seeing Your goodness in the land of the living.

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“How do you reconcile the two? The goodness of God with the pain and brokenness of life. How do you make sense of it all?”

 

It’s after midnight, and the three of us are sitting around on the floor of our room, Bibles in our laps, honesty hour for each of us. After a long day of travel and unexpected experiences, we’re exhausted and cutting right to the heart of what we’ve all been walking through.

 

“I guess…I don’t know exactly. I think I often tend to believe that God doesn’t have to be good to me to still be good.”

 

I pause for a moment, and gather my thoughts.

 

“Almost this: I know I don’t deserve His love, so I see the love He does give me as a beautiful, wonderful gift, and everything else as extra. I don’t think that’s right or healthy, but that’s how I tend to reconcile it. He doesn’t have to be good to me in my mind for me to still believe He’s good.”

 

*

 

This has been a season of wrestling with truth, and wrestling with God.

 

A season of living – a season of seeing if what I believe holds any weight. Seeing if I believe that grace is really for me when I fall short, that I am loved in my weakness, that God is enough when I know nothing else is.

 

And it has been a season where I’ve had to decide if what I believe about God is accurate, or if I’ve been seeing Him through a broken lens this whole time.

 

As we sat on that bedroom floor, I verbalized for the first time the script that had been playing in my head and my heart, and thought about the way I had been viewing God for so long. For a good amount of time, I’d convinced myself that expecting anything from Him was selfish, and I was setting myself up for disappointment if I believed on Him for anything more than salvation.

 

That script works, until it doesn’t. It masquerades as a holy, selfless view of God, but when put into practice, is often the manifestation of doubt and fear.

 

I doubt that God will do good things for me because I am afraid of being disappointed.

I am afraid that my life will not turn out the way I want it to, so I doubt that God will be faithful to me specifically.

 

*

 

A few months back, I started incorporating “self-counseling sessions” into my journaling practice. I start with asking all the deep, hard questions of myself, slowly getting everything out in the open that I know has been going on in my head. I consider the questions slowly, and do my best to answer them as honestly as I can – and let myself be okay with not having answers for a while, if that’s the case.

 

And so, some of these self-counseling sessions go a little bit like this.

 

Do I believe God is all-good?

Yes – but do I believe that God is good to me, personally?

 

Do I believe God is all-powerful?

Yes – but do I truly have faith that He can do all things and will intervene in my life when He so chooses?

 

Do I believe God is all-loving?

Yes – but do I believe that He loves me in all of my mess and my weaknesses, that my shortfalls do not diminish His love for me, and that He would not have created me if He did not love me unconditionally?

 

Do I believe that I can trust Him with my life?

I don’t know. Do I?

 

*

 

There is a vast space between what we say is true, and how we live because of what we subconsciously believe. Deep belief cannot help but influence our actions, so we must get to the heart of the ideas we have incorporated into our mindsets.

 

The key belief that’s wrong here is that I fall into thinking that God’s goodness concluded with Jesus two thousand years ago – and that couldn’t be further from the truth. The grace and the faithfulness of God did not stay on the cross.

 

The idea that “God doesn’t have to be good to me to still be good” runs counter to His character. If God is good, He will be good to me. If He promises that He is trustworthy, He is worthy of all of my trust. If He is faithful, He will be faithful to me.

 

It sounds so simple, so trite. Of course He’s good. Of course He’s trustworthy. Of course He’s faithful. Yet, what keeps us from believing it with everything? What keeps us from trusting Him for all the things we know we cannot control? What keeps us in fear when we know His character so deeply? What keeps us from internalizing what we know to be true and letting Him be God?

 

We do not trust Him fully because we are afraid of life turning out in a way that we do not want, and it makes us uncomfortable to think that His goodness and our comfort may not overlap.

 

*

 

One of my favorite verses in the world is Psalm 27:13 –  I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

 

Here on earth, we will see the goodness of God. Tangibly, truly, deeply – we will unquestionably see His goodness.

 

And again – that doesn’t mean He always fixes our messes. It doesn’t mean we’ll avoid suffering the effects of living in a broken world. It doesn’t mean that we won’t still struggle or that somehow we’re not human anymore.

