GIVEAWAY ALERT: You can win the book Tired of Trying by this week’s podcast guest. Keep reading to find out how!
What do you do when your faith doesn’t seem to be “working” anymore? You’ve said all the right things, done all the right things, and nothing seems to make it better. Perhaps you’re even tempted to give up on God because things haven’t turned out the way you expected.
Well, my friend, that’s when today’s guest, Ashley Morgan Jackson, invites us to wrestle with God and face Him in our greatest disappointments, pains, and unanswered questions.
Because within that wrestling, we can find rest. We’re moved from striving to “make it work” through formulas and performance to surrendering to the One who holds us together and redeems our heartache.
As we talk about Ashley’s book, Tired of Trying: How to Hold on to God When You’re Frustrated, Fed Up, and Feeling Forgotten, she’ll help you break out of the cycle of frustration and find the perspective, perseverance, and patience to let go. Because it’s in letting go that we realize God is actually holding us together and holding all the things that matter to us.
Ashley Morgan Jackson is an author, speaker, and social media expert. She works full-time for Proverbs 31 Ministries and has ministered to her own online community for over ten years. She is passionate about women learning to let go of the lie that they have to perform for God’s love and instead realize that they can receive His love, just as they are. Ashley is a wife of fourteen years to her wonderful husband, Daniel, and a mom to two growing boys. Her family lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. If you asked Ashley what her favorite thing to do is, she would say it’s laughing till it hurts!
[Listen to the podcast using the player above, or read the transcript below. Then check out the links below for more helpful resources.]
- You can win a copy of Ashley’s book, Tired of Trying. Hurry—we’re picking a random winner on January 18! Enter on Instagram here.
Books & Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- God is Just Not Fair: Finding Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense
- Lessons I Learned in the Dark: Steps to Walking by Faith, Not by Sight
More from Ashley Morgan Jackson
- Visit Ashley’s website
- Tired of Trying: How to Hold on to God When You’re Frustrated, Fed Up, and Feeling Forgotten
- Follow Ashley on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Related Blog Posts
- Can I Let Go of Hustle and Rest in God? With Christy Nockels [Episode 146]
- Can I Ditch the Myth of Control and Relax? With Tara Sun [Episode 259]
- Can I Let Go and Live Free? With Rebekah Lyons [Episode 184]
- Can I Loosen My Grip of Control? With Shannon Popkin [Episode 154]
- Can I Stop Trying to Fix It? [Episode 38]
- Can I Seek God More Than I Seek Control? With Angie Smith [Episode 13]
- Can I Let Go and Trust God? [Episode 82]
- Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to the 4:13 Podcast here.
- Were you encouraged by this podcast? Reviews help the 4:13 Podcast reach more women with the “I can” message. Click here to leave a review on iTunes.
4:13 Podcast: Can I Let Go When I’m Tired of Trying? With Ashley Morgan Jackson [Episode 280]
Ashley Jackson: I would say the first symptom that we can recognize is simply frustration and realizing that what has always worked, quote/unquote worked, is no longer working anymore. And I think a lot of us know that feeling well. And it's this space between where we know something needs to change, but we either don't have the strength or the knowledge or the ability to get ourself to that change, and so that really indicates really the Lord is trying to get us to see something maybe that we haven't really taken the time to look at quite yet.
Jennifer Rothschild: Sometimes God wants us to hold on to him so that we can let go of everything that is holding us back. That means sometimes we wrestle. And in it we can find rest. At least that is what today's guest, Ashley Morgan Jackson, learned and what she is going to teach us today. So get ready to identify lies, break out of the cycle of frustration, and find the perspective, perseverance, and patience that you need to let go. All right? All right, let's do it.
K.C. Wright: Welcome, welcome to the 4:13 Podcast, where practical encouragement and Biblical wisdom set you up to live the "I Can" life, because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
Now, welcome your host, Jennifer Rothschild.
