growth

74 days, 12 hours and 27 minutes. The beginning of this year until where I stand today. Today is one of the few days within that time where I have taken a deep breath and stepped back.

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I went into this year struggling a lot. I am not about to detail the ways I overcame everything I was struggling with in 2.5 months. The truth is, I haven’t. It’s a post celebrating growth, and I hope you’ll join me.

Sometimes when we are so focused in on each day we miss everything that’s happening in our hearts. We miss the big picture. We miss what His love could surprise us with because we’re focused on what our minds have planned. But what I’ve realized is that He never hesitates to remove the things in my life that I don’t even realize are holding me back. 

I am still learning but one thing I do know is that every time I open my hands, what He places in them is far greater than what I’m holding onto. Sometimes He pries them open slowly – and other times it’s a little less subtle. I go back to my ideas so many times. I think that this time I have it figured out. That maybe this time I can outsmart Him. But every time He interrupts my plans with His love, I am reminded that He does know best. 

He is not trying to keep me from what I want – He is giving me what I need. And when I remember that He created me, I remember that He knows what He created me for. When I struggle with remembering what my purpose is or feel hopeless, it is often because I’m doing things my way instead of pursuing what He has for me.

The truth is? You’re not always going to end up where you pictured. In fact, most of the time you won’t. The people in your life might look different. Your job might look entirely different than what you imagined. Never discount something just because it is different than what you have planned. Instead, show up where you are right now with a willingness to give it your all.

Show up when you’d rather stay home. Take the internship that you don’t feel qualified for. Try a hobby that is outside of your comfort zone. Create a habit that will switch up your routine. Embrace what you never thought you’d do. Don’t limit your life because you’re so set in your ways or your own ideas of what your life should look like.

I am convinced that all of the greatest things in life are given to us when we are not expecting them, because that is when we can be truly thankful. When we are embracing what is in front of us and making the most of it. When our hands are open to receive and lifted to praise.

You are going to be surprised. You will be caught off guard. But He is just calling you back into your purpose. He is reminding you over and over again that every single experience is a way for Him to draw you closer to Himself.

I have messed up. I have spent plenty of time chasing what the world says will deliver for me. I’ve forgotten that people are made in His image. I’ve convinced myself that going around God will make me happier. I will never pretend like I have it all together or as though I have followed God the way I want to. I haven’t.

But if there is one thing I have learned is that what the world promises seems like it will fulfill. The world does a really good job of letting you think it has what you need and then letting you down. God always has a plan in the midst of it that you don’t see. He is always working for what He knows your heart needs.

Every time my hands are wrapped so tightly around what the world has to offer, they’re not open to receive what He has intended for me. He knows this. He wants my heart. He removes those distractions so that I can follow Him. But all I know is that if His plan catches me off guard, I’ll be ready to switch up my direction.

Yes, it might look completely different than all that I imagined.

But that is the best part.

 

Dear girl: who wants to move on.

To the girl who wants to move on:

There is a very big part of you that knows God’s plan holds something greater. But there is another part that wants to go back to the way things were. To the few-or many-times it was so good. It doesn’t make sense and you feel like there is such a void.

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Please fill that void. Fill it with Him: the One who made you.

Fill it with Him first and then fill it with new experiences. Fill it with deep friendships and workouts and new hobbies.

It might seem confusing, but at the same time, you have to let yourself grieve what is gone. You have to miss what you are missing in your heart so deeply. Sometimes, it’s ok to sit home and cry, journal, and watch a movie by yourself with a pint of ice cream. In case no one has told you: it’s ok to be sad. Just don’t stay there forever.

Wake up early. Try something new. Start dreaming again. Breathe in His freedom and grace. Learn His strength in all of this: grow stronger in Him.

I know you are tired of the unsolicited opinions everyone is giving you about him or about all of it and what you should do. They’re trying to help but most of them aren’t quite sure how. You can remind them that you just need someone to listen right now. You’re allowed to do that. Throughout all of this you truly will find out which friends you want to stick around forever.

Look for the light and newness each day. Wake up to watch one sunrise: promise me at least just one. And while you do, write down every dream you have, even if they still include him. Write down everything you want to do with your life. Remind yourself that even in the midst of all your pain God knows those desires. He is holding something so much greater for you. But maybe that something He is holding demands a whole new version of you that can only emerge as your heart breaks and His light pours in.

