“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start now and change the ending.” – C.S. Lewis
With the new year just around the corner, I like many of you have been thinking about this past year and how I’ve changed; Spiritually, emotionally, and physically. This time last year I wasn’t quite embracing the holy spirit within me. Actually, right around this time a year ago I decided I was tired of doing things God’s way. I remember it all vividly, you see as a kid I had accepted Christ into my life as my savior, but it wasn’t until I was 13 that I realized it was about a personal relationship with Him. I had spent years asking God for a stronger connection with Him. I’d pray, read my Bible, worship, but it all seemed disconnected except for those occasional church camps or mission trips. You know those church trips you go on and get on those “spiritual highs” and are so excited to experience God like that for the rest of your life. Except it doesn’t last the rest of your life… You get home, and I swear all it takes is one argument with your sibling within the first 10 minutes of being home and all the sudden it’s gone. Yeah, those are the church highs I’m talking about. Regardless of often not feeling like God was really doing anything in my life, I continued to do all those things that I knew I should out of faith and love for Him. So here I was on the verge of turning 18 and I was done doing it God’s way. I was tired, and bitter towards God because the past two years had been the hardest ones I had seen. From where I was standing it only made sense to take things into my own hands if I was ever going to get anything I wanted, so I did. I went ahead and pursued what I thought would make me happy even though I distinctly heard God tell me not to; and brought a lot of hardship upon myself.
Remember how I said that the two previous years had been the hardest I had seen? Well, those years had nothing on this past year, but unlike those years, this time I had chosen the hardship and pain because of my selfishness & pride. I spent the first few months of the year angry, jealous, confused and wrapped up in severe anxiety like never before. I thought God was angry at me, so I tried to avoid talking to Him, because I thought I already knew what He thought of me. Little did I know God had a big plan for this year not to end the way it started.
In this past year like I said previously, I dealt with a lot of anxiety but that I was used to. There was something much deeper that I didn’t expect. You see, I’m naturally a very bubbly person but if I had to choose a name for myself this past year you could have called me Naomi; B I T T E R. I started out my year bitter towards God then dealt with that bitterness and had a perspective change. Then I started to notice a pattern, God would take away people and things He himself had placed in my life. When He took those things away, I got bitter and annoyed. I know so many women that adore the story of Ruth. Rightly so, most girls want that kinsman redeemer to come sweep them off their feet. But not me, I didn’t ask for that and I tried to avoid both the story of Ruth and the sweeping of feet. I relate far too well with Naomi, the “bad guy” in most people’s view. We look with tainted views at a woman who hit rock bottom, Naomi had everything she knew and loved stripped away without explanation and often that type of situation brings out our humanity and it draws our attention away from the perfecter and right to the problem. I can relate to that bitterness, that confusion, that loss of perspective that Naomi had. No, I’m not saying that is how it’s supposed to be. I’m saying I’ve been there and I get it. This isn’t something that I struggle with alone it’s in our humanity! And it has been a struggle since way back then. That was the comfort I needed to walk out of it, I needed people to stop looking at it that way, to stop saying, “you’re wrong” and someone to say, “you know what, I feel your pain. I see your humanity. I love you here, but if you look there, you’re going to experience more life.” God WASN’T going to let me stay bitter!
An even bigger part of the journey He took me on this year was embracing the Holy spirit. You see God brought this person into my life that I had spent years despising (6 years to be exact). And with God’s sense of humor He used that very person to flip my life upside down & inside out in all the right ways. He made that very person one of my closest friends and used their fearlessness to call out the junk in me. Now if I’m getting real with all of you, I have a very strong personality that can sometimes intimidate my friends into not calling me out for things. I was extremely unaware of this until this person entered my life without be asked… actually I asked them not to enter my life at all but instead of listening to me and my stubbornness that person heard Gods call and pushed past my walls. That person taught me to embrace God amidst the trials and storms of life and to be in constant conversation with God, listening intently. For so long I was blinded and believed the lie that if I’m in a great place in my walk with the Lord then I can hear him speak, but if I mess up or am not reading my bible as much, then I wouldn’t be able to hear him. THAT IS WRONG. God ISN’T conditional, he’s the opposite. There are times where we don’t want to hear what he has to say because it’s in direct opposition with what we want. There are times we let the mess around us get so loud that it takes more focus to find his voice. Other times we just straight up aren’t listening, but He is always speaking and wants to help you hear whether you’re taking steps the other direction or running towards him. So, this is what I’ve learned:
“When you put everything in God’s hands, you start to see God’s hands in everything”
I am imperfect, I am human. I put things in God’s hands, I see his hands working and yet I still I take it back. I think like a child. A child breaks his/her toy and runs crying to their parents because they broke that toy. The dad takes the toy and starts fixing the toy. But as soon as the child sees the parent fixing it the kid says, “oh I can fix it now, I got this, give it back to me.” The gracious father gives it back to the child and the child tries to fix it but doesn’t know how or makes it worse, so they give it back to the dad until he/she thinks it’s close enough to being done and tries to take it back again over and over. The child would rather try to fix the toy themselves then let their father fix it, who knew how to from the start.
I know God knows how to do this better than I and that will always be the case, but still I am like a child and I want to be the one who fixes it until I realize I can’t. Moral of the story I haven’t mastered that statement, not even close, but it did help my perspective; it opened my eyes to God being all around me. I finally unclogged my ears and focused them to the silence waiting to hear his voice and asking questions, waiting knowing He would respond. It’s no longer a “Jesus high” for me because I can be real low and feel his presence overwhelm me even there. This year has been a trip and a half, but I wouldn’t trade the awkwardness, pain, confusion, scars, humility, vulnerability and loss for anything. Because this connection with Jesus is worth it and I don’t say that tritely. And now I wait with anticipation for what God has in store for 2018!
Key songs of the year or like I prefer to call them, My Battle Weapons:
In over my head (crash over me) bethel music & Ienn Johnson
Called me Higher, All sons and daughter
I will follow, Jon Guerra
Getting there, Steffany Gretzinger
Set a fire, Will Reagan & united pursuit
Do it again, Elevation worship
Seasons, Hillsong worship
I’ll keep on, NF (feat. Jeremiah Carlson)
Fragile Heart, leanna Crawford
Peace be still, the belonging co
Braver still, JJ Heller