5 points on Friendship

This past Sunday I celebrated my first anniversary at church. A year ago I did a hugely scary thing (for me at least) and left the small church I knew and loved to venture out to a much larger place where I knew absolutely no one and absolutely nothing about the church (except every single word they had on the website). The move was for many reasons, but specifically because I wanted to have the opportunity to build friendships with my peers after graduating and realizing everyone I knew conveniently lived at least 45minutes away…

One of my commonly heard quotes this year was “I have, like, no friends,” (like optional). It was often followed up with someone in the near vicinity responding with a list of friends I do have, spurring clarification on my part to “it doesn’t FEEL like I have friends right now.” Why did I feel that way? Because I wanted someone for every second of every day (not realistic) and someone I could talk to any time about anything (again, not realistic. Really I just needed more Jesus. Moving on.)

In the journey of meeting a lot of new people and reflecting on my anniversary Sunday, I’ve had the opportunity for many thoughts about friendship to percolate in my mind. Specifically, I’ve been considering how building friendships in the body should look like, and so I wrote a blog post about it (#obvi).

While I have had my fair share of friends outside “the body” I think friendship amongst believers is something extra special we get to partake in and it’s what I was really looking for after graduating. There is the added aspect of how our spiritual lives are interconnected as we join together and support each other to build a temple for God (Eph 2:19-22). People we never would have met/become friends with suddenly can become some of the deepest friendships we will ever have.My favourite example of friendship in the Bible is David and Jonathan because even though they were from different places and their life trajectories didn’t exactly mesh, their souls were still knit together. (One was born the heir to the throne but the other one was who God decided would be the next king. #awkward)

So without further ado, here are my 5 thoughts on growing friendships in the body (though some of these are applicable outside the body as well):

1. You aren’t the only one looking for a friend

When I started my new church, I literally knew no one. As in not a soul. (Which was actually incredibly freeing, but thats another thought for another time and blog post). I was kind of terrified to meet people – like if someone says hi to you one week do you assume you can talk to them the next week? Does that mean they’re down to be friends? (I still don’t know the answers).

The cool part for me was realizing (and meeting) people who also didn’t have their friend quota filled … or rather people who were willing and looking for more friends. It was surprising to realize people who had been around longer than I had were still looking for friends (even if it didn’t look super apparent from the outside). The important part was realizing that there were lots of people willing to be friends and start building a friendship, which leads me to point #2…

2. It doesn’t happen right away

You aren’t going to become BFFFFFS with someone right away. Like with anything, it takes time to build up a friendship with someone regardless of the intensity of that friendship. Friendship requires time together, and as we get older it gets harder to find regular time to build those friendships. I find it hard because I roll through a 3 week shift rotation so I can’t commit to doing something on a weekly basis/if someone cancels on me I have to wait a pretty long time to make it up. Maybe for you it’s a different reason, but the fact remains that it can take months+++ for a friendship to grow up from the dust of nothingness. Especially if you’re looking for a deep D+J friendship – if we all just shared our deepest secrets with each other right away they wouldn’t be as deep and special, which kind of ruins your vulnerable/intimate aspect (more on that thought another time, too).

3. It requires both parties to want it

I tried asking someone to meet up a few times and eventually I just stopped asking because I was always the only one initiating, and when we did meet up it felt completely one sided as though they owed me asking all the questions because I asked to meet up. I’m 23 and while I still have a lot of life ahead of me, I don’t have time to try and worm my way into people’s lives. There are other people who need friends too and TBH there is enough humanity to go around for us all to have friends. Yes, it’s annoying to try and make friends only to stay acquaintances, but you can’t be good friends with everyone you know. It takes time (sometimes a lot — see point #2), and sometimes we just have to recognize when it ain’t gonna happen, and open up time for other people. As I mentioned before, you really never know who a friendship will spring up with – and besides, as we’ve already discussed, there are tons people down to hang out and make new friends (point #1).

