I’ve been having a kind of stressful year. Well, the last two years have been stressful, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I love owning my house and being on my own and learning about responsibility and all that fun stuff… but ever since I lost my steady office job 2 years ago, I’ve been having a hard time both getting to a stable place financially (which causes a lot of stress when you’re suddenly paying bills and house repairs that you never had to worry about before) and finding confidence in my “work” part of my life.
Through various stresses and situations, I have been struggling with feeling inadequate. It’s hard not to compare myself to people who seem to have their life more together than me, or who have more ambitious goals, or who seem to have fewer struggles with the things that are really hard for me.
Add to that… I’ve been going through a spiritual dry spell for about 4 years, and while I’ve had good moments and am hopefully on the upswing, not connecting with God like I want to has made the whole “life thing” a little bit harder. I keep thinking to myself “if I could just spend more time with God, if I could read my Bible more faithfully, if I could relearn to connect with God in song, then a whole lot of these problems would be easier”. And yet I still haven’t gotten back into consistency with most of those things.
I was sharing some of my inner struggles and worries with some Christians earlier this year, and someone asked me what my biggest fears were. My two-fold answer is the same deep-rooted worry that’s been in the depths of my heart as long as I can remember: 1) I’m afraid that who I am now won’t ever change… 2) I’m afraid that I won’t find my purpose in life.
I have confidence in who God is and in His power; I have confidence that He can. I tend to doubt that He will.
I don’t have answers to all this. I have Scriptures to cling to, but I haven’t quite knocked out that niggling, mental commentary that says I am somehow holding God up by my lack of initiative, knowledge, and ability to grow.
You know, sometimes I get jealous of people who have all of the flashy, “draw-attention-to-themselves” talents that some Christians have. But deep down, what I really want is to have a heart like Jesus’. I don’t need attention or awards or accolades. I just want to know that I am moldable, that I am a (wo)man after God’s own heart, that my simple pursuit of Him will bring Him joy and can be used to lift up those around me. I get discouraged when I feel like even that’s not happening, like all the compassion and kindness I wish to live out is somehow less than it should be or selfishly motivated. And feeling like even the simplest of things I try to do is wrong can get discouraging.
But maybe the desire to desire God is enough for today? Here is the chorus of Nichole Nordeman’s song “Your Heart” that she wrote from the perspective of King David:
At the end of the day I wanna hear people say My heart looks like Your heart, my heart looks like Your heart When the world looks at me, let them agree That my heart looks like Your heart, my heart looks like Your heart
Maybe having a long cry over wanting to be more like Jesus is already on the way to having a heart like His. Maybe God is pleased with the way I want to pursue Him, even if I don’t always succeed. Maybe the first step of being like humble, being like Jesus, is by saying that I know I’m not there, but being willing to be willing to be so. It’s not even about trying hard enough, because we can always try harder. It’s about caring about trying. Even that simple desire towards desire, when that’s all I can muster up in a day, that’s enough for Jesus to be pleased with me. Our works mean nothing; God looks at and knows our hearts, and as someone who is covered in the righteousness of Christ because of what HE has done, God loves what He sees when He sees me.
You know what else I thought about the other day? God knows the end of my story. He knows my story arc. He sees every episode of my life, and He knows where all my points of growth are. I had this revelation that, if my life is a TV show that God created… I need to remember that He is NOT impatiently watching each episode in order to get to the ending. God isn’t saying “ugh, I have to get through all of these boring seasons of Bethany being stupid before she is finally who I want her to be”.
God does not look at my life like that. He LOVES watching each episode, because He likes spending time with me! He finds me adorable; he laughs when I’m being goofy and wants to give me a hug when I’m going through a tough time. He relishes the moments that I’m learning, and he sees where all of the story is going even when I’m stuck in the center of the drama. But He DOESN’T make the story just to get to a perfect end goal. He makes the story because He loves the process, and He wants to walk with me through the process. I’m one of His favorite characters.
