Taking Advantage of the Trench Experience

Saturday, June 13th, 2020

Hey girls!  Real quick – Restore will be on-line this weekend (Saturday June 20th) and I’d love for you to join me for this one day event.  Especially if you haven’t been able to make it to an in-person workshop – this is a convenient option.  More details here.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago what felt like one of my more vulnerable posts and after I wrote the post, I honestly wondered if everyone would hide for cover.  Instead of hiding – you girls showed. up.  I love this community and I love that we can pour our hearts out to each other and know that we aren’t alone.  Thank you for making it safe for me as well to share.

I felt a weight lift off my shoulders after I wrote the post – almost as if all I really needed to do was dig a little deeper, be authentic and that in and of itself was what would help me feel like I was digging out of the trench.

Don’t let me confuse you – I am still in the trench.  And I might be here for a while.  It’s not that I’m setting up my house in the trench and starting to decorate (haha!) but rather that I know it’s going to be a marathon and there are things for God to show me while I am down here.

And that brings me to what I want to share with you today – the importance of when we are in the thick of it, when we are in the trench – that it’s important to take our experience and allow God to continue to work on us, heart and soul; and move us closer toward sanctification.  We need to take advantage (did I just say that?!) of our trench experience.


Let’s head back to the story of Joseph where in Chapter 40, we find Joseph still in prison (he had been a slave and in prison for approximately 11 years at this point).  He was put in charge of attending the cup bearer and baker (he had purpose!) and he noticed them looking sad one morning.

I am in awe that Joseph was clearly still holding onto hope at this point.  I say clearly because I think to have hope is to look outward and not inward.  To see more than ourselves.  Not only that but to keep getting up and doing what we can – to have purpose.  He put his faith and God and chose to believe at some point, he would be rescued.

Most of you know this story – so I won’t belabor it.  Fast forward to the end of Chapter 40 and we see that Joseph was forgotten.  Again.

“The chief cup bearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.” – Genesis 40:23

The next thing we read is – two full years had passed.  Two.  Joseph waited another two years.  Not only was he forgotten, but he waited, waited, waited.

I’m sorry but 13 years as a slave and in prison sounds like a really cruel punishment for doing something really really wrong.  I used to have this mindset – that if I was “good” – my life would be easy.  But if I made mistakes or poor choices – I deserved punishment.

Joseph’s story clearly shows us that none of us are immune from life’s hardships.  And in fact – it’s the hardships that have the potential to refine us and purify us and make us even more like Him.


So I have a question for you – what good is coming out of your trench experience?  Can you name one or two areas where God is refining you as you wait?

CS Lewis says that when we are in pain – that is when God speaks the loudest to us.  What is he saying to you?

Below are three areas of growth that I believe God is shining a light on for me to dig into deeper:

1 – To rely more heavily on Jesus’s power.  While I have been in the trench – I have found myself getting to the end of myself, again.  And what I have said in my head (and out loud) is this:  “Jesus help me.”  There is something in this posture that is new for me.  Truly recognizing at a deeper level my limitations and recognizing anew that I need Jesus’s strength and power to get through the day.  “Jesus, please help me.”  I am realizing I haven’t relied on His strength and power as much as is possible.

2 – This one is never fun for me – but God has revealed to me just in the last weeks that there isn’t just one but there are two people that I need to forgive.  Eww.  Being in the trench has actually allowed me to recognize some bitter weeds growing and I know it’s for my good to allow Jesus to pull those weeds out.  Have I made my big yes of forgiveness yet?  No.  But I am working the process (similar to what I share in Rescued) and know there is work for me to do here.

3 – Boundary work.  This actually goes along with the forgiveness work (as we separate in healthy way from others (boundaries) we are more readily able to forgive).  But I am also realizing at a deeper level how important it is for me to recognize my limits, use my voice and be clear about what I am okay with and not okay with.  In addition, I am realizing (just yesterday in fact) that I have some false beliefs about boundaries to dig into a little more.  In short – that I’ve judged people (in my head) for having strong boundaries because I’ve operated with the MO that it’s best to be accommodating and bend over backwards in order to salvage the relationship.  I clearly have some more work to do here.

What about for you – where do you see God working in you and through you this season?  I don’t want us to miss what God is trying to teach us in this trench experience.

As always – I would love to hear from you.  Yáll teach me so much and keep me going.  Know that your voice and your words matter.

xo – Shelley

photo credits here and here

5 thoughts on “Taking Advantage of the Trench Experience

  1. D

    June 14, 2020  |  01:24 pm

    Thank you Shelley! Reading this has been a deep breath of refreshing truth.

    God has been teaching me about compassion and forgiveness. For me it has been like a cave in. There is a huge pile of stones trapping me in a dark place. Some stones are small and easy to move out of the way. Others are large and only move after multiple attempts with various tools and strategies. Some are so large they require help from others. I can’t move any of them without God who has been there in the dark place with me the entire time. Recently I have seen small amounts of sunlight streaming through. I feel hopeful that full forgiveness is possible and within reach. I keep working to move those stones.

  2. Tracy Binder

    June 14, 2020  |  03:46 pm

    You nailed it! Interruption or invitation!!! How do we look at our hardships or being in the trench. Super convicting and right where God wants us!!!! We have such an opportunity to transform and be molded. Thank you!!

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 27, 2020  |  03:05 pm

      Tracy – Thank you for your words and love what you said – interruption or invitation. You are pretty good with alliteration! xoxo – Shelley

  3. Therese

    June 14, 2020  |  06:50 pm

    Thank you…
    You give me hope and words to think about.
    You are appreciated!

    • Shelley Martinkus

      June 27, 2020  |  03:04 pm

      Thank you Therese! Grateful to have you here! xo – Shelley

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