4. There is more than one model of friendship – and that’s ok

Unless you are the afore mentioned human who never moves and whom’s friends also never move and you and your friend posse do literally everything together, you will eventually have friends that don’t live near you anymore. Are they no longer friends if you can’t see them a few times a week? Some of the friends I see rarely are still some of the closer friendships I have, they just look different. They consist more of social media and occasional text messages and maybe a weekend together every year if we’re lucky. As long as both people are willing to invest in the friendship, however it looks, it can be a good and healthy friendship (and still bring both of you closer to Christ).

4. Friendship does not fulfill what we need.

#guilty of thinking friendship would fulfill the lonely places in my life. Friendship parallels the desire for a relationship here — just because you have a bunch of friends doesn’t mean you won’t feel alone sometimes. We were created to be relational beings, yes, but those relationships are a part of something greater. We are longing for things that can’t be filled by our friendships (or relationships), but we will never find full satisfaction in each other. One day we will have those longings and desires met in our creator, but until then we will still have those longings around us. The important thing I’ve found is to use those feelings to bring me closer to God instead of closer to someone else. I’m especially thankful for the friends who remind me about the most important friendship I have and that it too needs to be fed over time.

5. Just because you haven’t seen the messy part of someone’s life doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

When I was younger I would look at other people and think about how great it would be if I was friends with all of them. My life would be sooooo much better if I was friends with them (aka cool kid syndrome). Even when we’re making new friends, we put our best foot forward to impress and draw people in.

Here’s the problem. If we’re making friends, and I’m talking about true, weathering many seasons, brothers-and-sisters-in-Christ, David-and-Jonathan, joined-together friends, we have to remember that we are all sinners. We are all people with messy lives, struggles we don’t tell everyone, and imperfections we like to gloss over. Just because when you’re starting to get to know someone their life seems put together and perfect doesn’t mean it IS. We all have our own personal epic fails where we let people down, totally botch a task, and blow up in each other’s faces. Becoming deeper friends means that we are vulnerable and share those messes with each other. We tell people about our struggles and we let them have the ability to hurt us. And then when they inevitably do, or we hurt them, we forgive and work through it and continue to grow with each other as we point each other back to God.

 

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Contentment vs. Complacency

Lately when people ask me how I’m doing, I say I’m doing great. I’m content with where I am and what God has done to get me there. Which sounds super great. Except yesterday I realized that my contentment may have been masking something not ok – complacency. Yes, I’m ok with where I am, but did I reach that point by looking at the good things I have been given (partially) or by resigning myself that this was good enough and ignoring the goals, opportunities, and people God put around me to pursue and engage (…)?

Yesterday I was reading Isaiah 1 and verse 27 stood out…

Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent by righteousness.

In the midst of the storm they were about to face – being torn from their way of life and land – God promises that in the end they will be restored. But the restoration comes with a price.

Justice is the fair treatment or lawfulness of actions – and in this case God acts as the righteous judge in determining the price that must be paid for the sins that have been committed. He even says earlier in the passage (verses 12-15) that he is tired of their burnt offerings and feasts (note: these are the things he says will be pleasing to him in Numbers, among other places). Is God being duplicitous? No, that cannot be, so what is he saying instead? Let’s look at the following verses (16-17)…

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
     learn to do good;
seek justice,
    correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
    plead the widow’s cause. 

I think, as with every time God tells the people of Israel about his precepts and his desires, he wants authentic worship. He wants them to be pleased with their stature before him, to recognize his awesome power, and to bring (along with their burnt offerings) a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). Then, from that place of understanding who He is and who they are, to move forward and bring his love, justice, and mercy to the world.

So what happened?

The people of Israel had become complacent in their place. They weren’t content with what God had asked – sure they kept doing the things they were supposed to, but they weren’t satisfied anymore. And hey, maybe, like me, they thought they were content. They thought they were down with what was going on and ever so slowly they started drifting without even noticing. Little by little you stop dwelling on his words, thinking about what you’re doing, noticing those around you…and instead you start thinking about other things, going through the motions, and suddenly you really don’t care about that widow -you’re too busy strolling through your day to day actions “living”, revelling in our saved-ness and neglecting what comes after the salvation and hoopla along with it.

