One day at a time.

God is still good. God is still good. God is still good. I’ve held that sentence in the palms of my hands more often than not for the past 6 days. I’ve repeated it. Standing in the laundry room. Walking from Econ to work. Making my coffee in the morning. Churning out homework. Reading through letters. Checking my mailbox. Crying with friends. Making dinner. Riding in the car. Laying down at night. Checking out at the grocery store. Waking up at 3 AM. God is still good. God is still good. God is still good.

It’s really easy to say that when life is still moving and fast-paced and you know that right now He doesn’t feel good but deep down you know He really is. It is a hell of a lot harder to keep repeating that when you’re alone or you’re trying to reflect and process and drink deep of every emotion you’re feeling because there isn’t happiness in all of it. Yes, there is joy, it’s just covered in a lot of mess. A lot of it. I can keep telling myself I had plans for my future as much as I want to, but those are not the plans that God had for me. He intercedes when He knows we are in over our heads. And THANK GOD.

God is with us. What a promise. The most basic and the most overlooked for me. I want to recognize His presence, but I often refuse to receive Him unless I feel like I “have my life together” (whatever the hell that means).

I feel like I haven’t had a lot of intentional conversations lately, until this morning. I found myself telling this awesome friend that I didn’t trust God, and that’s what He’s working in to teach me more about courage and His character. When it comes to my relationship with God, I’m a bit of a control freak. I want to know that He’s going to bring my plans into fruition, but that’s actually not what He wants to do. His plans are so much greater (and stronger) than mine. I had this person in my life that I allowed to call the shots and set the plans and I began to settle down, and if you know me, I’m not a settler or a person to get comfortable. It’s true that I don’t like change, very true, but I’m also independent and spontaneous and a bit crazy at times. I stopped letting God lead me and started to receive plans from everyone around me. I wanted to take about 10 different roads at once, none of which were God’s plans. It took these past few days for God to truly humble me and give me peace and say, “Hey, it’s my turn to call the shots. Are you coming with me or not?”

Almost a year ago, I was running across campus wondering if God was good or not. I was letting the wind burn my face, and I was listening to the words, “Would you take me back to the place where my heart was only about You. And all I wanted was just to be with You. Come and do whatever You want to.” And now I feel pulled back to that place, not wondering if God is good or not, but saying, “God, please come and do something.” And now I have this space that I can really intentionally be with Him. I can invite Him into all this mess and ask Him to work in me, and I think that He delights in those prayers of desperation.

It’s going to suck. And it’s going to be hard and painful and messy and filled to the brim with hurt. There will be awkward hugs and awkward conversation and awkward glances and questions and anniversaries and would-have-beens and could-have-beens and plans that still linger with a bittersweet aftertaste. And it’s going to suck.

And I don’t have a conclusion to this post for you, I’m going to be completely honest. This is a work-in-process, and I’m okay with that. I don’t know how to trust, but I’m finally willing to surrender my expectations and my wimpy, man-made plans (in comparison to how magnificent God’s plans are) and fully accept what God is working in and through me. I’m being refined and made new and I can feel this tug in my heart for greater things that I have no idea about yet. I’m being washed clean in this.

I am reassured with His overwhelming and indescribable peace. I have only ever felt definitive, so close to real it was almost tangible, peace a few times in my life, and I can honestly tell you this was one of the times. God did me a solid when He made things blatantly obvious for me. He said, “I know you’re going to question and doubt yourself like crazy, but right now, in this moment, I can tell you that you are 100% making the right decision.” There are definitely gaps where the enemy tries to sneak his way in and speak lies where there was once comfort and security. But I find the ultimate comfort in knowing God created the darkness and knows it like the back of His hand.

A few months ago, I felt God constantly saying, “Don’t move without Me.” And I think now I actually see that playing out in the things that have happened in the past few months when I really sit and reflect. There is courage required of us to wait on the Lord, and He knows that. He is constant and faithful and never-changing. Those are the things about the character of God that I admire the most right now. He is constant. What a beautiful thing that His love isn’t conditional or wavering, but that He is the steady hand that reaches into our mess and pulls us out of it.

As of right now, trusting looks like one day at a time leaning into God and letting Him show me newer things. One day at a time. Shepherd takes an entire new meaning, but I am trusting that He does have greater plans than I have tried to build.  In terms of imagery, which I’ve always leaned into the most, I can see my house being a shack and paling in comparison to whatever He’s doing. I can feel Him deconstructing this little house of plans and expectations brick by brick. Does it hurt? Hell yeah. Does God know what He’s doing better than I do? Of course. Will I continue to lay down my life to Him every single day until it sticks? I’m going to try my hardest. One day at a time. That’s what I have to keep telling myself. One day at a time. And to the people who are reading this and could feel a tiny bit of worry, I’m doing alright. I’m hurting, but I feel peace too. One day at a time. I’m doing well, and I hope you are too. One day at a time. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, I hope God’s pushing you out on ledges and out of your comfort zone too. Let Him. One day at a time.

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You unravel me like a melody.

I sat in my parents’ bed, Nalgene full, journals open, Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve show playing in the background, and reflected on God’s faithfulness in the past year (surprise). His steadfastness never fails to astound me, but really to flip through journals and lay out this timeline of my thoughts and emotions and decisions this year, I really see His hand orchestrating all of it, but of course, hindsight’s 20/20 . From extremely depressed to hopeful to faithless to soaking in how sweet He is to getting caught up in planning to dipping my toes in the deep end (almost falling off, but not quite) to letting go to tasting the depression from January and February (but not fully entering that door) to remembering all the time to feeling completely surrounded by fear on all sides to sitting in my bed from high school over this winter break and having trust click with me in a totally new way. I haven’t felt that naked in front of God in such a long time. And I see Him in every moment from this past year, realizing He didn’t once leave my side, which feels cliche to write but also feels like a milestone for me because it’s been a long time coming.

You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
    through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,
    each ache written in your book.

 …

God, you did everything you promised,
    and I’m thanking you with all my heart.
You pulled me from the brink of death,
    my feet from the cliff-edge of doom.
Now I stroll at leisure with God
    in the sunlit fields of life.

I can trust You or I can drown myself in anxiety. You know I struggle. You haven’t turned a blind eye. You have been here. You have kept track of my tossings. You know my tears. You don’t just write them off. You are with me, Father. Let me lean into that truth, live out of it. You have let me walk with You, and You have called me into something deeper than myself. Your provisions are bigger and greater than me. Here’s to accepting that these fears and anxieties and debilitating burdens are not from You. There is no room for them in You, in love. 

I read something on this break that has really stuck with me. I read a blog post about how our mind is a space meant for us and God. I usually think of my crazy mind just being a long string of thoughts or things that consume me or ongoing lists or fears and obsessions and school and work and God only knows what else (literally). But what if this space was a place where we made a conscious effort to hand these thoughts over to God? Literally, me and God are the only two people who know every single one of my thoughts. It’s the most intimate setting for us. I CAN TELL HIM ANYTHING. What a thought. And not only that, but He’s listening. Ever since I read about this, I just think about me and God chilling in my mind, sipping coffee, and feeling comfortable telling Him about every single thought I ever obsessed over or held captive because I thought I could fix/control/handle everything alone. There is comfort and love and fulfillment in knowing that we are COMPLETELY KNOWN & STILL LOVED. Wait, He knows my mess and disgust and filth and He still looks at me like a bride walking down an aisle? Excuse me, but HELL YES. His love is so freaking wide that we cannot even fathom it. And even as I type these words, I am filled with that “can’t-eat, can’t-sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over- the-fence, World Series kind of stuff.” He is so dang good that I can’t even grasp it, but I know that’s exactly the way He planned it.

 I’m a planner. I used to embrace this and think it was so fantastic, and it definitely has it perks, but it also runs some things straight into the ground because EXPECTATIONS are party-ruiners sometimes, am I right? There’s so much joy in handing over our burdens and anxieties over to God, there’s such freedom in that. The minute I start “planning” out my life, I think God chuckles and throws my plans out the window of the car going 120 miles an hour. He’s so much bigger than logistics, which was incredibly hard for me to type out considering I thrive in environments packed with logistics and small details and things I can control.

And I don’t want to go all New-Year’s-Resolution-and-bigger-and-better-things on you, but when is a better time to try new things? So lets throw our resolutions and expectations right out the window of that car going 120 miles an hour and see what God does when we hand ourselves over to Him.

  1. When the pressure of showing people how happy and confident and successful we are falls off, we get to run toward God without hindrance. And I have got to believe that this is the freedom Christ invites us into when He calls us His children. So let’s shift the focus off of how other people perceive us and trying to convince them of our happiness and focus more on the actual joy Jesus brings us when we step out from behind the Instagram filters. I get so caught up in it, way too caught up in it, and I’ll be the first to admit that. I want to look good, who doesn’t? But when that image becomes more important than my calling or my mind is cluttered up by perceptions and not the words that my Father lavishes upon me, that’s when we hit the brick wall of problems. We can’t do it all, and I don’t want to convince people that’s what I’m doing anymore. There’s a fine line between “I feel hot today” and “Everyone needs to know that I feel good about myself.” There’s a fine line between “This is my intimate time with my Father” and “Everyone needs to know that I spent quiet time with my Bible and coffee on my white down comforter.”  There’s a fine line between “I love spending this sweet time with my family” and “I’m going to interrupt this sweet time with my family to make sure other people know that I have this rock of a fam behind me.” Honestly, these should all be #latergrams. After you’ve conquered the day, said your prayers, talked to God, pulled your ish together, and made sure you were posting for the right reason, then by all means, post the kissing your boyfriend on the cheek picture or your coffee shop aerial shot or the candids from times with the fam or even the quiet time on your white sheets. Do it. Post it. Because I gotta love for aesthetically pleasing pictures. But the minute my worth and fulfillment comes from constantly refreshing notifications and feeding off of how “liked” I am, then it’s time to put the tech down.
  2. Trusting. Trusting. Trusting. Remember how I said that the trust in my relationship with God clicked in a new way as I sat in my high school bed over this break? I sat there, pleading with God, to take away irrational fears and anxieties and burdens because they have no place in Him. His provisions are greater and bigger than me. I started asking Him to lead me to a place where my only choice would be to trust Him, and then I was just hit with this realization that that’s exactly where I was sitting already. I had begged Him for this for so long and sang “Oceans” for two years now, but this was it. I was sitting in a place where I could trust Him or I could drown myself in anxiety, only to find out later that it wasn’t worth it. He knows my struggle, He has kept count of my every tossing, every tear shed, every awful thought process I went off on. He has always been there in the midst of struggle, it just takes me shifting my perspective to know that He is still good. And if I’m living to glorify Him, then that’s it. That’s what I’m here for. I keep wondering when I’ll have intimacy with my Heavenly Father, but how in the world is that supposed to happen when I can’t trust Him except with trivial little prayers and a grocery list of things I struggle with. Intimacy is handing everything completely to Him and saying, “Hey, I trust You. I don’t know what this road looks like, but I’m in it for the long haul. Let’s do this.” And that takes waking up every day and reminding myself of that trust and truth that God gives. You are nearer than I could ever imagine. 
  3. Courage. That’s the final thing God will be helping me navigate this year. Heaps of courage and confronting fear with Him. One thing I found myself talking about for the past few weeks is my thought life and how fear dictates a lot of it. And then I sat in an arena filled with 20,000 people thinking and talking about fear with a professor and a new friend, and God broke me. I sat there wishing He would speak directly into fear, but I didn’t have the courage to ask Him to do that because it seemed like one of those crazy wishes you didn’t think would come true. But I’m standing there, front row of the 3rd story balcony, a couple worship songs in, and I hear these words: You unravel me with a melody, You surround me with a song of deliverance from my enemies till all my fears are gone. And I started to weep, uncontrollably actually. My professor leaned over to me and said, “I think God’s trying to tell you something.” And if you know the rest of the song, you know the bridge says, “You split the sea so I could walk right through it, my fears were drowned in perfect love. You rescued me so I could stand and sing, I am a child of God.” I just felt my heart being ripped and pieced back together one piece and one fear dealt with at a time. I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God. What a proclamation and what a PROMISE. Fear cannot be found in Him. And if that wasn’t already enough to hear from Him, Brad Jones got on stage and said he felt like someone in this room needed that, needed the burden and the heaviness of fear to be lifted from their heart. AND THEN Christine Caine proceeded to preach out of Joshua 1, which says: “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” She talked about how we are a generation of individualists. You know, we always think, “What is God calling me to do? What does God have for my life? What is He going to use me for?” And that’s so messed up because it was never just about one person, this is about all of us. And I can’t help but think what if I didn’t always think about myself and maybe I wouldn’t be suffocating myself in fear. We are well able to do what God has called us to do, we just have to step outside of ourselves and do something because with this freedom that Christ has given us, we have the responsibility to set other people free. And when she said that, I was floored by my selfishness. We can’t hoard His love because He is bigger and better than that. We can’t develop this intimacy and then not share it with other people. The Lord is good and steadfast and mighty to save, but if we don’t tell people that, then how will they know? How will they taste the freedom? The freedom of relinquishing control to God and allowing fears to subside and peace to set in.

     

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