True Vulnerability

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.”

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about finding our identity in Christ. Yesterday I came to the full realization that although I wholeheartedly believe it’s true, I haven’t wholeheartedly accepted it.

As I write this weeks blog I realize sometimes you have to be completely vulnerable with yourself and others in order to bring about the change that is desperately needed. So please know as I write every word, I’m not asking for sympathy or pity likes, but rather hope that my complete vulnerability will not only start a change for me, but allow others to start the change they need as well.

For those of you that know me well, you might know where this all began. About 10 months ago I got into a relationship with a guy that I thought in so many ways was the perfect guy for me. I was excited about the relationship and felt I finally fit in with all my coupled friends. As the time went on, I started to ignore the red flags, making excuses on his behalf, why? because I was so excited to finally “fit in”, to finally have someone to talk about when all my girl friends were talking about their dates or weekend plans. When he and I were having a good day, I was on cloud nine, but when things weren’t going so well, I felt extremely low. To give him the grace and respect everyone deserves, I’ll spare the details, but after an extreme rollercoaster ride of emotions, things came to a complete abrupt halt in February. He had moved on and was happy with someone else, so why in April was I still struggling with the fact that things had ended? Why was I so desperately vying for the attention I knew he wasn’t going to give? And that’s when I realized where my identity fell.

So often I find myself striving to fit in or be accepted by others. Yes, I’m always myself and I truly believe I am, but where I seem to find my value has not been in what our Creator thinks of me, but rather what the created think. I busy my schedule to the point of exhaustion because I never want anyone to think I’m not willing to help them out. I cling to an unhealthy relationship because I find confidence in the skewed acceptance I felt. I build my identity on the things I can see and the perception I feel everyone expects me to be. But that’s so wrong.

The scriptures call us to surround ourselves with godly people and as I talked with my best friend last night, I was reminded just how important that is. As she dug down deep into my confidence issues, from when I got kicked out of my friend group in middle school because I wasn’t “cool” enough, to when a close friend replaced me with a new girl in town, to my weight struggles and acne flares, I realized my confidence issues stem from something so much greater than being rejected by a guy.

I so often find myself striving and striving to be accepted by others that I forget I’m already accepted by God. My senior year in college I worked 4 jobs, took 18 credit hours, was the President of an organization, and constantly created events for my friend group so we could have some great memories before we parted ways. I was EXHAUSTED to say the least, but in my eyes I was accepted. I was loved for all I did and I found confidence in knowing I could handle everything that was thrown on my plate, even if it came at expense to my well-being. How ironic that in my senior year at a Christian college I so easily walked straight into the trap and temptation of mistaken confidence.

Unfortunately, this carried over into my internship, relationships, career, and everything afterwards. I was confident in who I was until something went wrong. I was unable to see it as a circumstance that changed or a healthy failure I could learn from; instead I saw it as something wrong with me, something I was unable to be successful at, something that I strived to own and completely failed. I would look around at all my friends and their successful careers and relationships and soon I would be piling more stuff on my plate so I could “measure up” or have a valid excuse for why some things I so desperately wanted weren’t working out.

As I walked through the streets of Richmond, crying and noticing just how far off track I’d let myself get, I came face-to-face with the full acceptance of God’s grace. Our Creator does not make mistakes, He knew our struggles before we had them. He’s been working on this issue in my life for years and sometimes the things that tear us apart and completely break us (like a failed relationship) are our saving grace. They allow us to hit the bottom of OUR confidence and OUR efforts so we can recognize how desperately we NEED CHRIST.

Grace

This weekend is Easter weekend, and what better time to be reminded of how great our God is. To Him I am perfectly accepted just the way I am. No extra activities or boyfriend could make me more valuable to Him. No work accomplishments or smaller pant size could make me a better asset to His kingdom. In His eyes, I am everything I need to be because He created me with everything I needed. There is nothing I can do or say to change that. To Him I am worth sending His Son to die for me so that I may live eternally with Him.

So how do I wholeheartedly accept that fact? It’s easy for me to believe but hard for me to accept. I can read in the Bible everything God has called me and made me, but it’s so challenging to remember that when the world is telling you something completely different. But that’s just it. Why do I need to worry about what the world says? Why do I need to carry the weight of their approval? I don’t.

So starting today I’m taking back my life. I’m putting the word “no” back in my vocabulary and understanding that taking time for myself is extremely important. I’m cutting out the things and the people that cause anxiety and make me feel I’m not worth the value God has already given me. It’s a process and will take time, but as I grow in an understanding of God’s grace and acceptance, the confidence I need to get through the day will soon come from Him alone. God has equipped me with everything I need to accomplish the purpose He has set out for me. I am enough because God says I am and that’s the reality I chose to live in.

Advertisements

Lifes Expectations & Realities

Expectations. They can motivate us. They can break us. They can define us. They can haunt us.

Realities. They can change us. They can push us. They can defeat us. They can scar us.

My life expectation was to be engaged or married, with a job in baseball, living on a farm in the midwest while having the whole adult life figured out.

My life realities, I’m as single as they come, working in a non-profit, coaching volleyball (a sport I came in knowing nothing about), living on a city street in Richmond, realizing daily how much I have to learn about being an “adult”.