As I read the chapter I couldn’t help but be reminded about how we ourselves are saved through justice and redeemed through righteousness. Our sins deserved the ultimate sacrifice of death; and the only way we could have been redeemed was for someone to pay that debt. God just didn’t blankly forgive our sins – as a just and righteous God he couldn’t do that. A debt needed to be paid. The full payment was accepted when Jesus died for us, taking our sins upon himself, and by that justice we are saved. We are reinstated as a people right with God and we can come to him with our broken and contrite hearts.

However, just like the people of Israel we are also called above the physical actions of our lives and the routines of Christianity. We aren’t supposed to just physically take part in communion, but to consider the significance of it, and repent of our sins before taking it. We are still supposed to confess our sins to God and we are still supposed to turn from evil and run in the opposite direction. Plus, we are supposed to move beyond that and act in our lives. We are to do all the “one anothers” – serve, love, encourage, etc. We are supposed to be trying to see the kingdom of God here on earth, experiencing his goodness and sharing it with others.

We too are not to be complacent, but to be content. Yes, to be content, but not to be content with being complacent and staying where we are. Obviously we will be content when we are complacent because when we are complacent we don’t need to deal with the harder questions or care about the state of those around us. We can be blind to our own sin and parade around our status in life because “we’re happy here.”

Just because I’ve made it this far doesn’t mean that this is as far as I’m going – God still has more for me. He has more adventures, more things to learn, more people for me to meet, and more souls to save in the world, more justice to bring to those who cannot take it for themselves. My contentment is to be IN Him, what he has given me and where he has placed me. Yet I am still to be longing for a fuller communion and deeper intimacy with him. I am still to be carrying out his justice and mercy to those around me and I am still to have a desire for more of him, less of me, and to see his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

So: are you content or complacent?

Passion & Lament

Did you know that David complained to God? Well…maybe complained gives a little bit of a wrong connotation. But David DID tell God when he was upset. And he questioned where God was. He openly told God when he was feeling a little neglected and like the world was out to get him. He wonders where in the world God has disappeared off to and blatantly questions why things are happening to him.

On the other hand, David exemplifies what I consider to be “passion” in his faith. He extols and praises God for things that I can’t even understand wanting to be that thankful for. He gets so excited about everything. I feel like God could have been like “here David. I made you a thing. It’s useless and ugly but here,” and David would be like “HOLY WOW YOU ARE THE GREATEST IMMA WRITE YOU A SONG AND THEN EXUBERANTLY INTERPRETIVE DANCE TO IT IN FRONT OF EVERYONE (2 Samuel 6:13-14).”

And so I wonder. How did David get to have this gloriously close connection with God? He felt like he could tell him anything, their relationship was clearly very open. Maybe he knows something I don’t? How else can he harness such joy and passion to write things like “As the deer pants for water so my soul longs after you”??? And, presumably, MEAN IT? It’s easy to say thing but to write songs and put them to words implies a little more than heat of the moment concepts.

I think the answer, or rather the evidence supporting it, lies in David’s laments. David doesn’t just tell God how upset he is. Or how angry he is. Or how afraid he is. He weeps etc. but then he finishes on quite a different note. He finishes by saying how fab God is again. I’ll use Psalm 13 because it’s super short but illustrates my point just as well as the longer laments.

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

TLDR: God my life is FALLING APART!!!! WHERE ARE YOU?!?!?!?! It’s ok though because you are the greatest ever and I know you know what you’re doing.

me: !!!!!!!

Even though he feels like he is dying and he has no idea what God is doing right now (can I get an amen?) he is STILL able to fall back on what he knows to be true. He reminds himself that God knows what he’s doing. He is sovereign. He has been good in the past — bountiful even! Therefore he will continue to praise and worship even though his life is totes falling apart (context wise, he was really sick and didn’t want to die).

The real question is…how does he do this? How can he turn, in difficult times, to continually praising God?

