Real

“Oh craaaap, why did I just say that?”

“Is it seriously that late? I’ve gotten nothing done!”

“Please tell me I took my phone out of my pocket. Please tell me it’s not in the wash…”

Let’s be honest. These aren’t exactly phrases you’d typically utter on your average Instagram post or blog. They’re not the kind of thoughts you want to tell the whole blogosphere. As humans, we typically don’t stand on street corners with a megaphone yelling “Hey—guess what?! I’m a hot mess!”

But this is the stuff of real life, isn’t it? They’re the kind of thoughts we think in our everyday real-as-can-be-lives. They’re the kind of things we vent to our best friend about, but not the whole world. And they’re sure-as-heck not the moments we put in a scrapbook to remember ten years from now. They’re messy. They’re embarrassing. They’re the kind of moments you’d find on AFV.

A few weeks back, one of my good friends and I were taking note of this. She noted how on social media, our lives look perfect even if our real lives are falling apart. We post about the relationship but not the breakup. We post about the success but not the failure. We post about the final product but not the hours dying with a glue gun ready to call it quits. We like things photoshopped and auto-tuned. We like things to be perfect.

Now, to be clear, this is not a urge to post your entire life online. Many of us are private people would prefer to keep things between just a few close friends. That’s perfectly fine. Normal even. Nonetheless, there is one person who we should never keep our most embarrassing and painful blooper moments from.

God.

Unfortunately, this can often be far too easy to do. For many of us, being real with God can feel vulnerable or even downright scary. We worry whether we sound church-y enough. Whether we have the “right” kind of problems (as if there are any). We worry God will end up face palming and shaking His head as we give our whole laundry list of all the things stressing us out. But the truth? God already knows.

God knows about that dream you’re worried will never come to be. God knows you’re worried about schoolwork and grades and getting into a good college. God knows about that guy that’s been on your mind more than you care to admit. If you’re older, he knows about your marriage, your finances, and your children. He knows us at our high points and He knows us just as well at our lows.

If you look to the Psalms, it’s clear that David, who was “A man after God’s own heart”, was brutally honest with God. He showed a full range of emotion—from praise, to frustration, to sadness, to anger, to joy. Psalm 69 is a perfect example of King David’s honesty, as it reads…

Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help my throat is parched. My eyes fail,
looking for my God. Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal.” Psalm 69:1-4

Throughout Scriptures, those with the strongest faith were the ones who were the most real with God, as Paul laments “doing what he does not want to do and not doing what he should do” (Romans 7:15) and Thomas outright asked Jesus for evidence of His Resurrection (John 20:25).

There’s nothing that we can ask or express to Gd that He doesn’t already know.

He is always someone we can feel safe to be real with—even with our most un-instagram worthy moments.🙂Unknown-1

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God Likes Us

Every once and a while, we stumble upon something that jolts us in a way that we didn’t expect.

For me, this happened recently, at my local Publix.

Like on many occasions, as we were checking out, my eyes wandered off to the magazine section, and even though I know most of the stuff over there’s complete trash (not to mention gossip), there’s always a weird impulsion to see what’s going on in good ole’ Hollywood. And, as I looked in the magazine area, I caught a quote by William Paul Young that caught my attention on a religious themed magazine: Not only does God love us, He likes us too!

For those of you who don’t know, William Paul Young is the increasingly popular author of The Shack, and whatever you think about The Shack, you have to admit, that’s a pretty insightful quote. And tonight, as I lay awake dealing with a particularly stressful OCD episode, I’m reminded of that quote.

I can’t speak for everyone, since I am only one person, but for me, this is too often an easy thing to forget. I know God loves me, as well as every other person in the world He created. And as a devout youth group attendee in my early teen years, I know literally every lyric from David Crowder Band’s ever-popular song “How He Loves” (“Ohhhhhh how he loves us oh, oh how He loves us…how He loves us oh!” Sorry, I had to do that). Nonetheless, while I know that there’s nothing we can do to earn God’s love, I often fall into the trap of believing there’s something I have to do (or not do) or say (or not say) or a way I have to act (or not act) to earn God’s “like“.

I’ve been a perfectionist pretty much since childhood, so I’m sure that plays into it. I have always strived for the best grades, to earn all of my teachers’ approval, and be the perfect Christian girl who has it all together (even when on the inside I know I’m not and I know I most certainly don’t). When I fall short it’s often an extremely aggravating experience for me and I tend to be far more dramatic about it than I should. I suppose in the back of my mind somewhere, I struggle with this false illusion (or delusion) that I can somehow be good enough and earn enough brownie points to earn God’s like. And as much as the Bible, churches, and evangelical culture tell me otherwise, old habits can be hard to break. Furthermore, this delusion can get all the more frustrating during an OCD episode, when my thoughts seem to be running in every sort of crazy direction with no control on my part—and I end up asking God for forgiveness 15 billion times for some frightening heretical thought or another.