Jennifer Rothschild: Hey, friends, that was K.C. We're so glad you're here. Our goal is to help you be and do more than you feel capable of as you're living the "I Can" life of Philippians 4:13. I hope this new year is off to a good start for you. I know that K.C. probably still has his Christmas tree up, even though I didn't ask.
K.C. Wright: Absolutely.
Jennifer Rothschild: Of course he does. But this is the time of the year, K.C., that you and I usually talk about --
K.C. Wright: Come on.
Jennifer Rothschild: -- the word of the year.
K.C. Wright: Yeah. So instead of making a list of all the resolutions, they say that never get accomplished --
Jennifer Rothschild: No, they don't. They just make you feel guilty.
K.C. Wright: Even though you and I are both goal setters and we go after it like fire.
Jennifer Rothschild: Right?
K.C. Wright: But they say what's best is just to pick a word for the year to frame your year. A theme, if you will, a banner that hangs over your head throughout the whole year. Last year my word was "joy."
Jennifer Rothschild: That fits you.
K.C. Wright: And I just refused to let anything steal my joy. I know it's your strength, it's your effectiveness --
Jennifer Rothschild: Wow.
K.C. Wright: -- and I lived out that word "joy" last year.
Jennifer Rothschild: All right, so do you have yours chosen?
K.C. Wright: Nothing. My word for the year is "nothing." No. I'm still praying about it. I don't have one yet.
Jennifer Rothschild: You know what, I'm glad to hear that, because me neither. And I remember one year, K.C., I picked -- my word of the year was "unshakable."
K.C. Wright: Ooh.
Jennifer Rothschild: And do you know that January was the first time I ever in my life had vertigo? So I was, like, really shaky. And then that was also the year my daddy passed away, so it was interesting that it was such a shaky year.
But I think now because of that, because I had the opposite kind of year when I had the "unshakable" word, this year I think I'm going to pick "chaos" and then it'll be a peaceful year.
K.C. Wright: Yeah.
Jennifer Rothschild: No. Seriously, I don't know. But there's so many things that I want to experience next year, like clarity. That was mine, by the way, last year.
K.C. Wright: Right, right.
Jennifer Rothschild: And I did get some good clarity. I still feel like that would be a good one this year, but I want to pick a different one. I just -- I don't know yet.
K.C. Wright: God will give it to us.
Jennifer Rothschild: That's right. That's right. And so, you know, 4:13ers, if you have a word for the year, I'd love to know it. Especially if you have not yet left us a review or a rating, that is an easy way for you to communicate with us, tell us how the podcast is blessing you, because what you're really doing is telling other people why they should listen, and it helps spread this message. You can be part of the encouragement. But also in that review, you can just say, hey, my word of the year is such and such. We want to know. It's our best way to communicate. And so leave a review if you have not yet. We would really appreciate it.
But also, if you've not thought about getting a word for the year, choose one. Pray about it. Because it really is a great way to kind of serve as guardrails and guideposts for your year.
K.C. Wright: I love that.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. I do too.
K.C. Wright: But I just love where we're at right now because everything seems so clean, crisp, fresh, and new. I love new stuff.
Jennifer Rothschild: Me too.
K.C. Wright: New shoes, new clothes, new linens, new furniture.
Jennifer Rothschild: It's so funny you said linens, 'cause that was the first thing I thought of. I love new sheets.
K.C. Wright: Me too.
Jennifer Rothschild: Of course we do.
K.C. Wright: I just did that.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. I'm telling you, there's something to it.
K.C. Wright: Yeah.
Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, my goodness. Okay. Well, today we're talking about -- and this could be new for you also. It's interesting the story that Ashley's going to tell, but also really the perspective she's going to share, because she's talking about can I let go? Can I let go? And, you know, the answer to that is going to be yes. And some of you are thinking, oh, no way, I can't let go. But sometimes it's in letting go that we realize that God is actually holding us and holding together all the things that matter to us.
