Well, we are now officially in the full swing of the new year! I hope all of your resolutions have stuck around, but more importantly, I hope you have set some great goals for this new year. It seems like there are always people who decide to get all “bah-humbug” about setting goals during the new year, but the truth is, the new year can be a great reset for all of us. Sure, we can set goals in June and not only January, but the new year truly highlights an opportunity to reflect. That’s why this year, my wife and I chose to focus on the word, dreamer, to always make sure we are dreaming bigger and dreaming about what God has. Our goals are to be active dreamers, not just head in the clouds, but doing something to accomplish these dreams. I have had to shift my mindset, and say, “God, you’ve got the plan, just lead me there.” I’m normally the planner, the past four-ish years, I had in my mind exactly what I was going to do. My job was going to head into full-time, Danielle and I would start working together and have enough experience to plant a church in a few years. I had it all worked out, but then God said, not here you won’t. In that moment I struggled, I’m not perfect, I grieved my job loss and my plans, but in the end, God was teaching me how to let it go and listen to his voice over my own.
Good story makes all the difference. Have you ever gone to a movie where it just felt off? One of my favorite things is to watch really bad movies, or “b-movies,” and laugh at the ridiculous nature of it. We love good story. It’s the reason why we watch movies and read books, and find ourselves heartbroken, exhilarated, and connected to characters who aren’t even real. This past week, my wife, Danielle and I had a chance to go on our official honeymoon to Harry Potter World and Walt Disney World. It was absolutely incredible. Throughout the trip I kept wondering why I was connecting to the environment on a deep level. Yes, it was fun and a great experience, but there was something more. Something I was quite getting, then it hit me.
November is here! I always love this season. The leaves have changed, the weather is perfect for jackets, and the thanksgiving season is all around. I love what thanksgiving represents, not the whole pilgrims being murderer’s thing, but the mindset of being thankful for the things in our lives. Family, friends, passions, dreams; all of it have been given to us by a God that loves us. Sometimes, life pushes against this mindset. The enemy attacks, we enter hardship, and find it hard to have joy in our lives. We have blessings, but choose to have bitterness of what we don’t have. We have a choice to make. Do we let what we perceive as failures and setbacks as an excuse to live bitter? Or do we let these propel us into our future? This is something I have been wrestling through; walking through these rough moments that make me question what God’s plan in all of it is. The truth is, and this is a truth for all of us, God has a plan, we just have to trust him with a grateful heart.
The past few months have been absolutely wild. A couple of these journey updates ago, I talked about how a new chapter of my life was starting, and a little over five weeks ago that chapter began. On one of the hottest days imaginable, I said “I do” to my best friend. It was amazing! Highly recommend getting married to your best friend. While our engagement was only three months (I highly recommend short engagements), there was a whirlwind of things to get done and last-minute details. My anxiety was slightly raising, but when the day finally arrived, it all faded away. The best day of my life, September 22nd, when the new chapter of my life with Danielle began. I know, I know, sounds pretty cheesy but it’s true. Two of my favorite moments from our wedding stood out and I will always remember. We had our first look, where Danielle and I read each other the vows we wrote. The second was during our ceremony, in front of the people who have invested in our lives, and having a moment to worship. We were together, two becoming one, and choosing to worship in the midst of all things.
What a wild season it has been so far. I’ve started doing these journey updates, a kind of informal blog about what has been happening in my life with a mixture of what God has been speaking during my changing seasons. My current season has been wild. I got engaged, and that has been just a powerful blessing. We are not only engaged, but we wanted a quick engagement, and we are getting married in September! We are so excited, and things are coming together. Sometimes it can be hard to enjoy this season fully because we are so busy. Not so much with wedding planning, but with life. Life has a way of going all wild and crazy, it becomes difficult to keep my head above it all. This season has been filled with a lot of stressors. Many things keep flying at me and it’s hard to block all of it. I feel like Batman running through a gauntlet of rogues, just trying to make it through to be the hero a city desperately needs. Stress has become a norm in my life, and I’m not a huge fan of that. Sure, one could say that it “builds character” or “just hold on,” but it doesn’t lessen the frustration. I’ve been struggling with it a lot, but this season has also taught me to have trust. A deep, meaningful trust in my savior.
Life is weird. I continually face this. The idea of the unknown is such a scary thing to me. Part of me thought these feelings of fear would go away once I finished college. Like, ah yes, there is the exact path I was meant to take! Unfortunately, life really doesn’t work like that. It’s simply a series of events that shape us, mold us into who we are. That scares me. I like to have a plan, a clear direction about what to do and where to go, but it doesn’t work that way. It’s funny to see older posts where I’ve written about the same idea. Each one was at a different crossroad of my life, and it seemed as if that one decision would be the only choice that would define me. I think that’s the reason why many of us fear big decisions, we worry that this one choice will shape our lives forever. The truth is, these choices aren’t a make or break, they’re small steps of trust in our creator.
I’ve recently been reading through Hebrews. This is an interesting and powerful book to look at, especially where my life is at currently. There’s a ton of unknowns and struggles that I have to face, it can be hard to trust God in the midst of a storm. In Christian culture, it can feel wrong to question what’s going on in our lives, we have this idea that we can never wrestle with our circumstances. That we can’t cry out to God asking him where he is or why he isn’t acting in this situation. Like it’s some sin to struggle. I’ve heard of some Christians looking down on others because they aren’t having enough faith in this situation. Enough faith? We’re supposed to support one another, not look down because we think we’re better than other believers. Jesus wouldn’t want us to pride ourselves on putting our fellow believers down when they were struggling, he would want us to support and love. Why is this even a thought that we have in the first place though? I’ve been feeling down on myself based on this misconception, am I not a “good” Christian because I ask God why he’s doing what he’s doing? The truth is, this is a lie. Hebrews chapter 11 justifies this because it shows people who lived by faith. They were recorded for their great faith, but every single one of them wrestled with God.
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.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Life is hard. That’s the simple and sad truth about it. We go through struggles on a daily basis, life is nonstop and ever-changing, and this can become an increasing struggle that we all face. The truth is, we all have a very real enemy and he does not want us to win. I like winning, winning is fun, losing hurts. Losing makes us question our identity and who we are to the very core of our beings. I’m not simply talking about losing at a sport or at a game of jenga, I’m talking about the moments when we feel we have lost in life. Our hope starts to fade because of that person who hurt you. Each month we can’t understand how to get out of simply scraping to get by. The overwhelming events that life starts to throw our way start to pull at us. Losing hurts. In my life, it can be easy to let drown in my losses, to let it simply control my attitude and outlook on every small detail. The truth is that there is hope, because we have a creator that doesn’t lose, and even if we lost the battle, we have a God that won the war.
Well, it’s finally here. This past Thursday I officially graduated from UNCG! It was an awesome experience to say the least, and to be honest, never really sunk in until I was standing there waiting for my name to be called to walk across the stage for my department graduation. I was able to walk and feel like the last four years were worth it, that I had accomplished what I had set my mind towards. Today I’m doing a bit of a different post than I normally do. My typical format (for those of you who may be new readers, welcome!), is I will have a topic, a scripture, and break down to three-ish core principles that God has shown me through it. I like to break form here and there to share my heart from time to time. You see I don’t have all of the answers, I know I know, shouldn’t I be some kind of all-knowing guru? Yeah not really. Life at the moment went from being normal and sort of have a flow to it, to again being shaken up. I hope today that through some personal stories that interconnect, you will be able to look at the shifting in your own life and know you’re not alone. That’s the biggest reason I write at all anyways, I never want anyone to feel alone for any reason.