And on the eighth day, God settled: the sacrifice of unconditional love.

A year ago, I was so sure I’d figured it out. “Love is not a sacrifice,” I adamantly declared to everyone around me. “Love has to be a joy. We sacrifice because we love, like God sacrificed for us. But love itself is not a sacrifice.”

I’ve thought a lot about love this year. I think I grew up with the mindset that when time passed and love got old and was more about serving and giving than feelings, it wasn’t love anymore, it was obligation. Love should be thrilling, electric, the most natural and easy thing in the world. But now, I’m not so sure about that.

Because in a world that screams “never settle,”
that’s exactly what God did.
He looked at us,
A bunch of broken, selfish, messed-up sinners,
and said, “Them.”
“Those are the ones I want.”

He settled for us.

He could have destroyed us all and started over.
He could have changed the human heart to serve and love Him by nature.
He could have done a whole lot of things.
But He didn’t.
He chose to sacrifice instead.

Because that’s what love does. That’s what love is. Love, when it counts, is a sacrifice.

And sacrifice isn’t convenient, or easy, or the most logical choice. That doesn’t mean it’s crazy or irrational in the way that we think of irrational love – leaving everything behind for someone you’ve just met, moving across the world on a whim. That sort of love is driven by a feeling, and I know that were I to love like that, I’d move across the world and promptly turn around when it ceased to be as glamorous as I once thought.

But God doesn’t love like that, acting on an emotion He was overcome with because it seemed like a nice idea. He had all of eternity past to consider what He’d do when we would inevitably turn away from Him, and He chose to act in a way that would make no sense to us – He gave everything for the people He loves.

Love is a lavish gift, a calculated choice to freely give something completely undeserved.

God doesn’t love us because we’re good – He loves us because He’s good.

And I want to love like that, too.

*

There’s a parking lot not too far from where I live, surrounding a few restaurants and stores that I end up at probably once a week. There’s nothing special about this parking lot, nothing romantic or lovely about it – in fact, it’s quite loud, far from private, and humming with activity most days of the week. But somehow, it’s a place that’s held so many deep and long conversations with many of my favorite people.

It is in this parking lot late at night during one of these conversations that I find myself relaying a truth told so many times to me: “God knew what He was taking on when He took on you.”

In times of failure, of disappointing the people I love, of dealing with the guilt and shame that accompany life as a human being painfully self-aware of my shortcomings, this has brought me comfort. God knew what He was getting into when He chose to love us, and He didn’t run.

He knew. Our God knew all the baggage we’d bring to the table. And He wanted us anyway. Our God settled, and He delighted in doing it.

*

This year, I’ve thought a lot about what it means to actively love when the subjects of our affection are flawed and our capacity for desire and craving for perfection are limitless.

As someone who used to be among the enthusiastic, idealistic hordes of people shouting, “NEVER SETTLE,” I think I’m starting to change my tune. I think that in a broken world as this one, we’re always going to be settling for something, and so we’re brought to a decision: is this worth it to love anyway?

I’m not saying we should ask and answer that question lightly. I’m not saying we shouldn’t use wisdom and discernment in the choices we make, because of course we should.

But if we decide that love is worth it, then settle and settle well. Settle well and love hard, because people will never be perfect but we can choose to love them fiercely and freely like God does. Because perhaps we’ve made love out to be something given in exchange for perfection, a transaction of a sort, and we’ve forgotten that God has never ever loved us like that.

Love is a sacrifice. It’s a joy, it’s a privilege, it’s a delight, it’s a gift – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy or deserved.

God settled. He sacrificed. He gave a preposterously wayward world exorbitant amounts of grace.  And if God says people are worth loving like that, then maybe we should love that way too.

*aj

To love is to be vulnerable: how one simple concept is changing my life.

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C. S. Lewis wrote that to love is to be vulnerable.