I don’t know why that analogy hit me so hard, but realizing that God is not just sitting around and waiting for me to get better, knowing that He is walking with me despite all the mistakes and all of the drama and loving every moment because He loves His creation… that somehow really connects with me and give me a new perspective. And yet He loves me so much more than any TV show character, because our lives are real. Thank you, God, for creating my story and finding me adorable.
So a while ago I wrote a blog about my Nostalgia Album called “Crazy Happy Nonsense”, the album of nostalgic songs that I would do covers of if I was, you know, a singer and someone asked me to do a personally nostalgic album. Well, I’ve had multiple other “albums” or themed playlists I’ve been working on, but this one was the one I finished next.
When I say this is my “Emo Album”, I think of the overly dramatic and “woe is me” songs, either full of self-pity, doom and gloom or just kind of making fun of sad things in life. Not all of these songs fit the “Emo” category perfectly; some of them are more pretty than funny, and I have a few reverse Emo songs to bring some cheerfulness into the doom and gloom attitude. But this might very well be a playlist that I would enjoy listening to if I wanted to feel sorry for myself while keeping myself from getting too depressed at the same time. This album is titled “I’m a Punk”. –
1. Close Every Door (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) This was clearly one of the obvious choices for my emo album. While Joseph definitely has a good reason to be as sad and discouraged as he is, this has great dramatic lyrics full of angst and woe. This is one of those songs that I can sing both in a sad way and in a “having fun with the drama” way. I figured this was a good one to start the album with; jump right into that emotion!
I do not matter, I’m only one person Destroy me completely, then throw me away
(I don’t know what the Swiss Army Knife is doing on the screen)
2. I’m a Punk (The Cat in the Hat cartoon) This is the title song mostly because it’s the personification of the overdramatic emo to me. If ever I’m feeling down on myself and thinking that no one likes me, I can express my insecurity through song at the same time as I’m reminding myself how silly my fears are. How can you not laugh at yourself when you’re singing lines like “I’m untouchable unless you wear antiseptical gloves”?
I’m a punk; a kratunkulous schnunk
Nobody loves me, not one tiny hunk
3. All Alone in the World (Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol) Mom used to sing this depressing song to us kids, and then a year or two ago we finally decided to watch the Mr. Magoo cartoon. This song is one of those super sad ones that has a lot of emo lyrics for a kids’ show, hehe, but it always makes me giggle. Clearly it belongs in this album.
A hand for each hand was planned for the world
Why don’t my fingers reach?
4. I’m So Blue (Madame Blueberry) When I remembered that this song existed, this had to go on the list of options. I was actually debating between this and “Pizza Angel”, which has more drama, but I personally like this one more. Sometimes you just gotta whine and boo-hoo-hoo the blues.
I really can’t stand it, I think I might die Now where is that hanky? I’m going to cry!
5. All for the Best (Godspell) And here we have a bit of an optimistic song! While it is directed at people who are feeling very emo, it has the positive attitude of “hey, it’s all for the best, so don’t be too distressed”. I wanted to put a few “reverse emo” songs in this album in order to help lighten it up, and to remember that you can still sing about how your temples are graying and teeth are decaying and yet have a positive outlook. 🙂
Your mood and your robe are both a deep blue You bet that Job had nothing on you
6. Adelaide’s Lament (Guys and Dolls) I wanted to have something about being single in the list (though this song just means it in the legal sense) because that’s one of the biggest issues of angst in society, right? I was also considering several other sad love songs, but this one has the word “lament” in it and has far more drama than just sadness.
From lack of community property and a feeling she’s getting too old A person can develop a bad, bad cold
7. Happy Happy Happy I recently discovered this song on my MP3 player by Groovelily and actually listened to the lyrics, and while the emotion in this song is more anger than sadness, it’s still full of lyrical self-pity. I like the way that the music becomes more angsty as he sings about how unfair life is for him, and then instantly switches to the gentle ukelele when he’s telling his friend how happy he is for him. Groovelily is great at making the words and music do exactly what they want it to, and this is a fun example of that.
