Can you believe it? In exactly one week, Christmas will be here. Wow, that’s kinda frightening, especially if you have to finish gift shopping and gearing up for the family travels, there are many working parts that happen during this time of year. Not to mention the high levels of depressing that this season can bring, losing lost ones, thinking about fears you have of the future, wondering if what you do actually means anything; the struggle hurts in a very real way. I’ve been thinking a lot about this. The stress and the sadness that surrounds Christmas can seem overwhelming, but the truth is, we can have hope during this Christmas season.
Well it’s finally here. Today is the Monday before Halloween (Unless of course you are reading this early here!). The kids will walk around your neighborhood in the costumes they are proud of, candy will be consumed in vast quantities, and many laughs after frights will be had. My family loved Halloween, at my old church the kids had a fall festival my mom put on and I would work hard on a costume with my dad. Things like, a guy in a shower, a laundry basket, or garbage bag (all were real, and all were epic). The past week has been kinda crazy. My life has started going a million miles an hour, and stress has started to build. I’m stepping into new roles, and balancing several things on my plate. On a Tuesday I had a rough day. I struggle with anxiety, fears put in my head that tell me I’m not doing enough or that I’m not good enough. On Tuesday I had a pretty rough anxiety attack, the whole day my mind was constantly racing, worrying about my role and place in the world, I was afraid that I wasn’t doing all that I should, I was worried that people hated me, and I was afraid of countless scenarios that aren’t even possible. It didn’t make sense, but it makes sense now. I had fear in my heart, doing all it could to convince me I wasn’t who God made me to be.
But fear is from the devil, and the devil is a stupid liar.
This past summer has been absolutely wild. I’ve finished school, gone to an amazing camp with Kids, been able to serve on a mission trip, and had God give me a vision for my city. Not only that, but more opportunities are coming up over the next few months. I have been able to truly feel the fullness of God’s faith in me. I’ve been looking back and am being blown away at how God has been faithful to me in my life. My church is in a season of prayer called, 21 days of prayer. We are able to come together and pray each morning at 6 am so we can encounter God and pray over our lives. During this time, God has brought this one word up over and over again in my heart, faithful. Not just faithful, but faithFULL. Yes, I know that isn’t how you spell it, but I accidentally misspelled in my journal (don’t judge, we all fall short). As I looked over it, it made me realize the truth in that, I am full in faith because God has continually shown up and radically altered my life in the most incredible ways. God uses me, even when I fear that I’ll never be used, God never gives up on me. The thing is, God never gives up on you either.
This week marks my last week as a full time college student. Pretty weird but exciting at the same time. For one thing it marks a new start, a chance for me to get out of the mundane and into my passions. On the other hand it brings unknowns and uncertainties about the future. It’s all exciting and nerve wracking, but I can’t wait to see where God takes me. I’ve learned so much over the past four years during my time at university, but there was a moment about two weeks ago that taught me immensely about two things, love and family. I’ve written about these two things several times before, but I am taking a non-traditional approach to what it means to have family and what it means to love people. I want to talk about them because I feel like in our culture today, especially in a Christian spiritual culture today, we tend to see our family as just the people we serve alongside in ministry or flesh and blood. We also use love as a bargaining chip, saying if you do “x,” then I will give you love. That’s not what we are called to do, and today I want to talk about a moment that was a turning point in the life of someone I experienced not long ago.
Culture is all around us. We are exposed to each of our cultures on a daily basis; the messages and ideas are thrown at us constantly, and we don’t even pick up on all of it. It’s so ingrained in each of us that these messages don’t even phase us anymore, things become normal. In our normalcy we become numb. I bring up this idea of culture because I study culture at my university. I am a communication studies major (not communications, you’d lose a hand if you said that to any of the professors), and in this field I am able to look at how messages are communicated to each other, and culture comes from this communication. A culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication. Culture influences us, culture changes the way we think and culture has us accept things that they are normal, but we are weird. When you become weird, you can never go back to being normal.