Wow, it has been a minute since I actually sat down and typed out a blog post all in almost one sitting (coffee included). The past 9 days (from Saturday 7/25-Sunday 8/2) totally blew my mind/rocked my world/all the good modifiers. I went into this discipleship program, LifeCast, thinking I would learn how to facilitate a small group and get some awesome new curriculum, but as always, God was like, “Yeah, no. I’m going to mess you up in the best way possible.” I’ve had a little bit of time to process last week and my mind’s just exploding with all of the goodness God had in His plans for me to receive. It was honestly a culmination of a ton of little moments that He had me present & taking advantage of, which rarely happens, so here we go:
An understanding of a new nature. A new favorite (fight) song. Way too much coffee. Lots of teaching. Even more learning about who Christ calls me, which was weird and awesome and new for some reason. Awesome heart-to-hearts. INCRED people. Lovely sleepovers & way too many tender moments to count. Literally pulling up lies and walking straight through them to the other side of truth (hardest part). And the funniest part: whenever they told us we’d be uprooting lies and walking through them, I thought, “Nope, not me. I already played that game and lost at the beginning of this year. I’ll let other people do that and reap the benefits by seeing how sweet it is, but I don’t really feel like being a mess this week.” Funny thing: it happened anyways. God always does what you think He either 1) won’t do, or 2) cannot do because of your own willpower and stubbornness.
And all of those things I didn’t say, wrecking balls inside my brain. I will scream them loud tonight. Can you hear my voice this time? This is my fight song, take-back-my-life song, prove-I’m-alright song. My power’s turned on. Starting right now, I’ll be strong. I’ll play my fight song. And I don’t really care if nobody else believes ’cause I still got a lot of fight left in me.
A tiny bit cheesy but still so good and so catchy.
I was told this week that it was normal to be questioning every relationship in my life after learning something so radical about who I am. I didn’t like that, but I learned to receive it. I walked through every past relationship, walked through frequent thoughts that were basically like a cancer just sitting there and growing without my knowledge, and I walked through what it meant to truly be living out of the new nature Christ has gifted me with.
The very first night of this trip, we had a blindfolded dinner. I kid you not, it is exactly what it sounds like. We all sat down, without food, and had to tie our wrists to the people next to us, then 2 people were blindfolded and 2 people weren’t allowed to use their hands. God knew me and knew I legitimately hate to trust because of how uncomfortable it can be, especially when I’ve recently met the people to my left and right. Therefore, I was blindfolded and had to be guided around to actually get my dinner (I didn’t actually know what the kitchen looked like until the end of the night), still with these other 2 people attached to me and having to do things for me because I had no idea where I was, what people were laughing at, what was going on my NACHOS (yes, the most difficult food to eat in these circumstances), and what was going on in general. We all got our food and sat back down, and “like life always does” the circumstances changed and my blindfold went to the person to my right. Sweet relief. But also a crushing realization of how much I hate trust. It was a pride and trust and vulnerability issue all wrapped into one. God crushed me with this early in the week for obvious reasons, I think. It opened me up to being my vulnerable for the remainder of the week and some of these awesome conversations wouldn’t have happened if this whole blindfolded dinner shenanigans wouldn’t have happened, so that was pretty incredible.
There were also a lot of prayers for patience this week, patience with myself and for the people and circumstances around me. Prayers of “Jesus, please let me stop waiting for this person to mess up just so I can call them out” or “Let me be more patient with myself and the healing process in You” and “Let me run toward you without hindrance.” Basically, asking Him to call out anything in me that offends Him or to humble me in the process. That was more a pleading than a prayer. There were a lot of times this week where I could just tell the enemy was trying to work his way into some really awesome and beautiful things that were happening. And I found myself walking to a campfire worship set in the middle of the week with the words “Throw off what hinders,” running through my brain, over and over again.
He satisfies. He fulfills. And He is so sweet to us in the process. I was reminded of this sweetness on the last couple mornings of this trip (mornings are my absolute favorite still). On Saturday morning, we were thrown a little curveball and didn’t have any high school girls for the lesson we were teaching in the morning. This lesson was my absolute favorite to teach (our new identity in Christ, I mean, come on). However, we had this awesome girl who works at the church we were volunteering at and we basically had the most tender girls’ morning I’ve ever had. Heart-to-hearts, Les Mis references, and conversations about our new identity in Jesus, all wrapped up in some little white-boarded diagrams and bunches of blankets and cups of coffee.
The next morning, we had all slept over in her apartment above the youth part of the church, our teaching for the weekend was over, and all of us girls were getting ready to go to church together. I woke up around 7:15, and the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was the sunrise, and I was just like, “Man, Jesus, You are so sweet.” And then we all had coffee together and ate fruit salad from pretty bowls and listened to music and got ready together and it was just another tender morning to put in the books. If I could have that as the atmosphere for my everyday morning, I would be extremely joyful.
