It’s been a little bit since I’ve posted one of these journey updates; I really like doing them because it gives me a chance to be open about where dear Danielle and I are at and some things God has been showing us. We’re about half way through this year, and it’s been interesting for sure. There was a level of wanting to go back to “normal” after the lockdown and the year that was 2020, but at the same time, there was a lot that I wanted to change and grow out of. In that mindset going into 2021, I chose the word of “faithful” as my focus for the new year. 2020 allowed for a lot of self-reflection and a chance for me to really dig into who God has made me to be. My post last week was a lot of the culmination of what I have learned, I need to remember who I am, I am a child of God; unique and different just the way I was designed. I learned that I don’t need to try and fit into what someone else wants or to push back the cemented in time version of me they still see; I just need to be me.
That’s big for me, and choosing the word faithful means that I am choosing to press into all God has for me, and focus on what he calls me into. He calls me to be a good husband to my incredible wife. He calls me to be present and spend more time meditating and listening to the word. He calls me to press into growth, to heal and let go of the past. He calls me to love everyone always, and that includes loving myself.
There were a lot of unknowns going into the new year. We moved away from Florida back to North Carolina, living with my parents for a season. Dear Danielle was able to find a job and I was pressing hard into seminary. There were moments where I was worried I had failed, that this isn’t how things were supposed to be, that I really am not cut out for ministry (something that several people have asked me, and it always sucks), but the truth is, God is working in my waiting. True waiting. Not a waiting that you may hear from people who seemingly have everything they’ve ever wanted, you know those folks, the people who have never had a bad day telling you that they had to wait for their promotion at their already cushy spot. Okay, maybe I just imagine that type of person in my head.
Back to my original point, God is working in my waiting. God works on his own timeline, and my personal timeline wants life to move like Sonic the Hedgehog blazing through the Green Hill Zone (maybe that’s too specific, I want things to be fast). But God, God likes to move in the waiting. That’s what was beautiful to me about my last year with dear Danielle. We had time to grow, pray, and focus on who God has called us to be.
I remember this year, at my brief moment as a Target employee (basically I like to be home at night and not be forced working weekends, crazy right?), and I was helping at a check-out lane, when I saw someone I knew, someone from my previous church job who also works there. I felt embarrassed, so I tried to not be noticed, of course that’s when I was needed to go over and help. I was really awkward because of my embarrassment (if you’re reading this, sorry, you’re great I just had lots of feelings), it was stemming from my personal fear of failure. I know God has called me into ministry, yet here I was at a check-out line not in a glamorous full-time ministry spot.
I’m pretty sure I ugly cried on the way home that day.
I am not saying this for pitty or to make that person feel bad, I was just feeling like I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I was in the valley waiting to get back to the mountain tops. The truth is though, God teaches me more in the valley than any mountain top I have been on. Jesus is a perfect example of someone who grew in the valley, multiple times in His ministry, He goes to be by himself and connect with His father. Mark 1:35 says, “It was very early in the morning and still dark. Jesus got up and left the house. He went to a place where he could be alone. There he prayed.” In Luke 5:16 it says, “But Jesus often went away to be by himself and pray.”
These are valley moments, He is not on a stage or posting to a large following about how amazing He is, he is taking the time to connect and prepare His heart for what opportunities God will present Him with. So, in my moments of waiting, I want to be faithful. Choosing to go to my father and meditate with Him, so that I can prepare my heart for the opportunities to come.
I’ve also learned that this means making space to be faithful, and I’ll share some practical habits here:
- My phone is on “do not disturb” starting at 9, and it goes to charge in another room when we go to bed.
- I purge my social media. I don’t have to follow everyone, I can choose to follow people that I care about and use it as a space to share my art and heart.
- Continue to my reading 100 books a year plan.
- Have fun in my hobbies, not just feel like I have to produce all the time.
- Game nights. Lots of game nights with dear Danielle and anyone that wants to play.
- Remind myself of my worth each day. Take credit for the things I am doing and lift others up in the process.
- Journal more; sketches, collecting plants, little quotes, poems, capture it all.
- Start my day in the valley, choosing to be faithful in my waiting.
I know this has been a lot of words, maybe it has been a ramble, but I don’t think I’m alone in some of these thoughts. Or maybe I am, and that’s okay too. I hope this has helped you, I hope you feel encouraged in what season you may be walking through. I know that I am quick to think about where I’m not than where I am, but I like where I am. I get to spend more time with my dearest Danielle now that she is working from home. I get to learn so much in my seminary program (a little less than a year to go!). I have the opportunity to volunteer with So Worth Loving as an online host, and BOY does that fill my tank. I recently have started contract work as an assistant children’s director at Hope Church Burlington, getting to create and spearhead a new preteen ministry (SO jazzed!).
There is so much that God has blessed us with, and I am eternally grateful for this season of life. I’m only 26, there’s a lot more to experience in life to come! I am choosing to be faithful, to trust God with everything and remember who He has created me to be.
About the Author: Joshua Thomas is a writer by day and superhero by night. When he’s not writing and crimefighting, you can find him reading a good book, sipping warm tea, taking pictures, or dreaming. The young writer doesn’t fully know what he’s doing, but is enjoying the journey of it all. You can follow his hipster photos and Jack Kerouac musings on Instagram @joshua_thomas__