I know most people feel like they limped into 2017. Some bruised. Some wounded. Some angry. Some grieving. Some questioning. Some filled with joy. I feel like some people are trying to sort through the heightened emotions of 2016 the way we sort through our dirty laundry. Which clothes do I wash first?Read More
How do you start over?
I don’t see many articles or books talking about starting over after you have spent any significant about of time or energy into a relationship. Or maybe you had a short-lived physical relationship that has left you empty. Either way, if you have experienced any loss in a relationship, no one seems to talk about it that often. Its something you press through and get over it or “sweep under the rug”. Truth be told, we all know that moving on from someone you gave your heart or body to is not easy. It takes time, energy, healing, and renewing of your mind.
Songs, places, things people may do, can easily trigger a memory or thought about that person who was once special to you. You may spend months venting, laying in your bed, eating ice cream, drinking wine, crying, stalking their social media accounts, and replaying your last conversation; all in an attempt to forget or justify why things did not work out. You may think: Was I not pretty enough? Bold enough? Was I too emotional? Was I not skinny enough? Did I have too much baggage? Was my personality too overwhelming? Maybe, I shouldn’t have said that? Have we really grown apart? Are we truly going separate ways? Was this a mistake? I still love them but we are better off separated rather than together. I miss him but they are not good for me. I am lonely without them but I cannot tell anyone that because they will think I am crazy. I miss his smile and laugh, I miss their adventurous spirit. Is it really over? Are we really done? We have done this before, maybe we will get back together?
No. It's really over.
Now it’s time for you to move on. How do you move on? Where do you even start? Good question, after a break-up, I have asked myself that often. Where do I even begin? This question is especially hard for me when I have scarified who I am to fit in, to be the person he wanted me to be. Oftentimes, I have felt like guys aren’t too attracted to a driven, focused, and confident woman; they are intimidated by me. This has caused me to shrink back and trade my confidence for fear and insecurities and when he is gone, I am left with fear and insecurities. Now, I must choose to climb out of this hole and start again or wallow in fear and insecurities. It’s a simple choice but a painful one too. I must deal with the deeper issue. What makes me compromise myself for someone who cannot understand or accept me for who I am? Why did I let them in? I should have said hit the door in the first place but I didn’t and now I am left picking up the pieces, again. When will I get it? When will I be okay with being who I am and who I am called to be unapologetically? I think we must all ask ourselves those questions. Ask yourself why you keep dating the same type of guy and end up hurt all over again? Why do you settle? And no I'm not talking about waiting for elusive perfect man, I'm talking about in your gut, you know if you should be with a person or not, when you ignore that feeling and stay with the person anyway, usually it ends eventually. What hole do you need someone to fill so much that you ignore the signs telling you to stop, turn around, don't go any further. Do you think you are not worth love and belonging? Do you think you will never meet a man who loves you and loves Jesus (Not the type of church guy who is trying to "stay pure" but has no boundaries and is interested solely in your body. That's a whole different topic). Have you messed up so much that you think you are not worthy? Not "pure" enough? Your tainted now, huh?
I have spent a lot of time worrying about the wrong things and looking for the wrong things. When will I [you] be okay with saying, “It was nice to meet you, I think you are a great guy, but not the guy for me.” Instead of worrying about hurting someone’s feelings, be honest and let it burn. This will save everyone involved the time, energy, emotional headache and heartache. Ladies, let’s remember, guys have feelings too, don't lead them on.
We pick ourselves up and move on when we refuse to stay stuck. Sometimes, you should not turn back to that relationship and need to move forward. Sometimes, the timing is wrong and maybe things will work out in the future. Whatever the case, fight for yourself and refuse to allow pain to consume your heart and mind. If you feel you cannot fight, call a friend who will hold your arms up and fight with you. Find someone who will pray with you and seek God on your behalf. Find a friend who refuses to watch you sink and believes the best about you. Encourage yourself until that sense of loss and hopelessness is gone.
Joyce Meyer said it best in her book The Confident Woman:You make a decision to let go and go on. You learn form your mistakes. You gather up the fragments and give them to Jesus, and he will make sure that nothing is wasted (John 6:12). You refuse to think about what you have lost, but instead you inventory what you have left and begin using it. Not only can you recover, but you can also be used to help other people recover. Be a living example of a confident woman who always recovers from set backs no matter how difficult or frequent they are. Don’t ever say, “I just cannot go on.” Instead say, “I can do whatever I need to do through Christ who strengthens me. I will never quit, because God is on my side.Do not give up and loose heart. You are not alone. Pain will not last a lifetime. You can move on one step at a time. Start reminding yourself of who you are in Christ and how much he loves you. Regain your love for yourself. Do things to bless others in your community; I always feel better giving to others rather than being focused on myself. Learn from your mistakes and learn who you are so that you don’t fall into the same situation as you did last time. Learn to love yourself and know who you are for YOU (and no one else). Do not make the choice to discover who you are so you can “feel” whole and enter a relationship. When you know who you are, you are not easily shaken or coerced. The real man for you will not try to quench who you are to boost his own self-esteem.
Tweet by @ChristineCaine: The more secure you are in Christ the more secure people around you become. Insecurity breeds insecurity, comparison & competition. Be secure! If the man pursing you is competing with you, let him go. A confident man will not compete with the woman he is in a relationship with. This goes for women too. If you are competing with your man, ask yourself why.
I am learning that true joy is not in being pursued or having a boyfriend, true joy comes when you live your life devoted to Christ. Being devoted to Christ does not mean you will not make mistakes, it simply means, you want to live your life for him. Living for Christ does not make you exempt from hurt and pain, life happens. Take heart and know He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24). Trusting that God’s love really does cover a multitude of sin. Trusting that your sin is as far as the east is from the west. Believe that you can help other people who feel: lost, lonely, afraid, unseen, and unheard. You matter and your story matters.Spread the love people. Our life is far from over. It is just beginning.xoxo
Let me just say, there are some outstanding men out there and mommas/fathers who are raising their sons right. So just because you had a bad break up doesn't mean all guys are bad or that all guys are the same. Let's face it, we all have to grow up and sometimes guys make stupid mistakes. If you break up with "so-and-so" let him go and start the process of forgiving him. Your bitterness is not hindering him from moving on. Hopefully, he too, will learn from his mistakes and decide to make a change.