I think that was one of my biggest takeaways from this week: when I became a Christian 2 years ago, I began the long journey of trying to figure God out and that’s really what I had convinced myself was the thing most worth looking for. Not who I was, but who God was. And this weekend, I finally came to the realization that it is more than okay to just sit with Him and recognize His sweetness. That’s all. To be present with Him is actually THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING I think I’ve ever felt. I always thought I had to be alone to do this, but this weekend, in a group of these awesome women, I was just like, “Wow. Jesus, You are so incredible and sweet and loving and take into consideration all the ways I feel loved and I love that about You.” It was just like a light bulb when on, and I could finally feel my Father say, “She gets it.” And I do, at least another part of Him. I understand His sweetness and how we’ve done literally nothing to deserve these tender moments, but He freely gives them because He’s like, “Look at how sweet I am. Look at what I can do for you. You like to communicate through feelings? Here they are. Here I am.”
I feel like I’m entering a season of being able to actually recognize His sweetness. This past week, there was a lot of curriculum and diagrams and small talk and heart-to-hearts and spiritual practices and laughing and crying and all of the feelings in between, and I think it’s easy to get lost in that if you want to. All I could think about though was how sweet He is. I mean, how sweet is He to bring me this little army of incredible people for 9 days (and for many days after)? How sweet is He to help me and be very obvious to me? How sweet is He to ALLOW me to walk through these lies and teach me what it means to choose between 16-year-old-Jenna thought life and now-Jenna-empowered-through-Jesus thought life? You don’t even know how easy it would’ve been for me to sink back into “I’m inadequate and these are all the unhealthy ways I receive attention and God created me to be used and I’m okay with that.” However, this week I started the break-up of “serving” and “being used.” And a beautiful break-up it was. I could never tell these two apart, and I thought they were one in the same. It wasn’t until I was sitting in a little church office, having a heart-to-heart with one of our leaders and she told me, “You are all the things that God is and He isn’t something that we just use,” that the two finally separated. It sort of felt like a part of my heart was tearing off because of how deeply rooted that lie has planted itself, and I know it’s something I’ll have to continue to dig up, but it’s a start. God is in the business of breaking apart so that He can renew us and reform us and put us back together in His image, and that is so beautiful to me.
Throughout the week, we spent time in Romans 6-8 (a HUGE chunk of so much goodness), and our entire group realized that each time we were reading this, we were taking not just little bits of different things, but HUGE earth-shattering truths that were different each time, and that was so awesome. I think it just goes to show how active and moving the Holy Spirit is. One part that I kept coming back to, which I largely overlooked every time I’ve read Romans 7 up until this point, was Romans 7:2-3:
2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
Seems easy to just breeze on by, right? Well, when we looked at it in relation to sin nature, which is what the passage is actually about, being released from the law and not being bound by our sin any longer. Basically it’s saying that Sin Nature is the name of husband #1, and the name of husband #2 is New Nature. If the first husband dies and the woman gets remarried, wouldn’t she always be referred to by her new husband? How weird would it be if your husband passed away, you got remarried, and people still called you by your old husband’s last name? Pretty crazy and strange, honestly. And we do that though. We still live as though we’re married to that old Sin Nature instead of living like we’re betrothed to New Nature.
16 “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety.19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.
It kind of blew my mind when I realized that this is the way we operate every single day.
And one of the most incredible parts of this week is something I don’t think I’ll be able to adequately put into words, but here we go. This past week was the first time I have ever experienced foot washing. This was probably the most powerful thing I’ve ever experienced, next to my baptism. We were sitting at dinner in this really beautiful church with our little group, and while one of our leaders was speaking, I glanced over at her commissioning night sheet, and all that caught my eye was, “How beautiful are the feet of those who spread the good news.“ And it hit me that that’s what was about to happen and I legitimately almost started crying over my tiramisu (I’m already a super emotional person anyways). And then our leaders proceeded to wash all of our feet and pray over us. I don’t think I have ever felt that oneness of the Body of Christ before or even understood it in the least, and that night was a catalyst for what I know He will continue to work in my life and, hopefully, in the life of the church I work for.
And this mug was adorable. I mean, just look at it.
And now I’m preparing to take on my sophomore year of college (what the crap), and I’m so excited to see what God does this year. I can feel something stirring, and I’m so excited to see what it is. I’m excited for things to pick back up again and be busy and crazy and just soak in the awesomeness. However, I have to keep reminding myself not to forget what God has taught me this summer because I think that’s really easy to do. I think it’s easy to be like, “God, You’re awesome and I had a great time with you, but now my life’s going to pick up and we might not talk for a while.”
I have this thing where I try to label or predict or place a box around what season I’m entering into or recognizing I’m in. And I can honestly say, I couldn’t have predicted this one. I couldn’t have predicted that I’d be running full-force into a season of just sitting in God’s presence and wanting to sit in His sweetness and see it in everything, among other things (like uprooting lies…just a little bit heavier). But here we are and here He is, beckoning me into His presence with His sweetness, and I can’t tell you how joyful that makes me.