As an OCD struggler, the lyrics to an old Anthem Lights song often ring so true for me.

Before I even know it I’m right back at the start. I’m doing what I hate and breaking my own heart“.

I think each one of us struggles with something. For me it’s OCD and perfectionism. For you, it may be something different. Maybe for you, it’s a struggle with an eating disorder, or a battle with depression. Maybe it’s self harm, or a temptation of some sort. Or maybe you don’t fit the mold of what you think a Christian should look like, and feel people judge you for it. I don’t know what your personal struggle is, or what difficulties you face, but I do know that even if your battle looks different than mine, the core feelings are often the same. Too often, faith can become a marathon instead of a resting place.

Nonetheless, in the midst of all of our our stress and failures and anxiety—God still likes us, delights in us even. Psalm 139:13 says

“For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth…”

God knows every inch of our personalities, our pasts, and our scars. He knows about our doubts and questions. He knows about our favorite foods and why our favorite movies touched us so. He knows about that time that hurt like nothing else could. And yet He rejoices in saying that “This is my Creation, this is my son or daughter. There is no one else like them.”

Not only does God loves us, He likes us too!

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What Are You Chasing?

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” – Mark 8:36 

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What are you chasing? The answer to this question is different for everyone. For some, it may be a better job, or any job at all. For others, it may a relationship—either romantic or platonic. Still for others, it may be a dream or goal you have yet to achieve.

What are you chasing? 

The truth is, we’re all chasing something. The thing that we’re chasing is often the thing that we tend to obsess the most over—the thing that takes up our thought space in our free moments. It is often accompanied by thoughts such as “I’ll be happy when…” or “This will be my moment…No one is immune to this chase, because deep down inside, something tells us that we were born for it—we were born to pursue. We weren’t meant to stay stagnant. 

This pursuit is not a bad thing, but it can become a bad thing when focus more on the things of this world than the things of God. It can be such an easy trap to fall into that most of us don’t even realize we’re doing it. Truth be told, I struggle with this on a nearly daily basis. I’ve written in previous posts that I struggle in a big way with OCD and perfectionism and often those tend to be the driving forces in my chase.

I’ll analyze something that I’ve completed over and over again to the point of insanity. I’ll make a long and detailed bucket list that I absolutely must complete before I die. I’ll set up grand, exciting goals for myself and worry whether they’ll ever actually happen at all.

Again, I’ll clarify, having dreams is not a bad thing. Desiring to be in a relationship or have a family is not bad. Hoping to get a good position at a job is not bad. They only become bad when they take the place that only Jesus should have and become an idol. God wants to give you the desires of your heart, but first He wants to become the desire of your heart. Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” We are called to seek God before we seek anything else we desire.

Here are some points to remember as we go throughout our week and strive to put God first.

  1. It’s not about you – Recently, God has convicted me that I have unintentionally made my aspirations about me. The ironic part about all of this is, many of my goals pertain to ministry—things that are supposed to further His kingdom and reach people for Christ.  Nonetheless, I’ve somehow managed to turn these callings into what ‘I’m’ going to do.’ I’m’ going to change the world. ‘I’m’ was going to leave my mark. I’ve made God’s callings about me rather than God, and I repent of that. Sometimes, we can make ministry and outreach the focus, rather than an outpouring of the One who should be our focus.
  2. Everything but Christ will someday fade – Moments don’t last forever. Someday, that goal that you’re working so hard for will only be a past memory. Someday, that wedding day celebration that you’re planning on Pinterest will only be a photo in an album. Someday, that glamorous job will loose some of that excitement it once had. The only thing we can chase that will never fade away is Christ, Who is outside of space and time. 
  3. Let Go And Let God – I know, this saying is beyond cliche—but it’s true. In the words of a recent Jason Gray song “You can’t add a single day by worrying…You can’t change a single thing by freaking out, It’s just gonna close you in, Oh don’t let the trouble win.God is going to do things in His timing, which is often different than our timing. There have been many times in my own life where I’ve wanted something to happen right. this. instant. Usually, in those situations, God tells me to wait. I’ve found that when I listen, and wait on His timing, it’s always for the best.

How about you? What are some things you’ve been chasing? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories in the comments section! 

 

 

When Questions Consume

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” ― Voltaire

I’m a questioner—I have been since I was a child. I was one of those excessively curious kids who would ask questions about everything. “Why is the sky blue?” “Why is the grass green” “Why do birds fly but people can’t?” Not sure whether these were ever my exact questions but you get the picture. Obviously I’ve out grown those questions, but in there place are more complicated ones—ones that can’t get immediate answers.

