A few nights ago, dear Danielle and I set out to find some sunken treasure in the ocean. Okay, not really, but we did play an awesome escape room in a box game where we found treasure while solving a bunch of riddles. We found a pretty cheap game, made some pasta at home (you always need a good meal before clue solving), and put on a ten-hour ocean life video on the TV. We had an absolute blast, something we have tried to do on a consistent basis in our marriage. Fun is important to life, we all need to have fun. Sometimes though, we tend to let other things get in the way. When we do that we miss out on having fun, and having fun produces true joy; it’s time for you to create space for joy.
It’s crazy to think that a year ago I stepped into the best decision I’ve ever made. A year ago, on September 22nd, the hottest day of the year, I got to be married to my best friend. It’s now been an entire year, and what a wild ride it has been! The best part of this year has been the moments I’ve been able to share with my dear Danielle. Shortly after we got married, life didn’t ease up. There was a lot of fear, not with each other and our relationship, but the storms of life that seemed to pop in. I talked last week about the importance of storms in our life as the produce growth. This is sort of a part two, last week looking at the principals, and this week opening up about how Danielle and I have been able to see God’s faithfulness in the midst of the crazy. Life is funny that way, it’s not like a movie where there is a beginning, middle, and end, but a continual journey we are all on.
This past week was the opening of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World, and it was a glorious day. Though, it started quite early, I needed to be there at three in the morning. That meant, in order for me not to be stressed, I had to be up at one. Of course, the excitement kept me from sleeping, and then once I was finally asleep, it was time again to get moving. In a groggy state I grabbed my phone from the charger. Now, if you have to go to bed at six-ish the previous night, you don’t turn down the brightness. As I looked at my phone, in a dark room, my phone lit up like the sun and burned my eyes till they were on fire.
It was rough.
Now, I may be exaggerating, but it’s amazing how such a small light can light up and entire room (and possibly blind you).
“Make mistakes, learn from them, and when life hurts you (because it will), remember the hurt. The hurt is good. It means you’re out of that cave.”
– Jim Hopper (Stranger Things Season 3)
If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know how weird the past few months have been. I was let go at the start of the year, and that left me with a lot of hurt, feeling unwanted and unappreciated. It sucked, but then, we got a little message from God. Our time in Greensboro didn’t seem to have anything for us, and a door opened to come down here in Orlando. My dearest Danielle started the Disney College program, and it was such a unique blessing for our season. While we’ve been down here, I didn’t have a job offer waiting. I applied a lot, but nothing seemed to be biting for me. Ouch, kinda stunk to have a cool transition to a new place, but still deal with feeling of being unwanted.
In the midst of that, Danielle helped me choose to view things differently. I started trusting God. My prayers were pretty much, “this doesn’t make sense but I trust you.” You see I’ve learned that God’s plan is unexpected and often doesn’t make sense, and that’s beautiful.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently on this idea of joy. As someone who has dealt with depression and anxiety (and still do), this idea can be sticky. It can be hard when life throws curveballs and doesn’t go the way we wish it always would. For a long time, it was hard to go on, my head was telling me to just quit. I have been in a season that hasn’t gone the way I planned with regards to ministry. I was wanting to be in a full-time position and there was a moment that looked good, then it passed, I didn’t get chosen. It was tough. It was hard to have joy. The thing that really helped me was focusing not on the bad, or the disappointment, but the joy in the things in my life. I got engaged and its’ been such a fun season. I have a family support system that has been vital. I have people in ministry outside of my situation that have encouraged me and spurred me on. I just got back from a camp, leading fourth and fifth grade boys, being able to speak life into them and pray over them. I have unlocked strength because I have learned that joy in the lord is what gives strength.
