maybe tomorrow

God has felt so far away lately.

I don’t feel His presence, His reassurance, His healing, His love. I need Him so badly right now – and I don’t feel Him near.

I sit down with my journal and my Bible, determined to read and write and pray my way into His presence. But His presence doesn’t come, I can’t enter in, and my journal session turns angry.

The pages start with pleadings for Him to draw near. The pleadings turn into questions, the questions turn into demands. The demands become sloppy large letters as all I can do is rage at God for everything. Why am I lonely? Why am I single? Why am I so unhappy with myself? Why hasn’t He brought healing yet? Why hasn’t being the good Christian girl brought me a better life? Why aren’t You here?

The pages fill with bitterness, with anger. My hurt breaks out of its cage and spills over into the rest of my heart, awakening other, more destructive emotions. It’s easier to be mad than to admit weakness, helplessness, fear.

Because at the root of it is fear: that I am not good enough for God. That He has given up on me. That I am not worth His attention.

And as the anger calms and my heart breaks yet again, the pages fill with tears.

So I close the book before my tears can make the ink run, place it on my dresser with my Bible and pen and devotional and books that are supposed to help me draw closer to God, but right now serve only as a reminder of how far away I am.

I turn off the light and crawl under the covers, praying only Lord, please, because I have no other words, and fall asleep hoping that tomorrow, maybe He will not feel so far.


brokenness and healing.

I feel stuck.

Caught in this place between brokenness and healing. 

I have seen my sin, and I am desperately in need of God’s grace.

But I can’t seem to find it, or feel it, or maybe it’s that I can’t believe it. I’m ready for the Lord to dig the sin out of my heart, I don’t want it anymore, but maybe I’m not ready. Healing means moving forward, letting go of the past, letting God make you new.

Renewal is what I need, but it’s not always what I want.

Letting go of my past is hard, and it’s scary. The past is easy to hold onto because it’s familiar. It’s comfortable, in a way. Maybe the past isn’t pleasant, but it’s an unpleasantness I know. The future – I don’t know anything about the future.

I don’t know who God wants me to be. I don’t know how He’s going to change my heart. I don’t know what He’s going to ask me to release or take on. I don’t know what’s going to happen.

And that terrifies me.

I know that He has good plans for me. I know that whatever He desires for me is so much better than what I desire for myself. I know this, with my head.

But I don’t trust it with my heart.

I’m scared that once He changes me, I won’t recognize myself. All I know, all I’ve ever known – it’s full of brokenness. My pain and my scars and my issues might suck, but they’re mine. They are a part of me.

They are not meant to be.

His plan didn’t include them. His plan called for perfect, intimate relationship with Him. His plan called for love and joy and peace.

I didn’t get to experience His plan. Because we all broken, because Eve ate the apple, because Adam ate the apple, because I say mean things.

So the life I have lived is flawed, but it is the only life I have ever known, and the idea of a life without brokenness is beyond my comprehension. I’ve never known my heart without it’s cracks, and I have to admit I harbor the fear that if my heart were whole, it wouldn’t truly be mine.

If healing comes, and my sin is washed clean, and my heart is made new – will I still be me?

I don’t know. I don’t think so. I will not be the same.

The world was not meant to be broken. My heart was not meant to be broken. The me that exists now and here, the me that is flawed and sinful – I don’t believe that’s the me God intended for me.

He does not want me to live in fear. He does not want me to live in regret, or doubt, or jealously. He does not want me to hold control of my life so tightly I can’t trust Him with it. He does not want me to look the mirror every day and hate what I see.

He wants good for me.

He wants me to be confident in Him. He wants me to trust, and rejoice, and live without fear. He wants me to delight in His creation, to share without thought of myself, to love selflessly. He wants a life for me beyond what I can imagine.

I want it, and I need it, but it’s not that easy. There is still fear. Because I don’t know how to live that life. Because I don’t know anything other than brokenness.

Jesus knows brokenness, too. I can trust Him with my broken heart, because He alone knows brokenness as well as perfection. His brokenness was given as a gift to heal mine.

the body of Christ, broken for you. take and eat.

messy and broken.

I spent a good portion of last night having a conversation with a friend of mine (via Facebook chat… thank you, internet, for existing) which quickly turned into an introspective look back at the year. I can’t believe I’m halfway done with college. The past two years have been a journey, that’s for sure. Full of laughter and growth and hurt and friendship and tears and lots and lots of learning.

We discussed how much she’s changed over the past year, and then the conversation turned to me.

I told her that I don’t think I’ve changed that much this year. Instead, this year consisted of one big lesson, which was taught to me in too many different painful ways.

I am seriously messed up.

I am. I’m messed up in a million ways.