Have you all seen this vine(https://vine.co/v/OvV1WMBqKVj)? My future brother-in-law sent us siblings this video via text and I cried laughing. He talked about how he was nearing the finish line for finals and barley making it. As much as that video made me laugh its my reality too. I have been juggling quite a lot. I've been feeling like my dreams are too lofty. My goals are too high. How will I ever accomplish these things? Its that place where you want to pursue your dreams but you have hit a wall or "writers block" of sorts.The kid in the video wanted to stop. He did for a second but he kept going anyways. He did not stop! I think the same needs to ring true for our generation on many levels. We must press on towards our dreams and goals but with all this talk about equality, justice, and change, we must be ready to do the hard work. Change does not come easy. We will be uncomfortable, we will get tired, we will want to give up, but if we want to make a difference for our children, we have to suck it up and not just write about it on Facebook. We have to get to work. Getting to work looks different for each person. Maybe you need to finish college? Maybe you need to write a letter to your state representative? Maybe you need to find out who your state representative is?Maybe you join an advocacy group? Maybe you need to go to law school or become a doctor? Maybe you need to invest in your children or husband? Maybe you need to start a business/non-profit? Maybe you need to write a book? Maybe you need to get your Masters degree? I digress.The hard truth is, it takes work to see change happen. If you believe you are called to step up and be apart of bringing any type of change/influence to your home or community, it will require work and sacrifice. Bottom line. It will mean saying no to hanging out with friends, No to that vacation in the middle of finals that you haven't studied for, No to going to the movies, just plain old NO. When you are endeavoring to do something great or out of the ordinary, you can't let FOMO [Fear of Missing Out] get in the way of your progress. FOMO will prevent you from making progress. It will hinder you.Doubt and fear is your enemy. They never want you to win. In fact, against them you stand no chance when you give into their lies. To "them" figuratively, you will never be great. You will never have a good job. You will never reach your financial goals. You will NEVER. You will NEVER because you aren't good enough, brave enough, strong enough, smart enough, or capable enough. You don't have what it takes. You have no connections. You have no money. You don't have the tools necessary to succeed. You will FAIL and they know that will be true the minute you decide to wallow in their lies.Doubt and Fear, how I hate you. I hate you because I give into your lies sometimes. I question my abilities and I stop working hard because you tell me I CAN'T and I WON'T and sometimes let myself slip; I start to believe you. To my friends writing/speaking/listening on the front lines about racial tension and trying to be apart of the solution: I applaud you, please keep fighting. To my friends starting non-profits/business/etsy shops/etc. keep going, keep designing, keep networking. To the mommies and daddies getting little sleep and making a sacrifice so this next generation can be graced with a child who has character and integrity, thank you. We are all working hard together. Now is not the time to get relaxed. Now is not the time to stop dreaming. Now is not the time to say "maybe one day". Its time to hit the gas, not press the break.
Don't let logic get in the way of doing something you have never done before. In the words of Nike: Just Do It.
I decided to interview a few of my friends about who they are and their dreams. My first dreamer that I will be featuring is a great friend, Ryan Cirkles. What were your childhood dreams for your adult life?It would be easier to give a list of things I didn’t dream of becoming. In my formative years I cycled through desires of being a professional in just about every part of the sports world. My formative years would prove to be inadequate in their production, leaving me far too small to continue in this path. Adolescence would see me delve into passions including, but not limited to, roller coaster design, the culinary arts, and crime scene detective.Now that you are an adult, are you childhood dreams close to your life now? What do you do professionally? Or are you a Student?I’m not sure my life could be further from what I dreamed. I am not a star in any sense. You won’t see me on ESPN any time soon. I don’t solve crimes. (At least, not as my day job. I’m pretty impressive when it comes to detective shows on Netflix).Am I bummed? Not a bit. Life has a way of leading you to something that matters. When I truly surrendered to Jesus as Lord, He showed me that a life given to others was far more satisfying. He would know. I’m in full-time ministry and plan to be, in some capacity, for the rest of my life.What are you passionate about?I love seeing people encounter the heart of the Father God. My entire life my dreams, my focus, and my perspective - changed when I first heard the words, “I believe in you.” That love cannot be stopped. A person shown that love is empowered beyond rational thought.The love of the Father says, “Nothing you can do can change what I know about you and nothing I know about you can change what I still see in you.” I will give my life to propagate this love to every person, place, or space that I have the privilege of knowing.Are there any particular causes or issues you desire to or currently advocate for?I want all people to come to know the Father’s love. I believe that one of the most effective ways is for people to know the love of A father. I long to see all spiritual and natural orphans find a family. In whatever way I can, whether through prayer, finances, taking part in adoption personally, or as Jesus opens opportunities for personal involvement in these areas, I will give my life to adoption because I believe it is the Father’s plan.Is it hard to keep believing in your dream when you don't see any results?A dream, unfortunately, is ultimately birthed out of a desired end. It can take us a while to realize that the real enjoyment is in the means to that end. Those means take a lot of trust. In our minds we don’t see results, but the only result that we would recognize is the finished product.God drops a dream into a person’s heart. He shows us a glimpse. He uploads his passion and compassion for this idea, project, or Kingdom reality into us. He shows us the end, but we assume that this sneak peak IS the dream. In reality, He’s building and accomplishing the dream in us daily. He holds the blueprints. We only saw the artist’s rendering of the finished copy.This is why we write down the end goal. We make the vision plain. We write every note that he whispers about that dream as time goes by. We’ll see as we look back at these steps and moments that there was NEVER a time that He wasn’t working on our behalf. We’ll learn that, just as it was His dream to begin with, it was His dream to work in us, not ours to build alone.Describe the moment you knew without a shadow of a doubt that this (whatever your "this" is) was what you were born to do.God had really been taking me on a journey through the idea and identity of sonship in my first year as a student at Texas Bible Institute. He had so affirmed me as His son. I knew that He would always be everything I would need. I felt safe. I was taken care of. I could not step out of His love. I could not change what Jesus had done. I was at an event, surrounded by 2 or 3 young men that I had really grown to love and believe in. We were worshiping and as I looked at them I believe I heard the Holy Spirit speak clearly, “You will make copies.” I would love to say that in an act of great obedience that I high-tailed it to the nearest Kinko’s, but my fervor was still growing.This was a good thing because, as it turned out, God wasn’t wanting me to make copies in a literal since. He began to show me that this identity I’d grown so strong in was His heart for everyone. He wanted me to duplicate this in others. I would give them the truth of sonship and, as a result, I would learn to be a Father.What does it mean for you to intentionally live your life for Christ?“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.(Philippians 3:1-3 NLT)”It is important to note, when you have decided to surrender your life to Christ, that your life is no longer of earthly import. This should not cause sorrow. It is not that a person’s life no longer matters. On the contrary, the effect of that life has increased in innumerable measure. That life has been ridden of vane, shallow meaning and has been opened to eternal purpose. How does this relate to daily life?“14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us.[c] Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.[d] 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.(2 Corinthians 5:14-16 NLT)”Christ has been revealed to me. Everything has changed. I know that there is more now. It is my job to allow the Holy Spirit to continually point all I do and every person I see to Jesus. Everything is now spiritual in some context. This isn’t an extra burden to add to our mental checklist. It isn’t our responsibility. It is the privilege that Jesus Himself invites us into. It is His work. He asks us to join in and see miracles on a DAILY basis, “not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit.(Zechariah 4:6)_____________________________________________________________________
Ryan has been faithfully serving in church ministry for 12 years. Ryan is a worship leader and operations manager at Believers World Outreach Church in Katy, Texas, as well as an aspiring Netflix sleuth, citing BBC’s Sherlock as the bulk of his experience in the field. He has dedicated his life to seeing people come to know the love of the Father God that he has so gratefully received himself. He also has a strong desire to visit Iceland. Who wouldn’t?
Follow Ryan on Twitter and Instagram: @cirkles
Everyone has dreams. What are yours? Comment below!
Somedays your words leave me crying at night.
Sometimes I question who I am because of all the negative words you have whispered.
Somedays I am brave.
Somedays I feel like I can't speak over a whisper.
Sometimes I wonder if I am beautiful, you told me that I wasn't.
When I start to feel strength and confidence you come again and whisper what I am not.
