faith, freedom and femininity

The Lord provides, you guys. He redeems. His Grace is beautiful and boundless. He gives freedom through faith.

This weekend has been freeing in the most beautiful way. It was far from what I expected or hoped for, but somehow better than I could have imagined.

One of my biggest struggles in life is the fear that I’m not enough. That I’m not pretty enough or thin enough. That I’m not doing enough or giving enough. I feel like there’s always something more I could, and should, be doing. I’m afraid that because I’m not enough, I will inevitably face abandonment in every area of my life. And when those things happen, I feel like I deserve them, because I’m simply not enough.

Well, I had a realization this weekend, and it was the most freeing thought I have ever experienced. Those fears and self-doubt, while they feel real and huge and earth-shattering, it’s really just Satan trying to weasel his way into my heart. And you know what, our God is bigger and greater than evil, so I have nothing to fear.

Lucifer fell because of his beauty and his pride for that beauty. His fall gave him this intense desire to attack beauty. He seeks to wreak destruction on the physical manifestations of God’s glory on Earth. He has a special hatred for women, because women represent the heart of the Lord in the most beautiful and captivating ways.

Talk about freeing. There is no reason for me to live with guilt or fear that I’m not enough. It is because I am a woman, filled with the Beauty and Grace of the Lord that I am attacked. Now, this doesn’t excuse anything that has happened in my life, or give me an excuse to suffer or become arrogant. Rather, it provides freedom and understanding, and reminds me that I am not alone.

Beautiful, right?

These thoughts came together even more in church this morning. The sermon was about Ruth and the ability to overcome anything with faith because faith offers redemption. Redemption through friends and family. Redemption through new beginnings. Redemption through Jesus. Sure, my life hasn’t been perfect, and I have been hurt deeply, but that’s ok. My journey and my trials have shaped me to be the woman I am today. The Lord has blessed me with a beautiful community and a new beginning. I am experiencing a joy I never knew existed. My heart and my life are for the Lord. I have nothing to fear.

I am fiercely loved by the Creator of the universe. The One who hand placed the stars in the sky. I was created to carry His glory in a uniquely feminine way. He knows my name and cares for me deeply.

The Proverbs 31 woman is certainly something. While I can’t say I’ll be spinning wool and flax or dressing in fine linen and purple gowns anytime soon, I can draw some inspiration from her. I can breathe easy knowing my life is in His hands.

she is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.

Proverbs 31:25

my strength comes from HIM

for i can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13

I really like when I can see scripture active in my life. This is a common verse, I’ve prayed on it many times, asking for strength for anything from writing it on top of a statistics exam, going on a big interview or even just getting out of bed some days, but tonight, I found new peace and meaning in these words.

Things have been less than pleasant lately. Work is hard and exhausting. School sucks. Everyone is stressed and miserable, and I don’t know how to help. I was curled up on my couch tonight, watching an awful Lifetime movie thinking about all of this when I realized, that despite how dreadful things have been, I’m actually pretty okay.

It was about this time a year ago that my eating disorder really started to take over. I was struggling with life; stressed beyond belief and feeling like I had no control over anything. You could say it started out innocently enough, I was “too busy” to eat. I was “so stressed” I never had an appetite. While these things might have been true at first, they definitely became my excuse. My eating disorder became my only coping mechanism. I felt like the only thing I could control was what I did with my body. I felt like I could prove to the world that I was capable of handling everything, and so strong I could do it all without food. Woof. The interesting thing is that I am easily more stressed today than I was a year ago. And I’m in recovery. Doing well. Not relying on starving myself and overexercising as my only coping mechanism. Why? What changed?

I can say I have changed. That I’m stronger now and I have learned better ways to manage my stress. Or I could credit my community. I have a few strong, encouraging relationships today that I did not have a year ago. They provide a sense of support and love that I have never experienced before. I could say I don’t have time to deal with an eating disorder. That I need the strength and energy that only food can provide. I could say all of those things and they would all be true, but the real reason I’m doing okay is missing from that list.

I am healthy and coping with my stress because I have put my trust in the Lord. I give my anxiety to Him every single day, and I (do my best) to trust Him. Yeah, I believed in God a year ago, but I was lacking a real relationship with Him. I prayed every once in a while, but my prayers were awkward and scripted. I didn’t have a close, personal relationship with the Lord, where I could just chat with Him about life and my stress and struggles. I couldn’t see the beauty in things the way I do know, because I didn’t truly trust Him.

