I’ve been challenging myself for the last couple weeks. It all started with a message my pastor and his wife spoke 2 weeks ago. It was about Freedom. As I sat in my seat, my face started burning (that happens with me. When Jesus starts speaking to me, my face gets hot and my ears turn red like they do when I know someone is talking about me… it’s a quirk. Thanks God 😉). It was as though this message was just for me. I have a choice about how I live. Sin keeps me from experiencing my relationship with Jesus to the fullest. I don’t want that at all. Am I perfect? No way. I will never be perfect, but I can strive to be a follower of Christ and by doing so, anything that doesn’t bring Jesus praise is not something I want to be a part of. I realized in that moment, sure, I was living a good life, but nothing about it really screamed “I’m a follower of Jesus”. If I’m being 100% honest with all of you, I’ve always hidden my faith away because I never wanted to offend anyone. Now, I’m an adult. I have every right to have my own opinions and thoughts on things and why wouldn’t I wear my faith like my favorite sweater in winter? I have nothing to hide behind. I have no reason to hide my faith at all. In fact, it’s because of my faith that I am who I am. I am a happy, peaceful, and genuine person. I love people. I love to celebrate people. I love to share my life with whoever I am around. That’s because of Jesus in me. I’m able to love people well because I know he loves me and no matter what I’ve done before, no matter if friends or anyone has considered me an afterthought, he chose me… he chose me first. It was within that message that Chris said “You know, the people who are the most free are the ones who have nothing to hide. They live life in vulnerability…” So, to continue this journey, I’m about to get real vulnerable with a couple thousand of you who read my blog on a regular basis. Here goes…
There is something wrong with me. I am a ridiculously happy person about 6 out of 7 days a week. There’s always 1 day where I wake up extremely late and it puts me in a mood…but we’re all allowed 1 day right?! I love people. I love serving them. I love being with my friends who’ve become extended family. I am a hopeful person…for everyone but myself. *insert cries of “ouch!” and “YIKES” here*
I can pray all day long for my friends and family. I can pray peace for you. I can pray hope for you. I can HOPE WITH YOU FOR WHATEVER IT IS YOU NEED…but when it comes to me, I have a problem. I think I have something wrong with my heart and head because they never match up. I had a friend come up to me a couple weeks ago and he said “I just really need you to pray for me. I know you pray for me already, so will you? I need some help here in this situation…” My response: HECK YES. Of course I will. I’m on it! I’ve often said I’m like my mom. When my mom prays for things, stuff happens. And by stuff, I don’t mean like “oh, this situation just happened the way I needed it to”… I mean “Holy moly, the ONLY WAY this situation could have worked out this way is BECAUSE OF JESUS… Mom has been praying”… I can pray that way for my friends. But when it comes to me… there’s a disconnect. I got some clarity on this yesterday in church. I have a hope problem because my hope isn’t where it needs to be. When we place our hope in anything but Jesus, we are essentially hopeless. We start to get worried, anxious, fearful, and putting ourselves through ridiculous, trivial things that none of us should be going through. Did you know hope is, by definition, the expectation that something good is coming? Seriously. That’s what hope is. That no matter what my situation looks like, or what I’m facing, OR WHETHER OR NOT I’VE SEEN ANYTHING COMING MY WAY, there is good coming for me. That’s who God is. My problem is placing my hope in myself of course but it’s also because my emotions have decided to run wild and they aren’t in alignment with what I truly believe. If I say I believe that God is my provider, then my emotions that tell me “God won’t have a job for you. You’ll be poor and homeless and back in Tulsa with your parents” can’t have a place in my mind. If I truly were to listen to the people, the nay-sayers if you will, in my life who constantly question my sexual preference because I’m almost 30 and still single, my emotions would constantly be stressed to the max. Yes, I’m single. Yes, I’m almost 30 (THANK GOD FOR NEW BEGINNINGS, AM I RIGHT?!) and Yes, I’m a woman waiting for the man God has set for me. I don’t think there’s a problem with that. I don’t think there is a problem with a woman being so sure in who she is in Christ that she steps out in her calling and makes a move. I’m not perfect, but I know for a fact, beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m meant to be in Norman and meant to be at OU and meant to be at my church. Imagine if we listened to all the voices who don’t align their voices with God… Can you imagine how much more messed up we would be?? I’d rather listen to Jesus who knows me through and through, the good, the bad, and the ugly, than listen to every slanderous and ridiculous statement that people say.
So here is me aligning my emotions and thoughts with my Savior:
–I am a child of God, saved with a purpose and marked for such a bright and glorious future.
–I am surrounded on all sides by a God who loves me and considers me first, even when I fail him and consider him last.
–He is my provider. The one who sees all, who knows all, and before I even take a step, he has my path well designed.
–He is with me always. I may feel alone, but I’m never alone. I’ve found the one whom my soul loves and cherishes. I’ve found someone who is better than any person on this planet. I’ve found such a love that I cannot even explain. When I feel so confused or hurt or broken, he is right there, walking with me through it all.
–He has someone for me. I may not know who he is, or where he is, but that’s not a problem. If the God of the universe cares for me and every detail of my life, then he cares the same for the man he has for me. Why should I worry about that? He knows what my heart needs more than I do and I’m so thankful.
–He has my finances. If he is truly my provider, then he knows what job I need. He knows what people I need around me. He knows where I am going to be stationed. He knows. He truly knows and cares about me to do this.
–I’m not second choice, third choice, or more. I’m first choice to him. Before I ever chose him, he saw me, named me, formed me and shaped my heart. Gave me all these incredible gifts to use and serve people. He knew every decision I would make and still loves me even if those decisions were wrong. He’s caught every tear I’ve ever cried. He’s treasured every laugh. He’s heard every song I’ve ever sung and every word I’ve ever written on paper. He’s held me when I’ve felt so awkward and alone. He’s led me when no one has been there to lead me. He’s challenged me when I’ve gotten comfortable. He’s allowed the waves to get a bit higher for me, all the while still right next to me, grasping my hand.
–He wants me to be so Unreasonably Optimistic that I take him at his word. His word is life to our bones. His word is full of promises that are supposed to set us apart from the world. We are supposed to be so unreasonably optimistic that when issues come up or problems or whatever, that we can look at them, and say “Yeah, I see that, but my God is bigger. He’s greater and I believe what he says about me. I believe that everything I need, he will provide. I believe in the midst of trial, he’s my advocate. I believe I’m covered by his love and favor and anyone who comes against me, comes against God. This isn’t my battle. It’s God’s.” <Can you imagine?? If we all started speaking faith and hope like this in every situation? Man, the world would change…>
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a God who loves his children so so much that he is absolutely willing to do anything, anything, for his kids. That’s the God I serve. The God who makes me so unreasonably optimistic that it seems fake to everyone else. I love people, and I love them so well that some, who have never experienced Jesus, probably think I’m a liar or fake or whatever and that’s ok. My job isn’t to convince anyone that I am who I am. My job is just to love people and by doing so, I hope they are able to see Jesus in me.
So from here on out, if there’s a struggle in your mind and heart and there’s conflict, go to God. Find where the conflict is and speak truth to it. Laugh in the face of the lie and speak truth…and get on the path of being so unreasonably optimistic that people are convinced you’re crazy and want to join you on this journey.