I thought I was over you.
I thought I overcame this.
I thought I was smarter than this.
I know better than to believe you.
Yet, I subtly I begin agreeing with you, over and over again.
I accept the criticism and sometimes I believe it.
My agreement with small lies attacking my destiny has hindered my creativity.
It has hindered my love for music and writing.
It has left me feeling empty at times.
It has caused me to feel depressed before; Yes, I let you do this to me.
I let you in.
Why did I do that?
You have only caused me pain.
You constantly fight to kill my dreams.
You remind me that I am
not worth fighting for.
You remind me of who I am not.
I've become my own worst critic.
Today is a new day.
Today is the day I say no more.
I will fight your whispers and lies.
I will fight.
With tears in my eyes.
I will fight.
I will love.
I will dream.
I will challenge others to dream.
I will be honest.
I will show up.
I will be authentic.
I may struggle and I may fall.
I will get up every single time.
I will say the best about myself.
I will believe the best about myself.
Because I am worth loving and being loved.
I am worthy of love and belonging.
I know I am.
It is time I believed it.
It's time I see what other people see in me.
It's about time I stop believing you for good this time.
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philippians 4:8-9
In one of my previous blog posts I touched on my relationship with my mom. Feel free to read that one first and then come back to this post.
I have realized that Mom has to do with my whole life.
- Mom laid down pursuing her dreams to awaken the dreamer in me.
- Mom made $10,000 her first year as a single mother.
- Mom worked part-time at Ann Taylor to support us while building her life-coaching business.
- Mom served others.
- Mom served me when I was so unworthy of her generosity.
- Mom stayed strong when I was in pain.
- Mom told me that I would influence this generation so many times that I actually believe her now.
- Mom taught me life lessons I'll never forget.
- Mom never judged me and always welcomed me home with open arms when I made mistakes.
- As an adult, Mom taught me to think on my own and make informed decisions.
- Mom let me grow up and she let me have space to learn on my own.
- Mom always stayed close by.
- Mom is beautiful and taught me to love my beautiful brown face and hair. She would look me in the eyes and say, "You are a beautiful brown girl and I love you."
- Mom affirmed me, even when I went through a phase where I was convinced she did not love me.
- Mom cheers me on and encourages me. My favorite quotes from her are: "You are Faitth with two t's because you are unique and no one can be you" "Go for it my little trailblazer" "I love you princess" "My little fireball"
My mom would always correct me when needed but she was careful not to crush "my spirit." I have a strong personality. I am opinionated, I talk a lot, I am animated and dramatic, I am passionate, there is not an introverted aspect to my personality at all, and I talk to strangers. I am the child that calls home to tell my mom about my passion for missions and at 20 years old I am leading a trip to Thailand with a bunch of college kids. I am the child that rides on an elephants neck in Thailand and feels alive, I am the child that said "I am not a girly girl" and kept up with everything my brother did, I am the child that would harbor sins of the heart and not overt disobedience. I am the child that made her get on her knees and pray a lot, I hurt her feelings several times, I made her cry several times, and I was a whole lot to handle. Somehow, she never spoke negatively about me. In fact, she told me how much she loved my bubbly personality and the fact that I could make the whole family laugh till they cried. She let me sing to my hearts content and encouraged me to write songs and pursue my love for music. If I was being disrespectful she would say, "Faitth you are very respectful." She wasn't saying it sarcastically either, she would call out greatness and eventually (sometimes years later) see the fruit of those confessions. My mom knew she was raising leaders. She would often pray over my brother and I "God don't promote them to a place their character can't keep them." Her prayer was that our character would always be developed first before we were promoted to any position. This has remained her prayer and she has seen it answered time and time again.
When developing a relationship with my brother and I as adults, she completely switched gears from mommy to friend and guidance counselor. She still does mommy-like things but she lets me have freedom. I moved in with my mom after college and it was a little rough at first but my brother told me to stick it out. He literally had to tell me how good it was for me to have this time with my mom, I felt he was fooling me because he had roommates and that seemed more appealing. In the beginning I was counting down till our lease was up so I could move out. Well 2 and a half years later, we are still living together. Our only request to each other is to keep one another posted on our whereabouts, that's it. She set up no rules for me- we are roommates. I pay my half and she pays hers. She will give suggestions laced with prayer and guidance; she has learned how to influence me as an adult. She is sneaky but it works.
We are so opposite. I will run around and stay busy at all times. My mom will stay home and read books and throw in occasional socialization. She reads probably one book a week. She is brilliant people. I mean brilliant. She is my opposite but I love it. I love introverts so much. It has taken me a while to understand you people but now I want to be your friend. Obviously it's not surprising that half of my close friends are introverts. My mom is so calm that I get frazzled when I am surrounded by people that are easily stressed. She would always say "don't sweat the small stuff Faitth." She has learned all about who I am from living with me as an adult. She has learned that sometimes I want affection, other times I don't want to be bothered at all (this is my "do not talk to me at all" mood), I want her to listen to my ranting social justice discussions(She is so gracious- I have a lot of these moments), I want us to watch a show together, I want to sleep in her bed because I had a hard day and I want her near by. She is always available. She lives her life like that for other people as well.
If I go through a break up I can expect ice cream girl talk at Chick-Fil-A. If I go on a road trip and I am tired she will talk to me most of the way. Sometimes she is just on the phone and we aren't saying anything. She has prayer meetings with me and my friends( Jessica you know what that is all about! lol). She makes my friends her daughters. In fact my best friend Abby and my mom text each other, Ha. It is the funniest thing ever. She is present and her presence gives me confidence. So mom you should write a book on parenting because being an African-American homeschool mother with her Masters Degree in Christian counseling, creating your own high school transcripts for your homeschooled kids that went onto graduate from college and begin successful careers. Raising two children that adore you- is pretty rare these days. People need your voice.
I could go on and on about how my mother's influence has changed my life. In the teenage years a lot of times girls disconnect with their mothers because we see things about our mom's that we don't want to be. Little do we know, years later we will take on some of those character traits that we loathed (Trust me mom's you will get a laugh when this happens). We will realize that we need you and holding you at bay is not productive. Give us time mom's. We will come around.
I have been at an critical place in my young adult life. This book review will be a filled with my journey and how Jen Hatmaker’s books wrecked me.
I had spent a month in Rwanda in 2010 and a month in Thailand in 2011. Seeing the love for Christ people had overseas shook me. Their approach to engaging their community and their humility taught me how apathetic and bored I was with church as I knew it to be, yet while overseas I came alive. I loved the way they worshipped God. There was sincerity in it. In America we can just fake it and we get so wrapped up in our appearance that the whole idea of being real with our questions, doubts and concerns is so foreign. Its like we are all waiting for that outspoken person to name the elephant in the room. As if we are all on the edge of our seats, waiting for someone to ask, is this it? Is this what church is about? Can church be really simple like it is for the Rwandan people and the Thai people? These were some of my questions back then and they have lingered in my mind for years.
I have never come home from another country and not cried at least for a week because I am just so broken by all that I have experienced and I wonder what I am missing. I’ve never decided to dig deeper into those questions or really ask God those hard questions because I didn’t know where to start and lets be real- I felt crazy for having those questions. I was raised in church, ministry was my life but somehow it felt like I was missing the main point.