But still, I’m simultaneously wishing you were dead and feeling Happy, happy, happy, happy for you
8. Not inNottingham I wanted to make sure I included a sad Disney song, and this is one of my favorite overlooked ones. It’s very short, and this song is less “emo” because their sorrow is not more than what should be felt according to their situation. But it does have a very melancholy tone with some “things’ll never get better in THIS town” kind of lines, so I wanted to include it.
Can’t you see the tears we’re crying? Can’t there be some happiness for me?
9. Oh, My God (Jars ofClay) I recently discovered this song, and while I don’t know what it’s talking about entirely, I’m fascinated by it! I think it’s about the depravity of the world and the sovereignty of God. But it’s mostly about the depravity of the world. It has haunting lyrics, and I wanted to include a dark Christian song in this list, and as soon as I thought of this I figured it was the perfect candidate. 🙂
All the cries of thirsty children – this is our inheritance All the rage of watching mothers – this is our greatest offense
10. Agony (Into the Woods) I was needing one more love song for my emo album, but I couldn’t come up with a good one… until I remembered Agony. This fabulously encompasses the drama that is often associated with emo, and while the characters singing it are clearly not insecure about themselves, their competitive misery is a great lament about the tortures of unreachable love.
Agony! Far more painful than yours!
10. Mad World This is another song that I don’t think I entirely understand, but it’s one of the saddest sounding songs I know, with dramatically-written, melancholy lyrics. It seemed like an obvious choice when it comes to “emo”, and I wanted to include a bit of a modern song. It’s a bit overplayed maybe, but the haunting tone works great for this album.
Hide my head, I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow
12. How Lucky You Are (Seussical) And now it’s time to jump into something slightly more cheerful after some majorly heavy songs! It’s time to remind yourself that, even though the world is mad and depraved, and even if your world is literally tilting upside down, you haven’t died yet, so you’re pretty stinkin’ lucky! But yes, your world is literally spinning. But you’re still lucky!
And if worse comes to worse, as we all know it will
Thank your lucky star you’ve gotten this far
13. Still Small Hours (Sleeping Beauty Wakes) I wanted to throw another category in here to be emo about, and what better topic than insomnia? It’s not a pleasant song to listen to, but its lyrics nicely capture the distress of lying awake throughout the night, and the music gets good and frantic in an anxious way during the bridge of the song. (There’s no video but you can listen to it on their site through the link.)
All the horror, all the dread, just restore me to my bed At least then I could sleep while I scream
14. Larry Sings the Blues And finally, I wanted to end the album on a semi-happy note, so I figured this “anti Blues” song was a good way to complete my album. The ever-cheerful Larry just does not sing the Blues very well, despite Lemon Lincoln’s attempts at teaching him the point of it. So, on this note, while it’s fun to occasionally lament dramatically, remember what Larry knows: you can always find joy!
My cookies and ice cream, they both gone away But that don’t bother me none!
