everyone has everything.

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so, i would say in a run-off between which of the ten commandments i break most frequently / have had the hardest time with, jealousy rates fairly low (under, like, murdering and such). it’s not that i’ve NEVER been insecure or jealous, it’s just not the thorn that pokes my side often. for the most part, i am comfortable in my own skin — flaws, talents, and all.

in a bible study this past year, we were discussing something (clearly, i’m good at remembering the particulars) and one of the girls mentioned feeling like she sees other peoples’ lives and her takeaway sentiment being that EVERYONE has EVERYTHING. i laughed hysterically (because i’m nothing if not mature + composed in bible studies). it seemed so dramatic. so trivial. so TRUE. we vowed that this would be our hashtag henceforth. #everyonehaseverything

but isn’t it true? in times of longing, doesn’t it seem like EVERYONE has EVERYTHING you want… you’ve prayed for? in this season, this has been one of the HARDEST things for me to overcome. i look around and see so many people succeeding and thriving at amazing things. their jobs, relationships (engagements, marriage, friendships), motherhood, cross-country moves, etc. it seems like everyone has it together, has more friends, has a greater purpose. on my really dark days, the devil is pretty good at asking me “did god REALLY say you couldn’t have that, too?”. on my really dark days, i’m keen to eat the apple or at least envy the one someone else is chomping on. and social media really isn’t the problem. it only magnifies the lie that your life would be better if only your circumstances were different — you had blonde hair or a cooler job or what-have-you.

i can feel it eat away at my soul. where once there was joy, confidence in who god made me, vision for my own path — i’ve instead become entangled by wishing for something other. my jealousy not only diminishes the work god is doing in me but degrades those i’m jealous of. they become a measuring stick, a stat: have a job; in a relationship; are pretty. i don’t have the benefit of perspective and knowledge of their inner lives, i instead degrade them to what i want them to be and i dehumanize them in a way that is shameful.

my jealousy disconnects me from people. instead of cheering them on wholeheartedly and rejoicing in their victories, i secretly envy the discrepancies between our lives. but jealousy serves as an even more dangerous force than we realize. in the bible (and in the here and now), jealousy uncontrolled leads to murder, stealing, gossiping and so much more. the bible literally calls it “unspiritual and demonic” (james 3:15). yikes! it follows to say “where jealousy and ambition exist there will be disorder and every vile practice” (james 3:16). jealousy will always lead to more sinfulness. so, while it may seem like a harmless afterthought to harbor bitterness and envy in our hearts, i pray we purge every evil thought from our minds. after all, these are human beings made in god’s likeness. and eternity hangs in the balance when we decide whether we will care for ourselves or for them. jealousy is choosing yourself each and every time.

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buoyant hope.

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72 weeks ago (or about a year and some change if you’re not a math whiz like me), i posted this instagram with the full caption below:

“GUYS. I must tell you a cool story. After a personally difficult semester in the fall, I felt excited for a new start this year as God graciously has been realigning my priorities and heart. Yesterday, after my party I read a letter from@vgoneal expressing prayers for this year to be one where i felt light + weightless; in a word, BUOYANT. Today, I was going to doodle and pulled a quote that i had saved in my notes from a recent book i had read. The quote? “HOPE MADE HER BUOYANT”. I thought it was such a beautiful coincidence. Then, I read a status that @binduthota had posted about MLK jr on his sufferings and God and how they intertwined to change him. As i was looking for something else to doodle, i pulled it up, reread and this quote caught my attention “When the chains of fear and the manacles of frustration have all but stymied my efforts, i have felt the power of God transforming the fatigue of despair into the BUOYANCY OF HOPE.” // The unlikelihood of 3 unrelated things fitting together so seamlessly points to one thing; a God that cares INTIMATELY about the details of our hearts and lives.”