Recently, I’ve been scared. There’s lots of scary stuff going on in my life. End of the semester stress, graduating this year, starting a job to fund raise for a future career of ministry, and simply wanting to do what God has called me for. I’ve been scared, but God is bigger than my fears. This past week had many cool moments occur. I learned that I had the chance to speak at our high school ministry, I had a great conversation with my campus pastor, and I had a chance to pray over people in our city. That’s the moment where it happened, where a simple thing hit me in my moment of feeling weak. Prayer. One of those basic things we have in our walk with Christ. So simple, yet often I overlook the importance of prayer. In my season of fear I have been praying a lot, asking for a sign (some kind of neon lights in the sky to point me) I have been wanting all the answers to my life immediately. God doesn’t work on my schedule. Aww man! But it would be so much nicer, I mean, I know what’s best for me! That’s my human side, and it’s many of your reactions too, well maybe you don’t whine, but you get the idea. In all of my fear, I am choosing to pray, because when I choose to humble myself, then the Lord works.
Life is filled with the unexpected. These are things that can be good or bad, but each day we are filled with the unexpected. It can be difficult to trust God in these moments, because these life moments can be hard. A death in the family, heartbreak, and watching people close to you fall away can plague our lives and cause us to enter into storms like none other. These unexpected events cause change in our lives, and change is scary. I had a chance to speak last night with our youth about how change can come at us all the time. These students are having to choose colleges and face the hardships of a high schooler in our modern era. This idea came at me in kind of a silly way, this week in an Instagram update, a feature called “stories” was added, a feature that is very similar to the app of Snapchat (*gasp* scandal!). While it is a silly thing, people seemed to be upset, and that made me think, if something this small can upset us, how do we react when the real issues affect us? Changes create unexpected moments in our lives, but God wants to use unexpected moments to make us stronger. John 16:33b says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” You see even though we will face hardships in the unexpected nature of life, we don’t have to fear, because Christ reigns supreme.
I want to talk about something very serious today. This is something that has been on my heart, and I think many people are struggling from the lack of this important ability. It plagues many and causes hardship and tension when it is not present. I’m talking about fun. Did you like how I tried to make it sound like I was going to talk about something really heavy and sad? I thought it was pretty funny (Hey! It’s like I’m going to talk about fun and made a funny joke!). I want to talk about the importance of fun. We face a lot of tough things in life, things that make it hard for us to continue and want to run away and become a recluse. We can’t do that, the world needs each and every one of us. We all play a vital role in this world, it’s the reason we were created by God! One of the strongest weapons we have in our arsenal is fun, yet most of us try to take the world way too seriously. Having fun creates an open culture in your life, meaning, you find joy even in the hardest circumstances. Even though we face hardship, we can praise God and have fun. Psalm 149:1-5 says, “Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people… Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds.”
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it means to be blessed. Being blessed means that you have been given a new chance, something greater, you are holy. It’s a word that means you have been given all you need by a father looking out for you, and to be honest, I don’t always feel this way. I think a lot of us don’t feel this way. We are never content with what we have it seems like, we are always looking to the next big thing, the next adventure, the next purchase to satisfy the never ending craving of life. We never look at what we have and see what God has given us, and sometimes, we don’t feel like God has blessed us. We all go through struggles in life, I feel like I say this each week, but it’s true. We face pain that we never thought we would, but even in moments of pain we are blessed. We are blessed and God has given us all we need.
One of the biggest questions I think everyone has asked themselves at some point is, do I even matter? It’s kind of a frightening question to ask oneself. Do we actually matter to the landscape of the world we find ourselves in? The answer, in our own eyes, varies all over the place. Success is subjective in the eyes of the person trying to obtain it. Success in the world may be fame, fortune, and glory; but if this is the standard for if we matter, most of us will fail. I know for me I’m a broke college student who is trying to figure out how I get to the place God has called me to. I don’t exactly meet the fame, fortune, and glory type of success. There has to be something more, right? I believe that God’s idea of success is so much more powerful than we could ever imagine, and it is so much greater than our worldly desires. Psalm 1:1-3 says, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither- whatever they do prospers.” This verse I believe answers that question of why we matter.