So lets fast-forward to April 2014 when things really changed. I read 7 by Jen Hatmaker. I had been following her blog for a year so naturally when my best friend says she has been crying and reading this book and I have to get it, I bought it the same day. She said oh you will love it. (Jenna and I are like hippie-Jesus loving free spirits that believe anything is possible. We used to sit in the children’s book section in the local bookstore and dream. Yep, we would let our imaginations go where only they could and believe that God could/would do something amazing. ) I had never read anything by an author that openly shared her wrestles and questions with life and church culture, as I knew it to be. As far as I knew, I only talked with a few friends in hopes that I wouldn’t be shunned for my thoughts on the “stuff” we do in church that has nothing to do with souls and Jesus. Most of what I was involved in was all about self-promotion and using that man made platform to build the kingdom. That is what I grew up seeing. In Jen’s book 7 she really digs deep into her transforming journey of letting go of excess and the pursuit of “stuff stuff stuff, more more more” and looking into how her family could change the course of their lives by pouring their finances and resources into things that actually matter. But really, 7 is just the sequel to her book Interrupted. Interrupted is the book I want to talk to you about.
I just gave you a super long intro but I really wanted to set the stage for this book. Reading 7 and interrupted led to the most impactful permutation in my young adult life.
I will cover a few key areas that wrecked me while reading interrupted.
One major area I wrestled with was the churches responsibility to care for the hurting and broken. I knew that an occasional food drive was not really going to address the needs of the community. It had to start with us the church (the individuals). Jen explains it this way: “We don’t get to opt out of living on mission because we might not be appreciated. We’re not allowed to neglect the oppressed because we have reservations about their discernment. We cannot deny love because it might be despised or misunderstood. We can’t withhold social relief because we are not convinced it will be properly managed. We can’t project our advantaged perspective onto struggling people and expect results available only to the privileged. Must we be wise? Absolutely but doing nothing is a blatant sin of omission.”
I found myself on the cusp of ignoring the needs of the community, forgetting the life transforming moments overseas, and settling into my own world oblivious to the needs of those around me and depending on others to see the need and meet it, not me. The real question is why not me? Why not you? Why aren’t we engaging in our community. This simple wrestle is what Jen’s beautifully documents. It’s her journey from ministry and life as she knew it to God brining her husband and family into a “new thing” and ministry via community and building relationships and out of those relationships people coming to Christ. Allowing people to belong before expecting them to behave. Her journey is raw, exciting, and thought provoking. You really can’t read this book without asking yourself, what am I all about? When was the last time I spent time with my neighbor or served the poor not because I was looking to be thanked, but because I was purely interested in their world and serving them because they are human. They have life. They are family. Somehow, life became all about us and we won’t reach out to others if it is an inconvenience or if the people around us don’t look and act like us.
Where did we adapt that attitude? Where did I adapt that attitude?
Jen talks about movement and going when you feel God is leading you into a new thing
Jen states, “When we feel we are supposed to do something radical we can expect it to be misunderstood.” I am not sure what that looks like for you. Maybe its moving to a new city, going back to college, getting a new job, restoring broken relationships. Whatever the case maybe, Jen mentions, “part of the task is going without knowing…if you go wherever God says and when, expect to be misunderstood. And go anyway” Oftentimes, we are waiting on the approval from too many people to just leap when we know in our gut that is what we are supposed to do. No one said leaping would be easy. No one said the next steps would be painted in the sky but wouldn’t we spoil everything if we knew it all? Most of the time we don’t need all the details.
Interrupted describes a crossroad that many people, including myself, are at. Are you ready for a radical life-transforming adventure? If you are, maybe your heart is open to allowing God to interrupt life and church, as you know it. Interrupted gives you the permission to wrestle and the permission to evaluate your world. You can’t get through this book without feeling, inspired, challenged, and broken for the least. You also can’t read this book and expect to stay stagnant and not call into question life as you know it. If I assume correctly, we have all been challenged to allow God to interrupt our life but maybe fear, doubt, or worry have kept us from fully diving in. Either way, we must do it. We must make a conscious effort to be all in.
Jen’s approach is fun, relatable, and humble. While reading her book you feel as if you on a coffee date catching up on months of time that has passed and you just get to listen to this deep transformation that has taken place in her life. Through this story you leave inspired to love better, be more informed about your community, and allow God to interrupt you. Truth is, if I cam so consumed with serving God the way I want to, whose kingdom am I really building-his kingdom or my own? Comfortable Christianity won't cut it anymore.
I have never been in a place of such humility and brokenness until recently. I have never felt more vibrant, awake, and passionate about His kingdom before. I have layed my service schedule down and I have decided to follow his lead. I’ve been inspired, challenged, and interrupted.
Get the book, you won’t regret it.
ABOUT JEN HATMAKER:
Jen Hatmaker is the author of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and A Modern Girl's Bible Study series. With a heart for her generation, she speaks at conferences around the country. Jen resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Brandon, and their five children. To learn more about Jen and follow her blog, go to www.jenhatmaker.com.
In jr. high I had a conflict with this girl at church. There was so much drama surrounding it. I hated it. I hated facing my "giants" as my mom would call it. If an issue has occurred with someone, I would rather go away, take some time off, or not see them anymore. My mom used to let me sneak away for little trips to get away until she realized I was avoiding the people that hurt me. So she stopped letting me run away and taught me to stand firm. This was so hard for me. Didn't she understand that I had been wronged and I did not want to see these people EVER again? She understood alright, she knew if I let fear take root in my heart, I would not be able to face bigger "giants" in the years to come.
Fast forward to now, I have had a huge giant to face. As much as I've tried to hold my feelings and emotions at bay- they were real and very raw. I tried to avoid any and all confrontation. I can handle confrontation if I have to but I never go looking for it, especially when it relates to me. I am a lover of people, if you are in my family or my close friend, I am loyal to the death. That is just who I am. I passionately love people. This is a great character trait but it also makes me really vulnerable to being hurt. No one really enjoy's feeling pain. It sucks.
I had two options: show up and stay present or drop out all together. I decided to show up, even though I was dragging my feet to the starting line, I made it with tears in my eyes. I started running with tears falling and decided to lift others up along the way. As I reached the finish line, I was able to look back and see that I faced my "GIANTS" and I faced them with kindness, love, and generosity. I did it because while I was running, others were running with me and cheering me on. I did not retreat to my bedroom at home or read a book- my people would not allow me to do that. I showed up ready to face my fears. Ready to forgive those who hurt me and love them.
I was able to do it. This was such a huge moment for me. It was a win in my book. It meant that I conquered another area where I was fearful. I learned what keeps me from addressing my fears is me. I can be my own worst enemy. So now instead of believing that I cannot keep going or that I need to avoid pain at all cost, I keep showing up to the starting line. If I start with dry eyes or with tears, I will start. If I finish with my feet hurting, body in pain, or my breathing heavy, I will still finish. I won't let my pain keep me from showing up and living my life. I will keep running and I will not stop.
Lastly, this past week I had the honor of leading an amazing group of girls at Lakewood Youth Summer Camp 2014. It was such an amazing experience. Our dance parties were intense and full of fun. I've never danced that hard for Jesus before. It was a marking week for me and I am so glad I went. Getting to baptize my life group girls was such an amazing experience for me. I will forever remember that moment.
