Hey, friends. Long time no post! Therefore, long post.
This semester totally caught me off guard–it couldn’t be any more different than last semester. I’m a fan of change, so it’s not all bad, but my priorities have been tested big time and I’ve had to reevaluate A TON. One of those mega reevaluations was my major–I am so excited to say that I am now an English major (Editing, Writing, and Media to be specific)!!! It was a decision that took a lot of prayer and consideration and tears and worry and uncertainty, but I took the leap and I haven’t felt a bit of regret. Nutrition is GREAT, but writing has been a passion of mine since I was a kid, and I can’t even tell you how excited I am to see how God uses me through it.
So anyway, after a crazy couple of days this week (aka an exam and a huge draft for a project due within a 24 hour period that left me sleepless in Tallahassee), I had the whole rest of the week to decompress. I logged on to WordPress for the first time in ages *sigh of relief* and found a little new year’s post that never made it up on the blog. Well, here you have it, 3 months later (hehe…).
I’ll preface this by saying not all of my quiet times with the Lord are like this; I long for it, but I’m a human. I can’t make a quiet time life-changing–I don’t have that much power. Only the God who set the stars in place can alter something as stubborn as the human mind.
The past couple of days I’ve been thinking. Thinking about 2017, thinking about the new semester, thinking about my thoughts. Yep, I do that sometimes. My mind was so energized today that I actually had to ask myself, “have I had a single conversation with anyone today?” Well, ya know, some days you just need a little introspection.
Anyways, I was thinking a few days ago about my “word of the year.” I was trying to brainstorm ideas, but nothing seemed to fit. “Faith” and “love” just didn’t feel right. So I prayed about it. I prayed that God would open my eyes to what He wanted me to see. And about a day later, I found my “word.”
When you really break it down, “vulnerable” carries A LOT of weight. It requires a degree of courage that I would argue nothing else in this world demands. It means all shame, hurt, sorrow, joy, emotion must be laid out on the table. It’s showing the deepest parts of your flawed heart and mind to other equally flawed humans that have the capability say words that can cut deep. It means holding nothing back–to bring the shameful, ugly parts of your heart to the surface. It’s putting alcohol on that gaping wound that required stitches from a doctor, but you thought you could heal it yourself with just a bandaid. You just keep putting a new bandaid on it, thinking it’s getting better, but in reality it’s festering and needs to heal. Vulnerability is ripping that bandaid off and admitting that you can’t do it alone. Your wound cannot heal without the help of someone experienced, who knows just what will bring healing to that pain. Whew. Alrighty, now that we’ve gone 0 to 100% heavy, cue the happy music.
That night, I read the intro to my Jesus Calling devotional, and one line really hit me. “God guides our minds as we think things out in His Presence.” So I poured my thoughts out onto the pages of my journal. And right now I’m gonna share it because God is so good and utterly amazing. So, here goes.
“Lord, you’re speaking straight into my heart! Before I opened Jesus Calling, I prayed that You would give me a teachable spirit to absorb what you’re teaching me, and the very first line is ‘Come to Me with a teachable spirit.’ Aghh! After that, You say, ‘eager to be changed.’
That’s what I long for right now, Lord. To be changed. Not a new set of circumstances, or the way I look, or new friends, but the transformation of my mind. Sin is insanely exhausting. It makes me into a person that I don’t want to be around. Fear holds me back from loving people and letting myself be loved. Vulnerability is my biggest fear I think, Lord. I’ve heard a bunch of people talking about their “words” for the year. I feel You’re telling me “vulnerable.””
This is where the most mind-blowing thing happened. Remember “God guides our minds as we think things out in His presence? As I was writing my prayer out on the page, I felt God speaking straight into my heart, right where I was at in my thought process.
Be vulnerable. I bared everything before man and took the punishment for failure.
“WOW. Jesus, I broke down at that. I am SO INCREDIBLY FREE! Whom then shall I fear? You see the deepest and most broken places of my heart. I am a perfectionist–failure is one of my BIGGEST FEARS. I fear messing things up–like one wrong move and it’s all gonna come crashing down on me. I live my life like I’m setting up a house of cards–the slightest wrong move and it caves.”
