Falling Behind

If I’m being brutally honest with myself, I feel like I’m behind. I’m 23, have yet to be in a relationship lasting longer than seven months, I don’t have a full time job, and I am living in the spare bedroom of my parents house. To some, you may agree, I am behind. To others, I might be right where you were or are. But as I look at myself, feeling as if I’m failing, feeling as if I’m behind, and working so hard to catch up with everyone else my age, I realize, I’m not behind at all.

You may think I’m contradicting myself since I just told you I feel behind, but feeling behind and being behind are two completely different things. In college, I was always at the front of life. I felt I had a handle on my classes, my work, my friends, etc. I was a leader, a go-getter, on the fast track to a successful career. At the time, I felt life was pretty well figured out. I got the internship I wanted after college and started the independent lifestyle by moving out on my own to a new state with nothing but God, my belongings and a whole lot of hope. Yet fast forward a year and a half and here I am, back with my parents working part time in a job that has nothing to do with my degree.

I often ask myself how this happened. How did I go from being so driven and so set on goals to now feeling like I’ve lost it all. One word I’ve come to find sums it up pretty well. Fear. I wanted the next thing but I was afraid of doing the wrong thing. I was in an internship and wanted a full-time job so I jumped ship at the first full-time job offered to me, knowing the market was competitive and fearing no other jobs would be offered my way. I wanted a relationship so I dove deep and allowed a guy to become my identity, fearing this was the best I could get, yet knowing full well he wasn’t the best guy for me. I wanted acceptance and titles, so I gave every free minute I had to every organization I could. I continually strove for the next best thing, never relishing in the moments I had, always fearful I would let someone down if I simply told them no or did what was best for myself.

This realization was partly why I wrote last weeks blog which you can find here. But I also believe it’s why I’m floundering so hard right now trying to figure my life out. The reality of it is, I loved the internship I was doing. It was in my career field, in the exact department I wanted to work in. I knew the consequences of leaving included not being able to use those people as references, yet; I let the fear of failure and the fear of the future get the best of me.

Now, I wake up every day and go to a job that although has its perks, is not my full-time career goal. As much as I would like to go back to what I love doing, there’s a part of me that stays where I’m at because I’m fearful of the failure again. The failure of a broken heart. The failure of a wrong career choice. The failure of letting people down. But as I think of these failures I’m reminded of one of my favorite Francis Chan quotes:

Our Greatest Fear

The reality of it is, what matters in this life, what really truly matters, is not at what age I get married, or what career I have, but what impact I make for Christ in the lives of those around me. Micah 6:8 states, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

If I never get married, work a mundane job or never reach true financial wealth, but live every day acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God then I will NEVER be behind. By the world’s standards, maybe I will be, but the world’s standards stopped defining me the second I became a Child of God.

As always, this is easier said than done. It’s the reason I have to write it down and remind myself, and it’s the reason the Bible has many repeated phrases throughout. But the more we remind ourselves, the more we start to apply it and the more we start to believe it.

In conclusion, let me ask you a question — Who’s standards are you living by? Are you measuring yourself up to other people and their successes in life, or are you engaging with God’s word and fulfilling what it’s asking you to do? At the end of the day, there is no correct measure of success but rather individual stories taking unique routes to wherever God has designed them to be.

Stop judging yourself. Stop comparing yourself. And start living the life God has uniquely designated for you.

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The Journey Through Change

Change isn’t always easy. Yes some people thrive off change, the new excitements, the new memories, and the chance to restart wherever you go. Others hate change, it causes anxiety, stress, and the thought of having to restart somewhere new seems like the end of the world. For me, I’m somewhere in the middle. I love to meet new people, make new friends, and have a clean slate to start from, but the thought of leaving the people I’ve met and come to love in the places I’ve lived cause extreme heartbreak.

This past year and a half I’ve lived in Richmond, VA — I’m not gonna lie, it’s been an extremely challenging year and a half. I’ve had two failed relationships, left an internship for a job that was different than I originally thought, went through a cycle of friendships before I was able to settle in, and even transitioned churches because I just didn’t feel at home. But among all those challenges I’ve met some of the most incredible people, friends who poured into me, challenged me, and helped me grow through the process. I’ve gotten to know a group of volleyball girls who I’ve grown to love spending time with and investing in, making this move more difficult than I originally thought.

As I get ready to move I think through the past moves I’ve made in my life and what’s helped me transition well. Through every up and down, every place I’ve lived, I realize it’s always about the people. The people is what makes moving hard but it’s also what makes moving exciting. A year and a half ago, I didn’t know any of the people I’ve grown to love here in RVA even existed. A year and a half ago, Richmond was just a place on the map we learned about in history class. Now it’s a place that will always have a piece of my heart, not because the city was so amazing, but because of the people who took time to invest in a midwestern girl who was starting off on her own.

USPAV 2017 Girls

God calls us to love people — yes the city is important, the structures are cool, and the sports are fun, but the people are what makes a place purposeful. Everything we are called to do in a city revolves around loving the people of that city. As I’ve learned that, I’ve started to understand that if God calls me to move, I need not be upset or frustrated. He’s calling me to love the city/country/state he’s put me in until he calls me to move and love someplace else. This home is temporary, our real home is in Heaven and when the earth becomes a mere place to make relationships geared towards Christ and not a possession to hold onto, it can completely shift our perspective on change from one of fear and uncertainty to one of joy and excitement.

Whenever I start to get really upset about the changes happening around me, or am chillin in my room crying because of the people I’m leaving, I’m reminded of the journey and life of Paul. Paul lived his life on the road. We get to experience and learn so much through his letters, but do you ever sit and think about the fact that the reason he had to write letters was because he wasn’t with the people in person? Paul constantly reminds the churches of his love for them, read any of his letters (the 13 Epistles) and you’ll see his unique investment to each group of people making up the church in that city. Paul missed the friends he made along the way, but it never stopped him from pursuing the life God had called him too. He didn’t resist change or resent God for making him leave again, but instead he used each and every opportunity to make an impact on the place he was in. He kept in touch with the people he left and invested in the people he was with. It allowed him to make an impact that God has continued to use through today. If Paul had told God “No, I’m not moving again, I like these friends here too much” then we might never have had the “Roman Road” or the book of Ephesians (one of my personal favorites). Instead, Paul wrote in Philippians 2:17, “But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice of service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.” Through physical suffering and emotional pain, through shipwrecks, sickness, loss of friends, and years of traveling, Paul found unrelenting strength through his faith.

As I move and am heartbroken to leave the people of RVA, I’m challenged and excited to invest in the people of Ada, MI. I will have the opportunity to be back with my immediate and extended family and given the time to invest in those relationships. I have college friends I’ll get to reconnect with, and high school friends I’ll be closer too. There’s a church I’ve been following from afar who I’m excited to finally call home. Yes I’m leaving a wonderful group of people, friends who’ve become family, and volleyball girls that will forever be like my little sisters, but God’s shown me both through life and through scripture that He is with us wherever we go. At times it might not be clear as to why our path is leading where it is, as I’m sure Paul was a little confused at times while sitting in jail or experiencing another shipwreck, but God never fails. He will come through no matter what the change is we’re facing.

So as I leave this place I rejoice in the memories, learn from the pain, and thank God for the opportunity to meet the people I have. And for as long as I live I will stand by the words of Isaiah 6:8:

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”