Enneagram Series: My Story As An Enneagram One

Hey fam!! I am officially starting a new blogging series on the Enneagram. I know a lot of Christians who are interested in this particular personality test and its intersection with personal growth and our faith journey, so I am doing this series to highlight the journeys of various individuals with various personality types. I pray that this series serves as a testimony to God’s goodness and the ways that the Lord has helped us overcome struggles in our lives. 

Note: Personalities tests do not define us, but they do help us to better understand ourselves and those around us. For example, if a person claims to be an introvert it gives us the understanding that they need time alone to re-energize. This does not handicap them from socializing; it merely tells us about an important facet of their personality and the way that they were created and designed. The same goes for the Enneagram. 

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Most of us can remember at least bits and pieces from our childhood days. The days when we were young, and still trying to find our place in this world. The times that molded us and shaped us. The fragments of our personality that bled into our adult-selves. In many ways, our younger selves give us a glimpse into the person we are becoming. And I know that for me personally, I can see this principle at play in my own life, looking back on my younger, childhood self. 

I can still remember times as a kid when I’d literally go to tears when I missed a word on a spelling test, to the absolute befuddlement of my parents, who thought I did fine. I also remember times when I, for the sheer enjoyment of it, lined up my crayons in perfect rainbow order (descending from red to purple) and feeling a sense of satisfaction in my accomplishment. In my young, childhood brain, there was a right way of doing pretty much everything—including arranging crayons.

This tendency, though eventually taking a more mature form, eventually found itself re-emerging throughout my teenage years. 

I can remember putting pressure on myself with nearly every task that I took on. In my schoolwork, I strived to make straight A’s. In my writing, I wanted every sentence to sound perfect—regardless of whether anyone actually ever saw it or not. When I was on the yearbook team, I wanted my pictures to be lined up just-so. And when I had chances to sing on stage, act in a play, or give a speech, I practiced nearly to the point of insanity.

In some ways, this perfectionist-streak likely protected me from a lot of pain, heartache, and regrets. I never smoked. I never drank. I never had any regrets when it came to my interactions with the opposite sex. However, it was also easy for me to fall into other sins and issues that were less public and easier to hide, such as pride and self reliance. After all, grace was for the people who sinned ‘big’. For drug addictions and teen pregnancies. Not for the Christian ‘church girl’ who spends her free time swimming in the ocean of words.* Somewhere in my subconscious, I felt that if I could just put my all into everything I did and avoid making mistakes, I could find approval from God and others and avoid the pain that comes from falling short. But little by little, God began to show me the gaping cracks in my try-hard ways.

I began to see how even in small ways, I too often fall short of my own standards—and wear myself out in the process of trying to achieve perfection. But I also began to see that God’s love truly is big enough to cover me completely. And I began to realize just how unfailing and unchanging His love really is. 

I began to really see on a heart level (beyond head knowledge) that God doesn’t love us any more if we’re ‘good’ and He doesn’t love us any less when we fall short. I began to realize that when God looks down He sees me in all of my shortcomings and imperfections and still sees me as someone worth dying for. I began to see that as I stand before God, and as I pour out my heart to Him I don’t have to be the smart one, the good one, or the responsible one, but that instead, I can just be me. The real me, not the me that an overly critical ‘inner voice’* tells me I have to be in order to survive this thing called life.

In the words of an old song by Laura Story, “I can be scattered, frail and shattered, Lord I need You now to be, be my God, so I can just be me.”

I also, through this process learned what it means to see the lost and the broken and the prodigal as people not-so-unlike-me. To recognize that life is more than just a list of rules, and that God’s love goes deeper than the differences that exist between us. And to see the potential in people that too often, the church and society have written off. To see God’s fingerprints on each and every person that crosses my path.

Today, as a twenty-one-year-old college junior, I realize I am no longer the same perfectionistic, stressed-out girl that I was when I was younger. Sure, I still sometimes struggle with perfectionism. And yes, I do still sometimes put pressure on myself. But no longer do I see myself as the sum total of my grades, accomplishments, and high standards. Instead, I have learned to recognize myself as a child of God who does not need to be perfect to be loved by God and the people around me. And this, has made all the difference.