Sometimes, going through this life can be hard. As Christians, God calls us to unity, but so many things get in the way. Listed above are things that are incorporated in our battle for unity, whether they’re the reasons we want to do what’s right or the reasons we sometimes get it wrong. We are the Body of Christ, but sometimes it feels like we’re just a mess of hypocrites who prefer to talk rather than listen. Sometimes we feel like our little corner of the Church is more about worrying about the person next to us than dealing with ourselves. Or sometimes our corner of Church is fine, but the Church “out there” (on the media and in the articles and floating through cyberspace) just needs to be more like Christ, or even just like my version of Christ. —
Anyone know the feeling? Well, it’s not because the Church isn’t being the Church. Every single person who has God’s Spirit inside of them is a new creation, with a purpose and a place and He’s working good in them. And altogether, we are an amazing spiritual body! —
Then what’s the problem? Heck, I don’t know! I don’t have the answers. But I can speculate. And I think it comes down to this: — We’re all just humans. And we’re all just different. —
We go through transition times, in our culture and our communities and our world, and things change. We have people coming into our churches who are starting to question things that have been taught for years. We have people searching books and blogs and different denominations to find new revelations. We are all people who are trying to fit the entire universe into our own, little, narrow perspective that we’ve collected these past however-many-years we’ve been on earth. And it’s hard, and it’s challenging, and it grows us, but sometimes we get it wrong. —
Sometimes the things we believe, or even the person that we are, is very different from who we were or who we will be. My 17 year old self is not the same as my 25 year old self; and then another 5 years will change that; and then another 5, and another 10, and so on until we look back and see the many times God has been planting and shifting our lives to broaden our perspective so that it captures more of His. But God’s a whole stinkin’ eternity old, and I think we’ll need a little more time than 70-100 years to figure Him out. —
So where am I going with this? —
Sometimes we can get discouraged when we think about our relationships with other Christians. Miscommunications, betrayals, strong emotions, arguments, words said, words restrained, speaking too much, giving too little… it is so easy to see only the broken parts of ourselves! Shouldn’t Christians be more loving and forgiving then the rest of the world is? Seeing only the struggles can make it easy to be disheartened. — BUT- No matter how much hurt or pain has passed between other Christians and myself… — No matter how many times I fail to listen or love…. — No matter how many disagreements or heated words or frustrations of being misunderstood I have experienced… — I KNOW that in Heaven, this will all be gone! —
Bitterness will be a thing of the past. Hurt will disappear. Anger and frustration and clashing personalities will seem like a fading dream compared to the beauty and glory of Heaven and Jesus’ presence. No matter what our differences are, we still share the same bond of Jesus. —
I anxiously await the day when I can heartily shake the hand of every Christian I’ve ever known, look them in the eye and truly see them through the eyes of Christ. When we can rejoice in who we have become and take delight in each other’s varied yet completed reflections of God. When we can be a perfect Body, in our perfect bodies, and just worship Jesus together in true unity. —
Everything will be made clear. All the seeds we’ve planted will be seen and sown. Our perspective will finally open up to encompass God’s mighty understanding, and everything we’ve ever wondered about will be at our fingertips to discover. —
I can’t wait to enjoy that beautiful freedom and adventure with everybody in the Body of Christ. We can take all of eternity to explore, create, laugh and enjoy LIFE together! Seriously, it’s beyond my comprehension! —
Through prayer, Scripture, and listening to the Holy Spirit, God can lead us to reach more of that in our lives here on earth. But even when it feels like we’ll never make it, we can all smile in anticipation for the day when these differences, that seem so mountainous now, will fade away into the background as God truly shows us His glory in ways that we can never imagine today. Come quickly, Lord!
With February being “Purity Month” at my youth group, where we annually discuss what the Bible has to say about relationships, sex and purity, I wanted to share some thoughts of my own. Quick summary of my life: I grew up in the purity culture, planned super strict boundaries for myself when I was young, became friends with several guys for the first time and became more comfortable around their “species” 😉 , went through a serious relationship, and am now back at home, single and evaluating my thoughts on “purity” and “physical boundaries”. While I have much to figure out still about love and relationships, I have discovered some reasons why physical boundaries are personally important to me. So here are my top 5 reasons that I choose to set boundaries for myself.
——————— 1. Living a Lifestyle of Purity is Biblical and Part of My Faith It feels like an obvious answer, but it’s not a cop-out. It is a real reason for me. I do love and live by my faith. However, when I say that purity is a part of “my faith”, I in NO way mean that my purity has any bearing on my salvation. Whether or not I am a virgin when I get married does not affect the fact that I’m a redeemed child of God. But purity, whether physical, mental or of the heart, is something that God values, and I should strive for it my entire life, now and long after I get married.
