Thursday, August 19, 2010

Firsts and Lasts

So, the past two weeks of my life have been somewhat emotionally overwhelming. Sometimes that can be good - sometimes that can be bad. I would not have considered myself an emotional person until I met my dear friend Evie K. She is to blame for this new wave of emotionality this past year (yes... I think I might have made up that word.) She cries on the regular; it makes her feel better. She says something to the effect of, "I just need to cry it out and I will feel better." Now, when I first heard that, my initial thoughts included, "Are you kidding me?! Why on earth would you wanna cry?!" Silly and slightly insensitive me came out and I totally didn't get her then... but I do now since her Evie-crying-influence has finally rubbed off on me after nearly 3 years of friendship.

In any event, emotions like this are still somewhat new to me. I am also realizing that this summer has been one of many firsts and lasts. One of which being: This is the first time I have truly recognized certain emotions. I know that sounds weird but for example... I have realized that it takes a lot for me to be vulnerable and disclose myself to people. I'd like to think that I am an outgoing, lovable, crazy, and funny young woman - but I am pretty good at hiding my fears, my insecurities, my pain. This summer I learned that that might not be the best thing. That it is good to unlock those emotions - and that holding back tears might not always be the "strong" thing to do. I have been so thankful for the outpouring of happy and sad tears this summer. Praise.

Second: I really enjoy spending quiet moments with the Lord. Now, if you asked me a year ago, I would say that YES - I enjoy quiet times in the morning... yadda yadda... But now, most days, I am just ready to go for a drive in silence, to sit and read a book without any interference, to extend my quiet times from 30 minutes to who-knows-when. I am learning how to not set limits on my time with God - but instead to encourage as much quiet time with the Lord as much as possible. If you know me well, you know it is hard for me to sit still! God has done something to me that makes me want to sit and be with Him - and I think that is good.

Third: A last. This is the last summer that I can spend worrying about what's next. God has been SO good to me - putting people in my path, opportunities that pop up - I am not worried about my next move because I already know that there is something just around the corner. It is such a great feeling being a college graduate and knowing that there is a set plan for at least a year (if not more) post-graduation! No worrying about classes or a college budget or overwhelming exam schedules. From here on... it's one day at a time. This life is running at a completely new and different pace.

Fourth: Another last. This is the last time I can be with my family in this way. I worry about this... For anyone who knows me, you understand that this will always be a journey. Sometimes there are rocky paths but other times there are smooth courses. This summer might just be the last time I can be at home and be a full-time-live-at-home daughter.

Fifth: A first time that I have been away from friends for this long. It has been such a blessing to be near friends in the past, but this is the first summer I have spent away from SO MANY friends. It has been different working every day and not being able to invest more in more people. It has taught me a good lesson though - that yes, work is consuming, and yes, it is possible to pour into friends but just not several at a time. Loving a couple friends at a time is good too. :-) I can't always be a "big-group" girl.

Fifth-and-a-half: This summer has been good for me to learn more about the incredible love of Christ and what He has called us to do: love others. I want to love others more. It is one thing to really like someone or to "love" your super cool road bike (ha...) but it is not quite the same as the LOVE that Jesus has taught us. I recognize more what that LOVE looks like, and I want to learn how to extend and accept it more.

If there is one thing that will always stay consistent - meaning it can never be a first or a last thing - is God and His love and provision. God has blessed me so much this summer and I have no idea how I am so worthy of it all. I have been challenged so much this summer. I have had to dig deep in my heart, recognize weaknesses and strengths and deliver my worries to the Lord. I learned that there are walls that I have built that are hard to chip away from - but then I was able to watch God break them down. He is SO good. He is the alpha and omega - the beginning and the end - He will remain the same through all of the ages! No matter what circumstances I find myself in. Isn't that great news!? That no matter how much we think we fail, His provision remains and the blessings flow - one and then the other and then the other. I have been so thankful for tears of joy and tears of pain, amazing quiet times of worship and heartbreaks left and right. The blessings God has delivered to me: special people, certain conversations, interesting books - all have encouraged me and have taught me lessons that were so needed in my life.