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“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matthew 11:28-30 (TPT). 

*Translation: The girl who’s low-key obsessed/addicted to books.

*Inner Voice definition – a term in Enneagram language used to describe that voice inside of you that constantly tells you to be better and reprimands you when you do something wrong. Enneagram Ones have an extremely loud ‘inner voice’.

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If you know your Enneagram number, and would like to contribute a post for this series, please contact me at courtneymwhitaker@gmail.com or shoot me a DM @authorcourtney1 on Instagram. I can’t wait to hear your stories!

Only Human

A couple of years ago, a song came out by the popular singer Christina Perri called Human. I found this song through a group of friends, when we were sitting around talking one day. Someone pulled out their iPhone and pulled it up and that was my first introduction to it. The lyrics were fairly simple, but in many ways relatable.

The chorus goes, “But I’m only human and I bleed when I fall down. I’m only human, and I crash and I break down. Your words in my head, knives in my heart, you build me up and then I fall apart, ‘Cause I’m only human…If we’re honest, this song is relatable for a lot of us. We try our best, but still watch ourselves fall time and time again in one area or another.

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We try to defeat anxiety, but find ourselves battling it time and time again. 

We try to control our temper, but find it coming out in the worst way at the worst time. 

We try to get rid of lust, but still find ourselves battling ungodly thoughts on an all-too-regular basis. 

We try to overcome an addiction, habitual sin, or unhealthy habit and find ourselves coming back to it time and time again, each time getting more frustrated than before. 

Believe it or not, the apostle Paul, who wrote half the New Testament, struggled with the exact same thing. He writes, in Romans 7:15-20 (NIV);

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

There are a couple of things that we can pull from this passage as Christians. The first, is that struggling is not an indication that a person is weak in their faith. After Paul came to Christ, he was one of the most on-fire Christians you could ever hope to know. He traveled around the world sharing the Gospel—in the face of danger and persecution. He started church plants and continued to shepherd the churches that he started through letters throughout his travels. If anyone was committed to their faith, it was the Apostle Paul. However, in spite of this Paul still battled with sin and the effects of sin just the same as each one of us. 

Second, we are not alone in our struggles today. I believe that one of the biggest lies that the Enemy tells us is that we are the only one battling with sin and struggles. Too many times, the Enemy will have us look across the aisles at church and tell us “You see so-and-so over there? They never struggle with this. They’re one of the good Christians. You’re not.” When the truth is, everyone is battling with something. As long as we are alive and breathing, we will face temptation and attacks from the Enemy. But the good news? We don’t have to fight it alone. 

And if you read Ephesians 6:11-20 (TPT), it becomes clear that God did not leave us without armor to fight this all-too-common battle. It says,

11 Put on God’s complete set of armor[a] provided for us, so that you will be protected as you fight against the evil strategies of the accuser![b]12 Your hand-to-hand combat is not with human beings, but with the highest principalities and authorities operating in rebellion under the heavenly realms.[c] For they are a powerful class of demon-gods[d] and evil spirits that hold[e] this dark world in bondage. 13 Because of this, you must wear all the armor that God provides so you’re protected as you confront the slanderer,[f] for you are destined for all things[g] and will rise victorious.

Put on truth as a belt to strengthen you to stand in triumph. Put on holiness as the protective armor that covers your heart. 15 Stand on your feet alert, then you’ll always be ready to share the blessings of peace.

16 In every battle, take faith as your wrap-around shield, for it is able to extinguish the blazing arrows coming at you from the Evil One![h]17–18 Embrace the power of salvation’s full deliverance, like a helmet to protect your thoughts from lies. And take the mighty razor-sharp Spirit-sword[i] of the spoken Word of God.