There are plenty of Bible verses that talk about “abstaining from sexual immorality”. People can go around and around, debating what constitutes “sexual immorality”; so instead of trying to please everybody, I should listen to what God is telling ME it means so that I can create convictions to please Him. So I prayerfully set my boundaries in order to avoid what I believe to be sexual immorality. Whenever I’m in a relationship, I want to be ready to say no to anything that I feel is wrong, even if the other person believes it’s ok. I want to live above reproach and be able to read Scripture and know that I am doing all I can to live by it. ——————— ——————— 2. It’s Not Just What I Have To Do, But Who I Want To Be Though my boundaries have shifted and changed somewhat since I was in high school, I’ve mostly kept the same conservative preferences. And that applies to my physical boundaries between genders. If I shared my specific convictions with people, there may be some who would feel that my boundaries are unrealistic, or even legalistic. And I try very hard to not push my boundaries on others or judge those who are less conservative than I am. But I don’t have these boundaries simply because I feel obligated to, but because they are what I want to have.
Though I don’t believe that my life or my marriage will be perfect just by having strict boundaries before I’m married, I do believe that there is honor, and reward, in adhering to my convictions. I want to experience guilt-free relationships; I want to do it right. While some people feel “freer” when there are no rules and they can do whatever they want, I feel the freest when I abide by the margins that God sets in place; I can have a clear conscience, and know that within those margins I can truly enjoy what God has given me. ——————— ——————— 3. My Boundaries Remind Me Why I Believe What I Believe In the heat of the moment, when I’m running on emotion, it’s easy to suddenly take things farther then I wanted them to go. I’ve personally experienced that moment when my flesh just says “pish posh to my rules, I don’t care, I’m doing this because I want it now”. And I don’t want to find myself in that place, where I’m running on so much adrenaline that I am ready to ignore what I believe to be right in order to satisfy a momentary high.
Now as a human, since I know that I still mess up, it’s possible I’ll still make mistakes in this area despite my boundaries. So I want to prayerfully consider what I definitely believe is wrong, and then set up boundaries so that making a first mistake doesn’t bring me to the danger zone. Say that I’m dating someone and that, for example, I don’t think kissing is wrong, but since I’m nervous about where it could lead, I make it something that I don’t do. If we end up having a kiss, I haven’t done something that I feel is “immoral”, but I have crossed a boundary I set up; and THAT gives us a chance to do a double take and reevaluate whether our relationship is amping up to cross any physical danger lines. That may be extreme to some people, but it’s just an example. And ultimately, I want my convictions to point me to God by reminding me: “your relationship should honor God, not your flesh”.
——————— —————————————— 4. I Don’t Want to Be Distracted By the Physical in a Relationship I think this is true for most girls, but definitely for me: physical contact (particularly with guys) connects with my emotions. A hug from a friend makes me feel secure. Having my back rubbed when I’m sad makes me feel cared for. Being kissed makes me feel desired. While these are not bad things, and the fact that I feel something is actually important in a relationship, I don’t want the physical excitement to ever, ever cloud my vision of who I’m dating. I want to be with them for who they are, not because they give me physical affection. I want to love them for their personality and their character, and not be confused by the emotions stirred up by our physical contact. If I’m just dating a guy because of the physical affection I can get from him, that’s shallow and demeaning to both him and me. It needs to be about so much more.
Yes, you can make the argument that physical contact IS important in a relationship; it can be a way to show love, it can be comforting in hard times, etc. And I agree– to an extent. I used to think anything other than high fives with guys was wrong, and I don’t quite think that anymore. 🙂 But wherever I specifically choose to draw the lines, I want to be preventing the kinds of contact that is actively stirring up sexual desire. I DON’T know who I’m going to be marrying, and I don’t want to give parts of myself that I’m not ready to just because I think I will eventually. It makes it much harder to leave the situation, and it can create guilt and shame. When it comes to hearing God and my own heart, I will do whatever I can to make sure my heart is not clouded by deceiving emotions.
———————————— ————————— 5. I Believe in Redemption Sometimes we do things that we never thought we would do, and we feel stained. We feel like we’re no longer “pure” because of it. Maybe we thought that we could be one of those people who did things perfectly as we envisioned, like the “good” Christian we strived to be, until suddenly we made a mistake that we never imagined ourselves making. We may think it’s easier to just say, “what’s the point? I’ve already messed up, so why bother trying to do anything different from now on?”