Dwelling on the past will make you so bitter. One of my favorite verses has always been Isaiah 43:18. That page of my Bible is nearly illegible, filled with notes and arrows and highlights, because I wanted this verse pressed into the core of my being. It is still the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the words “move on.”

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It comes from a passage where God is reminding the Israelites how powerful He is. How there is never a reason to not trust Him.

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. -Isaiah 43:18-19

I cannot explain how much hope stirs in me when I hear those verses. Hope for me & you. He is moving through our lives with so much power and beauty and grace.

Some of our greatest mistakes are for His greatest glories.

Some of our deepest pain is so that we can learn how to give Him the highest praise.

And in the midst of what feels like the greatest disappointment, He gives us more than we could ever deserve to hold onto:

He gives us Himself.

You might feel completely broken but healing is on its way. & the name of healing is Jesus. So place it all in His hands-even the disappointments. It can be hard to connect what we know to be true to how we feel sometimes. It is easy to sink into self pity. Remind yourself that you are worthy of love. That you are so beautiful. That if someone doesn’t understand or see your worth: that’s on them. It doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.

Read it again: it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.

Life is too short to sit in yesterdays and could haves and should have beens. So let Him pick your heart up, lift your head high, and start to believe what He says of you.

When you do, you’ll start to understand what you deserve, and if I had to guess, you deserve more than the boy who broke your heart.

The right heart won’t run.

To the girl who wants to move on: you can. You will. & your heart is seen today.

open hands

I have such a tendency to hold onto everything so tightly.

I find something or someone and I am fixated. I become too consumed with building my life around that one thing. I hold on so tight because I place my worth, purpose, and security in it. It can’t be taken from me because what would my life be without it? Where would I find my identity?

It is either that or the complete opposite. I run from situations, people, or things because I am afraid that I am not in control. I’m afraid something might not turn out the way I want. I’m afraid to be disappointed, or I’m afraid I’ll disappoint myself.

But at the heart of both those reactions I just want to shield myself from anything that might put me in a place of discomfort, pain, or uncertainty.

Lately my perspective is shifting.

I’ve found that without even noticing, my hands are more open than ever before.

You cannot have the promise if you are not willing to risk the pain.

I don’t know if it is simply because I have tried so hard so many times to control situations and have only been left feeling completely depleted and miles away from the person I was made to be. Or if I am finally awakening to the fact that ultimately holding my own life–or trying to–gets heavy. Trying to figure everything out wears you out.

I think I noticed that opened hands beat clenched fists when I realized that every time I think it will be the end of my world if I let go of something, I am always proven wrong.

Life always goes on, and often times I find more inspiration and strength in disappointments than I do when things go according to my plan.

When we grip something so tightly, we might have a feeling for a moment of strength, self-sufficiency, and the illusion that something is within our control. In reality our clenched fists are just preventing us from receiving something so much greater.

They are clenched tightly around something good, but if we open them we can receive something great.

But there’s a catch.

In order to receive something great-our hands have to be open.

It is easy to close off your heart and it is easy to hold on so tightly. That is where most people stay. But security is not synonymous with fullness and beauty and feeling and life–risk is.

The bravest thing you can do is uncurl your fingers and open your hands – free – without expectation.

It goes without saying that the bravest thing is often the hardest. No one wants to relinquish control. But when you realize you’ve never really had it in the first place, it’s much easier to remember that trying to hold on to what you think you need will only deprive you of what He knows actually need.

Open your hands – let your heart relax. Some things might fall away, but what He has meant for you never will.

our ideas & His

The plans He has for us often look different than the ones we’d imagined or think we deserve.

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When we don’t understand our circumstances, it is often because God wants us to understand Him.

It is often because sometime-either sooner or later-He is going to replace something we wanted to hold onto so tightly with something so much greater.

His timing is not random and He isn’t waiting just to make you miserable. He’s waiting so that in the meantime, when nothing makes sense, you can find Him.

For anyone who is stuck in an in-between, who is unsure of their circumstances, who is questioning why their life looks the way it does- I hope you know He has your greatest good at heart. Even when it feels impossible to understand in the moment, He isn’t asking you to understand your circumstances. He is asking you to hunger to understand more of Him.

& understanding him might mean spending time alone with Him, but it also might mean simply living in awareness that each day is a chance to wait expectantly for what He is doing. It doesn’t have to be complicated like we make it.