I have issues. Everyone does. I’ve always known, I’m sure, but this year consisted of those issues being thrown in my face, over and over again. Slowly and painfully, some of the darkest parts of my heart were discovered, dug up, and set unavoidably in front of me. Names attached to parts of me that I prefer to keep nameless and hidden.

Jealousy. Distrust. Self-hate. Fear. Vulnerability. Lust. Loneliness. Worth. Doubt. Body image. Control.

These are some of the things I’ve found inside of me this year. Some of the things I’ve struggled with. Things I’ve had to face and deal with. It hurts, friends. It hurts so bad. It has left me curled up in a ball on the floor. It has left me crying myself to sleep. It is incredibly painful to discover all the ugliness inside.

Everyone is messed up. Everyone is broken.

I just didn’t know the extent of it. I had no clue this many cracks had formed in my heart.

Looking back, all I can think is that I am so very broken. I am so very, very broken. So far from being whole. Far from perfect.

And I never will be perfect, and that’s okay, and that’s good and that’s beautiful.

This lesson I have been learning: I am messed up. That’s okay.

I cannot fix myself. I have tried. It doesn’t work. Don’t bother.

Only one person I know can heal me, and that is the one person who is Perfect. is Good and Whole and loves me beyond what my broken, messy heart can deserve or even comprehend.

So healing is ahead. That’s my next road to walk down. That road is just as painful, because healing means facing again my brokenness. Accepting it. Offering it up. Letting God pull it out of my heart, letting Him make me new. The pain of healing is ahead, but I can no longer bear the pain of staying the same.

It’s not easy. It’s not fun. But it is worth it. I’m ready for it.

on marriage and being cliche

I’ve been thinking about relationships a lot lately.

I know, I know. Single Christian college girl blogging about wanting to be in a relationship? I feel like such a cliche right now.

But it’s been on my mind and on my heart.

I am not promised a husband. The Lord has not promised me a husband – not in the Bible, nor has He told me personally that His plan for my life includes marriage (unlike one of my dear friends, lucky duck, who knows she is getting married. Little jealous. Not gonna lie). I have no reassurance that it will ever happen – in fact, the only thing I’ve ever heard from God on the subject is that I needed to accept the fact that I might not have a husband. That hurt, folks.

That has not stopped me from desiring a relationship. Most people do, I think. Especially single 20-year-old Christian college bloggers, and I am no exception to that particular cliche. As with many other members of the single-college-girl club, I tend to despair my lack of relationships.

Single. Always have been. (Always will be?)

I have decided that I will be the coolest spinster ever. I’m going to breed guinea pigs and be that cool aunt-that’s-not-actually-related, and all my friend’s kids will love me because I make the best cookies.

I joke about this frequently. It’s a lot easier to joke about being an old maid than it is to admit how badly my heart longs for a husband. To admit how fearful I am that I will never be married.

Because honestly, who could love me that much?

Who could possibly see something beautiful in me? Who would be willing to put up with all my flaws and sin and brokenness? Who could love me so much they would promise to be with me forever?

And then God whispered, I do.

DJ Jazzy Jesus in the house

Lately, I have found myself in the unusual position of being without words.

I open my journal, take my pen in hand, and the page remains blank. Not because I have nothing to say to God – I have so much to say. I have been struggling lately, and am overwhelmed with sadness and hurt and confusion. I have so many emotions to process and questions to ask, and I desperately need to talk it all over with Jesus, and yet words do not come.

I am rarely without words. I have journals filled with words. I write to God – sometimes at God. I praise Him, I worship Him, I delight in Him, I rage at Him, I throw questions at Him. I have pages filled with my messy scribbled handwriting, as I pour my heart onto paper, sort through everything I am feeling, and eventually find peace in my Lord.

But now, I have nothing. Any sentences I start to form feel fake, feel contrived.

So I am left with silence.

And in my silence, I turn to music.

I have found that when I have no words, someone else does. Someone has already found words to describe what I cannot, words that speak for me. I always find a song that speaks truth into my heart. I’m pretty sure God Himself operates the shuffle function, y’all. Jesus likes to DJ in his free time.

This week, it’s been David Crowder Band’s Church Music album (which is pure brilliance. listen to it). I stuck it in the CD player one day on the way to class and it’s been on repeat since.

As I sat in the library yesterday taking biology notes, I felt the need to listen to it. So I did, and I truly listened to it this time.

The words slipped quietly into my ears and hit me like the proverbial ton of books. I sat there in my library, crying out to God through the song lyrics and listening as He spoke back.

send me a sign, a hint, a whisper throw me a line cause I am listening

come break the quiet, breathe Your awakening

bring me to life cause I am fading

shine Your light so I can see You

pull me up, I need to be near You.

i can feel You all around me, savoring this heart that’s healing

can i lie here in Your arms?

