When all of life falls apart there is only one thing that keeps me going...
Where do you find it? Can it be artificially made or magically found... or is it linked closer to our existence than that.... to our soul?
When coming to a moment of utter despair, what do we do?
Crumble or fall to pieces.
Find strength or submit to weakness?
I VOTE STRENGTH, HOPE, JOY, and PURPOSE.
My only purpose is found in Christ. I will never be perfect, fulfill others expectations, fulfill my own, or find enough independent strength to carry me through the many trials of life.
Instead I find acceptance and comfort and purpose in God's love and sacrifice for me. He provides the comfort that I need. He holds me when I feel weak. He accepts me as I am, knowing all of the things that I hide. He provides free and fulfilling love, grace, and mercy.
When I feel alone, He is there.
Even when I still feel alone, think that I am alone, and have trouble putting my faith in Him... my inability to feel Him does not mean that He is not still ever-present.
If the only thing that is 'perfect' believes that I have value and purpose, then it is worth while to get to know that being. Be comforted by it, and find a greater sense of purpose and meaning with Him than I could find anywhere else.
journal entry by,
P.S. life has taken some turns lately.
Hence, blogging is in the back seat.
Since it is something that makes me
happy, I'm trying to take little steps
towards bringing it back into my life.
I hope you find peace, joy and love. xo
You are always moving away or towards God. There is no stagnant or "gray" area in our relationship with Him.
For a long time, I have felt like I was moving away from God. Either because of life's struggles, direct challenges to my faith, or moving to a less "God-centered" community.
Reality: As true as the initial statement is, there is also the necessity for self-grace when observing our relationship with God (& observing my own).
I've had to learn that slowly.
Positive Self-Grace: Our concerns regarding our faith and the possible loss/weakening of it, shows us that we still have it, are holding on, and are trying to work towards a deeper understanding and relationship with Him.
Being worried about the state of our faith is actually a good sign, but it can also be debilitating...
Often times, I see friends comparing their faith with that of Biblical figures and being discouraged in the comparison. Instead of being inspired and recognizing the flaws in us all, there is a feeling of guilt for not 'living up' to the role models laid before us.
Instead, I propose focusing on the positives.
God loves us. I have previously committed my life to Christ. I am worrying about the state of my faith because I care about it & God; thus by worrying about having no faith I am demonstrating faith & my love for God.
My faith may not part seas yet, but I will continue to learn and grow in it.
.Eventually I would like to have faith as it is seen in the Bible, but for now
I am okay with being the 'work in progress' that I am (& always will be!)
It is a relationship that is developed... continually.
Remembering that every healthy relationship starts with acknowledging where you are at.
*You don't need to feel that you must be the perfect "Christian" in order to talk to God.... He's been waiting far too long to speak with you to wait for that impossibility to come to fruition.*
He already knows everything. The best place to start when prayer feels like talking to a wall is to:
a. confess your sins
b. connect- share every little & large detail of life with Him (best friend chats)
Love yourself, like God loves you.
Show the same love, mercy & grace for yourself as God does for you.
As this summer progressed, I found myself relying less and less on God in my day to day life...
I started out the summer with an amazing camp experience that revitalized my faith and instilled a passion in me to live my life with God at the core and in everything that I do. But when prayers felt unanswered and I felt alone again, isolated from the mass of Christ followers at camp, I began to realize that I had no idea what it looked like to have Christ at the center anymore.
What happens when you need to press reset and rediscover faith?
The transition from adolescence to adulthood contains challenges that change our character and our viewpoints. Often times our faith can get stuck in our childhood perspectives that don't match up with our more adult-like experiences and trials.
So what do we do when our spirituality no longer matches the demands that we face in the world (spiritually, emotionally, relationally)?
Answer, we have to press Reset and start all over again (well maybe not completely). However, there comes a time to reevaluate our faith, Jesus' place in our lives, and what it looks like to live in faith. We can only last so long when we hold faith in one hand but see a world that conflicts with the views of God we once held in the other.
For example, where do we turn when we learn about evolution, predestination, the big bang, etc. etc.
What about when we experience heart ache for the first time and witness the unfathomable tragedies that occur everyday in the world. How do we answer the question of "How could a loving God?"
Taking the time to open your bible again or crack open a devotional could help, but there are some other solutions too. (Not that I am anywhere near an expert.. but I am trying these things out on my own and learning as I go.)