 

for 72 weeks i have intermittently come back to this prayer. to feel a weightless, buoyant hope. and i often wondered if these were empty words. i haven’t felt light or carefree. i haven’t felt the weight lifted in quite awhile. i wondered if i misheard god. if his promises really weren’t reputable.

until now.

it’s not that everything is peachy keen and shimmery. it’s not that all the things that pain my soul have disappeared. its that in the middle of it, god has been revealing his purpose and his kindness to me. i have, after a long endurance of suffering gained character that leads to hope. i feel buoyant. i feel alive and giddy. i feel like the whole world is before me. and after feeling so much darkness in the past few years, this is and can only be the work of god. he has given me hope in a future — a future i couldn’t have imagined, wouldn’t have pursued had it not been for this time of silence and waiting.

do you have a word from the lord? is it one that you keep hidden in the back recesses of your mind hoping you didn’t actually emit it to the world? didn’t it say it too loud? do you have a hard time trusting his word? his sovereignty? or will we be like abraham, who, “after waiting patiently, received what was promised”?

when looking up where that verse was, i was reading it for context and to see what the rest of the chapter said (read below) and almost cried at the beauty of the word of god. of his faithfulness and promises. he can be trusted. he cannot go back on his word. he swears against himself because there is no authority above him. what an unshakeable and steady god we serve. his promises are unchangeable, as is he.

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it says “we who have run for our very lives to god have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go”. amen! hallelujah! we have a god who sent his son for us who is literally running ahead of us to take our place, to take the permanent post of high priest for us. we have an intercessor, a redeemer. we are allowed to hope because of his work on the cross. we get god’s promises and jesus, too. we get it all because god is gracious and kind to us. because he chooses to bless us.

so, if you’re waiting on the lord — if you are exhausted with hoping, if you are distrustful that his word will be true for you — look to sarah (genesis 21:1), look to abraham (hebrews 6:15), look to anyone in history, look to me. god will never take back his promises. if he has given you a word, a promise, a prayer — he will be faithful to complete it. as mlk jr so eloquently put it, “[when the chains of fear and the manacles of frustration have all but stymied your efforts, you will feel the power of God transforming the fatigue of despair into the buoyancy of hope].” onward, friends.

“be brave and courageous. wait patiently on the lord”

3 months.

3 months can fly by in a flash. it can drag on for eternity. i’ll let you guess which of the two has described my past few months.

three months of searching for answers, hoping for them, desperately needing them. and finally, i’ve resigned myself to one day having them. no longer bent on hoping, no longer believing my efforts have mattered. i have tried — by god, i’ve tried. i’ve done everything i know to do — talking about it, spending time alone, with god, with wise counsel. i’ve tried giving every anxious thought over, i’ve attempted to keep hoping when it seems futile. i’ve begged, i’ve cried, i’ve sat silently hoping to feel something. i’ve raged and asked nicely and tried to discern the best way and decided to move. and then the door that may seem a crack open, has slammed in my face yet again. what do you do when no answers appear?

silence seems to meet me the loudest.

i’m often crippled by decisions. choosing where to eat, what to eat at that restaurant. what decision to make, when to make it, what it will turn out like. when it comes to the big decisions — which job do i apply to? should i move on with my life? is this relationship a wise one? where should i move? — it’s near impossible for me to feel like i’m making the best one. i always put so much pressure on THE decision, forgetting that god’s grace will carry me along as he gives me the wisdom to choose. this time around, i have been struck dumb yet again by the inability to choose. it felt like i had both endless options and none. finally, after feeling some excitement about potential job, new city, things i actually love, i decided to just make a faithful choice. it seemed that some pieces had the stamp of god, had the scent of something holy spirit led. so i started planning for this. after months and months of feeling that he’d make it crystal clear, i decided to take a step forward in faith instead. i felt hopeful and excited for the first time in a long time. so i attempted to take a few steps in that direction. what was i met with? the door slowly swinging towards shut. while he hasn’t said “no,” it doesn’t seem likely to work. and after being strung out on sadness and sick with sorrow, i simply can’t handle another “no”. it doesn’t just seem like a door shut to an opportunity, it seems like a door shut on my soul. barely hanging on, the sliver-thin string has been snapped off in front of my face. i know god must have purpose in it but i no longer care. it seems like the endless “no” is reverberating in every facet of my life and i’m distrustful that god really and truly cares about me.