Today, I’m almost always in casual conversation with the Lord. I do my best to live my life in a way that truly glorifies Him. I see the Lord at work in my life in beautiful ways, and I trust that He has big plans for me. I am stronger today than I ever have been because I know He lives in me. I truly believe I can do anything, because the Lord is on my side.

Here’s the thing you guys. The Lord loves us something fierce. More than we will ever be able to comprehend. He wants us to succeed. We just have to trust Him and let our strength come from Him.

for God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7

everything is beautiful

It’s November. Can someone please explain to me when that happened? Woof. November means beautiful fall colors. November means crunchy leaves and cool breezes. November means the end of the semester. November means stress. And so far, November means negativity. Negativity sucks, you guys. It’s overwhelming and draining and unnecessary. It pulls us away from the Lord. Not cool. But, we’re human, right? It happens.

I think our negativity often stems from a sense of dissatisfaction with where we are in life. We are constantly looking for more. We want to have more, do more and be more. We are always looking forward to the next stage in life, instead of enjoying where we are at this particular moment. I know I’m guilty of this dissatisfaction. It’s an easy trap to fall into, because we don’t always see it as negative. We don’t think it’s a bad thing to aspire for more, and honestly, it’s probably not. I think it’s the lack of satisfaction and happiness with where we are and what we have that is the real issue.

yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. so I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-12

Everything is beautiful for its own time. I think we can struggle with contentment because we know we are made for more. Our time here is temporary. Earth is just a holding zone; it’s not our permanent home. The Lord has blessed us with this desire for eternity, but we still don’t truly understand what that means. We can’t. Honestly, I don’t want to understand it either.

As stressful as it is, life is beautiful now. The very things that stress us out the most are some of the our greatest blessings. We can’t even begin to imagine the incredible things the Lord has planned for us. We need to take a step back and remember that where we are now is a blessing. It is part of our adventure; part of our plan. A few years ago we were looking forward to getting to where we are today.

Here’s the thing you guys. Life is good. Enjoy it. Be where you are. Play in the leaves. Drink good coffee. Watch Netflix documentaries about Quidditch. Tell someone you love them. Relish in the things that make you happy.

this is only temporary

so let’s not get tired of doing what is good. at just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Galatians 6:9

So much of this life as we know it is temporary. Things like our friends, jobs, and stress; it’s all fleeting, simply fading in and out of our consciousness. We know that. But somehow, that knowledge doesn’t seem to lessen our struggle. We struggle to understand why good things have to end and bad things have to happen. Welcome to life, friends.

Lately, I feel like I’m stuck in this place where not a lot of anything makes sense. I’m not sure what direction my life is going, or what my ultimate destination will be. Sure, I have ideas and goals, but who knows what will actually happen. You see, my struggle is more with why I’m stuck in this temporary place. Why the Lord has placed me in this situation where I feel stagnant and useless. Where I feel like I’m not making a difference in the slightest, when all I want in life is to make a difference.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely not all a struggle. There is a lot of positive in my life right now. The Lord has blessed me with an incredible relationship with the best guy I know. I’ve got some pretty stellar friends. I’m graduating with my master’s degree in seven months. God is good. Boom boom.

I just can’t seem to wrap my head around this temporary state. I feel like I’m stuck in this awkward limbo phase of life, where I’m not really a Big Kid yet, but I’m definitely not a kid anymore either. I know I’m called to do big things with my life. We are called to proclaim the Good News and share the light and love of the Lord with the world. I know that. So then why am I here? Stuck in a tiny town with a community that is dwindling? Struggling in a seemingly meaningless job? Struggling with how to best support and care for the people around me?

Here’s the thing you guys, my life is not my own. My life is for the Lord. Yeah, I’m stressed, overwhelmed, confused and burnt out, but you know what, it’s only temporary.  When we get caught up in these struggles, I think we forget just how big our God really is. He’s so much bigger and greater than any worldly struggle. In all reality, we have no idea what our lives will look like in the next five minutes, weeks, months or years. Well, maybe the next five minutes, but you get the point. That means we have to be intentional with our time. Love authentically. Dedicate ourselves to really making a difference. We can’t waste our time stressing, because in all reality, it’s only temporary. When your situation feels meaningless, turn to the Lord. Focus on Him and His goodness. Bury yourself in the Word. Stop thinking about why your situation doesn’t matter for you, and try to understand why you matter to someone else.

So here’s the thing, you guys, do what is good every single day. Don’t waste your time or energy on things that don’t matter. Don’t give up. Do trust the Lord. He has incredible plans for us, and at just the right time, we’ll start to understand.