1. Pick up books about your questions... there are TONS. And I mean TONS of books on how God is good in the midst of pain, the journey of non believers to understanding Christ, and how evolution is not a scientific fact.
2. Find others who are learning and discovering a new faith too.... small groups and new believers bible studies can help re- explore the roots of faith and your faith when it feels that your spirituality is out of sync with the rest of your life.
3. Drown yourself in the truth of God, if a direct approach of Bible reading or devotion time is not the way for you yet, then saturating yourself with as much of God's truth is a worth while route.
-Christian music only.... or at least listen first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. You will be amazed at how listening to God's promises through song can help shift your perspective towards the day and give you a blissful night sleep.
- Write reminders to yourself of the truths of God that you most need to hear and remember, and place them in places you will see them multiple times a day (on the walls of your bedroom, bathroom mirror, binder cover, car dashboard, computer/phone lock screen, etc.)
4. One word.... Apologetics. My view is that this is the link between the world's views and our faith. It helps make sense of how our faith fits within the world and what it teaches without undermining scripture. Apologetics address our intellectual difficulties to accept our spiritual beliefs. (videos and blogs available online)
5. Surround yourself with people and places that will remind you of God's glory and magnificent purpose for your life.
Taking the time to revisit old friends. youth pastors, small group leaders, and family members that will support your walk with Christ is important so you can remember that there is a society of believers who will walk and support you in this journey of rediscovery.
I've found that visiting nature at least once a week also helps keep me aware that I am not in control of my situations, and God is still the ultimate despite what I see happening in life around me. With paved streets and tall buildings, all I may see in a day may be "created" by man... but under the surface of everything is the magnificent craftsmanship of God's hand.
See the little glories in the nature of a park or garden can help remind me of that.
I may "know" that Jesus Christ is my one and only salvation and have accepted Him as my Lord and Savior, but I want to know how I can stand strong in that faith and allow it to transform me for His will in the midst of the challenges I now face in the world.
Resetting your faith is not a bad thing, sometimes it is important to bridge the gap that time and maturity has made between you and your understanding of God. As we grow, so must our understanding of Him. Through His grace he can transform and restore our faith and grow it stronger so we can better understand His will and love for us.
So I know a lot of people that go to camps with their churches over the summer, and they feel super connected to God. However, when returning home that feeling of connection and security in our faith can often fade.
This summer I went to camp and thought that there was no way that this would happen to me. I would come back and be just as on fire for the Lord as ever. But that's not what happened, after the first week back... life hit and instead of turning to God I turned away. I've continued to run in the opposite direction of the Lord ever since. Yet, I know that God is better than everything that I thought that I could turn to.
Why do we still run away from God even when we know He is best for us?
Blame it on habit, or life... but I know that I have used every excuse in the book.
However, I am stuck in the endless and unfulfilling cycle that every reason that I don't want to get close to God are all the reasons that I need to.
Ex. I am worried about trusting God, because bad things will still happen in life and I'd rather not have hope in God and then have that hope crushed with more of... well... "life"
Solution: When you trust in God, even when bad things happen, ultimately God is my comforter, and I know that He has won the eternal fight even if a temporary one was lost.
I am still struggling with not trying to push God away, but today I was reminded of a very import thing....
Let God embrace and meet you where you are.
Opening up and letting Him into the ugliness of day to day life, is the best and easiest step to start growing and strengthening a relationship... After all He knows it all anyways, and this is a way to let Him be a part of your life by choosing to share this part of you with Him.
"With all your heart, you must trust the Lord and not your own judgement. Always let Him lead you, and He will lead the road for you to follow."
- Proverbs 3:5-6
When trying to make big decisions in life, it is easy to start stressing out about what is the right choice to make. Often times we envision the path of following God's will as a difficult one with aberrations at every turn that occur due to poor decision making. Sure we can get back on the right path, but it would be hard. And their is only one right path to take.
As I have recently received my college decisions, I am now in a place where I must decide where I want to go to university; which is scary. I'll tell you why I am/was scared. First off, I am paying for the entirety of my college education. Secondly, I have no idea how I am paying for my college education. Thirdly, I am afraid of choosing the wrong college that will deviate me from God's plan, and off the path of His will.
That being said, I want to tell you about how God has spoken to me over the past two weeks regarding my decision making process.