i know one day it’ll all make sense and all of that cliche stuff i’d tell someone else in my position but right now, none of it seems true. in this moment, it seems like i’m in a desert — the path behind me dry + desolate; the path in front of me empty + uncertain. but since i’m in the desert, i know i can’t stay here. while i’d like to lay down on the ground and hope that someone will rescue me out, i know i have to keep moving forward in faith that god will lead me to an oasis. there will be life again. i know this and, ultimately, i trust this. but in my everyday struggle, it’s a fight to move ahead one. step. at. a. time. kicking the dust up as i go, often crawling, often crying out the last sustenance i have in the hopes that i’ll reach the thriving place soon.

waiting on god.

earlier, i was hanging with some of my favorite kids (and their sweet gammie). case, the two year-old and i went to run a few errands. after leaving heb, we were in the mini-van (stay tuned for the rest of the wild details of my saturday night…..) and i was contemplating my next turn. meanwhile, the guy behind me wanted me to move. touche, sir, because i was sitting there for too long and hadn’t noticed him behind me. he honked, and i started to move. then case inquired, “what was that?”. i told him the man honked because he wanted me to go. i explained to him that sometimes when you want something right away, you get mad but that you can still be patient while waiting (typical mom move… making everything into a lecture). i asked him if he ever wants something from his parents RIGHT NOW and he has to wait? maybe he needs some more patience. i then decided to further my hypocrisy by telling him how sometimes, similarly to when our parents tell us we can’t have something and we need to wait patiently until they are ready to give it to us, we will have to wait on god. and we should say “okay god, i’ll wait on you”. and case repeated it, too. “okay god, i’ll wait on you”.

then i almost cried at the sweetness of case’s naivete in not knowing the depth of the ways the lord may make him wait in his life. how easily he says “okay god, i’ll wait on you”. i realized how hard it was for me to say those words out loud. because right now, i’m waiting. i’m waiting for god to hurry up my grieving process, to give me what i want, or at the very least — to tell me he is not going to give me what i want. you see, i don’t want to wait on god. instead of exhibiting patience until god shows me what he’s up to, i honk, then honk again, then ram my rage into the back of him (okay a bit of overkill, i’ll admit) until he gives me what i want. or at least until he answers. i don’t yet have the capacity to say (honestly) “okay god, i’ll wait on you”. i don’t have case’s blind faith. i barely have any faith at all.

i’ve sat silently and i’ve raged and i’ve tried to take all my brokenness to god. i have. but i’m not keen on waiting. when the process seems to stretch out unending and the grief feels unbearable, i. don’t. want. to wait. and i don’t want my father in heaven who knows me and sees me and loves me to let me wait. it seems cruel. it seems unfair. it seems like there’d be another way. and yet, he’s chosen to let me wait.

there is great growth available to me in this waiting period. i’ve grown immeasurably in compassion for others who are waiting on the lord — waiting for a baby to call their own, wading through a tragic death, waiting to see the lord’s provision in a job, wading through grief. i’m not alone. there are so, so many examples of people waiting in the bible. mary and martha waiting for two days for jesus to come heal their (now dead) brother lazarus; moses waiting for 4o YEARS for god to bring them to the promised land (i’ll choose another thorn in my side, thank you!); abraham and sarah waiting for so long for the child god has ensured them that sarah LAUGHED AT GOD (then lied about it… smooth, sarah) when she was told she’d finally have a child in her old age. we are not alone in our waiting but it often feels that way. there’s a pitiful comfort in feeling as though we are. but there’s no real faith, no real strength in it.

but what does the bible SAY we will gain by waiting on the LORD?

“… but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” isaiah 40:31

“wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD” psalm 27:14

“yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. for the LORD is a god of justice. blessed are all who wait for him! isaiah 30:18

“for through the spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.” galatians 5:5

“we wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.” psalm 33:20

we gain strength, stamina, faith. we are blessed. we have a help and shield. we gain courage. we can hope. the sting is not taken away but i pray in whatever waiting season you are in, you can remember we have a god that goes before us as our shield, is our rear guard, who is a lifeboat when we are sinking, is a refuge when we are weary, who takes our yoke and calls it light, who is good beyond measure, who brings life and life abundantly, who takes our small plans and trashes them for the ones that are beyond our comprehension. but i pray mostly in these quiet, painful moments, you could honestly say “okay god, i’ll wait on you” and that it would be enough.