The reason is because it doesn’t end there. God doesn’t leave us in a state of feeling broken and sinful, but He tells us that we are redeemed and that we were already forgiven before we even made any mistakes. He’s not scolding us and saying, “Well, I thought my grace was enough for you, but I didn’t think YOU were going to mess up in THAT area. So you’ll just have to suffer for a little while I figure out what to do with the rest of your life.”
No; God is gracious and loving and He knows how to heal all our hurts and turn our life around, no matter what the circumstances. Yes, there are consequences. Yes, there are still struggles and we still have regrets and we still feel pain. But I know that because of Christ’s redemption, not only for my salvation but for my life, I can start again. I can choose to follow God’s Word to the best of my ability, and His grace will carry me through what I don’t feel I can do on my own. That’s how I can surrender to God: by trusting Him with the rest of my story.
I’m not asking this question in an “I have no meaning in life!” kinda way. I may be working through my identity and what to do with myself and where to go from here, but I know the ultimate, you know, LIFE thing is God’s plan. Whatever the heck it may be, I know He’s got one. I’m just waiting for it.
Meanwhile, I have good days and bad days, so I’m allowing myself to ponder questions about my life. I guess I would describe what I’m going through to be deep rather than dark. (And I don’t mean “deep” as in, “oh my, that Bethany has some seriously profound wisdom rolling through her brain these days!”. I just mean that it’s real and kinda vulnerable stuff for me. But anyway. Enough disclaimers.) So even though I know some of the answers to some of these questions, I’ll write them out just because, well, I can. Buahaha! (Keeping it lighthearted. Or evil. Whichever you prefer. BAMBLING!)
Is Life For Others? All my life I’ve wanted to help people. It probably comes from who I am as a person (definitely a supine), mixed with the fact that I know helping people is what God wants and loves for us as humans. I’ve always wanted to have friends so I could be a friend. Always wanted to raise a family so that I have someone to be there for for life. Always wanted to find some way to serve where I can be of use and make a difference, whether it’s big or small.
I joined New Life and was a vital part of a team for 2 years. I felt like I had something important to do there, that I was able to make a difference somehow. And even before that, when I was home and helping out with the middle school youth group, that gave me the chance to do something for other people. It was an opportunity to focus my energy in a non-selfish way, and I felt like I was where God wanted me.
Everyone is so cute and little on our first Oklahoma trip! 😀
But right now, I don’t really have too much of an outlet for that kind of thing. Nor do I know if I have the energy and strength to pour myself into other people right now. At least not as much as I know that I want to. The little that I do for other people… it feels tainted by neediness and wanting to be recognized for what I do. And that just makes me feel more selfish.
The reason I’m not worrying about that being my main focus right now, is that I know I need to take care of myself before I can pour all of myself into someone else. And so I know things will get better, and eventually I can start giving more of myself to others. But the lack of it makes me feel guilty a lot of the time. Which leads me to my second question.
Is Life For Me? So I’m supposed to be taking care of myself, right? Put the oxygen mask on my own face before I try to save everyone else. (Thanks, “Mom’s Night Out”.) Alright, that’s all well and good. But what does that entail?
-Is there a line between giving myself time to heal and just being lazy or complacent? Where is that line, and what’s the difference? -Should I feel guilty for being by myself a lot of the time? -Am I supposed to always be doing something “productive”? And if so, what counts as productive? -Should I seek social interaction for my own sake, or for others?
During my free time, sometimes I spend it cleaning, sometimes out for walks, sometimes watching new TV shows or movies, or reading or Facebook or whatever. And clearly, some of that feels more “productive” than others. But it’s about me, right? If I’m spending the time by myself, what does it matter what I do? Can’t I just do what I want? What counts as “productive” and “healthy”, and what difference does it really make?
