become stuck will unlikely lead to breakthrough. It will likely lead to more of the same.
Some kind of change, even if seemingly small and imperceptible, must happen.
That agent for change, the spark, the push is a catalyst.
Here are five Catalysts for Change that can lead to breakthrough:
When we allow these catalysts into our lives, we can unblock ourselves and better see God’s guidance leading to breakthrough change.
Conviction reveals an error, a sin, a rebellion in our life. It’s often required to begin the process of experiencing God’s breakthrough.
Clarity comes from removing the distractions, getting clear on God’s priorities, eliminating bad influences or advice, getting the right perspective.
Choice is the actual act of making a decision. It involves intentionally moving forward with a person, a path, a commitment.
Cutting means removing a habit, a temptation, a relationship, or a desire from our life and thoughts.
Caring means digging into what really matters, peeling back the masks and numbness, actually coming face to face with your feelings and vulnerabilities.
Calm is often the precursor to clarity and comes from separating from the noise or being still in God’s presence.
Courage is the heart and strength to move forward and embrace what God wants to bring into your life.
All of these catalysts can be drawn from God’s written word. Not from our own fleeting and deceptive emotions, but from the firm foundation of God’s truth and faithfulness.
No matter what the ‘stuck’ situation you are in, God has gone before you. You can and you will get through this!