when busyness becomes an idol

over the past couple of months, i have had more time than i have had in years. maybe ever. time to spend how i choose — to waste or to dedicate to what i find worthy at the moment. as someone who truly “thrives” on multi-tasking and doing things under pressure, you can imagine what a surprise (and disappointment) this research was to read. this quote summarizes the gist succinctly: “Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.” ouch. apparently it also makes you dumber. like an 8-year old child dumb. no offense to 8-year old children, but i was hoping to have surpassed you a bit at this stage in life.

anyways, i have been thinking a lot about busyness recently. how there is this pressure to say yes to hundreds of commitments, to spend your time frivolously, to go until your body or mind gives out because it needs a break. i have experienced this first-hand for years. i’m all about serving and giving of yourself generously — giving your time and energies and passions to worthwhile things. but i have this image in my mind of us from heaven, rushing around furiously “serving god” by overexerting and overcommitting ourselves. too much in a rush to spend time with god (not for, with) or say hello to our neighbor or to think clearly (we’re all 8-year olds demanding we can keep this pace). we are the multi-tasking generation — much too important to slow down or to dial back where we think we’re needed. we have overinflated sense of selves where we have become necessary in every position at every level. we need to be the mentor and discipler. we need to be the worker and the volunteer. we need to go, go, go until we crash and burn. and aren’t we all feeling a little burned out? almost every person i know my age is experiencing this. we have this very noble desire to serve god in multiple capacities but it often leaves our lives fragmented, our relationships fractured. what does it say about us that we don’t trust god to rest?

“six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.”  exodus 23:12

i have found in this season an unexplainable peace. peace that comes with the presence of jesus, yes, but also a mind and heart that has been allowed quietness and rest. notice in exodus 23:12, it clearly promotes work — work six out of seven days — but it also puts value and importance on being refreshed. maybe your formula isn’t six-out-of-seven. maybe it is four-out-of-five or ten-out-of-eleven — i don’t know. i think it depends greatly on your temperament and capacity. i think it depends on your season and calling. i think it depends on the holy spirit’s nudgings and your willingness to follow in obedience. anything else is sinful. if you think your church or organization or PTA or friends can’t carry on without you, you’re wrong. if god desires you to recuperate and to be refreshed, he will fill in the gaps. you will need to honor your commitments and follow through — this is why it’s critical to constantly evaluate and adjust your capacity to serve in a certain season. it’s difficult for me to say no to helping with something when i TECHNICALLY have the time or ability to do something. i want to be of service and i want to be available. however, the wisest thing is not always your knee-jerk reaction. example: there is a ministry in town that needed volunteers to be paired with girls in particularly difficult situations. Being their friend was the main goal. i felt it a worthy cause and one i felt deeply about. i wanted to help be a part of bringing healing to them through a friendship where god may use me. instead, i committed then realized over the next few weeks that it really wasn’t realistic at that time in my life. so instead of being a blessing to these girls, i became a burden for the coordinator who thought she had a position filled. it would have been better for me to trust that god would fill that position with someone else who cared deeply AND had the capacity and time to invest. I could instead dedicate my time to praying for them.

“you shall have no other gods before me. you shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. you shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.” exodus 20:3-5

why is this such a problem? i think because it says more about our allegiance to created things or creatures, than to our creator. we are committed to committing. we are people-pleasers and man-fearers. we want to look good, to have it all, to do it all, and to not need to rest in the process. this is surely ungodly. jesus, whether serving his 12 or serving thousands, stole away to rest and spend time with the father. the need for serving or healing did not take precedence. we can assuredly use jesus as our measuring stick. did jesus work his ass off (his donkey…)? yes. did he serve in inconvenient and unconventional ways? yes — he made time for zacchaeus in the tree (without having it put in his planner by his assistant first), he stopped to speak truth to the woman at the well, wearied though he was (without having schedule a conference near that well) — he was diligent to work and serve, often without agenda but he also made time for god to show up to him personally.

“but Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” luke 5:16

notice the key word “often”. would it be said of your life that you “often” withdraw and pray to god? that in the midst of the busyness and business, you would put a priority on time with the one that restores you beside still waters, the one that gives rest to your soul? if not, maybe there is a problem. a problem with the maximization of our capabilities and minimization of god’s. perhaps we think our power too great and god’s too small. i am wildly guilty of this. i put so much emphasis on my abilities to “multi-task” (which, apparently, even according to non-religious sources means i’m as dumb as an 8-year old), that i go weeks or months without giving my soul rest and giving myself over to the lord. but friends, this is the only way. you can learn to say no to overcommitting with confidence in your creator’s supreme sovereignty to keep the world spinning while you rest.

life’s (not) like the movies.

i’m about to be every grandma or pastor or well-meaning friend or researcher that tells you that what you digest / input into your life, you come to expect. whether it’s porn, (physical, mental, emotional) abuse, what you see in the media or movies, what you hear in songs, what your mind subconsciously views or hears in the background of your life, it affects the way you view the world and yourself and others. i’ve heard it many times. and yet, i thought i was immune. at least in a couple of areas: TV / MOVIES and SOCIAL MEDIA.

anyone that knows me knows that i’m not much of a movie or tv show guru. give me a book any day and i will be content to read all the day long, but when it comes to movies, i’m interested at best, apathetic at worst. i usually prefer to talk to those i’m with so sitting through 2 hours of a movie with people i’d rather be chatting with (about nothing in particular) seems like a minor form of torture. and everyone knows THOSE PEOPLE that talk throughout the whole movie and i know THOSE PEOPLE are generally frowned upon. i’d never be one of them, mind you, but i know they exist. so alas, i usually settle for watching movies by myself (really, an unsad and very satisfactory way to partake, in my opinion). most of the movies or tv i watch are chick flicks, murder mysteries, crime shows, or on occasion, the often dark oscar-winning movies (thanks to my friend lydia that shares my adoration of literature but not my aversion to movies and thus, has widened my exposure to them). so, the amount of destructive trash tv / movies i intake is quite low, or so i thought.* (NECESSARY SIDE NOTE: we shall look back in wonder at the days when i watched all the housewives of… shows, tool academy (look it up. as horrendous as it sounds, yet delightfully addictive), etc. all which were totally destructive and totally hilarious. i regret nothing.)

same goes for social media. i’m a self-proclaimed lover (and maybe addict at times). i love the connection it can bring, the inspiration you can garner, the easy way to keep up with and follow so many people you love (whether known or unknown).

so why, when i started dating (a miracle in and of itself), did i suddenly find myself expecting these terribly unrealistic feelings to arise and situations to occur? we could chalk it up to being a girl that lets her emotions get ahead of her and loves to dream of her ~~~wedding day**~~~~ but i am just not one of those people. i’m cynical and fairly critical of guys and dating in general (anyone want to date me yet?), so my expectations are usually built firmly in reality and not utopia. yet, as i continued to date, i felt myself falling into this “idealistic” trap. i didn’t realize how far and wide i had planned in my head the way my husband would come and who he would be without leaving ANY margin for god to come unexpectedly. the simplest things would make me question whether someone was a worthy suitor: his clothes, his ability to command a room, his height. he’s not as funny as me. he’s too funny and would eclipse me. and on the list would go. meanwhile, i think i’m a perfect princess that no one would have any qualms about dating (yes, i really thought this and yes, i’m delusional).

so, in what ways do i feel like media / the internet / movies have polluted our dating process?

1. we have planned our own way:

we have (often subconsciously) imagined the way we think our life will turn out. we all do this and in some ways, this is a normal and healthy practice. we imagine the job we want, how many kids we want, what our life will look like one day. the trouble with this is that we can’t know the outcomes. we may plan that by 25, we will have a house and overseas adventures and 2 kids strapped onto our backs — but what if this doesn’t turn out? we will live, sure. we may even be happy. but we will be fighting what we thought SHOULD BE versus WHAT IS. and our contentment lies primarily in WHAT IS, while our sadness and frustration lies mostly in the SHOULD BEs. for, as shakespeare said, “expectation is the root of all heartache.” i’m not blazing ahead saying “EXPECT NOTHING. BE NEGATIVE. DON’T DREAM.”, i’m just suggesting that perhaps we should leave a bit more room for god.** i think that what we intake, primarily in the form of media, affects this drastically. we believe that these are perfectly attainable, reasonable demands to put on our life; these scripted, dreamed-up ideas. it’s possible, but i’m not sure it’s wise to put our hope there.

2. we have endless options

this by far has perhaps been the most difficult obstacle for me to overcome when deciding who and how to date. i’m a pinterest girl (or at least i was). i love the amassing of so many inspirational images in one place. the way it helps me find my style, my groove. it’s a virtual 90’s inspiration notebook of scissored and elmer’s glued magazine clippings. it a wonderful site that can aid you in many endeavors. but it’s a 2d, flat site. you can pin everything you ever dreamed there without either A. making it your reality or B. it becoming your reality. even with the best-laid plans, it’s highly unlikely that you will do, see, and make everything you want to in this life. but with sites like pinterest, it’s a simple path to BELIEVING you can and that other people do. same goes for instagram (i’m really hitting home with all my faves, now). there are all these filtered, staged photos that we take at face value (perfection, idealism, a “good life”) instead of for what they are worth (dependent on the poster, but probably not realistic for day-to-day living). we see guys that have great style, ones that seem godly, ones that are hot (c’mon, you know the ones), ones that are poetic, ones that seem to have it all. guess what? MAYBE THEY DO. but most likely, they are a sinful person who would disappoint you even on their best days. but in the online world, we don’t have to deal with that. we can pick and choose and drop and choose and pick what we want (or seemingly so). don’t like something they say? unfollow. find someone that seems even more ideal? comment on their picture in hopes of a “connection”. we can pick the parts of people we want to see and this is when we see their BEST SIDE. so when we are faced with a whole person that sometimes smells and is annoying and doesn’t treat you like the princess you know yourself to be (just me? ok.), we don’t know how to interact. we can’t crop or edit or filter a real person. but in real life, you CAN make like jay-z and say “on, on to the next one” (you can also say “somebody bring me back some money please,” but that’s an even less likely option). so often we do, because our expectation of reality is built on instagram and the movies and our cobbled together idea of what we need + want. which brings me to my next point…

3. we can custom build our own husband / wife:

this goes hand in hand with the last. we can take each of those qualities we desire and see in various people, and we paste together the full picture of what we want. again, the desires in and of themselves are often reasonable, realistic things. but the likelihood of having everything you ever dreamed in someone is statistically unlikely (just kidding. i don’t know any statistics and i just made it up but still. trust me?). i found in my own making of a perfect mr. potato head (black hair here, longer legs here, cooler shirt here. nope. not that one. try again), i have often hoped for me in male form. i say “adventurous! funny! (calling yourself funny is frowned upon? welp.) loves kids! spontaneous! is artistic! likes the outdoors! name is jenna!” wait. an ex-boyfriend told me, after one embarrassing coming-to-light of what i really hoped for (hint: it was someone that wanted to ride roller coasters. truly. i’m awful.), “i feel like you have your life planned out with what you want to do some day and what you want your kids / family to do and if i don’t fit exactly into that, you’re not sure you can do it.” oh. well, lets not be so reasonable here! i retorted “well. you’re right” because, damnit, he had hit the proverbial nail on the head. so, when coming face-to-face with what i had custom-built versus a real, living human being that had amazing qualities and others that weren’t as amazing, i found myself focusing on the quality that i had ALWAYS IMAGINED my husband having. because being able to ride roller coasters is obviously the hill you should die on where a husband is concerned. i’m just saying that maybe we should put the qualities we desire with the correct priorities in mind. someone that loves the lord, respects and cares for people. someone that will stay on your worst days and point you back to jesus when you can’t see the light. someone that has qualities that MATTER. this is your best bet. it is not making lists and stalking pinterest for the shoes hopefully your husband will wear (because assuredly, he probably will not. think flip flops. think crocs. be realistic, for the love).