 

But it does mean that He’s with us in the mess. It means He loves us in spite of all our failure and fear and brokenness and calls us holy in His sight. It means He cares about each of us individually and personally, and delights in giving us good gifts.

 

He was good to us when He sent Christ on the Cross, and that alone should fill our lives with joy and hope in the grace that sets us free from sin and death. And even beyond that, He’s good to us, right here, right now, today. There’s nothing we can do to lose His love and faithfulness toward us. Absolutely nothing.

 

He wants us. This God, this Creator of the vastest of galaxies and oceans and mountains wants us – our small, fragile, imperfect human souls. He’s good. And if He is good, then He is good to us. And we will see that goodness here, in the land of the living.

 

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There’s Joy in Both: finding hope in brokenness.

 

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“There’s joy in both.

 

This mantra has been echoing in my head for months now, ever since a friend of mine sent me those words right when I needed to hear them. Right now, I’m watching the range of life seasons my friends are in, the happiness they’re seemingly consumed with – stepping into their careers, traveling across the world, falling in love. And oftentimes I wonder, in the mundane, everydayness of life – is there joy here? Truly?

 

In this season, I am fighting for joy. This season, in which my heart is tired, I am learning to find hope again.

Continue reading “There’s Joy in Both: finding hope in brokenness.”

West-Coast Grace: resting in His presence.

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Sometimes it takes a trip to the other side of the country to really start to see God more fully.

 

It’s not about the travel, though. Sometimes just a change of pace, and scenery, and a lot of long walks and talks with people that know your soul. Sometimes it’s just the space to sit for an hour with a journal in the early hours of the morning in a dark living room, or as the wind whips through messy hair and thick sweaters on front porches.

 

It is in the kitchen that I find myself on a Saturday morning, gripping a mug of good coffee, overthinking. We’ve squeezed seventeen people into a beach house, and so I’m surrounded by the coffee drinkers, those of us lingering around the counter as people have started to spread out – some on couches with fuzzy blankets and guitars, some around tables with card games, some zipping up jackets to walk to the beach.

 

As the conversation begins to wind down, I quietly slip out of the kitchen, grab my Bible and journal, and find a place alone outside, to think and pray and read and cry silent tears, if they’ll come.

Continue reading “West-Coast Grace: resting in His presence.”

Unfiltered: because the world needs more vulnerability.

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It has been much too long since I have sat myself down to write. In the past months, exhausting and chaotic as they have been, I have lived.

 

I have mourned things that would never come to be. I have both sat on the floor of my room sobbing for hours, as well as driven myself to the beach in the middle of winter to dance with joy, alone on the shore, letting my feet be tickled by the ocean waves.

 

I have spent countless hours with friends, working through relationship issues and talking through breakups. I have attended Bible studies, and I have made too many commitments. I have scrubbed floors and washed thousands of dishes and cooked too many complicated dinners.

 

I have stayed up late to get work done, and gotten up with the sun some mornings. I have slept through too many of my alarms, eaten too much ice cream, spent too many hours on social media, and then realized how empty I really felt.

 

I have gotten on planes and braved hours of traffic to hug precious friends from all over, and have gone to coffee shops by myself and pored over my laptop with an overpriced cappuccino trying to force myself to absorb information. I have passed exams, and I have failed them. I have lived up to my own expectations, and I have failed myself too.

 

I have lived with a free and contented heart, rejoicing in both the goodness of God and the sweetness of my circumstances, and I have laid in bed late at night and realized the depression I thought I had beat and the loneliness that came along with it never truly went away.

 

I have prayed apathetically and worshiped sporadically. I have studied the Bible intensely, and I have pleaded with God wildly.

 

I have read books. I have gone exploring. I have lost people I was holding too tightly onto, and have grieved over the people I have disappointed.

 

And in all of that, through the joys and the sorrows, I have become exhausted – too tired to let myself think, but in not letting myself contemplate, become even more drained with the seemingly meaningless chaos my life has consisted of. Continue reading “Unfiltered: because the world needs more vulnerability.”

Disappointed: for when life hurts, and you’re wondering how God fits in.

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Sometimes life just doesn’t turn out the way we always thought it would.

 

Sometimes we feel like we’re left with more questions than answers – more waiting than action – more hours of crying than smiling. Sometimes, something that seemed like it would be so perfect just wasn’t.