Not going to leave you hanging, I promise.

Clearly David knows God. He knows him well. He has sought after him and learned about him. We can see evidence of that in all his other psalms, his life patterns, and also the fact that God picked him to be the next king because he was a man after God’s own heart. And the result of all this “knowing” is that he has something to fall back onto.

I have lots of friends that I don’t see vhry as often as I would like due to distance. But I know that they are still my friends. I believe that. And when I don’t see/hear from them for a little while I don’t go “oh we aren’t friends anymore,” I rely on what I know to be true and then a few weeks later maybe a letter shows up in the mail. It is our solid friendship and experiences together in the past that allow me to get through the not present parts.

How does David get this with God? Shoot, he spends time with him! What is the magical secret to praising and trusting God in the good times and in the bad times?

Blessed is the man[a]
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law[b] of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3

I might add “more able to remember the steadfastness and the glory of the Lord is he who has sought after and experienced it already.”

So I encourage you, as I encourage myself, have you spent time lately building up your friendship with God? And if not, will you start now?

On Fear

I’ve read this one article a few times, and seen it shared on various platforms as well in the past few months. The first time I read it I skimmed it and thought parts of it were ok and parts were meh. Then I read it again later and saw some things that maybe I should be taking to heart. I’m all about practically applying head knowledge, so I decided to try out the first challenge — eliminating fear, scared, and terrified from my vocabulary. Well, I tried…

When I started trying to get rid of those words, two things started to happen.

  1. I started being more aware of when I used those words. And felt those feelings. And how often I had them. And it sucked.
  2. I started thinking more about why I was afraid. Picking apart my fears. And it both sucked and was awesome.

So it sucked because I felt a little bit like my fears were dumb. I mean, real talks. I’m afraid of driving. Not like the childhood “I’m afraid of snakes and spiders” feeling (this is still relevant – I don’t like these animals thx). I’ve felt fear in a crippling, heart wrenching, sometimes-I-can’t-even-think fear. Sometimes it would keep me awake at night. Or, debatably worse, it would hit me while I was driving. (I have other common fears too, but this is the most predominant in my life right now).

It was awesome because I started wondering why I was afraid. And seeking ways to not be afraid. I realized that no matter how hard I tried, I was still going to FEEL these feelings. I can’t stop feeling them, just like how when something you find funny happens you can’t not be amused. You found it funny, therefore, you are amused. It is how I deal with the feeling that matters.

When you’re amused you can smile, laugh, type “lolololololol” into your phone etc. You can even whip out the smirking emoji. When I am afraid, I can dwell on my fear and let it overwhelm me, or I can harness it, and turn it around into prayer and praise to God.

Last weekend I was in a foodcourt at the mall with a bunch of other people and a little girl. While we were there, the fire alarm went off. No one was worried, and the staff made announcements over the PA system that there was nothing to worry about currently. The little girl, however, didn’t understand or trust the announcements and was scared. It took a lot of assurances from her mother for her to calm down and eat her lunch without worrying about how we were all going to get caught in a fire. (Also the fire alarm stopped…)

When I am afraid, I am turned inward to myself. When I am not afraid, I can turn outwards to others. When I am scared I am only thinking about the here and now. When I am not scared, I can remember there is a larger story I’m a part of that I can’t see. When I am terrified, I can’t see what is going on around me. When I’m not terrified, I can see other people and things that God is calling me to pour into and serve.

It isn’t easy. I’ve been dealing with this particular fear for a long time and I don’t think I would have been very good at this “let it go” stuff at the beginning. But working through it and starting to approach it with this mindset has helped me. It’s also crossed over into other fears I have — being single forever, not making enough money to support myself, those darn snakes that are everywhere and nowhere..

If I believe God is in control of my life and knows what he’s doing (if I believe he is who he says he is — and if he wasn’t why would I put my faith in him?????), then I do not need to be afraid. I may still have the feelings of panic and fear, but I don’t need to let them dictate my life and make my decisions for me. I need to put them aside and let God dictate those decisions instead. And I hope that one day, in the face of fear, I will not be afraid.

