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.
It has been a busy few weeks for me! As I finish one semester, there seems to be another right behind it, then of course there is travels and the general day to day that life brings. I know I have been MIA for a bit, but hopefully my schedule will be back to normal. All the hectic nature of the past few weeks, has allowed me to reflect on my life and what is driving me. If you have read my blog for a while now, you will know that I have a heart for people. I want people to know that there is a seat at the table for them, and I would love to be a friend at your table.
That’s the way I look at ministry, I want everyone to know who God has created them to be and help them remember who they are.
Every so often I like to re-read the book of Habakkuk. I read it because often I find myself in the same place as Habakkuk, he was a prophet and watching the world around him fall into chaos. Habakkuk is watching an army invade the land of his people, and he starts to lose hope in what God is doing. He starts to lose faith in God.
I love this book because it is such a raw emotional place, and in that state, Habakkuk cries out to God in hopes of finding his faith in the midst of uncertainty. In my own life, I find that there are seasons of unknowns and growth, and in those moments, it becomes increasingly difficult to have faith that there is a plan in all of this. What I love about this scripture, is that Habakkuk turns to God in his struggle.
Feelings are okay. Talking to God about your feelings is okay. Being vulnerable with God, is the point of a relationship with God.
“But here is how God has shown his love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
-Romans 5:8 (NIRV)
Three years ago, I wrote a post called, “Made Worthy.” It was during a time that God started putting the idea over my heart that we are all made by him, and that meant we were worthy of love. That was during a season where I felt clarity, and to be honest, I can’t remember what specific time I was referring to. The thing that makes me laugh about that, is that I was certain I had a plan, but the reality was, my clarity was coming from understanding my worth. This has been a battle I face on a daily basis; my worth has been a stronghold that Satan has set up in my mind. Yeah, that sounds like a plot to some medieval story, and it sort of is. I have battled this idea that I am not worthy of love or the time of others. I know this isn’t true, yet at the same time, I let this fear creep in a control my actions. It normally manifests in a need for the approval of others, and it used to be so hard to not switch up my personality.
“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.
Well, it’s finally here. In just a couple of days it will be Halloween, the candy will have been eaten and the spooks will settle down (unless you’re a spooky boy like me and it’ll last all year). Before that, we have one last post about fear and spooky b-movies. I want to finish off talking about fear with this one simple idea, when we live in fear, we live as slaves. We fear commitment because of hurtful relationships in the past. We live in fear because of the emotions going on in our heads. We live in fear of the unknown and not having the life plan we desire. We live in fear that we will fade away and that no one will remember us. These fears enslave us, but when we choose to fight fear with love, we become free.
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.
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.
I love powerful storytelling. I’m a big fan of books and movies because of the stories they can tell. I love stories, but I also really love true stories. Not so much history, but stories of people who have overcome and made something incredible. I’ve recently been reading a lot more, and it’s so interesting to see people’s stories and how they choose to press on even when things get tough. That’s one of the best parts about the bible for me. In Christian culture, people seem to have this idea of being perfect or fitting a standard, but that’s simply not true. Last week I wrote about how God designed each of us, but sometimes it can feel like we aren’t living up to how we were designed. I feel this way a lot, you feel like you have been made for a purpose, but that I don’t add up to what I’ve been called to. I look at my brokenness and don’t see how I can be used. The fear of rejection or that I’m not good enough give me anxiety and I question how God can use me. In these moments, I have to be reminded of true stories in scripture. One of my favorite parts in the bible, is found in the book of Hebrews. Written by an unknown author (so I’ll use she/her pronouns), she writes a section known as the “by faith” section. In this part she describes people in the old testament that chose to live by faith and listen to God. They didn’t have the Holy Spirit or the sacrifice of Jesus, they simply did what they were asked. The crazy part is, each of these people she writes about are broken people. They all had their individual struggles and dealt with crazy situations, but in all of it, one thing remains true of them and remains true for you.
Despite our brokenness, God says that we are loved.