Pray passionately[j] in the Spirit, as you constantly intercede with every form of prayer at all times. Pray the blessings of God upon all his believers. 19 And pray also that God’s revelation would be released through me every time I preach the wonderful mystery of the hope-filled gospel. 20 Yes, pray that I may preach the wonderful news of God’s kingdom with bold freedom at every opportunity. Even though I am chained as a prisoner, I am his ambassador.

If you read this passage, you can see a number of strategies to fight against sin and temptation. The two things that it lists here are the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness because these two things go together and are ultimately, the foundation of our armor. The belt of truth is the truth revealed in Scripture about God and the breastplate of righteousness is the righteousness found in what Christ has done on the cross. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin[a] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (NIV). We see this part of the armor cumulated in verse fifteen, which some translations describe as “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”.

In the second section of this passage, we are instructed to take faith as our ‘wrap around shield’, embrace the power of salvation’s full deliverance like a helmet, and take with us the ‘sword of the Spirit’, which is the word of God. The first one of these, is like it sounds—having full faith in God and His presence in each one of our lives. The second, is about living intentionally Gospel-Centered lives. When we keep the cross, and Christ’s love for us at the center of our hearts and lives, it makes it so much easier to resist the Enemy’s attacks.

Lastly, in this section, we see ‘the sword of the Spirit’, which is knowing and applying the Scriptures to our lives and situations. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (NIV). 

In the last section, we are instructed to pray—not just for ourselves, but for each other. As Christians we weren’t meant to do this life alone. We were meant to lean on each other and confide and help each other through our trials. And when we pray for another person, and help them through what they’re going through, it helps us take the spotlight off our own trials and in the process, gives them so much less power over us.  

To conclude, we may be only human, but we serve a God greater than anything we could ever face. And He is always with us, wherever we go!

“So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles,[ai] fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. 39 There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!” – Romans 8:38-39 (TPT). 

How about you? How do you stand strong in the face of temptations and struggles? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

On Being and Doing//Some Thoughts For 2020

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”” – Psalm 46:10 (NIV).

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As I write this post, we are officially coming to the end of a decade. A decade that has seen me go from a somewhat awkward middle schooler to a somewhat less awkward college student. One that has seen me get my license, vote for the first time, and accomplish some of the goals on my very long bucket list. Most importantly, it has been a decade that has helped me grow deeper in my faith—and sink deeper into God. And that’s what I want to talk about in this end-of-the-year post.

We live in a culture that is consumed with doing. That is all about doing more, achieving more, and making more. That is consumed by doing all the things. And if I’m bluntly honest, I’m just as guilty as the next person—I enjoy setting goals and achieving them. There’s something satisfying about working hard to achieve your dreams. And there’s nothing wrong with this when it is done in a healthy way. However, as Christians, we are called to something far greater. Something countercultural that our soul truly longs for. 

You see, in this world, the emphasis is on doing. But in the Bible, God tells us that our focus should be on being.

Just take a look at John 15:1-8 (MSG) to see what I’m talking about.

“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.

5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

As Christians before we do anything for God, we must first remain in God. We cannot be effective ministers of the Gospel and chase after the dreams God has placed in our heart without first chasing after God. The more I reflect on the meaning of ministry and how to be an effective witness for Christ, the more I come back to this simple truth. We must be deeply, and passionately rooted in God before we can reach the nations for God.

We must remain in His love, growing deeper in it with each passing year. (John 15:9).

We must remember who He says we are—that He has called us sons and daughters of the King. (2 Corinthians 6:18).

We must know God’s heart and understand on a personal level His love for humanity (John 3:16). 

This is not to say that doing will never happen, but being must always come first. Because as Christians, the good works that we do should flow organically from a heart that is fully connected to Jesus. When we recognize God’s heart for His people, we cannot help but respond. I saw a video recently by Lindy Cofer through a Brave Love study online where she was talking about how as Christians, our hands are to be connected to the heart of Jesus.* There is something powerful about this very vivid visual. Because as Christians, we can do nothing without Christ. And unless we are fully connected to His love for us, and for this world, our words will simply be empty noise—void of any true influence. 