First off, God brought four incredible people into my life that have given me great insight, and have served as God's messengers to me. The first was the previous mayor of the city I live in. I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with her over lunch... her advice? Don't worry too much about which college you go to because you will end up in the right place either way. (So does that mean that their are multiple paths to fulfilling God's will for your life?)
Next, my college career counselor said the same thing, and then I prayed that God would bring a third person into my life that would affirm the first two points of view. He decided to use the assistant dean and head of the international relations department at a local state school to tell me the same thing. However, He also used her to steer me in the direction away from local and state schools to accept one of my other offers from more prestigious institutions. However, I still wasn't sure....
"God, does it really not matter what school I choose? Would it not be better to accept an offer from one of the Christian schools I was accepted to over offers from some of the most liberal schools in the nation? Sure, some of the other schools have better academic programs, but what about my spiritual growth. Will I still grow into the Christ following young woman that I am meant to be?" So I prayed. Again. This time, I prayed that he would bring a Christian into my life that would affirm that once again the decision lied in my hands, and God would use any of the institutions to still execute His will for my life.
The following day, I met (in passing) a pastor of a local church and mentioned I was in the midst of college decisions. He offered up the same advice, and all of a sudden a huge smile came on my face. I thanked him profusely while explaining that he was the answer to my prayer, and finally I had my affirmation.
No matter what decision I make I know that God is with me, God will use me, and I will still be able to fulfill the full glory that God has meant for my life.
Before this all even occurred, I was sitting in church a couple Sundays ago and we talked about the Holy Spirit. The leader of the teen ministry that I was attending said that in times of decision making the Holy Spirit will guide us and we are to follow the leading of Him. However, this is more of a feeling rather than praying and getting a definitive answer (often times). He said that God will work through your decision, and use you amidst your choices.
As the month comes to a close, my decision comes closer and closer. The May 1st deadline looms, and I must decide between over 8 different institutions as to where I will attend in the Fall (that is ignoring wait lists as well).
I will pray that God will lead me, open financial doors, and pave the way for my future. I may not know what will come and I may not know how I will get there, but I do know that this winding road of life does not end here. I will continue to grow and move forward in life despite the tasks ahead of me, and I look forward to coming out of them and looking back at how God has worked in my life.
- xoxo SP
(Sorry if there are spelling/ grammar mistakes.... I often write these very quickly as journal entries that I share in hope to help you if you are facing similar situations )
"For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."
- Jeremiah 29:11
* P.S. this is my favorite verse.
It's easy to think, that I don't deserve faith. I've committed too many sins, and its been too long since Jesus and I have talked. I no longer walk with Him everyday when I am at school, and I feel guilty. Yet, I think it's only human to think that we don't deserve the best in life. However, through no right of my own and no action to justify it, I have been given a gift from God. We have ALL been given a gift from God. That gift is found in the verse that reminds me to have faith when I feel that I have lost it all.
Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
It's easy to think that with so much pain in the world and cruelty that comes into our lives, that God has forgotten. Just as we gain and lose friends in life, we gain and lose God's love as well? But He is always pursuing after us, and He is a constant. We may experience hardship but it is never His ultimate plan for our lives. My greatest hardships have only lead to my greatest growth. Sometimes I forget that though while I am in the middle of it. However, I have to remember that even though the race feels long and rough, God is the power that will carry me beyond where I perceive my limitations to be.
It's easy to push Him aside in fear that He has done the same to you. But we must take refuge in His truth in the Bible. To be honest, my Bible sat in my closet for months before I pulled it out today.
I was affected by the words of a coach honoring a student at my school tonight, and I was reminded as to how many obstacles I have overcome. Why now am I letting small things conquer me? No more. Tonight, I was reminded that I will never be satisfied with mediocre. Mediocre effort. Mediocre prayers. Mediocre goals. I was made for so much more than Mediocre. However, if I never reach to the ends of my limits to discover all that God has planned for me, I will never fully receive the grace and glories of His gifts that He has in store.
Only God knows the plans for my life, I can not worry about them or try and plan my own to go around them. What I can do is give my time to God. Today, my Bible is entered into my schedule and will remain there until.... hopefully & eventually... this will become habit and a daily relationship once more. And God will once again be my number one, my constant, and my companion. Until then, I will take it one good and bad day at a time. That's all we can do, give our all and put our faith in Him.
On a road to Faith and Discovery.
Sincerely, Sienna P.