Well, folks, happy Monday, happy Tax Day, happy we-are-officially-halfway-through-April day. I’m *finally* back with the update that I promised last week. Let me just go ahead and give a disclaimer: THIS IS RAW. This is adapted from an e-mail that I wrote some close friends and a mentor of mine earlier this morning. I’m sharing it with you because I’m just as committed to being real and honest and raw with you as I am with them.
My mom and I were talking the other day about how people will come up and tell us that our family is perfect and they wish they could have a life like ours, family like ours, etc etc and how great it must be. Not only is that laughable, it’s frustrating…I mean, if people really knew us, how could they think that of us? It’s so easy to hyper-focus on that feeling and say that’s how it’s always been—that people who don’t know us judge us and pretend they know all about us. It makes me feel like an object, because there’s no relationship there. You just look and form an opinion about something that you don’t know. And so Mom and I were talking about how much crap we’ve gone through, how much “rot”, but how we’ve gotten it out. THAT’S the key. We all go through rot, but it’s up to the individual to intentionally get the rot out of their heart . And if you get the rot out, it can become fertilizer to grow. But if you keep it inside of you, it will continue to fester. So yes, maybe our lives are better than those of the people who have been judging us, but it sure as certain hasn’t been because we haven’t gone through hard times (and are still in them). It’s been because we’ve done the incredibly hard work of surrendering to God and pursuing Him above the lies, above the tension, above the stress, above the abuse, above the lost trust. It’s been because we’ve been focusing on Him. And so I hate it, absolutely hate it, when other people don’t do that work of getting the rot out, and then label us as untouchable, better than them, having it easy, whatever—I hate it. They are distancing themselves from us because we got the rot out and they didn’t and POOF there goes another friend. Ahhhhhhhhh doing the right thing is so hard and lonely you guys. So hard. So lonely. So rewarding. So worth it. I wouldn’t trade what I have now, the relationship with God I have now, to go back and sit in my rot. No way, José. No way.
and anyway that was totally a rant.
But anyway, yeah, this week has kinda been really tempting to suck. I haven’t slept well at night, and when I have slept, I’ve had nightmares. In the day, things are being turned upside down — my plans for college have been so upended that I may not continue studying the same thing, may not even go to the college I was planning to go to. I have no idea.
I passed the first half of my public speaking exam this week, hallelujah. The second half takes a month or so for them to grade.
I came home from that to start my studies on my next exam, and found that it (and three others I was planning on taking) have been changed from upper level exams to lower level ones, meaning that I wouldn’t have enough upper level credits to graduate.
Tuesday morning, a friend of mine that used to text me a verse everyday but hadn’t since the beginning of the year, sent me Isaiah 40:31, “Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up on wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not be faint.”
Anyway that phrase “those who WAIT for the Lord will gain new strength” POPPED out at me. I was weary and scared and so unsure of what to do for college. I needed new strength, and God said “you’ll get it by waiting”. Additionally, the “be still and know that I AM God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted throughout the earth” verse has been on repeat in my spirit this week.
And y’all, let me tell you: I am a productive-minded person. If I don’t check things off of a to-do list in a day, I feel like a lazy, wasteful failure of a person. It’s awful, how addicted I am to being productive. In my Sunday School class, we are talking about this balance of creativity and productivity. The whole “sitting outside in nature to be inspired” thing is so hard for me to wrap my head around, like I have to have “sit outside for one hour” on my to-do list, and set a timer, to make it “okay” in my brain. It has to be something I can check off. So this whole dichotomy of “wait and you’ll get more strength/be still and know God” vs. my productive self has been hard. Yet, I pray nearly every day for God to take out things that are in me that don’t line up with Him. And I believe this imbalance of productivity is one of them.
y’all….it’s so hard! This college thing is on a deadline. AND I’M SITTING AND WAITING INSTEAD OF E-MAILING THE ADMISSIONS OFFICES. I’m sitting and waiting and resting and getting to know God until He tells me what to do. Because I know that I know that I know that God said to. And more than I want to be productive, I want to be obedient.
Add in on top of that, my mentor is leaving, moving out to Kansas City. Gahhhhh that was a hard one. I learned about it just before having to head to youth group and help lead the students through a big transition we’re having. Let me be the first to tell you, I went into the bathroom during the family dinner time and just cried. I’m so tired of having mentors leave. I’m getting tired of being the mentor. I just want to have someone encourage me. Yet I’m so thankful for this [continued] opportunity to learn to encourage myself in the Lord. To spend time with Him and let Him encourage me instead of having to rely on another person to do so.
I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I have had several people (like 5 or 6) come up and offer me a job in the past two or three weeks. They were good opportunities, but they weren’t my best yes. It didn’t make sense. I need money for college. I need money for travel. I need money. Money is nice. Money is helpful. Yet I prayed and prayed and prayed about it and God said to turn them down. So I did. I’m so excited for however God is about to break through and release wisdom, the next step for college, financial aid, and more. Because I don’t see it right now.
But I don’t need to see it right now. Right now, the word is rest. The word is wait. The word is be still. None of those require money. They require time. They require intentionality. They require trust that God is going to be working while I am not.
At the same time, though, may I just say, I love living like this? I love learning to breathe. I love being open and spontaneous. I love the adventure of not knowing the next step. LIKE AT ALL I LITERALLY ONLY KNOW THE STEP I AM ON RIGHT NOW. and it’s so weird. but so free. learning to not worry about tomorrow. learning to wait. learning to trust. learning to rest. learning that God’s got this. He knows. and I don’t need to!
Tired? Your strength gets renewed when you’re in the waiting. Don’t know the next step? Awesome. You’re doing it right.
I don’t need to see it right now. Right now, the word is rest. The word is wait. The word is be still. None of those require money. They require time. They require intentionality. They require trust that God is going to be working while I am not.
I’ve been meditating on this song this week. I have literally, no joke, played it at least 5-6 times every single day. And every single day, the words get more personal, more deep, more understandable, more relatable, more the cry of my heart.
And since this album released I’ve listened to it multiple times a day (this includes the previous song, if you just want to watch it all together). The part with Steffany Gretzinger——oooh boy I haven’t even needed air conditioner from all the CHILLS I’ve gotten from worshipping with it! Here it is:
Yeah, so, wow, that was long, that was raw, that was real, and I didn’t even mean everything I said about people thinking the grass is greener on our side, but I also kinda did. I’m tired of people staying stuck in rot and then thinking we’re some paragon of virtue. I just want to scream YOU CAN DO IT TOO. It’s so hard and it sucks and it’s lonely and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m tired of people not knowing God, because if they knew Him, they’d always want to be in His presence. They’d want to pursue Him. They’d want to talk about Him all the time, even when their friends say, “Can you please not talk about God every single time I’m around you?”. They’d want to sing more than 2-3 songs in church. They’d want to dance and scream and wail and cry and surrender everything. They’d want this life too if they knew Him, really knew Him.
And I know, and I’m not discounting, I am so blessed. So blessed. I know there are people that are going through harder things, but who sets the scale for what is hard? Isn’t it in the attitude and faith you have individually more than it is in the circumstances? There are people in the worst poverty that are more generous and joyful than others. So please don’t think I’m being super judge-y and ignorant about circumstances–I’m talking about where your heart is with God no matter what you’re going through. I know I don’t have it all together and I don’t know it all. I don’t pretend to. But I do know God and I do know He has changed my life, and I do know I am constantly getting to know God in new and deeper and different ways, and all I want is for other people to get to know God too.
I love this life. I’m so thankful for all the rescuing God has done for me. I’m so thankful that I don’t have to know the next step. That I don’t have a plan. That I’m not being productive. I am thankful for all of those things if it’s making me more like Him. If I’m getting to know Him better through it, then I’m thankful for it. This has been one of the best weeks ever in that regard. He’s spoken, I’ve obeyed. How much more fulfilling can life be than that?!?! It doesn’t get any better than this, yet at the same time, the best is yet to come.
I’m surrendered. If He wants me to quit college, I’ll quit. If He wants me to step up and serve more in youth group, I’ll step up and serve more. If He wants me to sell everything and just go where He says to with the clothes on my back, I will go. If He wants to humble me, bring on the humiliation. I just want to be like Him. I just want to be with Him, to be close to Him. I’m proud to dance on this step as I wait. I’m grateful that I can praise Him on this step, even when I don’t see the next one.
The resounding theme has been rest, wait, be still, know God. The word for this year is “harvest/birth” (for me anyway). And you do certainly have to wait in order to harvest. You certainly have to rest in order to give birth. So I am.
Faith is all about not being able to see it. Trust is all about not knowing it all. That’s the point! That’s what God wants. The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will. The best thing you could know is His heart. That’s where I want to be and what I want to know. The rest doesn’t matter, the rest will fall into place, if I put Him first. He promised.
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