Just take a look at 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV) for further proof of this.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Even spiritual gifts, generosity, and giving our very life for the sake of the Gospel are nothing if we are not motivated by a love that comes directly from remaining in Christ’s love. Because in the end, when it’s all said and done, all God really wants from us—all He truly desires from us, is our whole heart. To know us intimately. To have a relationship with us. To love us with an everlasting, otherworldly kind of love.

This New Year, let our top resolution be not one of ‘doing’ but of ‘being’. Let us continue to sink deeper into Jesus. Let us have hearts fully open and surrounded to God. And let us let that love change us, so that we can change the world.

And if you don’t know this love, there’s no better time to get to know it than the present. 

Dear Lord, we thank you for this year. We thank you for the challenges, which have grown us, and we thank you for the blessings, which you have given us. We pray that you would work in and through our hearts and use us as vessels for your love, your grace, and your mercy. We pray that we would remember that ‘it is finished’ and that there is nothing we can do to make you love us more or less. Help us to rest in that grace, that love, and that freedom. And let us be voices declaring that freedom to all those who still have yet to hear it and accept it. We pray all of those things in your mighty, powerful, incredible name, amen!

*In case you’re interested, I’m posting the link to this course here. It’s 100% free and it’s really good! 

 

 

Jesus Changes Everything

“Choir of angels sing glory to the newborn King a baby changes everything..my whole life has turned around I was lost but now I’m found a baby changes everything.” – A Baby Changes Everything, Faith Hill.

Time after time, almost every Christmas, I try to imagine what the first Christmas was like for the cast of characters living during the time of Jesus’ birth. How they felt. What they went through. What they were thinking. A couple of years ago, I even did a short blogging series on Mary’s Point of View and Joseph’s Point of View speculating what it would be like to walk in their shoes. And it seems that with each passing year—though it’s an account that I’ve read thousands of times before, I’m able to pull something different from the story of how it all began. The story of our Savior.

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A Savior who enters into the normal paradigms of our life—and changes everything about it. 

Mary was just an ordinary girl—probably not much older than fifteen.Joseph was an carpenter from a humble background. Shepherds, who were among society’s poorest and plainest were some of the first to see our Savior. But Jesus invaded each one of their lives—and when Jesus stepped into the picture, their lives were forever changed. 

The crazy thing? The same could be said of the world today. When Jesus steps into the picture, nothing is ever the same. Former drug addicts become powerful preachers. The greedy transform to the generous. Career criminals change their ways. Families are healed. Marriages are restored. Lives are lived with purpose. Because when you encounter Jesus, it is impossible to remain the same. 

I saw this happen in my own family growing up. When my family came to Christ during my preteen years, it forever changed the way that we interacted with each other. How we lived. What was important. And though I came to Christ when I was still too young to have done anything too crazy, following Jesus has shaped and continues to shape my perspective on this world—allowing me to have joy in the midst of hardships and a peace that can only be found in Him. 

Galatians 4:1-7 says this;

*”What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces[a] of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[b] Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[c] Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” 

Because of Jesus, we can know a love that is unlike anything this world could ever give us. We can know a hope greater than anything we have ever known before. And we can have full access to God the Father because through Jesus we have been made sons and daughters of the King. All because Jesus left the perfection of Heaven to come down to this earth as a baby to die on a cross and save us from our sins. The story of our Savior is the greatest story ever told. And living our lives completely sold out to our Savior is the greatest decision we could ever make!

This Christmas, I want to challenge you to remember the One found in the first five letters of the word. To remember that Jesus still invades the lives of every person who has said yes to Jesus today. And that no one—no matter how hardened they may seem, is beyond hope. This Christmas, I want to challenge you to remember that Jesus changes everything.For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV).

*Verse taken from The Passion Translation (TPT).

Praying At The Mall

“I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody all about a somebody who saved my soul.” – Casting Crowns.

Hey guys!

