Trust God’s Timing

1:56am
Me: God is so good.
Friend: Details lady! I mean yes He is but I assume you said that for a reason?!
Me: I’m just overwhelmed with how incredibly blessed I am. I had a good real talk today about some of my past and my mom and I’m just realizing how far I’ve come and how good I have it and knowing that none of this would be possible without The Lord. He’s the reason I survive and thrive. He’s the reason I’m able to be the difference in the lives of others. He has surrounded me with some of His best creations. I’m just happy. I’m genuinely happy from the very core of my being.
I have never experienced this pure, unadulterated joy and contentment in my entire life. I honestly didn’t know it was a thing.
Friend: Ahh!!!! I love this. I am so happy for you. Your story is heartbreaking but you have and will continue to shine through it. I am always impressed by your joy and I am thrilled The Lord is granting you this contentment!! It is DESERVED

That’s a conversation I had with a friend via text early the other morning. I’ve been really struggling lately. Through my struggles, I’ve been praying for confidence and guidance. I’ve been praying for a direct answer about what to do with my life. I’ve been really stressed about making the right decision; factoring in everything from my people to geography and making sure I’m answering the Lord’s call. I got so caught up in asking The Lord to answer my prayers in the way that best served me.

News flash: that’s not how the Lord works. The Lord answers prayers. He provides to those who ask and truly believe. However, His answers might not always come on your timeline or look exactly like what you want. I believe the Lord has a beautiful plan for each of us. We are blessed with the opportunity to walk His path with our lives. We encounter stress when we start to question or second guess that path.

That’s where I was; questioning the Lord’s plan for me. I stopped trusting and started questioning His timing.

The Lord is granting you this contentment

Even though I was praying for the wrong things, the Lord gave me exactly what I needed. This week at work was incredible. I absolutely love my job. I’m able to learn and grow personally and professionally every single day. I believe in myself and my ability to be successful in my field. I know I say this all the time, but I really am surrounded by the most amazing people, and the circle keeps growing. I feel supported, encouraged, appreciated and cared about both personally and professionally.

After the conversation with my friend the other night, I did something I haven’t done since I was a little girl; I got out of bed, knelt on my knees and prayed. I prayed like I never have before. I prayed hard and really gave myself over to the Lord. I offered desperate prayers of gratitude and appreciation. Gratitude for my past, and the experiences that made me who I am today. Gratitude for the people around me and prayers for their well-being. Gratitude for this newfound sense of joy and contentment. I eventually lost the ability to form words, and trusted that the Lord could hear the words on my heart. I was overcome with emotion and completely surrendered myself to the Lord.

I fell asleep there on the floor, next to my bed. I woke up a couple of hours later, moved back to bed and snuggled in under my blankets. I fell asleep feeling completely at peace with life, and slept straight through the night, which is quite the accomplishment for me. I have never felt closer to God than I did that night. It was such an awesome feeling. I felt so strong in my beliefs. My stress and fears were gone, I have never felt so calm and comforted in my entire life.

I’m so happy with where I am. I’m confident that the Lord has a plan for me. I refuse to lose myself in selfish or worldly struggles. Instead, I’ll invest my all into the Lord and really trust His timing.

God is good, you guys. He provides for us, we just have to trust Him.

A Heart Made to Love

Everywhere you go people are attracted to your positive attitude and beautiful smile. I want you to remember through the hard times this summer that you are going to be the difference for someone. You have a gift with people that can’t be described in words. You are a light in this dark world, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

These beautifully kind words were written to me by a very good friend of mine. This girl knows my heart like the back of her hand, and words can’t truly express how grateful I am for a friend like her.

You guys I’m struggling. I’m struggling to figure out what the future holds for me. I’m struggling to figure out what I want. I’m struggling to decide where to focus my energy. I have a year left of grad school, then it’s time to start Big Kid Life. Which really means I have about 5 months before I need to seriously start my job search. That’s terrifying. I don’t know what that’s going to look like. I don’t know where I’ll be, or what I’ll be doing. 

All I want to do is love on people. I want to live in such a way that everyone I encounter feels important, honored and loved.

don’t just pretend to love others. really love them. hate what is wrong. hold tightly to what is good. love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other.                              

Romans 12: 9-10

People ask me about my “dream job” and my most honest answer is any job that will let me love on people all day every day. I want to make a positive, sustainable difference in the lives of others. I want to leave this world better than I found it. That’s who I am. I love fiercely and I love well. I love because the Lord loves me. I believe He has blessed me with a loving heart and I just want to serve Him with it. 