Moral of the story here: Don't let pain keep you silent, still, or stagnant. Keep moving. You will be glad you did.
I was reminded of the song "lose myself by Lauryn Hill" as I read Jen Hatmaker's book Interrupted (The expanded version is coming out soon. Get it. You won't be sorry). In cooperate America, its very clear that in order to gain "success" you have to climb your way to the top. One of the higher up's in my department put it this way," You have to play the game." I left that conversation even more confident that I was not made for the game nor did I want to play it. If playing the game was just for money, a title, pomp and circumstance; then I would not "succeed" in corporate America. I attended a meeting with someone and I left in tears. I was completely wrecked because everything I've been told to fight for in my career is not what I am passionate about. Trust me, I have tried to picture myself at a big desk at a great company climbing the ladder and after a few months, I am once again convinced, that is not the life for me; however, it is the life for some people and if you are that person, by all means please run in your lane, and succeed. As much as I detest this concept of fighting your way to the top it is not just in corporate America; I've seen this "race to the top" in church and even Christian organizations.
Fighting your way to the top in church may be guised with a seemingly well meaning intention but we all know the truth. Working your way to the "top" of the church world may equate to joining the "ranks" of: Priscila Shrier, Christine Caine, Beth Moore, Robert Madu, Chad Veach, Bob Goff, etc. The list could go on. We've all had our moments of admiration and awe that turn into a selfish desire to solely and maybe subconsciously pursue that platform. Those people are in their God-given lane and we can't mimic that. In church we see a pattern: you work the system of who you know -->Gain a position-->Get recognition-Its a tiring game. Luke talks about this is Chapter 14 verse 11 "If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” The Amplified Bible states it this way, "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled (ranked below others who are honored or rewarded), and he who humbles himself (keeps a modest opinion of himself and behaves accordingly) will be exalted (elevated in rank)." Even still, Jesus is not saying, try to be seemingly "humble" so you will be elevated. If that is what we think he is saying, we (I) have missed the point.
I think Jen describes it best:
"I hate the top. I hate who I have to be to live there. I hate the biblical two step I have to perform to justify top-dwelling. I hate the posturing up there...I detest the fear that haunts every decision. It's a ridiculous game where everyone is either scratching your back or stabbing you in the back. Depending on whether your rung is above or below theirs. The self-congratulatory blustering up there is abhorrent. I'm so over it.Okay maybe it would be more true to say I want to be so over it. I'm trying to be over it."
When, I read these words, it was like someone articulated my feelings over the past few years. You don't want to play the game, in fact you are trying to get over it, because you are so done. Desperately done. The fact still remains that we are human and have a flesh. I have realized that I need to be "done" daily. I am so susceptible to the game. I've even found myself playing at times. Only to be reminded of who I am and how far I've allowed myself to drift from the truth. The line Jen stated that brings it all home is this: "In order for God's kingdom to come, my kingdom had to go." I can't tell you how many times I have prayed anxious prayers to the Lord crying out for "more of Him and less of me" and I've spent years earnestly soaking in more of me. Can I tell you, people, "I'm trying to be over it." So today I chose to be done and tomorrow I will do the same and so forth. Even when I chose the right mindset, I may slip and I may fall but I am starting somewhere.
I've spent a lot of time missing the main point. I don't have time to miss the point anymore. I want to keep the main thing the main thing. My scripture for this year has been Micah 6:8. It is hanging on my cork board at work. The minute I feel myself wandering from that and seeking success or fame and a following, I am missing it. I must draw myself back to square one: this is all about His kingdom. I just get to be apart of it. How wonderful that he let's me be apart. Literally he is letting me in on what he is doing.
God gave me this dream to have a non-profit for teen mothers. I have labored and prayed over this dream for years and I continue to pray over it. One thing I have to check myself on, am I missing the point? Am I missing it? God don't let me miss the point of all of this. Truth is, I have a desire to help one momma at a time. It is so easy to get caught up in the emotion of doing something and wanting it to be big. When I find myself heading in that direction, I have to hit the breaks. The main thing is loving people, God's people. It's not about me. The dream was never about me. It was about God entrusting me to carry it. To love his people. To serve his people. Do I know what all of this will evolve into? No, I don't. I do know, it's not about a good social media campaign, marketing, or position. I so desperately want to get that concept with all I am. I want to dwell where Jesus is choose to and make my home there.
This weekend a Bishop Matthew, talked about home. How many people are trying to find "home" and a place to belong. Truth is, as Christians, we will never feel fully at home here. More importantly, "God's love is inside of us and his home is in us." So no matter where you go or where God sends you, his home is in us. "I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you (John 14:18-20)."
So instead of me trying to clammer to the top at church, work, or with HHope. I am humbly seeking Christ daily, to learn how to let his love flow through me and draw people home- to Christ. This peace, joy, and love wasn't meant for me to keep it to myself. It was mean to be shared.
I can't ignore the hurting, broken, those in poverty, and the extreme needs all around the world. "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." (James 1:27). I refuse to befriend apathy and pride. I can't do it anymore. I must make more of an effort to lay "Faitth and all of her agendas" down daily.
I want to lose myself so I can wake up, be present, and fully engaged in God's kingdom, not my own.
All Son's and Daughters sum up my heart beat:
"Wake up, wake up, wake upwake up all you sleepersStand up, stand upStand up all you dreamersHands up, hands upHands up all believersTake up your cross, carry it on"
My mom is not a hoarder by any means. In fact as a child, if something was missing I knew my mom threw it away. If it was't being used it was gone- just like that. We always had to clean out our closet and give our clothes away before we could get any new ones.
As a young adult, I have loved keeping my stuff. I enjoy all my furniture and all of the things I have bought that really make my room cosy. Ever since I took my shoes off, I decided that I really don't need all this stuff. So after thinking that I would sell the furniture in my room, I just gave it away. I put it out there on facebook and within 15 minutes everything was spoken for. I gave away my desk, dressers, vanity and couch. I've never been more happy to have an empty room. There is something fulfilling about letting go.
Truth is, I have a roof over my head, food, clothing, a car, a job, electronic devices, family and friends, etc. I really don't need anything else. One day I may replace my desk and dresser but I hope I never get attached to my stuff because I want to be ready to give my things away at a moments notice. It's just stuff.
I find so much joy in letting go of my selfish ways. I love that my room is not cluttered with stuff and I thought to myself, "Why didn't I do this sooner?!"
I was talking to my friend Jenna about this friday night and we both agreed that we would much rather give our stuff away than grow attached to it. We then started talking about missions and how we can do anything while on the mission field. We became friends while on a mission trip to Rwanda and we spent nearly a month together. Baby wipes were a necessity for "showering" purposes, bucket showers with cold water was the norm, using the restroom in a little stall with just a concrete hole in the ground, eating unidentifiable food, messy hair, no electricity= priceless. This thrill and joy from traveling to a different country and learning from people who live so simply, is irreplaceable. After each missions trip I swear I will get rid of more stuff and I usually spend the first week crying because I want to go back. That lasts for a little while and then I am back into the swing of getting more and more stuff-until recently...I wanted to clean things out. I wanted to jump into a life of selflessness.