Recently I had a really incredible experience and I wanted share it with you. It kind of breaks the format of my usual style of blogging, but I want this blog to be a place where I can share everything that God is doing in my life—and sometimes, the best way to do that is through writing about my own life experience. The ways that God is continuing to move and breathe and work in my own life and the lives around me.

So, if you would like to see one of the most recent God-moves in my life, read the post below!

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About four months ago, God placed it on my heart to do a prayer walk at my local mall. I had an assignment for my Youth Ministry class with Liberty University to go to a secular environment (e.g. not church or a small group) and observe the people there. And as I walked around the mall with my mom, God opened my eyes to such a need there—as I witnessed people who seemed, just in casual observation, lost, broken, and alone.

To give some backstory on this, a couple of years ago, I had the chance to do something similar on a mission trip with my old church. We walked around a town in the inner city of Jacksonville Florida and witnessed to people who were in desperate need of Jesus—prostitutes, drug dealers, and hardcore addicts. You name it, we saw it.

It was an incredible experience where I saw the Holy Spirit moving in powerful ways, and I realized that I could do that same thing right here, right in my home town. So, I talked to my youth pastor about the logistics of putting this together and began reaching out and inviting people—in hopes of putting together a prayer team. And this past Sunday, it all finally came together. And I saw God show up in a powerful way!

There were about five of us (all girls—it just sort of happened that way) and we met in the food court, praying together before we started. I was feeling a little jittery (just being totally honest here), but I strongly believed that if we went, God would work in and through each one of us.

We started off as one group, but eventually split up into two groups. We (the girl I was with and myself) walked through one store waiting for God to tell us who to talk to. Finally, she stumbled across a mom and daughter that she felt led to speak to. The mom was experiencing pain in her foot and said that she’d love for us to keep her in our prayers—but my friend offered to pray for her right then. So we prayed for complete healing over this lady’s foot. We didn’t get to see the outcome, but I’m fully believing that she was healed in Jesus’ name!

After that we walked around for a little longer—and suddenly felt led to pray for a lady who was about to leave. We managed to catch her before she did and asked if we could pray for her about anything—explaining that we were doing a prayer walk and that we were part of a local church in the area. She asked us to pray for her niece who was struggling with her identity and after we finished she looked grateful and almost about to cry—as if God brought us to her just at the right time. I take no credit for this but this is the Holy Spirit’s power at work!

After that we finally met back up with our group, and wound up going together in a trendy, well-known clothing store and talked to two more people—one who asked us what church we were from (she let us pray with her once we told her) and one who we talked to for quite a while. The second one asked us to pray for her with school and her relationship with her dad and told us that she used to be plugged in with a church, but hasn’t gone in a while. We had the chance to share our testimonies with her and invite her to our church. We also just had the chance to talk about Jesus and His love.

Lastly, we prayed with an older lady who worked upstairs. When I first started talking to her, I soon realized that she didn’t understand English very well, and admittedly froze. I took one semester of Spanish for college, but didn’t know the language well enough to speak it fluently. Thankfully, at that point one of my Spanish-speaking friends stepped in and came to the rescue, and she was able to carry on a full conversation with the aforementioned person. She seemed thankful for our visit and we had the chance to all pray over her and encourage her.

If there’s one thing that I learned from all of this, it’s this; don’t be afraid to be bold. There was a time when putting together an event like this would have really made me nervous but God has shown me time and time again that when we’re faithful and just show up, He’ll take care of the rest!

So, what does all this mean? If God has determined to stand with us, tell me, who then could ever stand against us?” – Romans 8:31-33 (TPT).

The Lord is my revelation-light to guide me along the way;[bhe’s the source of my salvation to defend me every day. I fear no one! I’ll never turn back and run from you, Lord; surround and protect me.” Psalm 27:1 (TPT). 