My own answer, instead of leaving all these questions open like they were a week ago when I wrote them, is as follows. If I am finding my life to be complacent and unsatisfying because I feel like I’m getting stale or lazy, than I have the freedom to do something about it. I don’t have to do it because someone tells me to, but I should do it because I know I need it. If I would feel more satisfied by cleaning the house than checking my Facebook, or by taking a walk instead of watching another Dollhouse episode, than I should do it. Not because it’s all about me, but because I have my own sense of what is probably ok for me versus what is better. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know myself. And if being “productive” makes me happier, than by golly, I can be productive! And when I’m just overwhelming myself with “stuff I have to do”, than it’s time for a break without a guilt trip. Either way, the choice is mine, and the consequences will be mine, both good and bad.
Well, Really Life Is About God. But How Does That Help? Glorifying God is what life is about. Ultimately, entirely. Whether that comes from taking things a little slow and resting up emotionally and spiritually, or whether that means jumping into ministry wholeheartedly to share where God has me.
The thing is, God is awesome and big enough that He’s glorified no matter what I do. He’s glorified when I try to live for Him, and somehow, miraculously, He’s glorified in my mistakes. So, once again I ask myself, what does it matter what I do? If it’s about God, what can I possibly do to make His life better? Nothing! He’s already perfect. I’m not supposed to think of Him out of obligation, because I’m not ruining His life when I forget Him. He’s not depending on me. He gets along perfectly fine without me.
But… there’s still a reason why God has a RELATIONSHIP with us. Whether it’s entirely for our benefit (because clearly the perks on our side are fantastic, what with the whole our-souls-being-saved-from-destruction thing) or all for His enjoyment/glory, you could debate. But the fact that it’s a relationship changes it from a “what do I have to do?” question to a “what do I want to do?” question.
Again, NOT that it’s all about what I want! Please don’t think that the conclusion of my blog is
that I know what’s best and that it’s all about me. That’s why this 3rd part is in here, to counteract that part of life.
Because as I’ve walked with Jesus, our friendship has grown and I now WANT to make Him happy. I have a heart like His, and I know that, even though my messing up does not leave a void in the heart of God, that when I do things for or with Him because I love Him, that it brings Him joy and pleasure. Something happens there, where He is still the same God but my actions make a difference in our relationship. And maybe it only makes the difference for me. Maybe it’s just that my doing stuff for Him makes ME happy. I don’t know how He works; trying to figure out God is like trying to smell the color 9. (Thanks, Chris Rice.)
But somehow, He’s the answer to my question about what life is about.
How does that apply to me practically right now? I’m not really sure. But this is a revelation I had this week that kinda sums up my view on this.
I never feel like I’ve been good at studying Scripture. But the importance of knowing the Scriptures has been continually emphasized to me by several sources lately. Sometimes I say, “Well, I don’t know what to study or read; the entirety of the Scriptures is so daunting, so I should just wait until I decide how to do it”. After all, I don’t want to be reading just out of “obligation”, right?
Actually… who cares?? What does it matter if I make reading Scripture a pattern because I feel like I should, instead of waiting until I “want to”? If I’m gonna feel guilty about it, it would be better to feel guilty and read the Bible rather than feel guilty and NOT read the Bible, right?
So!!! I am going to read through several books of the Bible all at once, by picking a different book for each day of the week (except Sunday). Starting this week:
I’ll read one chapter a day minimum. I’ll journal about it if I want to, but even if I’m tired and “just going to go to sleep”, I will at least read the chapter. Because I want to soak it in. I want to KNOW the Scriptures. I want to know what it says. Maybe there won’t be verses that “speak to me” very often. Maybe I’ll journal only silly, rambly nonsense about the passages. But at least I’ll be doing something that I know God loves. And I know, even if I can’t give a reason practically why it made a difference that day, that it is good to do.