 

Pour into These

When I was younger I thought that by the time I reached this age I would be living an  adventure. I thought I would wake up every day filled with joy and passion for living, and that I would feel like everything I was doing was meaningful, impactful, and fulfilling. (Clearly this is a fantasy because emotions.)

In the age of the internet and social media I’ve ready quite a few articles on how young people should live their lives. They tell me to quit my job and just travel for a year (um but how do you pay for it?), or to invest in my career (how do you even know what you want?), or to live alone for a while (again, is no one worried about money anymore?). But, while these all sound super tantalizing and nice, I know that they don’t actually satisfy they way they sound like they do.

The articles that touch me deeply are the ones that talk about how young singles should be living their lives for God. How we should be investing in our churches and our ability to say yes to things that come up. Mentor this person? yes! Support this person in ministry? yes! Volunteer for this event? yes!

What they don’t talk about is the mental challenges you face to do that. Apathy lurks around every corner when I start thinking about the lost. Doubt trickles into my mind whenever I think about taking a step towards mentoring. And let’s not even get started on how hard it is to go to a church and say “Hi. One of my spiritual gifts is administration. Let me run stuff for you.” (Besides the fact they usually already have someone, you kind of need a little more rapport than that.)

And so I find myself in an awkward place. I’m trying to live, but feel hindered by the regular facts of life. I thought I would be working in full time ministry, and instead I’m working elsewhere (and I do love my job, but it isn’t the same). But most of all I wonder if what I’m doing has impact. Or if it has worth. Is what I’m doing with my life meaningful? Expectations of what I should do seem to come from everywhere (but they’re probably all just in my head), and then I feel lost.

So I, like any good 20 something who doesn’t know what is going on with this adulating thing, I half-seriously asked my mom what I should do with my life.

You have a job. You have a church. You have a family. You have friends. Pour into those.

Pouring out is not a quick one time deal. Pouring is flowing from yourself into others. And I think this sums up what all those articles are saying. (Or what they’re trying to say.) Your life isn’t more impactful or more meaningful if you’re a foreign missionary. You have circles of influence and within those you have the ability to invest in their lives. You have the ability to show people the love of Christ. And hanging out and spending time with people is NOT a waste.

Over and over again in the Bible we are reminded of how we are to care for the lost and the broken. The least of these. In Galatians 2 they have a huge hullabaloo meeting about how to live as  Christian and if circumcision is really necessary, and what do they decide? The only thing they leave Paul with is to remember the poor (Gal 2:10). There’s the woman at the well Jesus decides to invest in (John 4). Healing the sick and afflicted (the Bible…). Elijah provides food and healing for the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17). etc.

Then there’s Jesus and Peter:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

John 21:15-17

So you know the people you see every day? The ones that you talk to or hang out with and see often. Or maybe the one you see once a week and chat with. Maybe the one who is growing and looking for guidance. The one who is hurting. The one who is right there.

Pour into these.

Live Redeemed

I haven’t blogged in over a year, which is fitting as I usually blog when I’m inspired to do so, and this was an uninspiring  year + a few months with some of the hardest, crippling moments of my life. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though because I had some pretty sweet moments too – like graduating! *insert London Tipton clap* Yay me!

Highs and lows aside, it was a year where I tried very hard to achieve some goals (and failed), and went through a massive transition which I’m only now getting used to (note: graduation & life after). It is also a year where I let a lot of not the best habits (exercise? what is exercise?) slip into my life with the excuse “I’ll fix/do that after I graduate” (spoiler: they have not been eradicated yet).

And so I found myself mid-December, doing one of my favourite things to do at Christmas time, reading Christmas letters from all of my parents’ friends. I mostly do this because I know who their kids are, but I also like hearing about what God has done in the lives of people I don’t know. This year my mom was telling me about who wrote one of the letters I was reading. She described her as someone who believed that we were all redeemed children of God, and that even in the midst of sins and difficult times we should live like we are redeemed.

