Monday, January 29, 2007

Truth, Community and Encouragment

For the past few days I have been feeling pretty discouraged. I have let some circumstances that are outside of my control get me down and define how i feel and how i see myself. This is something i've done my whole life, and something i find myself fighting against on a regular basis. i'm working on can just be pretty tiring and overwhelming sometimes. trying to remind myself of the truth can be an uphill battle, as i fight the war of my over-analytic mind. The past 24 hours have been rough, and i have been fighting the battle of discouragement and doubt. In the midst of this, I've been reminded of the strength and beauty of community and friendships. In the middle of beating up on myself and not believing in the grace that God rains down on me, a friend reminded me today of some important things. They were things that I didn't even know that I needed to be reminded of, but yet there God met me. And i'm not sure if this friend knows the weight of what he did for me, but I guess that's part of what community is. When we are ourselves, when we are faithful to God and to our brothers and sisters, we speak life and truth into each other.

my friend peter explains this as "everyone showing up with an armful of presents." we give and receive the life-giving message of Christ's hope to each other. most of the time, we don't realize how much we mean to each other, but in the end, we bring the message of salvation to each other. what a simple yet beautiful thing.

some days, i'm realizing, it's just too much to try to convince yourself of the truth when the craziness of life hits. there's something about hearing truth from a brother, and knowing that he really cares and wants you to really believe it.

God is good.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Random Monday

I feel as though i should post, just because. i'm not sure that anyone actually reads this, but just in case you do, here are my thoughts!

-I have been working a lot... babysitting and phonathon. and when i'm not working, i'm preparing for church stuff. that's been my life. i wish that i had something else really exciting to report, but i don't. i think that i struggle when life is not "exciting," so i'm trying to learn how to live in joyful contentment when life is even-keeled. but seriously, jumping on a trampoline or having a party or hearing from someone i've never heard from sounds fun right now. sound high-maintenance? i can be like that.

-i have been thinking a lot about my motivations and realize that most days, my motives are really not that great. in fact, they are really pretty selfish. i find that i do a lot of things for the attention and acclaim of others... especially "spiritual" things. this thought makes me sick. it leads me to think about what it REALLY means to be a disciple. is it singing pretty praise songs and praying and reading my Bible and going to church? or is it more? is it really about being able to serve others before myself? is it more about loving people who don't receive love? how do these two sets of things meet?

-i am longing for connection, yet needing alone time. i am learning how to be honest with other people (but that's a pretty slow process).

-i have struggled through some emotional hurts this week from unmet expectations. trying to hope-not expect.

-i have been really stressed about money.

-my roommate's not coming back this spring. i think it will be weird, but ok. i see God's hand in this.

-i have been trying to uncover all the things that God is wanting to refine. Sometimes i feel like i'm doing ok, only to realize that there's so much that God is wanting to tear away. Some days it feels like a lot to comprehend.

-i have been very thankful for emerging friendships this week... people who accept for who i am, quirks and all.

-i have been trying to be very, very honest about who i am, how i relate to God, where He is taking me, etc.

-i'm not sure how i feel about the upcoming semester. some days i dread it... i feel nervous about all that is coming up. trying to stand in faith that it will be ok. also excited about new friends and relationships.

-i am realizing now that this post sounds sort of negative. i don't know why i feel negative right now... things really are ok. i think i am very tired, and feeling unsettled. maybe i just need a hug, some hot chocolate and some good sleep. and if you've made it thus far in my ramblings, you are awesome!

Friday, January 12, 2007

so many thoughts, so few words

i have so many thoughts rolling around in my head, with little way to articulate them, and i have been so up and down. i feel like i'm going through some sort of transition. do you ever feel like your soul is in transition? is that possible? if so, that is definitely how i feel right now. i don't think it's fact, it's probably a good's just....something. weird? hard? unidentifiable? and i love to be able to articulate myself-to put labels and words on my feelings. it always makes me feel at peace. and i can't right now-and that's the hard part.

i have found myself in many spots recently where i have needed to learn to be alone... and i realize that i stink at this. i crave people-i crave attention-i crave hugs and affirmation and encouragement and community and truth and authenticity...and when i don't have these things... i struggle. i don't think it's bad to crave these things, but when they start to define who you are... that's a definite danger zone.

as a result of having spent so many years of defining myself by what others have said, i now find myself in a spot of needing to search and seek out what my Heavenly Father says about me. A few weeks ago I was floored by a passage in Hosea:

14 "Therefore I am now going to allure her;I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.
15 There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
16 "In that day," declares the LORD, "you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master.

A couple of things really affect me in this passage. First, in verse 14 says that He will allure His daughter into the desert...into a wilderness spot, of sorts. i feel like i've been in a wilderness spot for a while, and i haven't understood it. i've scrambled and i've wrestled and i've tried to get away from the wilderness. it feels dry-hopeless-lifeless. but this passage reminds me of the purpose of the is out of God's love and desire for His children that He leads us into the wilderness... because sometimes in the wilderness, when we are most naked and vulnerable and needy that we are able to hear the life-giving words of the Father. It is out of His love that He leads us to the desert.

The second thing that pierced me about this passage is the end. " will call me 'my husband' instead of 'my master.'" How often have I gone to God simply out of necessity? How many times have I viewed Him almost as a slot machine (put enough prayers in, and then something good may come out) or even more often as an angry, distant father for whom I could never be good enough? But i've been reminded that God longs to be more than a master who gives me the bare minimum... He longs for intimacy with me, and with His church as a whole. He longs for our hearts... our whole beings. He is not distant... He is not disinterested. He wants to be as close to me as i would one day be to my husband. He longs to be as close, if not closer, than two humans can possibly get.

i tend to live and learn experientially, and so feeling close to a God whom I cannot physically touch is a challenge sometimes. And as i find that I long for others, God is showing me how to be satisfied with Him. to be joyfully and simply content. some moments i'm good at this... and others... well... i'm learning. there are many times that i have to be reminded by others of who I am to God. but that's community, i suppose... and a subject for a future post....