So, IN CONCLUSION!…
If all I do is just try to make it from day to day (working, watching movies)…
While taking time for things I enjoy (blogging)…
Caring about others whenever I can (letter writing)…
And trying to stay close God (Scripture reading)…
While making Jesus a part of all of it…
Then I feel like I’m finding a reason to live. I want to know God even more. I want to be better at understanding Scripture, and at hearing God’s voice. I don’t want it to be just about me, or about obligations, or even about everyone else. I just want to spend the rest of my life with my Best Friend. And that’s what my life is about.
What gives your life meaning? What gives you a purpose? What makes you feel alive?
I gotta admit, I’m having a hard time feeling like I have a purpose in life lately. At least right now. I feel like I’m meandering aimlessly through a forest where nobody needs me or wants me, but I am still obligated to do more than sit around and watch movies. I don’t know what or who I’m supposed to invest in, and yet I feel like a horrible person for days of not being “productive”.
I’ve tried to find healing, purpose, passion in things around me, but sometime it feels like the more I try, the less it satisfies.
-Food is desirable when I’m bored, hungry or stressed, but it’s only temporary and doesn’t give lasting satisfaction
-Work is clearly important and necessary, as it is the means to adulthood. But it doesn’t fulfill my life. The job I have now doesn’t “complete” me, and I don’t have a career in mind to push towards; no passion, no ultimate goal to pursue through my work.
-Facebook is a great way to keep up with people, but this social network is not the place to go for happiness; vying for attention and hoping for responses is enticing, but it’s not enough. Likes won’t bring me happiness, and comments won’t fill me with purpose.
-Friends are distant and far away. I know what it’s like to be close to a group of people for weeks at a time and to be a team; I know what it’s like to have a best friend who makes it their responsibility to be there for you, and you for them. Now I have neither. Catching up with people is great, and each time I get to do that it’s very special, but those times are few and far between. I miss everyone.
-Going to church is not the same as having community with the Church. While I go whenever I don’t work, and I want to further my knowledge of God and “stay disciplined” and get connected to believers and all that, it’s hard when I’m not close to anyone at either of my church communities. And maybe I just need to accept that it’s a slow process, but that doesn’t make it any less hard.
-Family has always been there for me, and I love them to death. But I’m 24 years old, and I need to figure out how to make my own way in the world. Who am I? What am I here for? My family will support me and help me along the way, but this is my own journey.
-Goals provide things for us to work towards in life. But if my “goal” is to be a stay-at-home wife and mom… I can’t really pursue that out of God’s timing, can I? So what can I do right NOW?
-Giving to people is something I’ve always loved and wanted to do, whether it’s of my time or my friendship or my help. But what if nobody needs my help? What if I’m constantly looking to give, but only with the selfish motives of wanting to be praised and thanked for it? Am I truly loving people, or am I just loving myself?
What am I supposed to do? Nobody really needs me…. I have nothing to give… and yet I feel so selfish for doing nothing. The little I do for others feels selfish, and NOT doing anything for others feels selfish… can you see why I’m feeling kind of aimless?
I honestly don’t know where I would be without my relationship with God. If Jesus wasn’t a part of my daily life… if I couldn’t find purpose in interacting with Him on a regular basis, with Someone who cares about every little thing I do and is always there for me… I don’t know what I would do or where I would be.
I’m honestly not saying this to throw a pity party. I know that I am cared for and loved, that I have people who are there for me, and that God has a plan for my life, no matter how little I can see. I get all that. I’m just explaining what is particularly hard for me right now, and the kinds of questions I’ve been wrestling with. Not to get a response, but just to share my own.
But the main thing I’ve been discovering is how, despite all of what I’m feeling, Jesus is the only one who can always make me feel better. Whenever I feel discouraged these days, just going out and BEING with God, singing songs to Him and dancing, can be enough to make me feel something again. It’s a reminder that God is with me every step of the way, and that His love for me is so much greater and deeper than I can imagine. Worshiping God can be enough. I don’t have to be a specific somebody or do anything for God to be pleased. Just being with Him is enough.
When NOTHING else gives me a purpose…
When NO ONE else can fill me with true and lasting joy…
When NOTHING I do is good enough to fill that void…