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.”

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When God Chooses to Work in the Ordinary & Call Us to Where We Already Are

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I’ve been writing this post in my head and heart for too long.

 

It’s the byproduct of so many late night wrestlings, so many journal entries and tweets and long-winded conversations with the people closest to me.

 

It’s those texts we send our friends about waiting for the next thing to happen – about anticipating the answers to our big questions, about finally finding that thing after waiting so long, hoping so desperately.

 

It’s the prayer we pray of God, just show me where to go and I’ll go, what to do and I’ll do it, who to be and I’ll be that person.

 

I’ve been there so many times, and honestly, I’m often still in that boat. Most of my daily prayers close with something along the lines of, “Lead me, Lord, to where you want me to be, who You want me to meet, to the future You have planned for me.”

 

And over the years, as I’ve grown as both a young adult and a Christian, I’ve often been so focused on that next thing, that I haven’t embraced the space where God has put me.

 

See, something that I’m ever-realizing is this: God doesn’t need us to be anything extraordinary in order to be used by Him; He uses us right where we are to fulfill His purposes that are so much bigger and more beautiful than just ourselves.

 

That’s not to say He doesn’t lead us ahead – simply that sometimes, the place He has for us is directly in front of us.

Continue reading “When God Chooses to Work in the Ordinary & Call Us to Where We Already Are”

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”

Where Does Your Strength Come From?

Where Does Your

I think this is one of the most honest posts I’ve ever written. It’s nerve-wracking to post something so open, and even though I’ve talked to so many of you through comments and emails and everything, it isn’t easy to be straightforward. But here I am, and here’s my post. I hope it encourages you.

 

I’m not always sure how people perceive me, whether online or in real life. Like, what’s the impression people get when they read what I write or listen to me talk? Am I quirky? Confident? Cold? Bubbly? Fake? Scared?

 

I don’t know exactly how people see me, but I know how I see myself so many times.

 

Stressed. Weak. Afraid. Uneasy. Uncomfortable. Anxious. Frozen. Apprehensive. Shall I go on?

 

In my prayer journal this week, I wrote this.

 

“Please give me strength to face this day, this year, this life. I can’t do it on my own.”

 

It’s not as though there are too many major things going on in my life. In my head, of course, I run through a million things I need to do, tests to study for, situations and people to pray for, words I need to write, things I need to practice, jobs I need to do for people, how much I need to work, how long it’s okay to spend reading.

 

And it stresses me out.

 

The more pressures I’m put under, the weaker and more vulnerable I feel. I feel these ugly doubts creep up into my mind, that say things like, who do you think you are? A ‘writer?’ Blogging doesn’t even count.  A musician? An editor? *laughs* You think you could actually ever be good at any of those things?

 

I never voice these things out loud, but I hear them.

 

And when I become conscientious of these thoughts, I realize, wow. I really can’t do this by myself.

 

The more I feel this stress and pressure, these things that I feel like I’m drowning under, the weaker I find myself. But the beautiful thing about my weaknesses is that I do not need to rely on my own strength.

 

2 Corinthians 2:9-10

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

 

If I am self-sufficient and relying on my own strength to survive, I reject God in my life. And for the love of all things that taste like coffee, I don’t want to do that. I know I can not sustain myself and succeed, and so I gladly surrender.

 

Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

 

Psalm 18:2

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

 

Rest. Rest is what I need. When I know I can collapse into the arms of Jesus and give Him my burdens, I can face my day. My year. My life.

 

Are you overwhelmed? Run to Jesus, not away from Him. Are you scared? Seek refuge in your Heavenly Father, and not in yourself. Are you weak? Find your strength in your savior, and He will give you everything you need.

 

*aj

When I Am Weak…

Galaxy

Honestly, I usually think of myself as a weakling.

Not just physically, although I should probably work on that…

But I mean, I don’t really have amazing strength as a person.

I know how easy it is to fail a test.

I know how not to get stuff done.

I know how not to keep my emotions intact.

I know what it’s like to go through hard things.

I know what it’s like to be completely imperfect.

I guess we all do.

So many times I’ve relied on myself for strength…and failed.

Because my strength isn’t enough. My power is imperfect.

Imagine if life was all about how well we accomplished things. (Obviously, I would fail.) So if this was so, where would grace come in? What if we failed once? Twice? Ten thousand times?

I guess this comes back to the age-old question, “If people are good enough to get to heaven on their own, then why did Jesus have to die?”

Well, let’s face it. We are not good enough. Nobody has to teach us how to do wrong. Or fail. Or suffer. Weakness is a part of our humanity. But have you ever thought that that could be used for God’s purposes?

Yesterday morning, I was reading 2 Corinthians 12. And though I’ve read it before, it stuck out to me. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says,

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve gone from being perfection-obsessed to being fine with failure. So, where’s the balance?

Life is going to be hard, and we are going to struggle. I know I do. But the one thing we must remember when all of this happens, is that we were not meant to carry this alone. Because, as we know, life isn’t about us. And if we try to depend on our own strength, well, it isn’t gonna work. If we want to get through life, we need to depend on God. And this obviously implies that we don’t get the credit.

So, because of the weakness we have, Christ’s power will help us. Which is better than being “all set.” Because of our weakness, we are given grace. Because of our suffering, His power rests upon us. So, therefore, what Paul is saying here is that our strength comes from God alone to fill in the gaps of our weakness (which is like, every part of our lives).

So, on our own, we are hopeless and weak. Because no one can do life alone, no matter how pleasant it may seem.

But with God, we are given His grace and power to live life. We’re never going to be perfect until we get to heaven, and life’s never going to be easy until then, either. But remember: His grace is sufficient! He is the perfection for us.

It’s not the end of the world when we suffer, because we have hope and assurance that God will be right here, beside us. His power rests upon us in and through it all.

And we can say wholeheartedly, “When I am weak (living in the flesh), then I am strong (God’s power in me).” Remember guys, God will never leave you or forsake you. His love is everlasting, and you can’t do anything to make His love for you go away. His love has forgiven your sin, and has been poured out upon you.

I’m not perfect, but I don’t expect to be. I am living a life without regret: a life devoted to God, living for Him, through Him, and by Him Alone.

I’m going to be weak, and so are we all. But when we are weak, it is then that we are strengthened by Him.

*aj