So let's introduce our friend Ashley Jackson and hear what she's got to say.
K.C. Wright: Ashley Jackson is an author, speaker, and social media expert. She works full time for Proverbs 31 Ministries and has ministered to her own online community for over a decade now. She's passionate about women learning to let go of the lie that they have to perform for God's love, and instead realize that they can receive his love just as you are.
Ashley is a wife of 14 years to her wonderful husband, Daniel, and a mom to two growing boys. The family lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. And if you asked Ashley what her favorite thing to do is, she would say it is laughing until it hurts. Oh, my gosh. This is my kind of gal right here.
Jennifer Rothschild: I know.
K.C. Wright: I love to laugh. Here we go. Pull up a chair to this great conversation.
Jennifer Rothschild: All right, Ashley. Nobody writes a book called "Tired of Trying" unless that author has gotten to a point where she was tired of trying. So I'd love to hear this part of your story. Like, when did you get to this point where you just knew, okay, I can't do it anymore, I'm tired of trying?
Ashley Jackson: Yeah. So for me, it was basically kicked off when I had my first son, which I know everyone who has kids can understand feeling that tiredness for sure. But what I didn't realize at the time was that I had post-partum depression and anxiety, and I thought I was just a bad mother and I couldn't handle it and I had no idea that this was a part of what I was struggling with. And so what happened during that time was I realized -- I had grown up in the church, I had gone to a Christian school every single year of my education, so I had this background of God's Word and what it looked like to serve him and how our relationship had worked, like, I do this and then he does this.
Jennifer Rothschild: Right.
Ashley Jackson: And all of a sudden, I was in a season where that wasn't working for some reason. And I realized I wanted to perform for God. I wanted to have this be the strong server girl that I've always been, and in that moment all I had was brokenness. And it was in that time that I really learned what surrender and grace really was because I realized, wow, he actually loves me when I have nothing to offer him.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, when you have nothing to give.
You know, Ashley, I'm familiar with that story for different reasons. But for me, when I had a time when that happened in my life, I looked back and I realized, wow, what I thought was grace that was sustaining me was really just my drive and my performance. And then when that gave out, that's when I really began to realize, oh --
Ashley Jackson: Yes.
Jennifer Rothschild: -- there is something better. And that's what your book is about. And I'm grateful you shared it because, dude, we've all got our stuff. You know, yours may have been after a first child, mine may have been during menopause, but we've all got our stuff and it happens.
So let's kind of help each other out here, and I would love it if you would share with us what you believe some of the symptoms are. Like, what are the symptoms we might notice when we're just at that point, tired of trying, and what would happen when we ignore those symptoms?
Ashley Jackson: Yeah, so good. So I would say the first symptom that we can recognize is simply frustration and realizing that what has always worked, quote/unquote worked, is no longer working anymore. And I think a lot of us know that feeling well. And it's this space between where we know something needs to change, but we either don't have the strength or the knowledge or the ability to get ourself to that change. And so that really indicates really the Lord is trying to get us to see something maybe that we haven't really taken the time to look at quite yet. So that would be one.
And then the other one that immediately comes to mind for me is realizing that it feels hard and, of course, like when you're tired of trying. But I have this analogy with my son. And it's almost as if if we're honest, we know God is good and everything he does is good because he's perfect, but sometimes we have to stand and grieve with him over the things that he has chosen not to do. And when my son was a baby, I would rock him really hard. And he needed to go to sleep, I knew he needed to go to sleep, and he would look up at me and I would see tears forming in his eyes as he looked into my eyes thinking, why are you doing this to me? But in my mother heart, I know this is what is best for you. I know it doesn't feel like what is best for you, but I'm going to hold you close and I'm going to allow this because I know it's what's best.