(lyrics from SMS (Shine), All Around Me, Can I Lie Here by David Crowder Band)

boring Christians and being useless

People, I am a boring Christian. In a million ways.

I don’t have a radical testimony, the kind that involves drugs/alcohol/sex/crimes/traumatic experiences/dramatic turnarounds. Nope, I was a church kid. I grew up teething on the pews, to quote a youth leader of mine. I was that obnoxious kid in Sunday School that knew all the answers (hint: it’s usually “Jesus”). 

I don’t have any impressive spiritual gifts. Have you ever taken one of those spiritual assessment surveys? You know, the ones where you select the things that seem to describe you most and then add up the numbers and at the end, your little piece of paper is supposed to tell you where your gifts lie so that you can best use them to further the Kingdom. Well, my spiritual gift is not anything cool like prophecy or evangelism (which, by the way, happens to be my lowest-ranked spiritual gift. no joke). I’m not a teacher or a shepherd or a leader. No, my spiritual gift is administration.

Administration. Spreadsheets and sticky notes and to-do lists. Plans. Schedules. Organizing things. (on the bright side, it’s nice to know my type-A/perfectionist/slightly OCD nature is not, after all, a fluke, but indeed a spiritual gift! You, too, can the further the Kingdom with your random talents!)

(I’m really not as bitter as that sounds. I promise).

And, friends, I have not been called to missions. I have not received a divine appointment from God to go to South America/Africa/Asia/inner-city-proverty-laden anywhere and love on babies/dig wells/preach the Gospel/teach orphans/make disciples of all nations.

No, folks, that is not me. I do not feel called to or led towards or gifted in those areas. Hence, my lack of exciting-ness. Before you ask, yes, I am aware of the body-of-Christ metaphor. I’m pretty sure in the body of Christ, I’m like an elbow or something. Nothing as exciting as the head or feet or hands for me.

And as a college student actively involved in a student ministy…man, my boringness is more painfully evident every day.

I don’t strike up conversations with strangers about their spiritual background and then share my faith, like some students on campus do. I don’t spend my lunch break praying for our campus and city. I don’t evangelize. I don’t even always remember to pray for people after I’ve told them I will (whoops. sorry folks). 

Summer missions is pitched pretty hard to college students. After all, we are considered to be old enough to make a difference in the world, we are often passionate about saving the whales/trees/sinners, and we have summer vacations. And so my best friends pack their bags and head off into the great wide world, full of passion and fire, ready to embark on a grand adventure and share God’s love. That is a good thing – that is such a good thing. I am so excited for them, for all they will learn and experience and do.

Meanwhile, I sit at home. And read. And take a biology class. And work at a summer camp (and it’s not even a Christian camp. gasp). What a boring summer.

The point that I am trying to make, in a rather long-winded manner, is this: often, the boring Christians can feel shamed.

It’s easy to feel as though because I am not an evangelist, I am worthless to the kingdom of the Lord. Because it’s the leaders and speakers and go-out-there-and-talk-to-people-ers that get noticed and praised in the church.

It’s especially easy to feel that I, as a college student with three whole months that I could be devoting to God by traveling to a third-world country, am wasting my youth/vigor/summer vacation. It’s easy to feel useless and worthless and like I should be doing something bigger and better with my life. It’s easy to feel jealous of the grand adventures and the mountaintop moments and the amazing God encounters they are doubtless going to have.

So this summer, as my friends scatter across the globe, I am stuck batting down emotions of anger and jealously and shame. I am left questioning my self-worth and my use to God’s kingdom. Because frankly, I feel quite useless. 

In times like these (which are more frequent than I would rather let you know), I find comfort and strength in 1 Corinthians.

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” 1 Cor 12:4-6

Varieties of gifts, of service, of activities. Same Spirit. The Spirit that lives in me, the Spirit that is with me while I am sitting in biology class is the same Spirit that is accompanying my friends across the world. It’s hard to trust that He will use my life to His glory when it doesn’t feel like it, but I believe that He gave me certain gifts for a reason, that I am not called to missions work for a reason (reason #1: my fear of spiders, cockroaches, anything at all that is creepy/crawly/has more than the usual number of legs), that He can and will use me to build His kingdom. I just don’t quite know how yet.

“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” 1 Cor 7:17

As I was skimming through some of my old journals, I found an entry related to this topic. I will leave you with the wise words of myself, circa February 2011:

“But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as He chose.” 1 Cor 12:18

God arranged. Each one. As He chose. He has given us all spiritual gifts and talent and blessings – as He chose. And He purposed each person and each gift for a different reason and different purpose. Not more or less worthy, and all necessary. If we are jealous or unhappy with our position and gits, that is insulting the Lord and rejecting His plan.

Man, February-2011-me was smart.

I’ll leave you with a few other posts on boring Christianity for your perusal: