On dependence.

It’s been really cool to take a step back and reflect for these past few days on this year. It was a big one, and I feel like I refer to every year as wild, but I think that’s a better label on 2018 than it has been on any other year.

It looked like graduating, but not without some resistance and wanting to go to the lawn where graduation would happen and pack up every folding chair to prevent graduation from happening (just kidding, graduating was fantastic). It looked like thinking I was going to live in my college town for another year, work in a small coffee shop I called home, and prepare for law school or graduate school. Within a month of having that job, I was quitting and moving to Costa Rica without much thought at all to take more pictures and videos than I can count. I GOT PAID TO MOVE TO ANOTHER COUNTRY AND CAPTURE STORIES. I never let myself sit in that, but isn’t that freaking amazing? While in Costa Rica, it occurred to me that I had quit my job for a temporary job and when I returned home, I would be jobless. This led me to interviewing over Facetime audio and then a second Facetime call from the only place we had WiFi: a bus in the middle of a camp day in the mountains of Costa Rica. I can’t make this stuff up. And somehow, by the grace of God, I got hired on by a company I never knew would become my dream company to work for. And I got to move home, which has been the biggest blessing I never would’ve planned. And then again, by the grace of God, I got the opportunity to stay on at Elevate and discover a new dream job. And now I get to spend pretty much every day telling stories and creating content for a brand I am 110% behind.

So 2018 changed a lot of things in me.

Every year, I’ve been intentional about praying and thinking for what a banner word over the year would be, and 2018 was the first year that I really didn’t do that, which ended up being great because I never could’ve predicted this year in my wildest dreams.

Years past have been WORTHY (2015), COURAGE (2016), and RESTORE (2017). And 2018 was the year of spontaneity and no reservations, which are generally not words I would use to describe myself. And so as these last few weeks have passed, I’ve felt prompted to pray and ask God, “What is 2019 going to look like for me?” Personally, professionally, mentally, spiritually. What’s it going to look like? And the word that keeps coming to mind is one that makes me cringe and want to run and rebel, but it’s how I knew, this would absolutely be the word hanging over 2019.

DEPENDENCE.

Even just typing it out makes me cringe. I hate dependence. I’ve spent the past 22 years learning how to be independent and wild and unhindered, so I find it funny. Dependence on God. That’s something I’ve struggled with since the day I decided that following Jesus was going to take my entire life. And I love that. But I also love doing what I want to do, which isn’t always a bad thing, but sometimes it can be when I find myself walking apart from God.

So I am convinced that 2019 will be the year of learning what dependence on God looks like, sowing seeds for community, understanding Him more deeply, and putting in the extra effort when it comes to finding a church and finding solid Biblical community that may look different than it did in college. These past few months, I’ve just kept grinding and tried not to focus on that, but it’s something I’ve been lacking in. I need people who are regularly pushing me back to the truth of God, and I think that’s definitely come through some of my best friends and coworkers this past fall, but I’m feeling a push to walk out on a ledge and sit in the awkwardness of developing a new community.

My mom and I tried a new church together, and it’s quite a bit bigger than churches I’ve been attending since high school, and it was the first time in a long time that I felt incredibly awkward. I can handle myself pretty well when it comes to meeting new people and testing out new waters, but when you pick me up and put me in an entirely new environment that’s pretty crowded, I just freeze up and forget how to act like a normal human. I promise, it’s like painfully awkward. But I think it’s the refinement process. As awkward as I felt, I didn’t see it as a, “This place isn’t for you,” from God, but rather a, “You can do hard things, and this is one of them for you right now.

So yes, these past few weeks, I’ve been incredibly overwhelmed with little pockets of cowering away and relaxing, that sort of overwhelmed where even deciding what to eat can be difficult. And it’s been good because it’s been cultivating that dependence on God, when I speak too quickly or when I move too slowly, that reminder of dependence kicks in, and right now, that’s the greatest gift.

Content is “something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing or any of various arts.

So instead of “Currently I’m…“s, I’ve switched this little segment to, “Content that’s changing me.

  1. Listening to: this podcast by Ben Stuart: “All As It Should Be.” This one wrecked me in the best way possible, and I’ve listened to it twice now. It’s all about shalom and the person of Jesus. And some songs I’ve had one repeat: “Glorious” by Macklemore, “Tim McGraw” cover by Maggie Rogers, “Good Kisser” by Lake Street Dive, “Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time” by Panic! at the Disco, and “Reckless Love” but the version by Steffany Gretzinger on the Moments: Mighty Sound album Bethel Music recently released.
  2. Watching: Life Itself, an Amazon Prime produced film from the creator of This is Us and the writer of Crazy, Stupid, Love. The filming and the script and the lines that hooked me. One of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen in a very long time, and it quenched something in my story-loving heart. “Life itself tricks us. It misleads us. It paints one man a hero when he may well be a villain. Hero or a villain. Villain or a hero. Maybe the heroes and villains of our stories are actually just day players in a much bigger movie.” I also have a deep fascination with musician documentaries, which was first spurred on by Brandi Carlile’s Pindrop Tour Documentary (please take 30 minutes and watch it here). So I went ahead and watched Gaga: Five Foot Two, and I remembered the love for tour documenting. The creativity and depth of these documentaries rocked me, and it made me want to create incredibly raw and authentic content.
  3. Sifting through: poetry by Chelsea Rathburn, Cleo Wade’s Instagram page, and GaryVee vids and DRock’s content.
  4. Reading: Watch for the Light (Advent readings), Psalm 86, and sort of Stephen King’s 11/22/63 (it’s an off-and-on sort of dance we got going on, that’s a long freakin book).
  5. Trying to create more: videos from different perspectives, whatever that means. Writing, like a whole lot more than I’ve written in a long time. There’s a document on my desktop that is called “This is going to be genius one day,” and I think that pretty much sums it up.
  6. Finishing: the 365 vid. Every single day of 2018 compiled with the best songs I’ve known this year. A couple vlogs for Billy B, and editing some podcasts that will drop in the new year.

I want to encourage you to shove aside things that are distracting you right now, and ask yourself what you want out of 2019. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. So weed out the crap and the lies and the overwhelming voices of everything but truth. There are big things ahead of you. I am confident of that.

Rooting for you,

JBJ.

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