And I think sometimes when we're in those seasons, when we're tired of trying, we just want to get out of it. I wanted to learn the lesson. What is the lesson, Lord, that you want me to learn so that I can learn it and get out of here? But instead, he just allowed me to stay in that for longer than I ever wanted to. But I felt that father love from him, that he was holding me tight and he's like, I know you don't understand why, but we're going to go through this together. So those are a couple, I think, symptoms we can look for.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, that's good. And what you're talking about, especially when you mentioned frustration, you're not talking about just a moment in time, like, you know, where you stubbed your toe kind of frustration. You're talking about this constant undertow of frustration and hard. And so what happens, Ashley, if we don't acknowledge those symptoms, like, if we just try to press on and move forward and, like you said, just want to get out of it?
Ashley Jackson: Yeah. I think that two things happen. One, we can go into even more performance mentality. And what I realized is that we say we have a relationship with God, but sometimes it's more of a business transaction. And I like to say, like, you mind your business, I'll mind mine, and don't cross those boundaries. But really, in any relationship of intimacy that we have in our lives, it absolutely demands honesty, and we can't actually trust someone that we are not honest with. And I think a lot of times in our relationship with God, we are trying to earn his love, perform for his love, like I was talking about earlier, but what we have to do is be honest. And I think if we are not honest with the grief that we carry because of X thing he's not doing, that resentment can actually build in our hearts towards him because we think, you could have done something, you chose not to do something, I don't understand why, and so I don't trust you anymore. And so without actually pressing in and realizing, okay, this is -- God is allowing this. What does he want to do in my life through this? Because maybe that's why a lot of people end up walking away from the faith, because they never ever want to deal with that hard place.
Jennifer Rothschild: I think that's so true. And so I would ask you then, what would you say to someone whose faith just doesn't seem like it's working anymore? What would you say to them?
Ashley Jackson: Yeah. I think the first thing that I would say is that -- like, I'm just saying we have to be honest about that. Take that to God. For me, I felt like, yeah, my usual praying -- I do prayer journaling, and I didn't feel like prayer journaling. And I wanted to read chapters and hours in God's Word, and realizing actually that God loved me even if I didn't do those things. I really had a hard time believing that. And I think a lot of us do. And so when our faith isn't working -- I tell a story in the book about the season where God -- I felt he asked me to receive from him. And what did that look like? Simply keeping my hands open in front of him and saying, "I need you." And that's a really hard thing to do when we are used to checking our boxes. And so I would say, you know, would you dare? If your faith feels weak and like it's not working, try receiving from the Lord without giving or trying to check a box. Because it almost feels wrong or bad to even do that. But if you're feeling like it's failing anyways, what is the harm in asking the Lord to give you what you do not have?
Jennifer Rothschild: That's really good. Counterintuitive is what you're describing. And also humbling. And when we humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, he does lift us up. That's a good word, Ashley.
So I'm curious -- as I hear part of your story, I'm curious if there was anyone in Scripture or in the Bible that you could relate to when it came to this kind of wrestling and pain that you were dealing with.
Ashley Jackson: Yes. In fact, it was Jacob who also wrestled with God. And as I dug into his story -- I mean, can you imagine God showing up to actually body slam you? I think this is, like, kind of an intense situation. And what I realized was that it was actually an answer to his prayer. He was also in a frustrating season. And if we know anything about the story of Jacob, you might know that his name even means "cheater" or "usurper," and that he had cheated his brother out of his birthright and all of these things that kind of labeled him. And now he's running away from his father-in-law and he's about to go face the brother that the last time he saw him was wanting to kill him. He's in this really, really hard spot and he's crying out to the Lord. And this was the response from God, to actually meet him in this wrestle.
And what I loved about it as I began to study it was that God not only wanted to just let this happen, this struggle happen -- and you cannot have a wrestle with someone without intimacy. Again, the body parts are right all over, and sweat, blood, who knows what's going on. But it's hard, it's intense. It lasted all night the verses say. And eventually God touches his hip and puts his hip out of socket. And he then realizes who he's wrestling with.
