Wait

Have you ever been given the answer, “Wait” from a person in authority or from God? It can be the hardest answer to receive. I am a person who likes to know what is going to happen. If there is anything that has negatively impacted my faith over the years, it is this fact. Recently, God has challenged me to lay before Him my anxiety and uncertainty and simply wait. If I can’t trust Him with my future days, how does it make sense that I could trust Him with my eternal salvation?

So many people have gone before us who have waited for the Lord and found Him to be good. In the Old Testament, people were waiting for the fulfillment of the promise of the One who would come and break the curse of sin and separation from God. They waited decades upon decades upon centuries! On top of this, they also waited for entrance into the Promised Land and then return to it when they were in exile. All of those periods of waiting must have tested their trust in God quite a bit! (And we see evidence of that in their repeated rebellion.)

Isaiah encouraged them, saying, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18). Israel still had quite a few more trials and many years to wait, but Isaiah was reminding the weary people that God would fulfill His promise.

Today we can see that God was going to fulfill His promise through Jesus later in history. They could not see that in the moment, though. Would it still be faith if we knew what would happen, and when? If God could orchestrate the restoration of His people from captivity and from hard hearts, the little life events and healing that I find myself waiting for are surely within His ability!

While the Israelites in the Old Testament looked forward to a Savior coming, that desire was finally fulfilled at the beginning of the New Testament. But Jesus promised to come back for those who believed in Him, so now we anticipate His coming again. There is certainly space to have hopes, dreams, and desires, but they are not our strongest desire. Our biggest hope and joy is for eternity to begin with Jesus!

Waiting in anticipation is a huge part of faith. I am coming to the conclusion that there will always be a part of my life where I desperately want God to move. There will be areas where a desire is going unmet. And of course, I will be waiting until Jesus comes back and eternity begins! Part of life is simply learning to enjoy what is now and lean into this tension of waiting.

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Looking Back on 2018

The key word for 2018 was brave. I thought I knew why that was the word of the year. Per usual, life has a way of throwing a few curve balls! If I could summarize the whole year, it would be this: I learned what grief feels like.

Grief is not usually spoken of in general conversation… at least in my family it wasn’t! That is too bad, because we all will deal with it in our lives and maybe if we knew what to expect, it wouldn’t be such a shocking surprise. It can be hard to talk about stuff that matters, like deep loss or disappointment. This year I shut down for a while because I thought my feelings were wrong. I hope to learn how to be more honest about where I am in the future.

2017 was a glamorous, practically perfect year and 2018 was sure to be less so. The comfortable place I had built was all but ripped away and I was left raw. I could tell I wasn’t pouring into people like before, but there was nothing I could do; there was no deep well of love to draw from. No one told me that is what grief felt like. It can be the fear of genuinely getting to know more people because only more rawness will emerge later. Or the fear that you will lose anything and everything you care about. It’s a lonely, miserable place to be.

I lost who I was this year and found her again. She was lost in a pit of dying dreams and grief. I found her by dear old friends being with me and reminding me who I was, new friends showing me a beautiful new way forward, and simply by opening a new chapter at Liberty University. I found professors and fellow students at LU who loved God, people, life, and school. It was a balm to my weary soul. I went to counseling for the first time in my life and discovered why we need them and why they go to school for so long! It was in that counseling room, not processing with friends and family, that I found the answers and healing I desperately needed. (By the grace of God!)

My brother got engaged and my best friend got both engaged and married in 2018! (Which made me a bridesmaid for the first time!) I made kind, fun new friends and went on plenty of adventures! I took my dream set of classes at LU in the fall, while also learning that I wanted to switch to a more practical and challenging/ fun major! The world of possiblity was opened before me in the uncertainty I found this year (though I didn’t always see it like that).

I learned what it means to live in the joy of the Lord. And I gained a greater understanding of myself and my values. And somewhere along the way, I gained a dose of self-confidence! There were times this year when I hated to my very core where I was in life. But I now have more empathy for others in crisis. I am so thankful for all the experiences I had this year and for what I learned about myself and my God through it all!

A Life of Worth

Tick tock

Tick tock

And a loud ringing of silence.

The older I get, the harder it seems to sit by myself in silence with Jesus. There is always something urgent that needs doing. And yet, as I sit listening to the clock, a familiar feeling comes to visit. It’s the feeling of being, not doing. It’s the feeling of wholeness, not fragilness.

