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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You Are So Much More Than Just a Title

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i.

 

This year so far has been one of conversations, of thinking, of beginning to define myself.

 

Something that often crosses my mind is this thought: Who am I?

 

And I can go through the surface things. I can say I’m a college student, a sister and daughter, a musician, a writer. But are those things enough?

 

I’ve been playing with this idea, of being rather than doing. Focusing on who I am, not just what I do as the definition of me.

 

On my own, I can do a lot of things. I can write articles and play music and be kind and use my mind. I can. But if I am to place my entire value, the sum total of my worth into these things – where will I be when these things fall away?

Continue reading “You Are So Much More Than Just a Title”

Returning Again to The Everlasting Promises

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I’m back to the beginning again.

 

It’s funny – sometimes I think I’ve got it all figured out.

 

I write these posts, I journal, I speak, I talk with friends – and sometimes, I feel like I’ve solved everything. Like I have all the answers, and that maybe, this time, I’ll really have control of my life.

 

Ironically, however, I think I’ve got it all covered and then I struggle again.

 

I write about true identity being found in Christ and yet I find myself playing the comparison game, over and over.

 

I write about hope in pain, and soon after I find myself, once again, stumbling in the darkness, losing faith in any light.

 

I write about living in grace and the very next day I battle overwhelming guilt and shame.

 

And here’s the kicker – all this leads to is more guilt.

 

There’s a whisper in my head, reminiscent of the Serpent in Genesis 3, saying, “Did God really say His grace covered everything?”

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Telling My Story: On Inadequacy, Shame, and Overwhelming Grace

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After a bit of a refreshing, much-needed break, I’m back again. I’ve taken the past few weeks to breathe, to refresh, to learn and grow and visit my friends, and reflect on life.

 

A while ago, I wrote a post called When Your Soul is Longing to Be Enough, and to this day, it’s one of my favorites. I want to continue on with that theme, with a new and different take on it – one that’s even more freeing.

 

For years, I’ve inwardly wrestled with feeling adequate, good enough, complete.

 

When people would tell me, “Oh, you’re so good at _____,” I’d brush it off, mentally tell myself they didn’t know what they were saying, ignore the compliment and continue to believe that I wasn’t good enough. Not as a person, or as a performer.

 

As I got older, and understood my faith a little more, I would hear it said, “You are complete in Christ! You are new and pure in Him, and that is where your identity lies.”

 

And I grasped onto that belief, holding it firmly, afraid it’d slip away. Because some nights, curled up in bed with my journal in my lap and pen in my hand, crying out to God, I’d begin to disbelieve again.

 

There was this dichotomy in my mind, this separation between who I was in Christ, and how I performed – how I really and truly saw myself.

Continue reading “Telling My Story: On Inadequacy, Shame, and Overwhelming Grace”

Seeing Resolutions in a New Light

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Hi there, friend.

 

Happy New Year.

 

It’s 2017 over in my corner of the world, and after a break to refresh my mind, spirit, and celebrate Christmas, I’m back once again.

 

I’m not sure what 2016 looked like for you. Maybe it was wonderful, full of growth and love, hope and peace, or maybe it wasn’t that great. Maybe you were stressed and worn, and maybe it was a really tough year.

 

I’ve seen so many complaints on social media, saying, “2016 was horrible, let’s hope 2017’s a little better.”

 

I feel you, friend. 2016 wasn’t an easy year for any of us.

 

But there’s this trend…and it happens every year. We desire to make this new year “our year,” and scribble down resolutions, or come up with defining words, and believe, “If only I work hard enough, this year will be amazing.”

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Where to Find Hope in Pain

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I probably don’t have to tell you that life’s really tough, sometimes.

 

I’ve done so many posts about pain – about depression and anxiety, about feelings of hopelessness, about when life throws things at us that we’re not ready for, about what we’re supposed to do when we literally have no idea what to do.

 

Life’s messy.

 

Painful.

 

Confusing.

 

And my first reaction, honestly, is to go hide away in my room and look for a distraction.

 

It’s awkward to admit that, but it’s true. I want distraction over comfort, desperate feelings over peace, extremes over hope.

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How I Find Adequacy in the Face of Failure

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Sometimes, we carry those weights around that we don’t even know we’re carrying.

 

We bear these burdens every day…over…these issues that we think are minor, but really aren’t.

 

And then eventually, the truth comes out, the answers shed light on why we’ve been thinking and working and living and dying the way we are.

 

This all sounds so vague, I’m sure. Maybe I can explain just a little piece of my heart on this Tuesday morning.

 

Adequacy is a huge deal.

Continue reading “How I Find Adequacy in the Face of Failure”

Why I Hate Four O’Clock and Fridays

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It’s sheer irony that I’m writing this at four o’clock on a Friday afternoon.

 

This post has been gradually constructing itself in my head for a few months now, through the ups and downs of assignments and writing projects and stress and joy and all the lovely and not-so-lovely things that my life’s made up of.

 

Every day, around four o’clock in the afternoon, I get this feeling I can’t quite explain. It’s something of dread, of feeling as though I’ve wasted the day, this overwhelming sense of not-enough-ness.

 

It’s weird.

 

And Fridays, you know, “Thank God it’s Friday?” Those days send me into a panicked frenzy…because there’s something that’s taken me a few YEARS to fully understand, but it’s been here for a while:

 

It’s the feeling that the weekend’s finally here, but I haven’t done enough.

Continue reading “Why I Hate Four O’Clock and Fridays”