“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.”
I’ve learned in life that there are always going to be awkward unknown moments. They happen and it’s normal, but doesn’t always feel great. I’m sure you’ve been invited to a party where you knew one person, but at the party that person leaves and you’re forced to talk to strangers. Or maybe you flash back to a first day of school and you have to figure out where to sit. When I think about these moments in my life, there are people who stand out that made the effort to be that joyful moment. They broke the ice, invited me to sit with them, and took on the awkward feeling and changed it with joy.
We can be joy 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.
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.
I love building Duplo towers with my nephew. Most of the time I start playing with the blocks, when Gideon comes over to help. Immediately, the goal is not to make a house or some kind of vehicle, the goal is to use every single piece and make the tallest tower. It’s the best, but there is a point where the tower starts to shake. Gideon loves to see how tall we can make it, but the strength of the tower is not there, we don’t focus on the foundation, all that matters is that we make the tallest tower. I love when we use the last piece then let go, only to see the tower fall and break everywhere. His reaction is always priceless, and then we start the process over again.
I love this as an illustration for life. Often, we want to be seen, noticed, and affirmed so we do all we can to rise to the top. Standing out is all that matters right? What happens in this moment though, is we forget to make a solid foundation, we don’t try to support our Duplo tower, we just push ourselves to be seen. I know in my life, this has been true, I just want to stand out and for people to affirm me, but sacrificing a strong foundation will only lead to an eventual crash.
Sometimes I have a hard time in prayer. Not that praying itself is hard, but sometimes it feels like the things I deal with are either way too massive in my head or feel incredibly small. I want to pray that I see the doors as God opens them and that I follow after the path that I know I have been called into, but it just feels so big and so unknown. It’s not specific, there’s not always a yes or no answer needed for clarity. Then, there are the little things, bumps in the road that happen daily, and there is always a moment of, “does God really care about the small stuff?”
Over the past year there have been massive prayers that many of us have had. Prayers over safety, healing of loved ones, and figuring out how to provide. There have also been small things that we deal with, that sometimes give us a guilt factor of wondering if compared to the pandemic, I should even be coming to God about this.
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.
Welcome back to my blog! It’s been a couple of weeks, and that’s been due to a busy moment in life, starting a new batch of classes, settling into our new space, as well as battling my own mental health. Life is always in flux, moving and changing constantly, and many times we can adapt, but there will be moments where adapting breaks. We become unfamiliar with the new rhythms that show up, and often this leads to confusion and cloudy heads. I’m being a bit honest today, not in order to gain your sympathy, but to help you know that it’s okay to not be okay.
This season in particular has showed most people that life is in flux. I like to laugh with dear Danielle about how everything shutting down gave us a minute to breathe, because the majority of our marriage has been the art of shifting and changing with the new environments that present themselves in our lives. The goal of life is not to find the easiest route, it’s about growing and changing into who you are called to be.
Some days are harder than others. For each of us, we go through seasons that often bring change, and the change doesn’t always feel great. There are times when we have been pushed into a new unknown, but all we want to do is head back to what is comfortable. The hard part is, without moving forward, there is no growth. I know for me, I get so caught up in the future and wanting to be in the place where I feel like I’ll have “made it,” that I forget the immediate and the opportunities to love other where I am. Last week I talked about having the reaction of love with others, but today I want to talk about loving yourself.
“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.