I want to spend my time with people who are lost and broken. Everyone deserves to be honored and loved. I want to speak for the voiceless. I want to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. I just want to love on people and give them the love they deserve but have been denied.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. use them well to serve one another. do you have the gift of speaking? then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. do you have the gift of helping others? do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ…                                              

1 Peter 4:10-11

I’m struggling because I feel like I could be doing more. I know I’m in that place in my life where I’m working hard to set myself up for a successful Big Kid Life. I just wish I had a better idea of what that looked like. And what I want it to look like.

I guess all I can do is focus on taking life one day at a time. Focus my energy on serving the Lord in my daily thoughts and actions and trust the big picture to Him.The letter from my friend reminded me that I am already making a positive difference in the lives of those around me.I know the Lord put these desires in my heart for a reason, so I just need to trust His plan and His timing. 

for God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.          

Philippians 2:13

 

A Desperate Prayer for my Future

This is a tough one, Lord.

I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. I’m not sure what to do next or where to put my focus. I know I need You before anything else. I trust that You will help me find my way, but I also know it’s about time I start to figure things out for myself. I pray that I may be silent enough to hear Your call and courageous enough to follow Your plan.

Lord I need some guidance on how to prioritize my future. I firmly believe You have called me to love on people, but I also know I can do that in just about any context. So where do I focus my energy? My career? My personal life?

And what about my upcoming job search? Being here in New York has shown me I have the ability to thrive anywhere, but it has also helped me realize what’s most important to me in life.

Lord, I need You. I have so many feels, and no idea what to do with most of them. How do I prioritize my life? I pray for the courage and confidence I’ll need to take that leap of faith when the time comes. I need guidance and comfort.

How do I continue to move forward with purpose and intentionality and trust?

Steady my heart, Lord. Strengthen my feet on Your path. Help me to let go of control and really trust my future to Your hands. Help me to live one day at a time and leave the big picture to You. Help me to remember that everyone walks a different path in life, and when I compare timelines and stories, I’m cheating myself out of my own unique experiences and joy. I believe You have a beautiful plan for me. Help me to live each day to the fullest, glorifying You in all that I do. Help me to shift my focus back to spreading Your light, and away from my own selfish concerns.

Help me to trust You.

Amen

A Prayer for Monday

Lord, be with me today. I’m struggling to find motivation and focus. My mind is elsewhere; caught up in my heart. Help me see the big picture. Steady my feet on Your path. Strengthen my walk with You. Help me to better understand myself so that I may better serve You in all that I do and say.

Use me, Lord. Shine Your light through me, so that others may feel Your love. Align my heart with yours, Lord. Align my mission with Your will. Remind me that I live for You, and You alone. When I feel lost, discouraged or overwhelmed, help me to remember that I am doing Your work always.

Lord, be with me. Be my strength, my light and my focus.

Amen

Experience over Cognition

You guys. I had the weirdest experience last week.

I recently made a temporary move to New York for an 8 week internship (I’ll fill you in on those details soon, promise!). I have been presented with this incredible opportunity to make strides toward the future I want. While I’m growing personally and professionally, I also made the decision to be intentional with my faith and really focus on the Lord. I’m delving into Luke and Acts, and I’m just really excited to learn and grow as much as I can.

While I’m excited, I’m also a little nervous. Leaving Missouri for the summer meant leaving the church I had come to call home and the small faith community I had started to build. It also meant leaving the most important person in my faith community (and my favorite person in general). Stress. Thankfully, we have luxuries like texting, phone calls and FaceTime, so we’re still able to talk through things and share our faith together. Unfortunately, it’s not quite the same as actually going to church together, but it’ll work for now!

So, with the lack of a familiar faith community and my intentionality, I was (and am) determined to find a community here. When Tom (the significant other) was here, he pointed out a sign for a bible study at a Christian center in town. Perfect! I missed it the first week, but went the second week, last week.

I was nervous because I’ve never been to a bible study before, and I really didn’t know what to expect. It started out nice enough. I was the youngest person there by a solid 30 years, but that’s ok. Everyone was really nice and welcomed me as soon as I walked in the door. There were only about 20 people there, so it was real obvious that I was new. We started with some worship, which was alright. It makes sense that I didn’t super connect with it when I didn’t fit the demographics or personality of the regular congregation, my needs are a little different.