I like to think the physical aspect of cleaning out my room represents the spiritual aspect of God cleaning out my heart. I can look back on this past year and see so many areas where my heart and mind have been cluttered.
I am truly understanding the concept of "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21" and "Sell what you have and give to those in need. This will fatten your purses in heaven! And the purses of heaven have no rips or holes in them. Your treasures there will never disappear; no thief can steal them; no moth can destroy them. Luke 12:33"
I never want to forget why God placed me on this earth. I want to pour my life out to others. It's easier said than done at times. I believe, when you show up willing, He does the rest.
You want to know a secret? It's always more fun to give than to receive.
Living a life of faith and trust in Jesus is an adventure.
I'm Jumping in with reckless abandon.
I was a case manager for a year and a half and I got to to work with children in foster care. Before earning a degree in social work, I was very ignorant about the foster care system. I did not know if orphanages still existed in the US or if children were just in foster homes-until I started my job and I met some of the faces that make up "foster care."
Children in foster care are judged before anyone even meets them. They are probably "bad" or have a lot of "issues." Potential adoptive parents want young children to complete their family. If you are 7 years old you better pray hard because most likely you will be passed over for a baby because you are far too old to "mold" and "shape". Thus they are left in the system, growing more emotionally closed and starting to question everyone and everything. They are used to being let down and people giving promises they cannot keep. They shuffle from home to home- trying to learn new rules each time. Have you ever been to a sleepover as a child but you couldn't sleep well because you were out of your home environment? Children in foster care have to adjust to new homes and wonder if they will be safe. They may not sleep well. They may wet the bed, make failing grades, or be disrespectful.
I was really apathetic towards children in foster care until I saw their faces and learned their names.
Every time a child ran up to me for a hug or refused to let me leave, my heart melted each time. These children are worthy of love and belonging. Unfortunately the older they are the longer they will permanently bounce from home to home in the foster care system until they age out at 18. By that time many of them are homeless, pregnant, or facing jail time. I can only imagine how they would have turned out if someone took a chance to love them. Loving foster children is risky, especially the older ones, but I believe it is worth it. Did you know that girls in foster care are more likely to become teen mothers or pregnant before age 25?
The teen who taught me the most was one of my greatest challenges at first. She would not talk to me much. She kind of mumbled as she talked. I tried not to pry since they have to talk to several adults about their feelings and it can be overwhelming. So I tried building a rapport with her. I did not see the results of this rapport until a year later. She finally opened up to me. I knew there was something special about her and I wanted to remain involved in her life regardless of where my career led me. She had endured a lot of pain and hurt. She had trouble opening up to people and connecting with adults because one minute they would want her forever and the next they were done. She has a lot of fears and hesitations about being loved. She doesn't understand true self-sacrificing, unconditional, and selfless love, yet. I am hoping she will be able to see past all of her hurt and pain to see how much love is really surrounding her.
In spite of all this, she has marked my life forever. I think of her all the time. Just thinking about her hurt, pain, and life brings tears to my eyes. There is nothing I can say or do to take away her pain. She is just one of many. She is not a number. She has a name and real life.
Watching a family adopt their 16year old son was so powerful. He was so excited to belong to a family legally but to them he was already family and this just made it official. The concept of leaving the old behind and changing your name is so symbolic to me. National adoption day is my favorite. These adoption moments bring me to tears because these kids are so worthy of love and having a family.
There are well over 6000+ children/teens waiting for good homes. These children are not in an orphanage, they are in foster homes in your own backyard- longing for permanency. You would be surprised how fast some parents relinquish their rights and decide to leave their child in foster care. It's heartbreaking.
The most fulfilling work I've ever done was serve these legends. Remember for every number there is a name and a face-these are precious little lives. I hope your heart can be opened to adoption. It's a beautiful, tough, rewarding, and life-changing journey.
Get out there people. Open your homes. Love a child or teen.
If you are scared of being in it alone, you won't be! There are so many support groups that meet in person and online. You will have support.
You will not regret it.
If you don't feel called to adopt then help someone else financially.
Do your part.
Its no secret that Colbie Caillat hit the jackpot with her song Try. Women all over the world are embracing the message of her song. I never realized how much I could relate to the words of her song until yesterday after listening to it several times.
Since I was a little girl, I struggled immensely with my self-esteem. I built my worth an value on the opinions of others. I idolized perfectionism because I wanted to be accepted so badly. It got me no where, literally. Once I realized that “fake it to you make it” was such a stupid statement I aimed to learn more about authenticity. My parents divorce put a "stain" on the perfect life I was trying to lead. I was the actress and I had a role to play. I perfected the statement "I'm good" even when I was not. I did not want people to know how "not fine" I was. I spent most of my time trying to be the "best" Christian and the "best" daughter and the "best" friend. I put all of this pressure on myself. I was on a mission to please everyone- until I realized that I was loosing myself in doing so. For the people that knew me well; they held me in the darkest of nights and made sure I was aware that joy would come in the morning- and it did.
Joy did come. It did not come all at once. It came in waves. With each wave I gained more confidence, hope, and peace. I went back to square one. I am so glad I did because Jesus met me there. I laid down things idolized. I found myself steadily desiring less of what I wanted and more of what God wanted.
To me Jesus meeting me where I am, reminds me of the homecoming of the prodigal son. I believe that moment of acceptance and love embodies each time I run to God with tears in my eyes and a broken heart knowing when I get in his arms everything will be okay.
Living my life based on "works" or "doing the right thing" or "trying" to be perfect did not bring me freedom. In fact, it suffocated me.
Traveling to Mexico, Rwanda, and Thailand allowed me to see his love in the eyes of people all over the world and to remind me that his love is deep and all he wants is genuine love and worship. More than my worship, he wants me to know of his never-ending love.
I am about halfway through the book Carry on Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed (Thank you Alison for telling me about this book) and I am so inspired by Glennon Melton's authentic dialogue. She made a statement in her book that I believe is so true.
"We are often not permitted to tell the truth in everyday life. There is a small set of words and reactions and pleasantries we are allowed to say, like, "I'm fine and you?" But we are not supposed to say much of anything else, especially how we are really doing. We find out early that telling the whole truth makes people uncomfortable and is certainly not ladylike or likely to make us popular, so we learn to lie sweetly so that we can be loved. And when we figure out this system, we are split in two: the public self, who says the right things in order to belong, and the secret self who thinks other things."
I love that powerful truth. She isn't saying go tell random strangers about your whole life but she is addressing our culture of always having to "be okay" for people so we can "save face". The truth is that a lot of people feel like they have to "try" in some area of their life. This goes for men and for women.
Now I am embracing my imperfections. I'm not "trying" anymore. I am not pretending anymore. I am truthfully and unapologetically me. I know I won't please everyone, oh well. I'm staying honest and showing up. Someday's it harder to show up than others but I still show up. I think that is the point. When we get lost in all of our issues we stop showing up because we feel we cannot win. The truth is we can win. Healing from wounds can be so painful but being on the other side is even better than standing still. Truth be told, when you are in pain, you may feel like crying, cursing,praying,worshipping or being silent. I believe everyone needs a friend that will walk though muck and mire with you and make sure you do not sink and that your faith does not fail you. I have some wonderful soul sisters, Abby and Jenna, that have been with me on my mountain top moments and in the valley. They have held my hands up when I was weak and danced with me in victory. Their unconditional love has been water to my soul.