I am incredibly thankful and proud to be emotional about it. :-) I am praising God for these new firsts and lasts in my life. God, keep bringing them on because it just goes to show that I have so much more that I want and need to learn.

Check this out:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Love strug.

Hi Everyone.

I think I need to share a serious struggle with you all. But before I do, let me preface with recent events that you all may or may not know about. Nate Henn - strong advocate and fighter for Invisible Children was a victim of a terrorist attack in Uganda this past July.

I do not know who this man was, however, a seriously large group of people do. I was able to learn about him in the Hangar today. In case you are wondering, the Hangar is the name used for the student ministry program at the church I am working at this summer. We are currently working on a summer-long series called, "Summer of Love" emphasizing Christ's teachings of love and how to give it, receive it and accept it into our lives. Along with the series, we are have the opportunity to listen to guest speakers, including a friend and staff member who happened to be a person friend of Nate Henn.

Today, our speaker did a fantastic job sharing the story for Nate Henn. To learn more about Henn and his remarkable efforts, check out this video: He shared with us Henn's uniquness: his ability to follow Christ's Word. John 13: 34-35 was the scripture focus of the day:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

The point our speaker was trying to make was this: Henn lived his life not only to the full and for God's purpose, but he lived his like to love God and love others deeply and wholeheartedly. This is something I am finding that I struggle with. And it is something that I wish I could change about myself. Through prayer and time, I am sure it will - but more and more, I think I am learning about my struggle. Everyday, I am constantly in contact with people: people I work with, people I live with, maybe even people I sometimes don't want to be with. Either way - I am around people. It is hard for me to have much alone time... in this case... past midnight, I finally do have some alone time! When I am around people, I try to be a light. I really do - I want Christ to illuminate inside this flesh of mine - I want to do all things possible to glorify Him - even if that is by making someone laugh, or providing listening ears - I want to be able present God to others through my actions. Now don't get me wrong; I know I am not always the best at doing so, but I put forth a lot of effort. But the thing I struggle with most is loving others the way God loves others and us.

After a lot of thought, I think there are a few reasons for this:
1) I am scared. I am scared of failing those who show love to me. I hate the thought of not being able to invest enough time. I can only be so many places at once - but I try to invest so much of myself... But I hate the thought of not spending enough time with someone who needs it. That's when I feel like I fail.
2) I am scared that if I get too close, my heart will be shattered. Not that this happens a lot, but I get easily discouraged if I pour into someone who has no interest in me. This causes me to guard my heart with all types of people - friends and family.
3) I am scared that the love I show won't be enough. My mind moves a mile a minute and sometimes I get teased for being all over the place - which I agree, if I have a million things going on, yes that is true. But what if I don't solidify my focus enough - I need to work on this!

There might be other reasons I cannot identify - but the truth is that I am seriously scared of showing 100% love. I like a lot of people!! I do. And I really like those who are earnestly seeking God - I want to reach out to them and show them God's love - but I am scared about showing love to those who are closest to me. I need prayer for this. I recently had a conversation with a friend who mentioned to me that she noticed I am not so "touchy-feely." She insists on giving me hugs whenever she sees me - and that's great! The push is good. But I still fear. I have a very hard time telling someone I love them. I take that phrase so seriously and if I say it when I am not ready, it bothers me. I think it is one of the strongest most powerful things we could ever say. But sometimes, people need to hear it - and I rarely have the guts to say it to someone I am unsure if I actually love.

I am praying that God breaks my heart for what breaks His; that He blesses me with His love and the courage to share it with others. I am praying that God can teach me more about Nate Henn - his vision to help others selflessly and love God and others with an unending and free love. I do not want to be afraid anymore of failing. I just hope that the Lord provides me with the ability to love as much as possible so that He can make a change in people's lives through this vessel.

Thanks, A.G. for the talk today and the encouragement. I think I have learned a lot this summer and I appreciate your words today.