Boom. New Year’s Resolution.

Ok, it took a little more thought and a few weeks before I reached that point. Let me break it down:

Live

The dictionary definitions I looked up for this basically said it meant you weren’t dead. Which is true. But I’m taking it a step further to point out that living requires one to live; which means you have to get up and do things instead of giving into the temptation that is Netflix, or whatever vice you have that occupies your time. (Not that we don’t need breaks, I full endorse sabbaths and breaks, and believe we were created to need them (see Leviticus 23:3 & Leviticus 25), though it may look different today than it did then).

Redeemed

When I think of redeemed, I think of three things: Jesus, Ruth, and Hosea (Francine Rivers may or may not have had an influence on the latter). Hosea with Gomer, and Ruth with Boaz, display for us in a very physical and tangible way, what Jesus does for us, which is a more conceptual thing (though his physical death was as tangible as it gets). “Redeemed” is defined:

1. to gain or regain possession of something in exchange for something else
2. literally translates from latin to “buy back”

Hosea bought Gomer out of prostitution into a different life (see Hosea), Boaz raised Ruth up from being an outcast to a member of society with worth (see Ruth), and Jesus paid for our salvation with his life, death, and resurrection (see the Gospels/the Bible). We were bought out of our sin, and brought into the light (Colossians 1:13).

Living Redeemed

I like how John says it (Chapter 10):

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Jesus came that we could live our lives abundantly. To have more than we need in it. So that covers LIVING, and I think to do it redeemed is to give the life we are living back to the one who gave it to us. This crosses into the familiar territory of allowing God to redeem and restore (the entirety of) our lives. AKA the sanctification process. There are a lot of parts of my life that I haven’t allowed to be redeemed. But if I am redeemed, then all of me is redeemed and the life I live should reflect that.

Living Redeemed isn’t something I expect to start and succeed at right away. In fact, I don’t fully understand what it will look like. What I do know (and have been reminded of many times already) is that I cannot do this redeemed thing without God. It requires me to admit and accept that I am a sinner. I did not redeem myself, and I cannot redeem any part of my life either. However, in him I am redeemed and by him I can live abundantly.

This resolution isn’t about doing a 180 and suddenly being perfect. It’s about facing what I’ve been running from, falling in the dirt, and getting back up again. It’s a resolution I’m going to fail at, but that I, by grace, get to keep trying at, knowing that one day I will be fully restored to live with my redeemer forever.

 

Called Me Higher

Recently I was talking with one of my friends and they challenged me on the way I had acted earlier. It devastated me because I hadn’t thought there was anything wrong.

I’ve thought it fairly common to think there are things wrong with you. In particular, for me, I noted that I was extremely different from a lot of people I hung out with. There are so many talks that I would hear online or in youth group or in school about self confidence that you almost felt like you needed to feel bad so you could overcome it later. Long story short (and skipping over about 20.5 years of my life…) I had a few things (read: a lot of things) that I did not like about who I was. I sort of forgot the whole “made in God’s image part” and instead felt as though the parts of my personality I had were wrong, and that I would never be able to change them.

It was around this time that I went away to camp for the last summer as a counsellor and found healing from those things I never thought I would. I wasn’t expecting it, but for the first time in a long time I felt loved and accepted for who I was and not for who I was not.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14

I was reminded that God had made me – and so that I must be good. It sounds like it was a magical time and I was perfect after that – but it wasn’t. It took over a year from that point to really accept different parts of me and be ok with them. To think that maybe, just maybe, I was good the way I was made. Everything was just fine!

Nope.

Everything came crashing down. My friend challenged me on an action I had done, but that action related to a huge part of how I had identified myself, and something that I had always thought was good. Could it be wrong? Could it really be that I wasn’t good? It took me a while to process, but then I remembered:

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:15-16 (cf. Leviticus 11:44-45)

I am called to be more than who I am. Yes, who I am is good, but I am also called to continue to grow and become more of who he wants me to be. And that very well may be changing how I react to things so that others are less likely to be hurt. It very well may be changing and paying more attention to what I say and not just passing it off as “who I am”.

