“Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord. I will say it again. Be joyful! Let everyone know how gentle you are. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything. No matter what happens, tell God about everything. Ask and pray, and give thanks to him.Then God’s peace will watch over your hearts and your minds. He will do this because you belong to Christ Jesus. God’s peace can never be completely understood.”
Hello there, dear readers, I decided to take a break off and on during the summer. I love writing, but with seminary, I write a lot of papers, and some days need to rest my brain. I am so excited because August kicks off my favorite part of the year. The heat starts to fade (thankfully being in North Carolina after two years away, I can put on jackets), and a season of fun begins. My dear Danielle’s birthday, the fall season, our anniversary, my birthday, and then of course the holidays!
This season reminds me of the joy in my life, the blessings that God has given us, even in the moments where life gets difficult, I am reminded to have joy. If you know me, you know I love having fun. I struggle with anxiety and not feeling worthy, but when I choose to remind myself of who has created and called me, I find joy. This comes directly out of Philippians 4, Paul reminds the church in Philippi to be joyful because they belong to the Lord. He then says that because of this, we can have joy and not let our worries consume us; when we choose to have joy, we are a light to everyone around us.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13
In the elementary ministry I serve in, we have been talking about the idea of confidence; confidence, being defined as learning to see yourself the way God sees you. I love the way that’s defined, because I often don’t see myself the way God sees me. Whether it’s because of my past mistakes or things that have happened, or maybe it’s the enemy in my mind, I can often feel like I’m unworthy. I live with this cloud over me that I can never be good enough, but that’s simply not true. That’s a lie the enemy is trying to convince me is truth. The truth is, that I have been made in the image of God, all of us have been made in the image of God, meaning that there is great power we possess and God has placed many talents inside of us. We are not perfect, scripture says that humans were formed out of the dust, so, we’ve got some issues.
This is where confidence is key, we need to start learning to see ourselves the way God sees us.
“I can’t breathe”
These were the words that came from a man who moments later was murdered. A black man. Another black man. I’m heartbroken to continually see black men and women murdered and abused simply because of their skin. I’m heartbroken to see the lack of response to clear and conscious acts of racism in our country. It seems like we have more outrage of wearing a mask than protecting the lives of the people around us, who are clearly being oppressed.
This must stop.
When is enough, enough?
At what point will we see this as a systemic issue that needs to be addressed?
Stop ignoring and choosing not to hear these stories; speak out, stand up.
Have you ever been in a season of new? The past year of Danielle and I’s life has been filled with new. Since we got married last September, we thought it would be great to do all the things. From moving to job changes and doing life together, it’s been a wild journey. Everything is new, and new often means that fear begins to creep in. This is a perfect concoction for anxiety, isn’t anxiety just the best? I’ve talked about it on here before, but I’ve dealt with anxiety for a long time. The hard part was is that I was never really open about that fact, I tried to put on a face that I had it all put together, but the truth was, inside I was letting fear rule me. There were situations in high school that made me feel like if I didn’t have it all figured out I wasn’t enough. That led into college where everyone seemed smarter than me, and I would feel inferior to ask for help. I had been in a church job where if I wasn’t “cool” enough or got enough attention, I was seen as someone who wasn’t cut out for ministry or that I didn’t have enough “woo.”
I don’t say this to gain sympathy from you, reader. I simply talk about this because there was a moment during that college phase that helped me realize that the root of anxiety is fear, and fear is a punk.
I wanted to write about rejection. Last week I wrote about how we don’t have to have it all figured out, and this week is the part two that goes along with that idea. Not a direct sequel, but still related. Think of last week being Alien and this week being Aliens, both related but you don’t need to see both to understand. Okay, weird tangent; I wanted to write about rejection. You see, there have been a lot of no’s in my life. I use the word wanted, because I wasn’t in a good mental state thinking about it. I had just gotten another rejection from another job. My story has had many times of rejection. From high school being rejected by teachers who thought I was dumb. There was a day in my senior year where I received three letters from three different colleges telling me I didn’t get in. I remember being alone in my room and screaming at the top of my lungs, why? In college, I had an internship where I wasn’t able to do what I thought was best. At my church job, I wasn’t given a chance compared to others. I have been rejected, but the truth is, I cannot live in the belief that I am rejected.
I wanted to write about rejection, but then my wife reminded me of what I truly am.
One of the biggest trends that is in the current forefront of culture is the idea of understanding yourself. We take tests, read books, listen to TED Talks all about looking at the “self” and revolving your life around what makes you tick. I know I’ve done many of these tests and listened to books. We have Strength Finders which gives you your top personality traits, for example mine are responsibility, strategic, developer, restorative, and individualization (So, like, please hire me). Then there’s the Myers Briggs test (INFJ, woot woot), there are tons of EQ (Emotional Intelligence) tests, and the current trend in the Enneagram (I’ve yet to take one). All of these tests to help us know, us. Why then do we struggle with finding our personal value? I think it’s a combo of self-doubt and words that have been spoken over us. One of the most annoying things I’ve had to deal with is the question of “what do you want to do?” My answer, and it’s always been my answer, is that I just want to be in full time ministry. Yet, over and over, people who have asked this of me, “forget,” or like to remind me just how hard ministry is. Like, yeah, I know how hard it is, my parents have been hurt in staffing positions twice now, and even myself have dealt with rejection. That’s the way I think about responding in my shower talks, you know, the conversations you wish you would have but it only comes out in the shower. What really happens is I get frustrated and then internalize the lack of care I think people should have.
I begin to forget my true worth.
Over and over we take tests to know how unique we are, but a simple conversation can have us doubt our worth and calling.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
This past month I’ve been doing this little series about self-worth. I’ve been writing because for so long I hated who I was, that I never fit in right. I wasn’t an A student, I wasn’t very good at sports, and I had a love for stories. I didn’t feel like I fit in, I felt worthless, I felt like I had no purpose in life. I was being attacked by the enemy and I was living like he had won. The truth is, our enemy has been defeated by a creator that says you are so worth loving. In the moments where I felt worthless, I had the creator of the universe telling me that I was created in his image. This same God created each of us in his image, and because of that, we have victory over the lies of the enemy. We are unique creations. We were not created to fit into the mold of the world. I say this to give hope to the kids that felt like me, to the ones who love being nerdy, write poetry over playing on the field, and love learning about the world around them. Maybe you feel like an outsider. Maybe you have a passion for people, that you love to write stories with worlds filled with infinite possibilities, or that you have a desire to make music that rings in the ears of so many. I believe in this world because I believe we have a God that made us all unique individuals with purpose. Maybe you love running on the field and feel at peace when you play, maybe you have the heart to heal others and invent new ways to help those that are sick, and maybe you love to dance and express your heart for the world. No matter what you desire and love doing, you have been created by a God that says you are so worth loving.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Well, Thanksgiving is almost here. In a few short days, the kids will be out of school, family will get together, and a feast will be had. It’s always a great time, but before you take that nap and then head out for your black Friday hunt (May the odds be in your favor, dear soul), take a step back and look at your life. One thing that this time of the year allows me to do is to think back on my past. Sure there are parts that I’d rather not dwell on, and I believe it is not good to dwell on the past for too long, but what I am saying is look at the blessings you have been given. The good, the bad, and ugly; all of these are in our past, but there’s something about it. Our past is a picture of how God has moved. Every choice made, every bad day, every question has all lead you to where you are in the here and now. I think that’s beautiful. We have been blessed so much, so we should rejoice in all things.