Our lives were never meant to be what we expect, they are meant to be so much more. But we have to release our own expectations and exchange them for His. We cannot hold onto what we want and experience abundant life because the life that He is giving us is often different than what we’re holding onto. We are settling for what the world tells us we should want and He is holding out so much more.

So no, His ideas might not match all of yours. They may look painful at first and you may be confused for a while, but I can assure you they are better.

No part of your circumstances are accidental or a mistake. When you stop trying so hard to control the variables in your circumstances-the intentions, actions, and opinions of other people-you can hand them over.

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and this world is releasing your attempt of control over your circumstances and the responses of people in your life. Pursue who you are called to be, and leave the rest up to One who holds the world.

When you do this, you’ll realize that “our ideas & His” converge into one:

His ideas.

because they are better–every time.

 

You are Right Where you Need to Be

I know you feel like every other person on this earth has found their purpose, and you’re dancing on you’re own two feet to music no one else hears in a swirl of clueless emotions.

beachYou really don’t know what you’re doing here. I mean, life is a little strange isn’t it? One moment we know why our lungs are full of air and our hearts are on fire and the next we’re wondering if we’re good enough to order our breakfast and latte without saying something completely ridiculous about vanilla syrup to the barista. (Please tell me I’m not the only one).

We waver down here. Waver because we are human. And we forget a lot of things. We let our brains get washed out with words that aren’t true. We start to believe what we keep hearing. Then we question what He tells us is truth. Then we go back to what the world is saying. Then we turn around and run back to Him.

You get the picture because your life is that picture.

I think sometimes we get caught up in feeling sorry for ourselves, when the reality is He just wants us to move on and to keep going. He lifts us back up. We’re stumbling through life and every time something knocks us down, it’s an opportunity for us to call on Him. For us to ask Him to pull us back up.  You might be completely confused right now about what He is doing and were He has you, but you are never too confused to simply ask Him to lift your heart back to the place of surrender.

If you want to live a life that is truly full and alive, you are going to have to do a lot of things you do not feel like doing. Sometimes, you will not feel like asking Him to renew you. You will feel like sleeping. You will feel like filling your schedule with anything and everything else to keep you from having to be still with your own thoughts. You will run in this life. Run from anything that reminds you that you need Him. Because your heart knows it’s true, and sometimes it’s really hard to come.

A lot of days will pass where your purpose feels vague. But that does not mean your purpose is vague. What you feel is not indicative of what is true, but what is true informs how you feel–if you let it.

My heart doesn’t hold all the answers as to why our emotions waver, but sometimes late at night, it is full of thoughts and words that I have to write down. I have to write them down so that when I wake up tomorrow and want to choose to believe against what I feel, I have something to go back to. We all need a word sometimes to know that we are right where we need to be.

So here is a word for you.

You are not the only one struggling to find purpose. Our hearts are engrained with a longing to live for what matters. But this world and the emptiness here clouds our minds. We get so caught up in how today feels that we miss the bigger picture of what our lives are meant to be. You do not have to figure out what you want to do in life. Figure out who you are living for, and He will show you.

Your purpose transcends a career or what you “do”–it’s who you are. You are not defined by how successful you become or what job you land. You are not defined by a score on a math test or a GPA. You are not defined in comparison to someone else’s intelligence. Your purpose is to make the name of your King known, and He knows just how He wants you to do that.  He is making a way.

You are not stupid for wondering if you’re enough. We all do. Over and over again. You are not the only one feeling alone or forgotten or left out. I just hope you know that whatever you are feeling tonight, someone else is feeling it too.

You are one of the many. One of the many broken who has been made whole by a love so deep and full that all of life could not contain its beauty.

You are so incredibly loved. He loves you enough tonight to remind you to come back to Him. He wants you to be with Him. He has a purpose for you. You are not an accident. If you can’t figure it out, that’s a good thing. That means He wants you to focus all your heart on running after Him. He will show you in His time. He makes it all beautiful when He sees fit. He’s never failed before, and He is not about to start.

You are not alone. You have incredible purpose. You are not stupid. You do not fall short. You are so incredibly loved

There will never be another you on this planet. Let your passions and gifts and dreams grow and develop and pour out on other people’s lives. Sitting comfortable on what you know might feel good today, but you will regret it tomorrow. You never know who might be liberated when they see you spinning around caught up in a love deeper than all you can fathom.

Throw aside your doubts and step into glorious freedom.

Let the fear fall by the wayside,

Dance to the music that only you hear.