I know life happens. There will always be something to overcome. We will have to press through tough times and seasons. But now I come to the table ready with God's word on my lips because I want to be more prepared than I was before. There will be days where I am weak and I will cry and I will feel tired but this time I will choose to walk in strength. I will not believe my emotions because they cannot be trusted.
Same goes for you. You are much stronger than you think you are. When you feel like the weight of the world is crashing down don't despair. You are only getting stronger. You may hurt now but it won't last forever- joy will come.
True freedom comes from knowing your daddy God is welcoming you home with open arms everyday- no matter what you look like or how much you messed up. Some people make God seem like he is sitting up in heaven waiting to punish us but I feel like he would be singing "You don't have to try, try, try, try" because we are already accepted. We are already loved and everyday he is drawing our hearts to His. He believes in our worth and value and I know He is beckoning us to believe it too.
Choose to show up and be present. This world needs you.
Here is a question we must all ask ourselves:
"When you're all alone, by yourself, do you like you?
Do you like you?"
As a young adult, we have grand plans for our life and where we see ourselves or we don't have any plans at all and we are just seeing where life takes us. Regardless, either way presents some challenges. Most likely our plans have changed about 203938473 times (okay, I'm exaggerating but you get the point) by now. Maybe it is just me with all the plans that keep changing? I don't know but its too much pressure to try and figure out every single inch of my life. Its stressful. I give up.So now I have adopted the idea that the more I take time to learn about the heart of Jesus and who he is- the more things change, I change, and my plans change. After getting my degree in Social Work and learning about social injustice and what that really means, I have had an undeniable passion to advocate for people. Going overseas just confirmed that passion even more. Being in America confused that passion. I was tired of church as I knew it to be. I came back to America with this insatiable desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus, literally. In college and beyond I was searching for a church that had that same desire to serve others and really live life with people in the community. Outside of a few clothing drives here and there- things were looking pretty bleak and my focus changed from the community back to me. I had a life to figure out, duh- what else was a twenty something supposed to be doing?I was thinking about myself all too much until April 2014 and God interrupted my life. Yes, He did. He completely diverted my attention and reminded me of the main reason I was placed on this earth- to LOVE people. So while I am sitting in frustration, worry, doubt, and fear; I began to realize why I had no peace. How can I truly serve others when I am only thinking about myself?I read a few books that wrecked me during my Solitude time and that was the beginning of the end for me. By the time June rolled around, I was helpless to the realization that life as I knew it was being altered. Then one Saturday morning I took my shoes off and everything changed. I was more fulfilled walking into my apartment with no shoes than I was before I gave them away. Then all the sudden Matthew 25:34-40 comes alive. You see this pattern, friends? The past few months have been like a domino effect.So instead of running for the hills and becoming self-absorbed again, I am embracing this steady wrecking of my heart or being sweetly broken (as some people say). When this happens I get really weepy. I can't help it. I am emotional a very emotional human being. So today I woke up fighting back tears, I cried during worship at church, I cried while driving to the store, etc. You get my point. Some deep shifting is happening in my heart and instead of trying to figure it out; I am just letting it happen.I have found that when this wrecking happens the best thing I can do is be still. So that is what I took time to do today. Sit, eat gelato, read, and pray. If you are being wrecked like me and your plans are changing- let's start a support group. I promise to keep you entertained, listen often, and make you laugh.I'll leave you all with a quote from Brene Brown because she is awesome.“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”― Brené Brown Lets stick together and stay authentic, XOXO
If you are feeling discouraged about life or your dreams and feel like you aren't going anywhere, remember that every single day that you are alive and well counts. You are taking steps towards your destiny; that is worth being thankful for & fighting for. You are worth fighting for.
Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.- Martin Luther King Jr.
I have those days of weariness when I'm full of questions, and in those moments I wonder if I am moving forward or standing still? Will my current situation be the same in 2 years or 5 years? (Especially when my free-spirited self is tied down to a desk.)
What will my life look like?
I don't know, chances are what you and I think life will look like a few months or years from now could drastically change.
So my thoughts to all of us over thinkers and planners:
Lets enjoy life but not get comfortable with where we are.
Dream big and not fear.
Jump when there is an open door
or one worth knocking down.
Believe we can change the world because we can.
Fight for what we believe in.
Stand up for truth and justice.
Live out Micah 6:8.
& Wait more if we have to.
May our impatience not lead us further from where we need to be.
Nothing good comes out of building our own idols
and worshipping our own desires.
As a young professionals, we have days where we wake up and think, yes I am looking good. That was me today, pencil skirt to my knees nice black shirt. I was looking right. Until I finished my 10 minute walk from my parking garage to my building and realized that my skirt had completely turned and the split was now on the side of my thigh instead of behind me (like it started). So imagine me trying to fix my skirt in horror and hope that no one is in the stair well so I can fix it, only to have a man graciously come out of the stairwell as I am entering it in utter distress. He leaves; I attempt to straighten my skirt. Then I think “okay I will fix the rest when I get to my office.” As I am walking to my office I see my reflection in the windows and realized the 10 minute walk also destroyed my hair and of course, humidity has permission to take hold of any hairdo and mess it up.
Needless to say I thought I looked cute until I got work and had to “get dressed” all over again.
Today with my outfit all messed up, I was reminded that life happens. Skirts get turned around and your hair gets messed up. Nothing is perfect. I have wrestled with trying to be the perfect in my relationship with God, it was tiring and stressful. I've spent a lot of time dressing up for church and "dressing" up as a Christian. All the while, I was feeling like I was in a box and had to love and serve Jesus a certain way. Recently, Romans 14:22-23 has helped me a lot in this area.
I graduated from college with bachelors in social work and an associate’s degree in Biblical Studies- and I still had questions about God. I wondered if that was allowed, but inwardly I wondered if all of the things I had been told growing up truly reflected the heart of God.
I’ll admit I have had moments of real unbalance where I was just angry with Christians and really did not want to be associated with the callus words that were brought to life through their fb status. I just did not want to be a part of showing hatred to people with different views than me. I really wondered if this was who we have become as Christians. Do we really treat people this way? Do I treat people this way?
I was wrestling with why I believed what I believed but I wasn’t talking about it.
RELIGION NEVER BECKONED ME TO TAKE MY SHOES OFF and get dirty.
I watched this TED talk with Brene Brown about vulnerability.
I realized that I was not a vulnerable person. Am I honest with people, like really honest? No. Remember I am the one trying to put myself together in the stairwell before I get to my desk. I have not been really vulnerable with anyone except my family and two friends.
I talked with my "brother" Jerome and Shonda and they gave me some life changing advice.
They gave me the Permission to Wrestle and did not condemn me.
That changed everything.
The permission to wrestle led me through a deep season of self-evaluation.
Earlier this year in a matter of months, everything I had in place and all my plans had been stripped away. It was me and Jesus and that was when the work began. During this time I never heard the audible voice of God but through these books 7 by Jen Hatmaker and Love Does by Bob Goff, reading my Bible, worship, and prayer I put myself in the position to ask some hard questions. How was I behaving? Was any of my behavior reflecting the heart of Jesus? How long had I been missing the main point of my whole existence on this earth- to love people and lead them to Jesus? Not lead them to believe they had to do all this
STUFF to stay right with Him. I was worn out from being regimented in my faith.