And I love Jacob's tenacity in those moments. He's like, oh, no, I am holding on until you bless me, because I know who I wrestle with now. And the blessing wasn't necessarily -- although he did end up having a lot of physical blessings. But he gives him a new name in that moment. He tells him, like, "You are going to be Israel." And I think the crazy thing is is that to this day, we use the name Israel as a country. That this had an impact for generations to come, this moment of wrestling. His choosing to hang on to God -- because he had been known as a cheater. But now he was going to be known -- Israel means to struggle with God and man and overcome. And so it's through these seasons of choosing to hang on to God that he actually shows us who he has created us to be.
Jennifer Rothschild: That's good, Ashley. And, yeah, how different Jacob's story and world history would be if he had not been willing to hold on. Can we all learn from that.
You know, you also write in your book that what tears us down is ultimately an opportunity for growth. Okay? And that reminds me a lot of Jacob's story. So tell us what you mean by that.
Ashley Jackson: I think what I mean is that we often think that the things that God wants to do in our lives are going to be the same things that we see in our society. We see success as more, bigger, more money. It's just bigger and better. But I think sometimes the real thing that the Lord wants to do is to change us from the inside out and to give us more on the inside, to change us and make us more like Christ. And I don't think all of that can really come without these moments of wrestling. And what I want everyone to realize as Christians -- you know, I feel like in some ways we're more connected than ever, but also at the same time more isolated because we only really see each other's best parts on social media. Not very many of us are talking about our meltdown on the kitchen floor sobbing, with no answers. You know?
Jennifer Rothschild: Right, right.
Ashley Jackson: And I think actually, though, to be a Christian, God and the Holy Spirit's job is to refine us in the refiner's fire. It says in John 15, you know, that if we remain in him and he remains in us, that we can ask whatever we wish. But also it says that we will be pruned. If you bear fruit, you're pruned. If you don't bear fruit, you're pruned. So either way, this is supposed to happen. And so when hard things happen in our lives -- because it does happen for all of us. It might look different, the pain might appear in different seasons, but it's going to happen, but it's always for us. It's not just he's letting it happen to us. There's something that he is trying to produce in us that can happen through no other way.
Jennifer Rothschild: You're right. And I love that you distinguish that it's not just to us, it's for us. But then look at what God is doing now in your life, Ashley. It is also through us. So there always is a purpose in that pain. And I'm curious, so you -- after the first child, you did understand eventually that it was postpartum and anxiety. In some ways then, that gave you an opportunity to wrestle with the struggle, with the pain, with the doubt, and then to be blessed, even though there was maybe some injury.
So now fast forward to where you are now. How are you walking in the blessings that came from that loss, from that difficulty, from all the questions and wrestling?
Ashley Jackson: I think that is the most beautiful part to me. Because to be fair, I still struggle. It's not as though there's -- you know, my life is perfect now, you know. But I think understanding this grace from God has helped me to face the next seasons of challenge in my life in a different way, realizing that he's constantly asking me to practice. That I love you, Ashley, even when you fail, even when you feel like you're a bad mom, even when -- all your shortcomings, like, I love you and I have grace so much for you, and really seeing the amazing opportunity, like you just said, to be able to pour back out.
Because during that season, it was coming to my mind where Jesus talks to Peter. And he says, Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you, all of you, as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you return -- not if you return -- when you return, strengthen your brothers. And that was, like, a promise I felt in my heart, is that, yes, I'm going to allow the sifting season in your life, and it's going to be really hard, but I'm praying for you that your faith will not fail, for the purpose of strengthening your brothers and sisters in Christ at some point in the future. And I think that goes for all of us. You know, no one has authority like the thing that you've been through, and everyone knows that you are marked by that limp once you've wrestled with God in that area.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yes. And that does give you a credibility because you're still walking.
Ashley Jackson: That's right.
