dear 2016; thank you

2016,

If I could change anything about you I don’t think I would.

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This year, I met my insecurities. They walked up and introduced themselves to me. I learned their first names and then I quickly learned I didn’t want to keep company with them for long. I saw them for what they really are-liars. Frauds. Deceivers.

Once I met those insecurities the blindfold fell from my eyes. I could see, and what was even more beautiful? I could dance. I could run free. I could sing and my heart could swell. My heart could ache and my heart could rejoice. Yet in all of that, I could actually live, no longer held back by lies that had become my heart’s reality.

Because fear can really drag the life out of you if you let those insecurities convince you it’s worth your time of day.

The freedom came when I realized that it wasn’t worth my time of day.

It’s a lie and my soul learned the shattering reality of freedom.

2016, you taught me what I love to do.

When those insecurtities were no longer welcome here, a purpose came flooding in. Purpose was a welcomed guest. It still is. I embraced it, and it set my soul on fire. I’ve welcomed it in, and now I have a lifetime to get acquainted with it. There is room. So much room. Room for that purpose to fill up my heart’s home. And room to learn about that purpose for the rest of my life.

I learned what sets my heart on fire. That somehow by putting down my messy thoughts into words and sentences and paragraphs I can lay out what is on my heart. I learned that I may not love speaking my thoughts, but I crave the freedom of writing it.

I didn’t just meet my purpose this year. I met a few others. I met myself. My shell was cracked. I learned to loosen up. The girl who cared so very much about what people thought is still a little part of me, but nothing like the girl whose heart was lit with the sparklers of self-doubt at the beginning of 2016. I have learned confidence. Not in me-but in the fact that a perfect King makes no mistakes. That he declares my timid voice bold, my wavering faith strong, and my insufficient works enough.

You taught me that it’s ok to not be in the same place everyone else is. You taught me to give myself time to grow and realize that other people might have figured out who they are in this world in high school. I might be a bit late. But that’s ok. I learned to give myself time.

I learned that there’s a reason for where I am. There’s a divine piece of glory in this mundane daily grind. There’s overflowing grace in an overflowing schedule. There’s so much more than grades or numbers of approval.

There’s a lot of myself left in me that I don’t love. But with every crack of brokenness that has shattered me this year a little more of my God has flooded in, and a joy has filled me like never before.

2016 pulled back the curtains and let the light shine in.

It’s the taste of freedom and purpose I have experienced.

That’s what this year brought me, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

There were days I was so happy with my little world and days I hated it with all of my heart. My faith faltered. I questioned and doubted. I came back to Him. I ran again. And I always found His arms open and waiting for me.

I used to despise the uncomfortable, but you taught me that the uncomfortable days make a way for joy. And now I know, I am right where I am supposed to be.

Thank you for teaching me how to feel, how to live, and how to know a joy so deep and wide nothing can compare. I love this life.

I’m forever in love with you Jesus. Keep me in awe, not just of your goodness this year, but how you sustain my every breath.

Retreat

I rolled over this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. So the house is quiet and no one else is up. It’s not that early, it’s just the holidays. I logged on to type some words because I couldn’t find my book. And then I saw the “daily prompt.” Retreat.

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Naturally, I clicked on Merriam Webster online and looked it up. The first definition read

a (1) : an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable

Saturday night the pastor’s words stuck in my head.”We are in this world but not of it. And God saved us from the world to send us back out into the world.”

I’ll admit that scares me. I would much rather retreat. I’m an introvert who tends to quit on resolutions and difficulties easily. I really like what I’m already comfortable with. But sometimes I think I it’s simply that I’m afraid of showing up to my own life. Most of the time I retreat because I’m afraid of what could hurt me.

I think we all do it from time to time. Holding back because if we gave more it might take a part of us. We’ve covered up our beautiful ability to feel pain because we’ve started to believe that certain emotions show weakness.

I’m more and more convinced that we have to let ourselves feel the highs and the lows. We have to know pain in order to know joy. To know a loneliness somewhere so deep that we can feel an acceptance and love so full. I think maybe life is that way. We cannot know what we are missing until we taste what we never want to miss again. 

Retreat is easier. But it makes life boring.

If you want your life to count for something? Make it your mission to quit retreating from the purpose you’ve been given.

That’s my one goal for this next year, to stop thinking I can come up with a better purpose for myself than the one I’ve already been given. To stop quitting on life and to start showing up. Not because I’m not scared, but because I am scared. And bravery doesn’t mean the fear goes away, it simply means you do it inspire of the fear that might linger.

New years resolutions can pile up and then you forget what you really want to change. So don’t change so many things. Change one thing that will change everything.

Show up to your life. Every. Single. Day.

Show up with a sword ready for the unknown.

Show up bold & courageous despite what opinions they might have.

Show up because you know your life matters.

Show up to the difficult, dangerous, and disagreeable with a brave smile, because you know how it all ends.

Show up because He didn’t save you to sit back–

He didn’t save us to retreat.

 

via Daily Prompt: Retreat

human

 

What does it mean to be human?

Some days we don’t even know ourselves.

Sometimes I think we get it engrained in our heads that once you know Christ, it’s all smooth sailing from there. That all of the sudden you are this picture of perfection and somehow attain super-human status.

But today I was encapsulated by immeasurable joy when I realized something that is true of me and every single person:

We are simply human.

We are not strong on our own. We honestly can’t do anything from an eternal perspective on our own. I can’t even breathe on my own. I forget a lot of things. I get distracted like you wouldn’t believe. I fold to pressures. I know what it’s like to feel free. I hate that I struggle with fear. I love something one day and despise it the next.

I am simply human.

Beautifully human with the ability to think and feel joy and pain and to breathe in this very moment.

Perfectly human. Fraught with imperfections and feelings I can’t even find a definition for.

This means that my relationship with God? It’s an imperfect mess of good days and bad ones.

This means that my relationships with people? They’re filled with actions and words I wish I could take back.

This means that my patience to wait on God’s promises? Eh, it’s a little thin.

I just wish we could all understand that it’s not up to us. That you are an incredibly messy, imperfect, human. You are not a lousy Christian. You are human.

And your humanness is beautiful, because it’s the way He’s transforming the world. He’s redeeming this place one broken, messy, forgetful human heart at a time.

What even is Christianity but a way that God transforms our humanness by invading it with Himself. He fills our humanity with Divinity. That is the only way we are transformed. It’s not by mustering up more humanity and more of a mess to slap on top of our already messy selves. It’s about realizing that we actually can do nothing.

I know that this world of self-empowerment hates that. But it’s true. We really aren’t good for much without Him. But when He sets our hearts on fire with a purpose He can do incredible things through us. In that light, believing in yourself looks more like believing in your Creator who didn’t make a mistake.

You may have anxiety and you may battle depression. You may struggle with eating-disorders and you may hate your body. You might be walking through a season where you feel like a really lousy person and label yourself hypocritical for calling yourself a Christian.

It is the most beautiful of ironies that your weaknesses somehow become catalysts for the power of God to overtake your life.

I tend to over complicate things and find reasons for what I struggle with. But the reality? I am human in the rawest form, and I’ll never find answers in my humanity. I have to look to something greater. I have to realize it’s actually pretty simple: I am human and I need Him.

I dare you to be bold enough to ask God to use you right in the middle of your mess. Right in the middle of your weaknesses, ask Him to step in and breathe His love into your humanity. And when you ask, be prepared. He loves to use the messiest, most-human, people.