How about you? How do you feel God is leading you to be bold in your sphere of influence? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!👇🏻❤️

Hope: In A Broken World

Hey guys, sorry it’s been a little while since I’ve posted! Between summer classes, work, and church activities, my calendar has pretty much been booked to the max. However, I’m back now with a topic that I have been thinking a lot about lately, and that I feel strongly that the Lord has put on my heart to share. I hope it speaks to someone today!😃

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Hope. It’s only four letters, but it carries with it so much meaning. So much beauty. It is a word that inspires images of joy. Images of a more peaceful world. Images of more love, and less famine. Images of a nation filled with people who genuinely care for each other; regardless of ethnicity or the color of their skin. It brings to mind a better future—filled with less of the problems that we see in the world today. There is a reason the word has been used in charity organizations and political campaigns alike. Deep down, we all long for a world filled with hope. Deep down, we all know that hope is what this world truly needs.

However, for many of us, hope is something that seems allusive or out of reach in the world today. When we turn on the news, we see images of crime, famine, and hate. We see a world that frankly, looks anything but hopeful. For some of us, we need to look no further than our local high school or college to see living, breathing, people who seem all but hopeless. People who are fighting their own personal battles. Maybe financially. Maybe relationally. Maybe physically. Sometimes, a combination of all three.

I have always been affected by the stories that I hear around me. If a friend tells me about something they are struggling with, I want to do everything in my power to encourage them. If I hear about a worthy cause, or a group of people who are struggling (people living in poverty, with an illness, etc. etc. etc.) I want to do everything in my power to help them. I think it’s safe to say that this is the case for a lot of us. As humans, we are naturally affected by the stories we hear in the world around us. As humans, we are affected by those whose situations look hopeless. However, as Christians, we also posses the one thing that can truly bring them hope.

I remember when I first started college, feeling so affected by the condition of the world around me. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who seemed lost and broken. When I felt small and way too outnumbered to truly make a difference. Part of me was tempted to shrink back. To escape into some TV drama or another. To just survive—rather than do the very thing that God called me to do, which was to be bold. At one point, pushing past fear and trembling, God called me to give a speech about my faith in a class where a student was openly Wiccan. Needless, to say, this wasn’t easy, and I was sort of terrified but it proved to be an incredible experience in God’s faithfulness—and as the class went on, I saw him slowly develop a genuine interest in Christianity—even nodding with interest as I read Bible verses in various other speeches that I presented. This still remains one of my most memorable experiences in my college journey thus far.

And, this was just one part of the lesson that God has been continuing to teach me throughout my journey of faith, and my journey through college. That as Christians, we have the hope that this world is desperately longing for.

It is far too easy to be silent. To let fear dictate us and stop us from doing the one thing that we have been placed on this earth to do. To believe that this world is too broken, too far gone, too far beyond hope. To forget the words of John 1:5, which says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (NIV). 

I don’t know about you, but I want to bring hope to the broken and light to the darkness in this world.

I want to live in such a way that it points back to the One who has put breath in my lungs and given me life.

I want to exude joy, hope, and love even in places that seem to lack all three of these.

I want to be everything that Christ has called me to be, and never miss an opportunity to share His love with the people He has placed around me. 

If you are going back to school soon, I want to encourage you to look like hope in the place where God has led you! To never be afraid to step out in boldness, and share Christ with those around you. If you work somewhere, I want to encourage you to love your co-workers and boss and live in such a way that it points back to Jesus—and “work as if you’re working unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). Wherever we go and whatever we do, let us never be afraid to reflect the hope that we have.

Let us never let fear hold us back from sharing this hope.

Let us never let fear hold us back from sharing this love!

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

– Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)

Stronger

“Beloved friends, if life gets extremely difficult, with many tests,[a] don’t be bewildered as though something strange were overwhelming you.[b] Instead, continue to rejoice, for you, in a measure, have shared in the sufferings of the Anointed One so that you can share in the revelation of his glory and celebrate with even greater gladness!” – 1 Peter 4:12-13 (TPT). 

Strength. It is a virtue that is valued and prized by our culture. It is a word that you see on the front of tee shirts in stores or on people that we encounter every day. It is something that many of us strive for, and something that very few of us think we have. However, as Christians, we don’t have to fall into the trap of trying to be strong. We don’t have to approach the trials and temptations that we face from the well of our own strength.