Our life expectations can throw a loop in how we view ourselves. Am I a failure because everything I expected to happen after college didn’t? Has God forgotten about me because I’m still single? Did I waste all my money on a degree that is producing a job I never thought I’d be in?

To be honest it can, and it has. This last year has been a real struggle for me because my life realities are so far from my life expectations. Are they bad, not necessarily, just different. But for someone like me who’s had a life plan figured out since our middle school career fair, it can really shake a life dynamic.

Life hasn’t been easy, maybe it hasn’t been an outward suffering, but inwardly I’ve suffered. Wondering if I measure up. Wondering why relationships fail when all I want is to be married. Wondering why God’s curved my path in the way that He has. Then I remember this quote:

Screenshot 2017-04-11 14.51.01

How often in the midst of our failing realities do we forget that GOD DOES NOT FAIL. We may see our current circumstances as uncertainties and failures, but we have God and that is enough of a reality for me. Each and every day we live in the reality that God sent HIS SON to die for us so that we could spend eternity with Him. Wow.

If I truly believe and live in that truth, then I should never feel my shortcomings or failed expectations define who I am. I am not less of a person because I’m single. I am not less of a value because my job is different than what I thought. I am a whole person, living in the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ.

If we look at the story of Joseph for a minute I think we can see how real this is. Joseph probably didn’t go into life expecting to be sold by his brothers into Egypt, to build his life back up only to be wrongly accused of a crime, then to reconcile his reputation only to be forgotten about by the very people he just helped, but that’s exactly what happened (Genesis 37-44). One failure after another. One escalated place, one low-life place. A rollercoaster life, most likely full of confusion, joy, suffering, excitement. The one common theme through the entire story — God was there.

If Joseph had not been sold to Egypt, he wouldn’t have entered Potiphar’s house. If he didn’t enter Potiphar’s house, he would have never been thrown into prison. If he had never been thrown in prison, he would have never met Pharaoh’s cup bearer. If he had never met Pharaoh’s cup bearer, he would have never been recommended to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. And if he had never interpreted Pharaoh’s dream (through God), he would have never been in command to lead Egypt during the famine.

So what’s your Egypt? What’s your hard place of failed expectations and haunting realities? The place you feel is doing more harm than good? Could it be God is just preparing you to save a nation? Preparing you for the job He has called you to do.

Romans 8:28, “And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.”

HIS purpose, not ours. HIS glory, not ours. HIS plan, not ours. He works all things for OUR good. GOD DOES NOT FAIL. So stop thinking that He does.

Go live in the realities God has set before you, fully glorifying His name and understanding that His purpose is leading us to something greater than we could ever imagine. There will be suffering, there will be hard times, but there will also be eternal glory for those who never lose sight of the realities of the cross.

Becoming Selfless

Each month I try and pick a phrase, quote, or verse in which I want to make my focus for the month. Some examples of these quotes are:

“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in everyday.” – Alice Morse Earle

“But to those who are listening I say, ‘Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you.'” Luke 6: 27-28

This months quote has been one I’ve thrown around a lot but have decided to focus on because it can truly make an impact not only on the lives of others but on my life as well.

“BE SOMEBODY WHO MAKES EVERYBODY FEEL LIKE A SOMEBODY” – unknown

The core of this phrase can be backed up by so many biblical verses —

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves, looking not only to your own interest but also to the interest of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve others and give himself as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:28

“The king will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40 (emphasis mine).

And so many more.

When I think about this months quote and how it can influence others I realize the core of myself and everyone is to be selfish. We are born with selfish ambitions, how many toddlers do we hear scream “MINE!” or get upset when they have to share?

But what if we changed that? What if we went about our day everyday striving to make the people around us feel as if they mattered and they were important, putting others first, no matter their social status, the benefits they can or cannot give us, but simply seeing them as a person created and loved by God, worthy of our attention. Would it make a difference in our lives? It should.

“But to mean it when I say that I want my life to count for His glory is to drive a stake through the heart of self – a painful and determined dying to me that must be a part of every day I live.”
Louie Giglio

If we are truly striving every day to make our lives count for the Kingdom of God, then why do we pick and choose who we are selfless too? Why do we create social statuses in our mind of who we can and cannot associate with? Why do we lose our temper with certain people instead of being patient and realizing they are made in the image of God?

Being selfless isn’t easy, it can be tiring and draining, but if everyone is being selfless, then in turn everyone is also encouraging and pouring into people. I pour into you, you pour into her, she pours into me, and in the end we’ve all given, but we’ve also all received. Christ did not give us our gifts and our blessings so that we could become proud and disregard other people. He gave us our gifts, talents, financial blessings, etc. so that we could pour into the people around us and in turn serve His Kingdom more fully.

So this week I challenge you to “be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.” That man on the corner, the cashier at the store, the server at the restaurant, whoever it is, be the light of Christ to them. Show them God’s love and remind them they are important and they do have value, thank them for serving you and in turn go do the same for someone else. Nobody should ever feel they are disregarded, so be a voice of love, a smile as you pass by, or a listening ear when it’s needed. Because our greatest purpose is to serve Christ and how do we do that? By loving His people.

“He must become greater and I must become less.” John 3:30