4. we expect our mate to complete us:

oh, if this isn’t at the heart of so many movies and so much propaganda that has us confused. have i sufficiently convinced that you will have to marry someone you hate? good. cause that’s how god wants it. hold up. no it’s not. he desires his glory and your best. he does. he will provide someone (eventually, maybe) that values the important things and values you. he may not be picture-perfect or instagrammable on his most steezed out day or have planned romantic dates, but you can build a good life with a good man / woman, instead of this all-fulfilling unattainable person that you have imagined and seen in the movies. and the thing is, god will probably make them complement us (compliment us too, lord please). they will have qualities that are opposite of you, that drive you mad, that make you hate them at times (all the married people, say amen?) but those very things are the things that will challenge you, make you lean into jesus, grow, stretch, change. those are good things. your mate will never complete you — however wonderful, however grand they may be. only jesus can do that. so i pray we put our expectations firmly on ground we can stand on — jesus. and our potential spouse where they belong — as someone we are meant to serve the lord WITH not someone who fills a void.

i’m praying that god gives you peace where you’re at and grace for the future. and for all that’s good and gravy, stop stalking people online, swiping left (right? whatever.) and day-dreaming about ryan gosling.

* i will note here that on most ends of the spectrum, i fall into the LIBERALITY category. i believe in moderation, sure, and responsibility. but i’m not too worried about a little cussing, drinking, tacky tv, tacky jokes, tacky most things. there is outright non-necessities to me: tasteless f-words (or other words) that add nothing to the story or joke, too much raunchiness (softcore porn, and hardcore, and unnecessary nudity and the like), and so on, but for the most part, i believe that “one person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.” (romans 14:2). and usually, i’m alright with meat.
** i highly suggest this short read by oswald chambers on the subject.

 

for the uppers & downers.

how’s your temperament? are you as cool as a cucumber, always steady and even-keeled out? i envy you. i’m not sure if once in my life i’ve been on a straight line of emotion. i’m up or down or upside down or twirled around.

do you need a substance or something substantive to keep you on track? to make you feel normal or to make your highs more uppy or take the edge off of your lows? i empathize with you. while i may not choose the hardest of substances or choices to cope with my emotions, it has been a constant battle for all my life to feel some semblance of normalcy where my emotions are concerned. while some people can be happy without letting it overtake them, i’ve never seemed to be able to. i choose to ride the wave out until it subsides or until it goes crashing into the rocks, whichever comes first. nor can i, like some, feel low without it crushing me. while i’ve grown to be more aware of my shifting emotions and try as best i can to give them to the lord, i’ve found that there’s no way to change this sensitive spirit i’ve been given. in all my extremes, it’s difficult not to let it give way to hopelessness with no seeming end or to exhilaration that i expect to last forever. i know either terminates eventually but it can feel like a long ride til death (too far?).

to you who are in command of your emotions, who can feel happy and sad without it consuming you, this is a gift. we crazies need you. your steady spirit soothes us. it makes us feel like everything may be okay. but we need you to know something – our struggles (like yours) are often of immense pain and sorrow. we can’t be fixed or solved or made into something other. we aren’t being melodramatic (most of the time) but we feel deep and big. i know what you’re thinking — if we could just see the REASON in it (or that it’s lacking), you’d help us come to our senses. well, my darling friend, that may be so but we have sensitivities more than senses. so you just buckle up for our roller coaster and we promise to cry and laugh alongside you in equal measure in your grief and joys.

to you who are of my own kind, i’m sorry. i know this roller coaster can be riveting and revolting. it can make you sick to think that your pain will never end, that your darkness has no glimmer. but this too is a gift. you are in tune with so much that others aren’t. you can walk 10 miles in someone’s shoes. with them. while crying. you can create better than the best of them because often these huge feelings give way to vulnerable art. you can both soar with the wind of joy and dive deep into the depths of pain and not let it kill you. it will make you a wiser, kinder, more empathetic human. it will. but if you dull it with food or drink or friends or pity or sex or drugs or with anything, you will be dulled. you will miss out on the transformation available to you when you traverse into the crevices of the valleys of your deepest pain and survive by the will and power of god. you will fail to see the beauty that god gives us in our most joyous, harmonious moments. you will neither stand amazed nor astonished as you dull every drop of life into monotony. it will kill you. because although often it may feel like death is a more suitable option, what you really desire is “life and life to the full”, that which the devil himself comes to “steal, kill, and destroy” (john 10:10). so live it. live to the breadth and depth of all god offers us on earth. don’t let depression or sadness or exhilaration or temporary happiness or temporary ANYTHING steal what jesus came to give us by his death on the cross. grace and mercy abundant. life everlasting. a day when there will be no more suffering and no more tears. until then, enjoy this glorious ride he’s given us.