 

That dream school – that relationship – that job – that friendship – that trip – that opportunity. When everything felt so right, so God-led, so hopeful, and nothing comes, it’s easy to become discouraged. The question is not, “God, if You’re good, why did this happen to me?” as much as, “God, when I felt like You were leading me to this place, did I hear Your voice wrong? Was I wrong to trust You for this? Are You still as faithful as I though You promised me that You were?”

 

And as I’ve been walking through this, I’ve realized a few things.

 

I’ve realized that if I make the object of my joy, my satisfaction, and my hope anything other than pursuing Jesus Christ, I’ll never find the peace in my heart that I crave, even if my circumstances seem to be exactly what I thought I wanted.

 

I want to be faithful right where I am, trusting the God that’s directing me to right where He has for me to be. Not because those circumstances are the ones I’m dreaming of – but because I will only find true joy when I’m pursuing the Person of Jesus, not because I think He’s a shortcut to achieving my own desires.

 

For where else can we find hope in our brokenness? Where else can we find grace for our weakness? Joy in heartache? Peace in the midst of missed opportunities, rejection, and despair?

Continue reading “Disappointed: for when life hurts, and you’re wondering how God fits in.”

Cry, Pray, Trust: for when you’re stuck in a season of waiting and need a reminder of God’s faithfulness.

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Sometimes all you can do is cry, and pray, and wait. And trust that God is in control, even when it takes every ounce of faith inside you to catch even a glimpse of that.

 

*

 

I wish I could say I spend my New Year’s Eve in a glamorous way. I didn’t.

 

At 10 pm on Sunday night, my family went to bed, and I washed dishes alone, in my kitchen. I played a worship album two times over, and fell to my knees and cried all the tears I’d been holding in for a week. I prayer journaled and dedicated my year to Jesus, and tiptoed into my living room to watch the ball drop in the darkness of my house, holding a flute of formerly-sparkling cider.

 

3…2…1…and, it’s 2018. Everyone celebrate with your friends and lovers, but I’m still over here alone. I flicked on Netflix to numb my thoughts, and played that worship album again as I drifted off to sleep.

 

*

 

God is faithful. The words echo in my head, and as I think about one word that would define 2017, it’s that one – faithful.

 

Over and over, God spoke. Both in the loud and in the quiet, in rooms full of worshipers and in the solitude of my bedroom, He confirmed those three little words, time and time again – I. Am. Faithful.

 

Gracious, good, perfect God, remind me again what Your faithfulness looks like, won’t you? Because I’m stuck in a long, hard season of waiting right now, like I’m teetering on the edge of a cliff, and gravity hasn’t yet decided if I’m going to stay or if I’m going to fall. Oh, how I need you.

Continue reading “Cry, Pray, Trust: for when you’re stuck in a season of waiting and need a reminder of God’s faithfulness.”

On Why We Need to Stop Idolizing Relationships, Marriage, & Everything Else.

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“Marriage was never meant to be about me. It’s always been a great allegory of the love between Christ and the Churchof which I am a part, and am invited to partake in the fullness of. Of which all of us are invited to partake in. See, it’s this cosmic love story, the most beautiful of them all — and one created, as all things are, to display the glory of God, time and time again.” Continue reading “On Why We Need to Stop Idolizing Relationships, Marriage, & Everything Else.”

On Coming out of Depression & Experiencing the Faithfulness of God

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Oh wow He’s faithful.

 

There’s something so ethereal about knowing when God is speaking.

 

Oftentimes, before I leave my house to go be with other Christians, I pray a few things. One, that I’d have some sort of meaningful conversation, two, that God would speak, and if I remember, then three, that I’d be filled with the Spirit and used by Him.

 

And the funny thing is, once I arrive, when I kick off my shoes and put down my phone and start hugging people, I completely forget that I ever even prayed it. And every single time that I come home so filled, I’m overcome with awe at how He worked.

 

I’m stunned by the conversations that left me glowing with joy, how I heard God in worship songs and in listening to my friends preach, tangibly experiencing God’s love and presence in everyday interactions.

 

I heard His voice again this weekend, and it left me breathless.

 

For three days, I’d been praying hard that God would lead me to trust Him. And He has. Oh, how He has.

Continue reading “On Coming out of Depression & Experiencing the Faithfulness of God”