Identity issues.

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I have identity issues.

For a majority of my life, I’ve struggled with where to place my identity.

People’s approval.

Status.

Relationships.

Guys.

Success

Happiness.

These are just a few of the things that I have put my identity in. And you know what? Each and every one of these things has let me down.

I’m not saying any of these things are inherently bad, but what happens when they become everything that we are, when we place our identity in what was meant to be filled by Christ?

Let’s define identity, for the purpose of this, as:

“Condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is; the qualities, beliefs, etc., that distinguish or identify a person or thing.”

People’s approval. The more I have sought to gain the approval of my peers, the lonelier I’ve felt. When I place my identity in what others think of me, my self-confidence and identity stem from how many friends I have in real life (and on Facebook) and the amount of followers I have on Instagram. How fickle that can be. I have seen that in these times when the approval of people matters the most, I develop surface level relationships in order to be well liked and neglect those relationships that matter the most. And because I placed my identity in whether people liked me, it caused ups and downs, and it was exhausting.

Status. This one goes right along with the approval of other people. When I thought it was more important to be elevated to the highest position, to be regarded as highly spiritual and a leader, I felt the furthest away from Christ. My relationship with Him was not authentic, it felt more like a show. As my time as a leader came to a close, I felt lost because I determined that I wasn’t needed anymore and I felt neglected. The result of both of these things was loss of purpose. And because I placed my identity in whether or not I was needed and had status, it caused ups and downs, and it was exhausting.

Relationships. This is not referring to romantic relationships (I’ll get to that one next). What I’m referring to is placing your identity in having deep friendships, having a best friend. I’ve always envied those people who have that one person in their lives that they do everything with. I never had that until recently (shoutout to my roomie!). But when I placed my identity in striving to find that one person whom I could become best friends with, I denied God the chance to enter my heart in that capacity. Growing up, I was shy and introverted. All I wanted was to be someone’s best friend but rarely left the walls of my home. I remember being rejected by people growing up and this led to me closing myself off. In middle school I was lonely. In high school I was lonely. For the first part of college, I felt awfully lonely as well. And because I placed my identity in friendships, it caused ups and downs, and it was exhausting.

Guys. For much of my life, I have dreamed of the man I am going to marry. I have prayed for him and longed for him to be in my life. But he still hasn’t come. Because I placed my identity in guys, a gaping hole was formed. I would pine after guys, often times new guys I met would instantly capture my attention. My emotions went up. Then, nothing would happen. My emotions would plummet. I was faced with a question I’m still wrestling through: would I still have faith and trust in God if He told me that I was called to be single the rest of my life? Because I placed my identity in my relationship status, it caused ups and downs and it was exhausting.

Success. School has always come easy to me. I really didn’t have to put too much effort into getting good grades throughout high school and even into the first few years of college. Then I started teaching. While I knew the book smarts of teaching, I struggled with the balance of multitasking, solving disputes, and providing students with interactive and engaging activities. I was way outside of my comfort zone and because I had placed my identity in success, as it became harder, and my self-worth and confidence were hard to come by. I struggled with believing that this was where God had called me and began to question His plan for my life. And because I placed me identity in success, it caused ups and downs. And it was exhausting.

Happiness. There have been two major times in my life when I have felt the joy and happiness sucked out of me. First, in middle school and even into the beginning of high school, I was so lonely. I was the subject of gossip and teasing by girls in my classes. I felt anything but joy. In order to break away from the hurt, I turned to watching copious amounts of TV. I would immerse myself in fake reality because the lives of those on TV seemed so much happier than mine. Happiness was failing me. Second, this past year, my family unit fell apart. I took so much pride and happiness in my family and how strong we were. But there were cracks that no one perceived as ready to break open. There was very little happiness amidst so much hurt and pain. And because I placed my identity in how happy I was and whether or not life was great, I felt emotional ups and downs.

It was exhausting. Draining. Life-sucking.

But then, Jesus entered. Well actually, He was always there, just waiting for me to say, “Yes. Jesus, be my identity.” So then, my identity became Jesus and things changed drastically.

People’s approval. Jesus. Approval.

Status. Jesus. Daughter of a King.

Relationships. Jesus. Close relationships.

Guys. Jesus. Content in singleness.

Success. Jesus. Self-worth.

Happiness. Jesus. JOY.

The ups and downs were replaced with constant love. My self-confidence and worth were no longer rooted in the things that sucked the life from me.

They were found in the giver of life. That is something to rejoice in!

If you find yourself placing your identity in things that are life-taking, turn to the One who promises a well that will never run dry. Don’t believe the lies. Jesus died for you and me, He is enough. Trust in that today.

Lizzie

 

 

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Feeling discontent.

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Lately, I’ve been feeling really discontent. Yesterday, I yelled and screamed and slammed my hands against the steering wheel.

My heart felt heavy.

I felt so alone. And I’m going to be honest with you, I felt so discontent in my singleness.