Then things got a little weird for me. A woman sitting in front of me sat down and started sobbing and rocking back and forth while another woman behind me starting speaking in tongues. Honestly, I was incredibly uncomfortable. Growing up in the Catholic Church, I’m not used to experiences like that. I didn’t know how to process the experience, so I just tried to focus on scripture and silence my fears and biases to better hear what the Lord had to say. Unfortunately it didn’t get much better. I couldn’t focus and my mind kept wandering. The woman in front of me was still rocking and the woman behind me was still mumbling. The bible study ended, and I was ready to leave, grateful for the experience, but having decided to never come back. People surrounded me when I tried to leave, hugging me, welcoming me and asking questions. It was sweet. Overwhelming, but sweet. Through conversation, I mentioned that I’m working with Prevention and I have a passion for college students, specifically those struggling with high risk behaviors around alcohol and other drugs.

The woman who had been sitting in front of me embraced me and started crying again. She hugged me and told me that she was 9 years sober. Wow.

Nine years sober. Talk about inspiring.

I congratulated her and instead of accepting my praise, she gave it right back to the Lord, exclaiming her love and gratitude for Him and the way He intervened in her life. She went on to thank me for the work I do and want to do. She mentioned she wrote a book and walked me out to her car to sign a copy for me. She continued to shower me with encouragement, saying people like me give her hope, and all sorts of nice things, but she said two things in particular that really stuck with me. She said she appreciated me for seeing her and valuing her as a person and not as an addict or a recovering addict. She said the way I showed her love and respect doesn’t happen often and that it meant a lot to her. She said she believes I have a loving heart and the potential to make a real difference in the lives of others, especially addicts.

Woah. That’s a lot, right? Especially when you consider the fact that I just met this woman moments before and had put her into a box with an experience I didn’t like and didn’t want to encounter again.

Then she told me I was a blessing.

I was completely overwhelmed. She gave me a copy of her book, hugged me, thanked me and walked away. I got in my car, called my friend and left the craziest voicemail trying to make sense of it all. I got back to my place and told my roommates about it, and they mostly just laughed and told me not to go back. I was so confused about the whole thing. I kept trying to analyze the situation and understand what it meant and what The Lord was trying to tell me.

You guys, I was shaken to my core. This experience completely uprooted me, and I had no idea how to respond or make sense of it. I talked it through with Tom, and he told me to pray on it and really pour into the Lord. He suggested meeting up with this woman to hear more about her story, and praying on whether or not to go back to the bible study. He said the best thing I could do, and the best way to find an answer is to pray.

So I did. I prayed a lot, but it was still super confusing and I just couldn’t shake my feelings of discomfort. Then I went to church on Sunday and everything sort of fell into place.

Oddly enough, the sermon was about speaking in tongues. As the pastor was talking about Pentecost, she said a very simple phrase that stuck with me.

Experience over cognition.

You see, faith is about trusting and believing. It’s not always about analyzing or making logical sense of things. Sometimes it’s about throwing yourself into a situation and allowing yourself to feel every single aspect of the experience. It’s about letting yourself be consumed in the emotions of your faith.

As a processor, that’s real hard for me to wrap my head around. I want
things to make sense. I want there to be meaning and a reason for things. I want to gain meaning and tangible value out of my experiences. I’m also a huge feeler, empathy is one of my main strengths, so you’d think I would be able to just accept an experience for the feelings it provokes, but it’s such a struggle.

In thinking about all of this, I’m drawn back to one of my favorite verses.

Trust in The Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5

This verse guided me before I became fully in touch with my faith, and I find myself turning back to it now. You see, my life is in good hands; the best hands. The Lord, our God, is incredible, you guys! He blesses us and guides is and cares for us when we least deserve it. Now that makes no logical sense, but I believe it and I trust in His grace. Faith is a feeling. A good feeling. A strong feeling. I don’t try to make logical sense of His love or grace, so I don’t need to make logical sense of all of my experiences. I can just trust in His ways and relish in the experiences He gives me.

I don’t know that I’ll go back to the bible study. I will reach out to that woman. She is very much a blessing in my life. I want to know her and her story. I want to pour into her and let her pour into me.

I don’t understand my experience at the bible study, but I’m forever grateful for the experience. That bible study taught me to live in the moment and appreciate every feeling that comes with every experience, whether it’s comfortable and familiar or not.

Experience over cognition.
Trust over understanding.
Faith over logic.