Part of what made this revelation easier to swallow and process was that it was made in the context of someone seeing me as God sees me. God sees me as a beautiful daughter through Christ, and he does want me to grow and learn. I like to think of the times my parents have corrected me – they love me for who I am, but they saw things I could improve on and chose to acknowledge them and push me to work on them. So taking in the things that I need to improve is through the lens of growing – not that I am any less worthy or loved.

I am not called to be stagnant in my development or my faith. I am called deeper. I should examine my life and my actions and continue to hand them over to be consecrated and used for His will. I am called higher.

Centre-Filled Life

Do you know those songs you sing in church about Jesus being the centre of your life/it all/be the centre/all that other stuff about having everything in your life revolve around him? They usually have a some really pretty melody that you feel like you butcher when you try and sing it because you aren’t anything like Darlene Zschech (or maybe that’s just every song…). And they also usually are accompanied by words like “surrender” and “all of me” and other big abstract concepts like that.

What I’ve been considering lately, especially as I go into this last year of school (the number of times I’ve said “7 months” in the last week is beyond ridiculous), is what it really actually LOOKS like to do that. Especially at a time where I have a last-chance to develop habits and routines that will (hopefully) follow me into that scary world of being a “real adult”. What does it mean if I choose to live out Jesus being the centre of everything – the centre of my life. Surrendering everything I have to him, and trusting that He’s got it all planned out and he’ll never leave my side? What does that really truly look like?

I don’t know

 

Yep. I don’t. I’m still learning – so far from perfect (SO FAR). But I have learned a few things…and one of the mind-blowingly simple things I’ve been reminded of is that to have your life revolving around Christ at the centre, you need to have him in the centre, and the only way to do THAT is to choose to focus on him and let him fill you (you know – that other cliche saying we have about filling up on Christ so you can pour out to others!). The first step to having Jesus be the centre of my life, is by allowing him to be the centre of my 8:00-8:30 morning break time. It isn’t my life, but starting to cut out time allows him to fill up a little part of me. And the more that I allow myself to fill up on Christ, the more the little bits start to overflow into the rest of my life. It’s choosing him over whatever I’m doing – throwing my phone across the room when doing devos so there are no distractions, stopping mid-thought process and turning back to praise.

BRINGING IT FULL CIRCLE…that hypothetical chair we’ve got at the centre of our lives – do we let Jesus fill it? Actually let him sit on the chair without trying to push hi off or sit on the corner. And then do we let him being there permeate the rest of our life or put up some walls around the chair to protect other parts?

So…I think that living a “Jesus-centred life” and being “filled with Jesus” go hand in hand. And when we let him fill the centre spot we have in our life, and start trying to align each individual decision, each thought every day, towards what he wants. Asking for a renewed heart daily (I know for one, my heart needs renewing multiple times a day). It is then that Jesus fills the centre of our life, and we have a centre-filled life.

By all means, I am NOT perfect. I still like to centre my life around myself or section off parts of my life that I don’t want God to touch. But I’m learning. Learning to let go. Learning to be filled. Learning to let him be the centre. Learning to be centre-filled and not centre-empty.

So many illustrations overlapping – hope that all made sense. Thank you for reading my thoughts~

When Being Washed by the Water Hurts

Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water
– Needtobreathe

Sometimes I don’t want to read my Bible.

Sometimes I don’t want to pray.

Sometimes I don’t even want to leave the house on Sunday and go to church.

Sound familiar?

One of these is blatantly obvious to everyone else when we do it, so most of us just suck it up and do it to save face (at least I do). The other two are hidden, and if we skip them, no one is the wiser. Sometimes we can even skip them for weeks and months on end without anyone figuring it out.

However, the longer we spend away, the harder it is to come back. The longer it’s been since I picked up my devos the more I look at them and go “Well, one more day won’t set me back too much” until it becomes “I’m too far behind to even bother now…” The whole time we inherently know that we need to read it again. We understand the importance of sitting down and praying. But we also know that it’s going to hurt to start again.