I have spent more time in the past two months digging deep and addressing real issues of my heart than I have in my whole life. Granted I am young, but it’s so easy to use age as an excuse. I refuse to use age as a reason to not address my mess and my issues. Yes I said mess and issues because guess what, we all have STUFF. Everyone’s stuff looks different. For me lately is has been defining who Jesus is to me. It has been about dissecting everything I was taught and searching out the heart of God. It’s been about me truly finding him and him wrecking me and changing my view of this world.
So here is what I have found out over the past months:
- My desire to love Jesus and please him has increased
- My longing to love people like Jesus has caused me to be more compassionate and less judgmental
- I used to be awful with talking about people, it was easy, now I barely do it (I am not going to lie and say I don’t do it all because that is not the truth however it’s greatly improved and I am really growing in this area.)
- I spend less time trying to figure out why people do what they do, and more time loving them
- I am even more passionate about justice, the orphan, and teen mothers
- I haven’t invited someone to church since I was in junior high (because all my friends were Christians) until yesterday when I invited a co-worker who said they would think about it.
- I have found freedom in defining my relationship with Christ and not feeling like it needs to look like someone else’s relationship.
- I need the Bible. I tried to go without it for a while but that did not work out too well. I need to read the Bible in order to learn how to live more like Jesus. I do not have a regimented "quiet time" but I make time to read my bible and pray through out my day. No day looks the same. Sometimes I miss days reading my Bible. That is okay too.
- Having a body of believers to fellowship with is essential and it is great to be plugged into a church. Also, you also won’t be stoned if you don’t get to church on a Sunday morning or if you watched online. It is important to connect with people that can encourage you.
- I’ve found that being honest with myself has allowed me to embrace who I am and to really love myself.
- Keep Jesus Simple.
It’s in the moments where I am not rushing to “fix” myself and keep it together that I can actually take my shoes off and give them away to a homeless woman with gladness. It’s in those moments where Jesus works on me the most, when I am tangibly living how he lived and not just reading it and memorizing it.
I have just spent 20 days in Solitude. No social media. Now I thought this would be easy, I even tried to journal about my experience daily and I'll include a few entries below.
Day one of solitude and I've probably looked at my phone to click on Instagram or Twitter about 15-20 times already. Giving up Facebook hasn't been that bad since signed off a few days ago but I was still looking at instagram. Pretty much all the pics on instagram are on fb which means I'm not missing anything. So thus, I strip away instagram and twitter along with fb and I am in for 20 solid days of no social media. I may not know what to do with myself. The whole purpose of me doing this is to read and pray and write. And get my head on straight. Whatever that looks like. Who is really "straight" and perfectly together? No one. Absolutely no one. So whatever. I'm trying to get focused.
Its been two hours of me being at home and I feel like my brain is going crazy. I am trying to find something to do. I feel like time is passing by slowly. I sit and read (I am seriously enjoying 7 by Jen Hatmaker. Get the book and read it.). Yep, only 20 minutes has passed. Also, I'm not watching my shows this week so things are quiet in my room, real quiet.
My mom asked me to go run so I conceded with the motivation that I was going to stop at the galleria and get a Cinnabon. Yes. I love Cinnabon and I haven’t had one in a year. So I felt that I could negate my run eat 880 calories unashamedly. At least I ran to get it and ran home to eat it? That probably doesn’t make this any better. Oh well:)
Even with our little detour, my mom and I still finished our 3 miles in under 30 minutes. She ran while eating ice cream and I ran with my cinnabon. It was quite hilarious & a great memory.--The rest of the 20 days consisted of me reading, praying, and seeking God. Truly letting go of old stuff that has hindered me and recieving healing in areas I didn't know needed healing. It's really freeing to just be honest with yourself but it's also painful. Those 20 days were full of joy, pain, and surrender.On my last day I wrote this:
Its only fitting that at the end of this solitude time away from social media that I finish 7 by Jen Hatmaker and cry. lol This is becoming quite typical of me. My emotions and passion meet and often I am crying happy/sad tears at the same time.
During solitude, I have learned my entitlement to the "best" has led me farther from God because I was the one choosing my will. My vision was so blurred and I couldn't hear God's subtle whispers. I felt like I was doing everything right and yet nothing was going my way. I have served God faithfully and stayed out of "trouble". I would think to myself: "For real God, quit playing, I know I haven't been acting crazy and stuff. Have you forgotten about me?" My actions were "right" but my heart was all wrong. "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" Jeremiah 17:9
No amount of perfection will help you to earn what you want. Entitelment doesn't move the hand of God. Any blessing we receive is simply because he loves us. Not because of how good we are. So here I am passionately pursing the heart of God (or so I thought) and nothing is going my way. I thought I deserved what my heat desired in the timing I wanted and the way I wanted. Instead, God is closing doors left and right. I am trying to go back and open them.
I had it all wrong. Not a little wrong but all wrong. I have wrestled with these feelings of entitlement for so long. I have wrestled with feeling left out. I was too focused on everyone else's lane/life and comparing my journey to theirs. This toxic mentality did not bring me closer to the heart of God. It led me further away from him.
In my solitude I was sweetly broken. Humbled. Put in a place to really hear His heart and repent for my selfish behavior. It was so ugly and awful. It's in my ugly and awful moments that I am thankful for his unconditional love. He loves me well and displayed his unconditional love through my family and friends over those 20 days. I am truly blessed to be loved by such an amazing group of people.
Of course I ended my solitude time in His presence at his feet with some amazing women. God met me there.
Lately, I have feel like I have been surrounded by "grown up" children. I find myself ranting to my mom about the people I am graced to interact with on a daily basis in this season of my life. It's seriously been one of the most stretching seasons of my life (interacting with immature adults). As I am venting and pointing out all of my great qualities, my mom is quick to bring me down to earth. You see, the people very well can be stupid in moments and drive me nuts, but I am no better than them. There is such a fine line between pride and confidence. I find myself walking that tightrope. I am sure if I spent more time praying and less time complaining about these people, they would probably get on my nerves less. It's great to let your feelings out (I do it daily) but I always have to remind myself to change my perspective, put myself in their shoes, and extend the same grace I would like to recieve. That is easier said than done. In the moment, all I can think of is how they are driving me crazy or how I just want them to leave me alone. Pretty much every reason I can think of to be annyoyed and selfish-I find it and nurse it and become friends with it. Which leads me to the problem, I focus too much on why they are stupid and why I am better.Ah, doesn't Jesus demand that we love our neighbor as ourselves. I got smacked in the face today by Galations 5:13 (MSG)...Use your freedom to serve one another in love;that's how freedom grows. Those key words love and freedom. Walking in love=Freedom. If I truly want to stay free and focused. I have to love. It doesn't mean I need to be bff with these people. It just means I need to love people because God loves me and I am a mess somedays, overly emotional, and demanding. He still loves me and pursues my heart. For the people that don't know him, they are missing a huge piece of freedom and unconditional love. If I am just focused on myself then they will never see his love reflected through me.So I vent, I think, and pray. "God help me not to kill these people, instead, help me to love". Its not a one time prayer, for me its a daily prayer. Daily, I am being humbled and honestly I am so thankful because otherwise I would be wrapped up in pride.