I normally try to avoid just writing about the day to day of my life on my blog (I save that for my journal and/or notes app!) and I strive to post only the stories that are embedded with life lessons and spiritual truths that could be applied elsewhere, or at least relatable to readers. So with that being said, feel free to skip this post and move along to the next one to avoid reading about my life! I won't be offended.
However, as 2016 draws to a close and I reflect upon the past year, I am overwhelmed by the highlights of it all! I need to share some of the goodness that God has sprinkled over and around my life throughout the past twelve months, even if no one reads it except for my roommate and me. 😉
Yes, I faced new challenges, struggled with new AND old inner battles, and had my heart broken this year. Sometimes, I got really down on myself because my life hasn't turned out exactly how I expected that it would. But when I just stop and decide to only focus on the good, all of that is overshadowed by the fact that 2016 has been mostly overwhelmingly and divinely wonderful. God has paved the way each and every day.
One year ago, an old friend of mine, @parislibretto, said this to me via Instagram:
"God has some incredible things in store for you! This year is a year where He will give life to dead dreams & open doors that you never thought he would; He's just waiting for you to take one step to align the rest for you! You are meant to do great things; He wants you to become the best you possible to gain power & wisdom to help & encourage others! I'm sure that's for you." - J
I don't know if I just really took to that and it became a self-fulfilling prophesy, or if it was an actual prophesy, but those words gave life to my year. Here's the proof.
An actual quote from a page in my journal, written on 12.10.16:
"There's a hole in my heart that even you cannot fill, God."
Okay. First of all, I knew it wasn't true even as I wrote it.
Our God is limitless. There is nothing He cannot do.
Secondly, yes. I am aware of how dramatic I am. But what good would I be as a writer and a language arts teacher if I didn't carry around a toolbox of dramatic storytelling capabilities?
But my real point is this.. Here I am, nine days later, wet with spiritual tears, because I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for God's goodness and an overflowing, joyful heart.
Why would He let this happen? Doesn't He know this is what's best for me? Doesn't He see that all of these things have to be in place before I can truly serve Him?
Wrong. Nine days ago, I was crying because a relationship ended. I literally did FEEL like there was an actual hole in my heart! So, I withdrew. I paused. I went into a mode of internalization. I refused to do anything except for those things that make my soul feel very happy, and I waited on God. A week or so passed... and I realized... I did have one thing right.
God really never did intend to fill just that one abandoned hole in my heart. Instead, He had plans to fill my whole heart abundantly, to overflowing.
Our God is still in the business of healing hurting hearts! When I felt confused and broken, I turned to God. Suddenly, purpose and inspiration and happiness and love were all around me, brewing inside of me and being reflected in all of the scattered pieces of my life.
Suddenly, my life feels simplified; I feel like I'm back on course with the purposes and positions that He has for me. I can see His hand, dressing me in blessing and favor. I can see His Spirit, reflected in the beauty of day-to-day life. I'm honed in on how intricately woven together our lives are for His glory. I'm mindful of how majestic life is when we are walking in His presence, responding to the call of the Spirit, and living out our lives as the exact people that He created us to be.
I am learning to embrace my actual life - not a fantasy future one that I'm striving toward- but the actual one that I'm living right now. The actual people I'm currently connected to, the actual things that I do, and the actual Kingdom work that is already right in front of me.
Sometimes God takes away the things we think we need in order to remind us that we are already fulfilled by Him; He is already everything that we need.
Even when we cannot see it. Even when our hearts are hurting.
HE KNOWS WHAT IS BEST FOR US IN EVERY SEASON.
His ways are higher. And if we will just trust Him- if we will just cling to His promises, pursue Him, and let the Holy Spirit lead us where He wants us to go... we will feel a settlement of peace and joy take place in our hearts and in our souls.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." Galatians 5:22
In this life, we WILL have trouble.
We WILL face disappointments. We will get our hopes up, only to be let down. We will go through hurts and trials and tribulations. It's inevitable.
But take heart.
No to you. No to who you are. No to what you want. No to what you want to do. It's not happening.
Whether it's being rejected from a job, a group, or a potential mate, rejection hurts. If we aren't careful, it can lead us to question ourselves, our desires, and worst of all, our own worth.
Why not me? What is it about me that's so bad? Where did I go wrong? Do I just expect more than I deserve?
But take heart; for HE has overcome the world.
Yes, I feel hurt and confused and unwanted. But do I have to wallow in that? NO.
While the pain that comes with rejection cannot always be avoided, we CAN CHOOSE to carry on with our heads held high and our purpose in tact. We can CHOOSE to fall into our Father's arms, which are always open. We can CHOOSE to rejoice in the fact that He will never leave us, reject us, or forsake us. He won't.
For us, He overcame the world.
For us, He came down to earth to make all wrongs right.
For us, He broke every barrier to give us eternal Life.
He came to set us free- free from the chains of disappointment and pain and shame.
So, rather than sinking into sadness over what could have been, I'm going to delight in what is- I have a Heavenly Father whose love for you and me is deeper than the sea, and more consistent than the rising of the sun.
That, my friends, is something worth smiling about.
I'm a teacher. In a nutshell, my job is to round up groups of rowdy middle school students (God love them!) and teach them to mature as readers and writers.
As with any job, there are days when it feels like all of my efforts and intentions are for nothing. I'm standing in front of them, ready to give instructions or share some profound chunk of knowledge, and they are looking for their earbuds, staring out the window, or making googly eyes at each other from across the room. There are times when I just stop and remind them that I'm not up there talking for the fun of it. This is for them! They would be wise to hear my instructions! I'm only guiding them because I care about them and want them to do well in life!
does that sound familiar at all?
i realized... how often do we respond to God's instruction the same way?
There He is, always there for us, reaching out His hands and pouring His love out over us. There it is- written- the perfect instructions for our lives according to His will, through His word... if only we would read it and follow the directions. His Holy Spirit, echoes in our souls, His wisdom and guidance there, ready to lead us and our lives in the direction that is truly best for us.
Yet we don't always listen.
Today it occured to me - and not for the first time- that every conflict, issue, challenge, and ongoing difficulty in my life is a direct result of my disobedience to God. Every mistake I have made- you know, the big stuff- was made despite my knowing that it was wrong. Every time I really messed up, I was fully aware that I was stepping outside of God's will, yet I chose to do it anyway.
Why is this? Why does God place perfect instructions right in front of us, and engrave His truths upon our hearts, and yet we disobey? What is it about human nature that leads us to disregard good instruction that is intended for our own well being?
Seriously. I need answers! I know we are human and that we have freewill and that we make mistakes, because that's part of our chemistry. But when is enough, enough? How can we learn to turn away from the temptation to follow our own foolish will and to walk fully in the ways of His guidance?
I think it starts with daily surrender, moment by moment. But where does it end? I'm tired of making the same mistakes over and over again, when I know perfectly well the difference in right and wrong.
a heavy heart