I Am in complete control. What the world deems failure is such success in the heavenly realm. The times you feel you’ve failed and everything’s gone wrong–I am mightily at work in your heart. I give and take away for My glory. Some people are put in your path for only a short time–don’t feel you’ve messed the relationship up. Listen to My voice, My Spirit within you; if I mean for the relationship to continue, then it will be so. But you, My beloved, do not mess anything up. If you had the power to alter My plans, then I would not be who I say I am, the God of the Universe. You, My dear, do not hold that much weight and power. I want you to know that all the earthly pain, struggles and failure you face are not in vain. I will strengthen and uplift you; I will give you joy in your darkest hours. Because Love, I’ve been there. I took on the weight and pain and struggles and failures of ALL PEOPLE of ALL TIMES when I hung on that cross. Believe Me when I say I know EXACTLY what you feel. I chose to do that for you, so that you could choose to be free. Before I came into your life, you didn’t have that choice. You were a slave to the world and the thoughts of your captive mind. But My Love, I bring you Peace. You have the choice to be utterly free in Me. That doesn’t mean troubles will not happen anymore, but rather, you can feel My presence and peace and strength in the midst of troubles. Your light and momentary afflictions are bringing about something insurmountable in heaven. The pain and suffering you face now is FAR outweighed by the indescribable JOY and PEACE and PERFECTION that awaits you in heaven. But for now, I will fight for you; you need only be still.
“Oh Lord. Such sweet truth. You fill me with such joy! For a second, the thought crossed my mind, ‘what if I’m just talking to myself? What if I’m making an imaginary friend?’ Oh but Jesus, thank you for understanding my neediness and brokenness. There’s just no way. I could never dream up a friend so perfectly understanding. My mind is a war zone. When I’m alone for too long, I get trapped in isolation, which then leads to comparison and bitterness, leading to frustration and impatience that I end up taking people, especially those I’m closest to. I become fearful and anxious and doubtful. I feel suffocated by my own thoughts and insecurities. I don’t like who I become when I’m alone. But Lord, when I’m with You, I love who I am because You love who I am. You’ve intentionally and purposefully created my mind and my heart, and when I spend time with You, I feel Your light shining into the darkness of my heart and You bring healing to hurting parts. Parts where I feel insignificant or defective in the eyes of the world, Your light uncovers purpose. I used to dislike my introversion, but You are lovingly teaching me that You meant for me to be that way. It’s all part of Your grander plan. Since I’ve gone to college, I’ve met so many others who share that introversion, and it’s beautiful to see that Your glory exists and shines through both introverts and extraverts. You’ve set different challenges in our paths and are using us each for different parts of bringing Your glory, but ultimately all of our purposes are to love You, love each other, and be loved by the One who made us worthy of love.
Romans 12:3–Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
“The closer I grow to You, Lord, the sharper my awareness of my need for You is. I need You every hour. Without You, I would be consumed by the sin that so dang easily entangles me and would be utterly trapped. But by Your grace, You’ve provided me a way out; You’ve clothed me with Your perfection so that I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to measure up. I don’t have to have all the right answers and words to say. Any good thing I do is You at work within me, Lord. Hallelujah! I’m not a slave to sin any longer!”
So there you have it. I’ll admit, that perfectionist part of me kept thinking “crap, I know there’s a better word for that,” or “ok stop using the word is,” or I’d think “no, I don’t know if I feel comfortable saying that on the internet.” But like I said, vulnerability is laying it bare, holding nothing back.
This was the last page of that journal entry. It’s not fancy. I used a plain old pen and messy lines and it’s not strategic and straight. It’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. And that’s ok.
Because my God is, and He says to my weary, perfectionist self, “Be still, my power is made PERFECT through your weakness. You’ve got no one to impress, because I love you and all your quirks. I made you just the way I wanted to, and when I hung on that cross, I set you free. You, My love, are completely and utterly free.”
I am free.