 

The full quote is a beautiful one. It’s one I’ve held onto for a while, one that reminds me I have to give up safe in order to receive something so much better. But that doesn’t mean vulnerability is easy, by any means. And slowly, I am peeling back the layers of my life to reveal the fear and the imperfection, and I am learning to find joy.

Continue reading “To love is to be vulnerable: how one simple concept is changing my life.”

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.”

Continue reading “seeing Your goodness in the land of the living.”

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.”

Real Life: grace, twinkle lights, depression, & me.

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If you met me today, you’d be meeting a pretty normal girl. I like coffee, and cozy sweaters, and reading, and smiling, and driving, and Chick-fil-A.

 

And I really, really love Jesus.

 

If we had a conversation, we might talk about how I like your hair, where we’re each from, or what our day-to-day lives look like. I might ask you if you like coffee or tea better, what makes you feel alive, what your favorite ridiculous bad jokes are, or how I could be praying for you.

 

Sometimes I think we only let the world see one side of us, and today, I’m here to say that it’s okay to be a lot of things. It’s so important to be you, every ounce of the you that God designed you to be.

Continue reading “Real Life: grace, twinkle lights, depression, & me.”

where i’ve been, what i’ve learned, and the God who’s been constant through it all. // + my photography!

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It’s been too long.

 

Each time I’ve tried to sit down and write, I’ve either gotten distracted, become unmotivated, or overwhelmed, hence the silence on my part. And so instead, I’ve been gone, treating my blog as an intimidating monster to be slayed, not a haven to use to think and rest in, which I think has done me more harm than good.

 

Regardless, here I am, and thank you for sticking around to read – it means the world.

 

The past few months have been stretching for me. The end of my summer marked the end of a metaphorical season in my life, and whenever a season ends, in my experience, it’s like something’s come out of nowhere and struck me blind, leaving me dazed and confused about where to go next. Moving forward was the only option, and while I’m not sure if I’ve done it gracefully, it’s been a necessary and worthwhile journey.

 

And so, I took a trip with friends from all over North America. We traipsed around different states, drank a lot of coffee, and had extensive, passionate conversations until the sun came up. I came home with a renewed sense of what I want my life to look like, reality colliding with my visions, my passions, my dreams, and my desires.

 

And since then, I’ve had so many more conversations across the miles with those friends who mean so much to me, and I’ve discovered even more about myself, about God, about the people with whom I share my life, and who I want to be. Continue reading “where i’ve been, what i’ve learned, and the God who’s been constant through it all. // + my photography!”

What No One is Saying About the Joy of Loving Jesus

What No One is Saying About the Joy of Loving Jesus

Pursue Jesus and love Him first. That’s been on my mind the past few weeks, as I run the concept over and over in my head, trying to more fully grasp what it means, what it looks like, why it’s important.

 

And finally, after struggling for so long to piece together my view of the world with my view of God, I came to a realization that left me breathless, head spinning, but for the first time in my life finally understanding.

 

Why can’t we can’t afford to put anyone other than Jesus as the first in our minds, as the reason we do everything we do? Because only He satisfies.

 

Only He can satisfy the longing for peace in my heart, only He can fulfill my ache for something more in this life. Only He can give me the joy, the hope, and love that my soul craves so desperately.

Continue reading “What No One is Saying About the Joy of Loving Jesus”

On Why I Worship, Who I Live For, and the Savior Who Rescued My Soul

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In the midst of your pain, in the midst of your darkness, in the midst of the terrifying paths in front of us that we call the future – you’re so radically and beautifully loved. May we never lose sight of that.

 

i.

 

I sit peacefully on the porch, one leg curled under me, guitar resting on the other. I feel the cool breeze of the evening in my hair, the summer mosquitoes swarming around my feet, and I unwind as my fingers dance up and down the familiar strings.

 

And in the stillness, the quiet, the only solitude I’ve had all day, one thing comes to my mind – Worship Him. The Savior. Continue reading “On Why I Worship, Who I Live For, and the Savior Who Rescued My Soul”