It’s Not What I Thought

Thanks be to God for His glory is within me!

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I was going to try to start this post all catchy and stuff but then I realized I don’t need a tag-line to talk about Jesus. Being a Christian isn’t anything like I ever anticipated. 

I found the Truth in high school and called myself a Christian. But honestly, I wasn’t saved. I truly came to Christ on my own terms in September. Here’s the reality I’ve come to face these past few months: being a Christian is the most painful thing you’ll experience. 

I have lost so many people in my life whom I thought were good friends until I saw what a true, Godly friendship was through a girl I met in Cru named Joanna. After meeting and bonding with her, I stepped back to look at everyone in my life and realized I wouldn’t settle for friends who came to me when they needed something or only when my friendship eased their burdens. I wanted friends who sought me out when I was drowning from fear and faithlessness. But also friends who joyfully celebrated the big milestones. I wanted to be unconditionally, genuinely, and faithfully loved. 

I hurt my family. My nasty tongue and painful actions tore my relationships apart. I didn’t talk to the majority of my family for months at one point. And if you know me, you know how important my family is to me. Seeing how Jesus loved all people made me want to love my family better and be a better sister/daughter/cousin/niece. 

I have also had to face the reality of who I was before coming to the foot of the Cross. I was a liar, I used manipulation to get everything I wanted in life, I partied, and worst of all I hated who I was. Everyday. I struggled to look in the mirror so I hid myself in desperate attempts to get attention from anyone anywhere. And that hurt. Oh my, it was the most painful process to work through. To look at every aspect of my life and let Jesus change me bit by bit was so incredibly tough. 

Thankfully, God’s grace isn’t based on me. 

The “Christian lifestyle” looked happy-go-lucky from the outside. I thought being a Christian meant I’d always be satisfied and life would just work itself out. That I wouldn’t face anything too terrible and everything would be easier. But that’s not the reality of following Jesus. The mountains and the valleys grow us every single day. Everything the Lord places in our path is intentional, and the pain we feel is never in vain. 

He took this angry, hateful girl and turned me into who I’m still growing into today. I begged for change from the inside out, and I got it. I’ve learned to surrender, but not quit. All I had to do was take my hand off the doorknob, allowing doors to close so He could open others. Even my “bad” days aren’t that bad, because I know I’m loved and things can still be good. 

These changes have brought about a lot of joy and faithfulness in every outlook of my mind. I face challenges with an optimistic perception and laugh in the face of fear. I’m growing into this shell of a loving heart and soul that I’ve always had and it feels good. I’m thriving, not merely surviving. 

I mean, Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son for a reason. No matter what we’ve done, we can still come home because we are wrapped in loving,

         boundless,

                        endless,

                                      grace.

Let’s Go Back a Few Years…

When I saw wounded, He saw mended.

Story time!

On January 21st, 2012, I was at winter camp with my youth group as a high schooler. I had been wrestling with my identity and struggling with my will to live for months before this weekend event. I found myself crying at the foot of the alter during worship Saturday night and that’s when I met with Jesus for the first time. He said that I was beautiful and He was going to make me new.

I believe that in order to have a genuinely healed and faithful heart, we must first allow it to truly break before the Lord.

Looking back, in the moment, all I could see was pain and the wounds from all of the times I had fallen. You know what He saw in me? He saw purpose, and the priceless stories my scars would tell the world. Jesus saw my potential and I pray that I never lose the ambition to pursue Him wholeheartedly.

That was almost five years ago! There’s no way it’s been half a decade

 

If it were possible to go back with the knowledge I have today, I can fairly positively say I wouldn’t change anything. (I can’t be 100% because I am quite impulsive sometimes). My experiences were and continue to be stepping stones to a better life, and they’re all coming together into this beautiful creation. Jesus made a miracle of me- this broken girl who didn’t even know which way was up. He loved me at my darkest, more in that moment than anyone could in this lifetime. Jesus did His best work when my heart was shattered, which allowed Him to fill my emptiness with passion and adventure.

“After your season of suffering, God in all His grace will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10

Thinking back to that night and everything I did to get myself to where I am now leaves me in awe.[WRONG]

Every decision was guided by His divine hand, and He is taking me into a future I can’t even fathom. My strength, my identity, my love and compassion come directly from the One who created my heart. This life is purely His, and I leave everything in His hands which has allowed me to see His hand in everything.

I can clearly see all of the doors God opened (but also closed) for my good in the end. Seeing the coordination of His timing is astounding, and inspires me to leave my life at the Cross and let Jesus take control. Instead of saying “Lord, I don’t know how I am going to get through this” I have begun to look at life and say “Lord, I can’t wait to see how you do this.”

If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this: you, my friend, are not that powerful. You are where the Lord wants you to be at this very moment; every experience is part of His divine workmanship. Don’t ever be afraid to trust your unknown future to our known God.

Be intentional about remembering that the work God does within us while we wait is just as important as whatever He’s preparing.

His timing, not ours.

Your Story Could Be the Key to Someone Else’s Prison

Testimonies matter.

“God calls us to places so we can leave a part of ourselves there, and find something new”

More often than not, our choices in life leave us feeling ashamed. We box up our past, put it in the top corner of the closet, and forget its existence. But we are not what happened to us; we’re the people who have learned and grown from obstacles in our path.

Life is all about change. If we lived in a static world, think of how tedious life would be. You can’t be afraid of living, and you can’t worry about messing things up. Your past was the practice run, and now it’s time to let go of what you can’t change and work towards the things you can.

 Being vulnerable is rough, specifically more so if you’ve been hurt. The toughest part of vulnerability living life in the safe zone is not how Our Creator designed us. Taking the easy way out and being stripped of love and compassion is so far beneath who we are.

The last four days of 2016 I attended a conference in Portland, Oregon really diving into who I am through Christ and what that means in my day-to-day. On December 31st, I participated in an outreach called Rockwood Knocks. All the students at the conference went to a low-income community in Portland to knock on doors, get surveys, and share the Good News. At the end of the day, 695 surveys were completed, 64 people said they wanted to be followed up by a local church, 307 spiritual conversations happened, and two people accepted Jesus into their hearts, all in under three hours. We as disciples stepped out in faith and shared the gospel with complete strangers, and welcomed two new believers in to the light.

I didn’t think I could do it. I honestly did not believe I had it in me to go knock on a random door and talk about Jesus with people. I was so full of anxiety and fear, but I surprised myself. God stepped in and became my words and because of this, I got to pray with two different families to bring in the new year. It was incredible.

In the past, I never shared my story. I used think that my feelings were too loud for words but too shy for the world. I have decided that I will no longer omit pieces of my journey to make others comfortable; I am not afraid of my truth. I am who I am because God used all of my mistakes for good in the end.

Our life hurdles can be the word of encouragement that makes a difference between someone we care about finishing the race or collapsing along the way. Intentionally choosing to be transparent has brought so much healing and support for places in my life I didn’t even know I needed the help.

So, leave your comfort zone. Take that leap of faith, and trust that God will build your wings on the way down.

When you realize God’s purpose for your life is not just about you, He will use you in almighty ways.