Because, we have a God who is strong, even when we’re weak. 

Over the past couple of months, this is something that God has been teaching me, in particular. By nature, I have a tendency to want to appear strong. To want to appear ‘OK‘ even when I’m not. To want to approach life with a smile when I’m having a legit breakdown on the inside. But lately, God has been showing me (even if I already knew it on some level) that it’s OK to come to Him broken in prayer. It’s OK to still have questions—and not know the end of the story. I don’t always have to be strong and I don’t always have to be brave because I serve a God who is strong enough for both of us (yes, I know I practically quoted a Matthew West song there).

So often as Christians we are told that when we are praying, we’re going into war. That we’re warriors, raging against the powers of darkness. But that is not all that prayer is. It is also going to your Heavenly Father and your friend. It’s telling Him the things that are really on your heart. It is being totally honest and real with a God who loves us! It doesn’t always have to be super-spiritual and it doesn’t always have to sound pretty and Christian-ese.

God doesn’t only care about the spiritual matters of our life—He cares about every matter of our life! The things that matter to us also matter to Him. That girl who is tormenting you at school. That person that you can’t quite get out of your mind. That test that you’re super freaked out about. God cares about all of these things and more because He cares about you!

And the times that we face temptation? We don’t have to fight those battles alone! Ephesians 6:10-18 says below. 

“Now my beloved ones, I have saved these most important truths for last: Be supernaturally infused with strength through your life-union with the Lord Jesus. Stand victorious with the force[a] of his explosive power flowing in and through you.

11 Put on God’s complete set of armor[b] provided for us, so that you will be protected as you fight against the evil strategies of the accuser![c]12 Your hand-to-hand combat is not with human beings, but with the highest principalities and authorities operating in rebellion under the heavenly realms.[d] For they are a powerful class of demon-gods[e] and evil spirits that hold[f] this dark world in bondage. 13 Because of this, you must wear all the armor that God provides so you’re protected as you confront the slanderer,[g] for you are destined for all things[h] and will rise victorious.

14 Put on truth as a belt to strengthen you to stand in triumph. Put on holiness as the protective armor that covers your heart. 15 Stand on your feet alert, then you’ll always be ready to share the blessings of peace.

16 In every battle, take faith as your wrap-around shield, for it is able to extinguish the blazing arrows coming at you from the Evil One![i]17–18 Embrace the power of salvation’s full deliverance, like a helmet to protect your thoughts from lies. And take the mighty razor-sharp Spirit-sword[j] of the spoken Word of God.

Pray passionately[k] in the Spirit, as you constantly intercede with every form of prayer at all times. Pray the blessings of God upon all his believers.” – Ephesians 6:10-18 (TPT).

We do not have to fight our battles alone. We do not have to rely on our own strength or our own ‘godliness’ to fight the enemy’s arrows in our minds when they start coming our way, because we have the strength of God living in us, always available to us when we need it.

We don’t have to rely on ourselves when we face situations that seem too great to handle, because we have someone greater and more powerful walking with us through every season of our life.

We don’t have to listen to voices of insecurity or self-doubt because we can choose every day to speak what God says about us over ourselves and choose to listen to His truth over the enemy’s lies.

This week I want to challenge you to fully press into God’s strength. To go to Him and just pour your heart out to Him. To resist the temptation to be strong and allow yourself the grace to be completely honest before God. To come to Him as a Father—and cry out to Him in the times that you face trials and temptations. 

There’s a song by Laura Story that I believe perfectly captures what I am trying to say in this post. Hopefully, it speaks to somebody today.🙂

“God, you’re such a safe and powerful place to find refuge! You’re a proven help in time of trouble—more than enough and always available whenever I need you. So we will never fear even if every structure of support[b] were to crumble away. We will not fear even when the earth quakes and shakes, moving mountains and casting them into the sea. For the raging roar of stormy winds and crashing waves cannot erode our faith in you.” – Psalm 46:1-3.