And know that in this glorious mystery there is a peace that comes when you know one thing:

you are right where you need to be.

shutting the door on distraction

notes:

-if we are always available to everyone, we will eventually have nothing to give to anyone

-we’re giving so much accessibility that we’re losing attention

  1. Discern the demands

What is the distraction? That’s half the struggle. To figure out what it is that is distracting you and what you should focus on. Jesus was comfortable in a crowd. We live crowded lives and we have crowded calendars. A lot of us live under the “one day” illusion.

Christ wants to connect with you in the crowded places in your life. He will give all of His attention to the one who has come to the end of himself. Sometimes you’ll have to leave the thing that seems more important. You need to discern where The Lord needs you now.

PRAYER: Lord, show me what really matters.

2.  Locate the leaks

Your brain isn’t as capable when you multi-task. Even Jesus could only do 1 thing well at once: He had to focus. We’re leaking life by switching back and forth so much.

Information comes at the cost of your attention. We’re at a time where we have a wealth of information and a poverty of attention. The presence of Christ allows us to locate the leak. Focus brings freedom. What you focus on matters. Focus on fear, and you’ll always be a prisoner. Focus on faith and nothing can hold you dow. You have been SO focused on the wrong things.

3. Pursue the Pull

Life is always pushing you in one direction and God wants to give you the ability to perceive the pull of His power that He’s trying to release into your life. It’s the pull in the midst of a pushy life. Jesus always refused to be pushed, but He could not resist the pull. When you feel that pull: pursue that.

Pulled apart vs. reached toward.

Distraction vs. focus.

4. Dismiss the Drama

There comes a time when the voices that are talking need to be silenced. When you shut the door on doubt, you open the door to destiny.

what economics and opportunity costs taught me about Jesus

I’m in my second semester of economics at FSU. Micro and Macro have been two of my favorite courses so far. One of the biggest concepts hammered into my head is the term ‘opportunity cost.’

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My professor makes it a point to always make sure the definition is clear. “The opportunity cost is the value of the next best alternative you give up when you make a decision to do something.” The golden rule of economics is just that: there’s no such thing as a free lunch. There is always an oppoturinty cost, and there is always something you have to give up. You make your decision when you weigh how great the opportunity cost is. Essentially, you ask yourself, “What am I willing to give up, and what do I have to give up, to do this?” You cannot simply evaluate a choice based on what you’re going to gain. You have to look at what you’re going to lose.

Today my brain ran to an analogy. Funny how sometimes you connect little dots and all of the suddenly there’s an image and you don’t know how you haven’t seen it before.

Deciding to follow Jesus is just that, it is a decision. It requires an act of your will. It’s a daily decision. I believe you make it once. I believe He makes you His forever. But I believe that there are smaller choices that we face every day: will I follow Him, or will I follow the world?

If I follow Him, there’s a pretty big opportunity cost. There are a lot of things I have to say no to, myself being one of them. That opportunity cost involves turning away from good things to let Him show me the best. I have to give up living only for pleasure. I have to give up what people might think of me. I have to give up fitting in with the rest of our culture. I have to give up personal gain and advantage. I’m called to give up comfort and ease and safety. I might have to give up relationships. I might have to give up career opportunities that don’t bring Him glory. I have to give up part of “my” day. I have to give up myself and my “right” to my life. That’s a big opportunity cost.

Then I started thinking about what it would mean to follow the world. I might gain popularity, applause, approval, wealth, comfort, ease, temporary happiness, boys, more friends, and an easier lifestyle. But the blindfold fell from my eyes when I realized what the opportunity cost would actually be. I would give up the fullness of the presence of the LIVING GOD. I would trade my joy for a temporary satisfaction. I would give up peace, strength, purpose, and passion. I would exchange the power of the King of the World for power over people and their opinions of me. I might gain attention from boys but I would lose the gaze of the Creator of my Soul. I might climb the ladder of success but my heart would sink under the weight of it’s guilt and paralyzing shame. I might build the largest house ever built by man and yet it would never be filled with the genuine love of God. I might experience the “freedom” of believing it all means nothing but at the end of the day I would lose any spark in my soul without knowing that I have a purpose.

I am not prepared to give all of that up. What Jesus Christ gives me cannot compare to anything this world could ever promise. He is the only One who can satisfy my soul.

Weigh your own opportunity cost. I’ve never been so thankful for my salvation. Trust me, following Christ is an “economical” decision.