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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Blessed to be Stressed

I’ve put off writing a new blog for a while, simply because so much is going on right now I didn’t know exactly what to write about. On one hand, life is exciting and new but on the other hand I’m stressed and worn out, hoping for the path I’m supposed to take to show itself soon.

I’m at the stage in life where change is inevitable and as much as I love new adventures, I’ve found I’m one who loves routine and familiarity. In the last couple weeks I’ve left my full-time job and moved 12 hours away into my parents house so I can start my Masters degree.

Being back with my family is amazing, I love being able to invest in my sister, hang out with my dad, and do life with my mom. Yet, starting over is never easy. My friends seem to be everywhere in the U.S. but here, my boyfriend and I are joining the multitude of long distance couples relying on FaceTime dates and nightly phone calls to make the distance seem smaller, and the job market seems to be as dry as the Sahara Desert.

And as the days drag on, my stress level increases.

Grad school, car payments, insurance, you name it, the bills are hitting hard and my income is non-existent.

And as much as I’d like to say I’m calm about it all, I’ve seemed to internalize the stress, resulting in an exhausted emotional tank.

You might be wondering why I’m telling you all this, but the truth is, we’ve all been here. We’ve all been to the point where we’ve exhausted our emotional tank. We think we’ve run out of options, we’ve hit that wall and we don’t know what to do. And if you haven’t, without sounding like a debbie downer, I’m sure at one point in your life you will.

The most encouraging thing I’ve found during this time though, is my authenticity with God and my reliance on Him has grown.

When you have no control over what happens in your life and you’ve hit your emotional end, who better to turn to than the one who created you and knows exactly how to fill the empty tank?

I can apply to jobs day in and day out, but I cannot control who calls me back and who leaves my application on read. I can bottle up all my feelings and worries and stresses inside, or I can express them to the one who can actually take care of them. For me, that seems like an easy choice.

By focusing on what I can control and leaving the rest up to God, I’ve found a sense of peace in the madness of uncertainty. If God opened the door to Michigan and being with my family, He will provide an income and the friends I need.

Matthew 6:25-32 states:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

God cares about us more than we can even imagine. He knows our needs. He isn’t surprised by my grad school bills or lack of a job, so why am I worrying that He will not provide. God is our provider (Phil. 4:19). It’s one of His names. It’s part of His nature. So why do I doubt? What is worrying going to solve? Absolutely nothing.

In times of uncertainty, hardship, insecurity, or wherever you’re at, we must learn to rely on God. Study His names. Know who He is. Memorize His promises. Because He will not fail us. He will not disappoint. And all we need to do is trust.

So as I go into this week, still staring bills and job uncertainties in the face, I will trust in the one who provides. I will know He has it under control and I will chose to rest in His peace and the truth of His word.

God will provide. It may not be in the way we imagined or in the way we hoped but He will provide. For He has promised to do so and God does not lie.

Take the weight off your shoulders, fill your emotional tank, and find your peace in the only one who can guarantee it will be given to you.