When I took a year off in college because of poor health, this feeling became my constant companion. It was torture at first, but I learned to appreciate simply being and focusing on God, myself, and the select few people God placed in my life for that season.

In the go go go American culture, it can be hard to remember this verse:

“Only let each person live the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches” (1 Corinthians 7:17).

Each of us has a position that God has in mind for us. Will we take it or will we strive after more, or less? It will still take all of us to live the life the Lord has for us, but it will be God- honoring and rewarding. I believe this requires taking a good look at your gifts, passions, how God has placed you in life- and then ask Him for direction. To live the life Jesus has for you will be the most courageous thing you every do, even if it looks insignificant to an onlooker.

During those months spent at home that year off, I discovered that I was striving after success and not who God had created me to be. I discovered that I could do nothing for God and He would still love me emensely. I discovered what I found joy in and nurtured a passion deep in me.

I hope you slow down enough in the hustle and bustle of life to experience the peace of the silent moment and get to the core of who God created you to be and how He loves you. Then you will be better prepared to live.

So I encourage you to go, live righteously in your calling for the Lord! He will be your constant companion for the wild ride (even in the silence)!

A Big Future

Multiple months ago, the pain began. My hip muscles locked up and I found it hard to walk, bend down, lift weights. Then, I went out of town for a week, had a fantastic time, and it disappeared… until the last couple days of the trip, when I was painfully aware that I would be leaving soon. Later, I was enlightened to the fact that the pain and tight muscles in my hips were connected to my not wanting to move forward in life. It’s amazing how our bodies react to our concious and subconscious feelings! When I got back from that delightful trip, I decided it was time to start looking at the future as full of beautiful possibilities, instead of something to dread:

Here I sit, dreaming about what the future will hold. There are a bazillion options! Will I go into vocational ministry or do non-profit work, or will I work a fairly normal job? Which one of my passions will I pursue after college? Will I stay in my hometown or venture to move to a new city? Further, will I stay in America or move to another country? Will my college degree be used or will it just sit on a shelf, full of good memories, a goal accomplished? Will I stay in touch with my close friends no matter how much distance comes between us? Will I gain a community of God-lovers who I can rely on when life throws curve-balls at me? Will I stay single or get married? Will I trust God no matter what pain or disappointment or miracle or desire fulfilled comes my way? Will I take risks and love freely and enjoy the ride?

The future is a big place and all the choices can be either freeing or overwhelming. Mostly I am curious, right now. I’m ready to explore the world, even if that’s just my semi-small world right now. The hip pain has lessened much over the months, but still it lingers. I keep reminding myself that the future isn’t something I need to fear, and life is not something to begrudge. There is so much beauty and promise!

In less than a week, I’ll be sitting in new classrooms at a new school. Already the new experiences have begun to build up. I could call it going out of my comfort zone, but I’m choosing to call it an adventure. I get to attend college. I get to hang out with friends and have fun. I get to be productive and helpful. We all have choices in life: the basic one is with what attitude will we approach life with. From there we get to choose how we will spend our time. How are you answering those questions and embracing life?

All My Words

I’m only 23 years old. It is young, even though it can feel old at times. When I was in my early teens, I decided that the perfect time to start blogging would be my late thirties, or later. The reason was so that I would be able to share something tested and meaningful from real life experience. But the older I get, the more I realize: it’s all a journey and part of “arriving” is realizing you don’t know much and never will.

So here I am, ready to offer who I am, writing with all my words and what I have learned so far. The transition to adulthood has been characterized by much pain and loss and struggle, of one type or another. But I’m starting to accept these things as reality and move past them. It’s a process that I have wished was over many a time (and even now I wish for that)! It is a humbling process, but it sends me to the feet of Jesus and there’s nowhere else I would rather be! “The central message of Christ is that suffering and death bring resurrection and transformation” (Emotionally Healthy Spirituality). Embracing the hard, painful things that God leads me to and being thankful in the everyday trials are what I’m called to as a Christian.

I would love to be writing about this years from now, when I have learned these lessons fully. But that time will never come. There is always a new area that needs work; an area that requires me to wait and have faith and hope in Jesus. Living in the limbo of learning and being transformed must become my new normal. One thing I’m grateful for is that He isn’t done with me yet, though! He will eventually finish the good work He began in me and bring it to completion! This is what I have to share, with all my words, the words I’ve been given. This life has a lot of hard stuff in it and I do not intend to ever downplay that fact because God can use the struggle in incredible ways when we surrender to Him. But at the same time, I don’t want the hard seasons to determine how much I “give.” I want to keep pouring out through every age and every season. May you be encouraged to do the same! No matter where you are in life, you have something valuable to give to the people around you!