Jennifer Rothschild: That's beautiful. And it's a good reminder to each of us. I'm thankful that you are honest about your story, and I think it's important that we all are because we are strengthened. And, you know, when you even shared that about Peter, the Scripture that you were quoting, I was thinking, Jesus never said, I've prayed for you that you will not fail. He prayed that Peter's faith would not fail, and we need to give ourselves the same grace that Jesus gives us. You know, grace to Ashley, grace to Jennifer, grace to every listener. We will fail, but our faith will not fail because it is sustained by something greater than our driver performance. It's God's grace.
So, Ashley, this is such good stuff, and I'm grateful we've got your book. Here's our last question for today. Okay?
Ashley Jackson: Okay.
Jennifer Rothschild: Somebody is listening and they're relating. And what I love is we all have different stories, but we can relate in the same ways with the same feelings. So somebody's really relating to this season of wrestling, the situation that they're wrestling with. So what would you say to that person who really -- they are in the thick of it, they are tired and they're tired of trying. And they are just tempted to give up on God because it's just not paying off in the way they expected. So what would you say to that person? What advice could you give them?
Ashley Jackson: Honestly, I know, first of all, exactly how that feels. And I had this almost mental picture of being beat up in the spirit in a way. It was like every time I tried to get up, it was like, get back down. And I felt as though I was sitting in my ashes.
And so I guess I would say what I felt the Lord told me during that time is that he was with me in my ashes. I always look to Isaiah 61. I really wanted the Lord to use me in the same way that he was called to help bind up the brokenhearted and to call those who were in darkness into the light and give a crown of beauty for ashes. And I was going to help people do that. And in those moments, he said, No, Ash, you're that person. You're the person that is in the ashes. You're the one that has the mourning. And I am not your Savior just once from hell, I'm your Savior every single day. I'm your Savior from this moment of you doubting yourself and doubting your faith. Just cry out to me to save you again.
And realizing that he loved me so much in that gross, broken place, that is what I would tell them, is that it is okay that you're there. He's with you in it. He's not tapping his toe impatiently waiting for you to get it together, he's not more in love with the future more holy version of you, he loves you now perfectly.
Jennifer Rothschild: Ashley is absolutely right. God does not love the future you more than he loves the right now messed-up need help and hope you.
K.C. Wright: Absolutely. You may feel like you're sitting in your ashes, but God is with you in your ashes. Those ashes will be a crown of beauty. And as she said, Jesus didn't just save you from sin; he saves you every day. He is your Savior every day from despair and doubt to hope. He will save you over and over and over.
Jennifer Rothschild: I love that.
K.C. Wright: So if you're tired of trying, I'm telling you, you need her book. And you don't even have to try hard to get one. All right? We're giving one away. Go to the Show Notes at 413podcast.com/280. And we're also giving one away. Simply go to -- here's how you get it -- Jennifer's Instagram. It's simply @JennRothchild to enter to win.
All right, we're done for now, which is sad. I don't want to leave you, but we've got things to do. You can always, like I do, just play this again. We hope you have a great rest of your week, and we'll be waiting for you right here in the closet next week. All right? We actually leave the closet.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, we do. We literally won't be here all week.
K.C. Wright: Right, right.
Jennifer Rothschild: But we'll be back next week.
K.C. Wright: Until then, remember, whatever you face, however you feel, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. I can.
Jennifer Rothschild: I can.
K.C. Wright: And --
Jennifer and K.C.: You can.
Jennifer Rothschild: Hey, you know what I started doing, K.C.? You said that earlier about getting new sheets?
K.C. Wright: Yeah.
Jennifer Rothschild: I have decided everything I replace now linen-wise is going to be white. I am so tired of having different colors in different rooms and getting them all confused. Everything's going to be white.
K.C. Wright: I'm with you. I did that. I love white.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, I do too.
K.C. Wright: It's clean, it's crisp.
Jennifer Rothschild: It is.
K.C. Wright: It's wow.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.
K.C. Wright: Yeah. Love it. Great decision.
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