In Ted Dekker’s series “The Circle Trilogy” (except it’s 4 books???) he has a beautiful analogy for this my friend reminded me of yesterday. When the world has “fallen”, they have to wash themselves in a lake daily to remain human. If they don’t, they begin to dry out and become gross and flakey. One can go a few days without washing, but the more you go without, the less you want to wash because the water is going to sting. A lot. In fact, if I remember correctly, it almost burns when you go in after a long period of being away.

It’s like that for us too: the first few plunges back into the water after avoiding it is like getting a child to wash on bath day. We don’t want to be clean, in fact, we’ve started to not notice the dirt we’ve been wallowing in. And the dirt isn’t too bad, or so we think. The end result is great, but there is pain to get there – we have to get wet (and soap. And potentially a lot of scrubbing).

It’s true that we’re washed by the water, and that no matter what comes our way Jesus is with us, but are you really walking with him? Or are you just waltzing around pretending to be washing yourself daily, but hiding behind a pretty outer appearance? It’s all too easy to hide the dirty, dried out inside (I know I do it too).

It’s hard to start again. Especially when we don’t have any desire to start again. We know it will hurt, it will sting, it will burn.  But like an obedient child on bath day, we have to start. We know we need to wash, so we need to pour the water, get in the tub, and wash.

I don’t know why I love you

Most times you can go online and read someone rant about how movies and music and Hollywood and Disney completely skew the portrayal of what love is supposed to be. We think we’ll find our “true love”, and  in a few days we’ll know they’re “the one” (worked for Romeo and Juliette…). We’ll know because they’ll put up with our crap and check off everything on our “I want list” and make us feel great. If we have awkward silences with them sometimes, they must not be the one (also if you weren’t masquerading around in a dress and talking to cartoon animals, you aren’t a princess). This magical person will fall from the sky and into our lives and then life will be great.

I read an article about how there is no “the one” a few years ago, and that we are surrounded by people who a relationship may work with. Since then I’ve read numerous articles and blog posts about how people didn’t marry the one, their soulmate, their other half … all driving the same point home – this mystical “the one” is complete bogus. It’s completely changed how I look at the friends I have, and makes me pretty cautious about friend zoning anyone. What I find most interesting is that I can look at a few people and think about how our relationship would be like. With some it would be non-stop laughter and hilarity, while with others it would be a calm, steady ship in a wind storm. Every relationship is different and any of them could work. They could. It doesn’t mean they will. There are other variables at play like, you know, feelings. And I would also like to mention that NONE of these people check off every box that I have on my “perfect guy list”, because that guy doesn’t exist. And if he did, I probably wouldn’t like him.

Moving onto the reason I titled this the way I did, I think that some of the Hollywood movies that have come out actually are fair descriptors of what kind of love we should be looking for. Maybe even some Disney ones. My favourite line in a movie is when someone asks their lover (or whatever you want to call them) “Why do you love me?” and the answer comes along the lines of “I don’t know,”or “You make me angry, ticked off, and upset – but I can’t stand being without you” or, if you like 27 Dresses

“I’ve been waiting my whole life for the right guy to come along and then you showed up. And you are nothing like the man I imagined. You’re cynical and cranky and impossible. But the truth is, fighting with you is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. And I think there’s a very good chance that I’m falling in love with you.”

I don’t think that we should be looking for someone who checks off everything we’ve ever wanted. I think we should be looking for someone who challenges us, and is a real person. One of my friends just got engaged and when she was talking to me about him, she talked about how he brought out sides of her that she never knew she had. Together, they complimented each other and their strengths and weaknesses worked together. You wouldn’t have put them together out of the blue, but when you see them together you can’t help but believe that love exists.

There are going to be things that we absolutely hate about the person we end up with, along with things that we knew we wanted and will always love. And there will be things that we find in this person that we never thought we would want, but come to love more than anything we thought we would.