Some of my questions are about theology. I’m kind of a Bible geek and stuff that intersects theology with the lives of human beings fascinates me. I regularly read magazines like RELEVANT and Christianity Today and have spent heaps of time researching random current issues in relation to the Bible. The only problem is that sometimes I end up with more questions than answers. The Bible covers most topics, but what about the ones that it doesn’t address or is unclear about? What do we do then?

Other questions are more immediate—questions about my own life and future. Will I be able to find a job? Will I be able to break into the writing industry? Will I fulfill all of my dreams? Will I end up lonely? Will I have a roommate? If so, than who? These questions can be simply maddening at times! As someone who is kind of obsessed with fiction, I find myself watching movies, TV shows, and reading books to try to get an accurate picture of adult life6356388427610595271282450916_969748_10103227871636285_1801255318_n-1.jpg
Here’s what I’ve found over the years—questions aren’t bad! Questioning something about your faith doesn’t mean you’ve lost it. Questioning something about the future doesn’t mean you don’t have faith. You want to know what it means? It means you’re human! Congratulations on surviving as an earthing! You have a pulse!

All jokes aside, God wants you to bring all of that before Him. Matthew 11: 28 says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I think sometimes it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking we have to have it all together before we come to Jesus. I’ll be honest, if that was the truth than I’d be in trouble—because I don’t have it together! I’m just one young college student trying to figure out this rapidly spinning world. And, if you’re experience is anything like mine, you probably also don’t have everything together. You probably have doubts and questions of your own, and that’s OK!

The key is to be honest—with God and with each other. God gave us family and friends for a reason! It’s OK to open up sometimes—in doing so we become a bit more human and a bit more connected. We weren’t meant to keep everything inside and try to look perfect—we were meant to be real! Real messy, real transparent, and real people!

We may not be perfect, but God is! We may not have it all together, but God does! And, He’s big enough to handle any questions, doubts or fears that we have.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.” Hebrews 1:3-4

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Living In The Quiet

Hi everyone, sorry for the longtime hiatus. Things have kind of been a little crazy for me lately with post-grad drama and working on a book that I hope to publish, but I’m going to try to be more faithful with my blog in the future. In short, it feels good to be back. 😊

. . .

I’ll be honest, I’m an extravert. I’m not necessarily a loud or overly-out-there-extravert, but I’m an extravert nonetheless. To many, I would probably look more like an introvert, due to the fact that I prefer someone else to lead the conversation, but get energized around people, qualifying me for that title.

That being said, I love being around people and hearing the joys-and-noises of life; silence is basic my worst enemy. I typically have music playing, a book in hand, or a TV show on. Sometimes I even do a couple of those things at once.

Yes, I’m a millennial.

I enjoy stimuli, and I believe that in some ways, this tends to bleed into my life. As an author at heart, I tend to long for grand moments, the kind that you wait for at the end of a novel. I’ve had a couple of those types of moments this year, but as the year has closed, and summer has crept upon me, I’ve kind of found myself going crazy, battling more OCD than usual.

But, I believe God is trying to teach me something in the midst of it; He’s teaching me how to live in the calm, live in the ordinary. The crazy thing about life, is that it keeps going. Movies close with credits and maybe outtakes, but life continues, making it unparalleled to most forms of media. Furthermore, while we might easily find songs about self-discovery, changing the world, or finding love, we rarely lyrics about eating a sandwich or emptying the dishwasher. Recently, I read a book called Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman, which really resented with this part of me. She does a beautiful job at tackling the challenge of living in the silence, and one quote stands out in particular.

“What gives moments meaning is not the moments themselves but the presence of Christ with us in the midst of them.”

God is alive in every moment.

Not just the mountain tops.

Not just the bucket list items.

Not just the walking-on-sunshine-moments.

Each and every moment of life.

God is alive in the most unusual, hilarious conversations with your friend. God is alive as you brush your teeth in the morning. God is alive in the moments of concentration, trying to find the perfect sentence for that novel or essay.

God is alive in the silence as much as He’s alive in the excitement. This is something that I’m still learning, but I’m believing it more with each sentence that I type. God is still God, from the peaks of Mount Sinai to the lights of New York City to the calm of a small town. He’s working in your life even during the times that feel most silent. God is too sovereign to confine Himself only to big moments. He is alive both the noise and the silence, wherever you find yourself right now.

God is here. In your life. In mine. In each and every moment that we breathe.

And because of this, we can find peace when living in the quiet. Because whether our current life situation feels big or small, God is bigger than it all.❤️