Emotional Wisdom

Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances.” — C.S. Lewis

Emotions play a significant role in our lives. They help us interpret the world, interact well with other people, and discern God’s leading in our lives. Over the past months, I’ve been learning a lot about my emotions. I feel other people’s emotions to an extent, which is called being an empath. This, along with the way God has wired me, allows me to connect with other people very quickly (instantaneously in some cases). So the past months have been a journey of distinguishing my emotions from other people’s emotions, learning to name each one I feel, and determining how to act on them. I am far from mastering the art, but I’m excited to learn more about this gift God has given me!

Each person you meet has been molded in deep ways they often do not understand by their parents’ way of approaching life. This includes the both good and the bad. By being aware of these things, we can understand why we make the decisions we do and begin taking steps out of bad habits. For example, on the negative side, I learned the attitudes of depression and anxiety. But I also gained the gift that I mentioned above, being able to connect readily with other people. God will use the things we inherit, but we must be aware of them so that they do not permanently handicap us instead.

Shutting down emotionally does no favors for anyone: the person who is shut down, nor the people around them. We are emotional beings and are made to feel and express. The emotional realm can be scary to enter, but it is one we must explore to know ourselves fully. And we must know ourselves to be able to truly know God and other people. When we can understand our emotions and moods, we are able to set them apart from God and how He feels about us; we can stop assigning the way we feel to God’s attitude toward us. The same goes for other people. Also, if we do not feel freedom to be ourselves, then we will not give the people around us the freedom to be themselves. And that is a travesty because God created each person to be uniquely special and to reflect Him in a way no one else can!

Emotions are not just helpful “tools”, but are a part of who we are as people. In being who God created us to be, we will feel and show emotion to an extent. That does not mean that our emotions control us, but they are a vital piece that allow us to live the life God has for us.

 

Adventure Awaits

The older I get, the more I learn about myself, life, and relationships, both with God and other people. I spent a lot of time this past week/ weekend with people who are at least a few years older than me and it taught me a lot. Most of them were Christians: living out a committed relationship with Jesus. They have let life and God teach them as the years have gone by. Watching them made me realize that some things can be only learned with the passage of time. And those are very possibly the most important lessons you can learn.

Place the Lord first in your life. Know God and make spending quality time with Him each day a priority. Read the Word and pray. Whenever there is a conflict between a commitment made with God and a worldly option, choose God. His way is better by far and everything is for Him at the end of the day. When this is done consistently over time, you will get to the point where one day you will look back on life and be amazed at how far you have come and how faithful the Lord has been!

Invest in the people around you. Life is about relationship with God first, and people second. The goal is to be good at communicating with, caring about, and encouraging those you come into contact with every day. Christians are to be known by their love for one another and everyone. To know and be known while offering and receiving acceptance is one of the most beautiful things in life. It is how we were made to function! Life is so much better when lived in community!

Take note of how you are wired. How do you respond when exposed to new situations? What are you naturally good at? What makes you feel alive? What drains you and what energizes you? Knowing these things will help you be more intentional about the life you choose. These things will help you understand how to create the best life rhythm for you. In the process of crafting the life you were made to live, you will thrive, be of great help to the Body, and ultimately bring God glory in all of those areas you choose to put time and energy into!

Enjoy the journey. Life has highs and lows, but when you let God shape you through them, each season and part of life is bringing you closer to who God created you to be. Let life play itself out and step toward what God is teaching you in the moment. Always engage. There will be times when your plans and goals crash and burn; you won’t always understand why something happens. Yet, the journey goes on. Joy and passion will return in a new way with time if you keep stepping forward.

God provides life and… everything! The Body of Christ is the family we are made to be connected and committed to as children of God. The journey may (and will) take unexpected and painful turns, but God is writing a beautiful story that points us and others to Him. My heart breaks just a little bit with the knowledge that I can’t live amongst the community I entered for the week; I know God has placed me elsewhere for now. His story is the best, so I will cherish the memories of refreshment, pray for my friends/ family who are hours away, and look forward to a future visit. In the meantime, I will be taking steps to live out in my hometown these lessons I learned in that short week.