But, I keep being reminded that God calls people in and out of singleness. I know that God has asked me to be content with where He has me right now but I’ve found myself asking God to take away this calling that has felt more like a burden lately.

But, I’ve also asked God for provision to be content for however long this season lasts.

And He has been so faithful.

The other day, I came across this article about how marriage is not the mission. Rather, the mission is to run passionately towards Christ, build intimacy with Him, and live as people who have been sent to carry the call of the Great Commission.

God’s original intent was for us to live so intimately with Him, that nothing else would matter. He created us in His image, we were supposed to live in partnership with Him. But that partnership was broken when sin entered the world. Now, we have to fight to have the level of intimacy with Christ that was meant for us all along. And I don’t mean fight in a bad way. I just mean that sin moves our focus from God so it becomes harder to keep our hearts turned towards God.

This past weekend, I also had the opportunity to attend a conference through my church. I didn’t know what to expect but I felt excited and expectant of what God was going to do. The second day of the conference, I heard from a speaker who talked about something that is so relevant to me: singleness. Her perspective was so refreshing. Often times, in the church, singleness is looked down upon and marriage is celebrated.

But the truth is, both should be equally celebrated!

Marriage is good but so is singleness (Can I get an amen?). People are called in and out of seasons of singleness.

That calling should be celebrated.

That season should be cherished.

Singleness provides opportunity to put all your focus on God, instead of trying to also please another person. And don’t get me wrong, marriage is still wonderful and something I hope to enter into in the future. But these words are so refreshing. The perspective I’ve had of my singleness has overwhelmingly been one of disgust, sadness, and jealousy. But now, I look towards this season with joy, excitement, and thankfulness (Though some days, I need more encouragement than others).

I think back to the day that I cried out to Jesus, so desperate for Him to take away the pain and burden of singleness. Instead, He provided, oh so faithfully. He has given me so much more than I ever asked for. The past few weeks, I have experienced deeper relationship with Christ than I ever before.

The deep void that I thought needed to be filled with relationship really needed to be filled with Jesus.

More and more of Jesus.

My human tendencies tell me that I need another person to make me complete, but Jesus tells me I need Him. I believe this with my whole heart but it’s easy to forget as I go about my daily life. Sometimes, Jesus feels distant. He feels so far away in fact, that my own desires cloud the truth: that He will never leave me. I’ve come to learn that even in those seasons of doubts and restlessness, God is working, even more mightily. If I run after Him, I will find Him. He will be enough.

I hope I haven’t come across as spewing the Christian answer of, “God is all you need and everything else will fix itself.” I know it’s hard. I struggle everyday to overcome the desire of my sinful nature. There are many days that I fail. I end up feeling sorry for myself and become overwhelmed with jealousy. But I’ve learned that Jesus is bigger than that. Even if each day isn’t perfect, I can rest in the knowledge that I am sill loved deeply by my Father, the one who created me in His image.

On a side note, I graduate in six weeks and that is both equally terrifying and exciting. Who thought I would ever get to this point in my life so quickly? Certainly not me. Here’s to passionately pursuing Jesus and serving the kiddos I get to work with everyday for the next 42 days.

I hope you feel encouraged today!

Lizzie

 

 

Trusting in God’s timing.

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~Photo taken by my incredibly talented friend, Emily~

Life has been a bit overwhelming lately. I have found myself feeling more and more overwhelmed by lies that the enemy is feeding me.

I’m not good enough.

I’m not confident enough.

I don’t have enough skill.

I’m not ready.

I graduate from college in three months. It feels like I have three months to figure out the direction of my life. Three months to get a stable job to support myself. Three months to finish this little thing called college I started four years ago, as a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshman.

My, how times have changed.

I wish I could go back and tell that young, bright girl to enjoy the moment, to not be so afraid of what others think of you. Be confident in your heavenly Father and who He created you to be. My time in college would have been so different if I hadn’t been consumed by trying to gain the approval of my peers and focus on pursuing the plan I had for my life. But I’m also thankful for the growth that has come from these insecurities. I’m grateful that God allowed me to experience these trials and that He was always walking through each new growing experience with me. There have been times when I’ve felt distant and far from God, but I’ve never felt abandoned, I’ve never felt alone.

I also wish I could tell that young girl not to get caught in her owns plans but to live expectant of what God could do. I remember many nights where I would sit on my dorm room floor and cry because life wasn’t going the way had planned it. I would yell and scream at God for allowing things to be the way they were. I felt overwhelmed by the things that I didn’t yet have but my heart wanted so badly.

How do you reconcile the loss of your plans with the plan that God has for you?

This is the question I’ve asked myself over and over as I saw my plans become obsolete and God’s plans become greater. I saw what God had planned was so much greater than I could ever imagine, even if it meant giving up some of the ideas for my life that I held onto so tightly.

This is something I still struggle with. There are parts of my life plan that I so dearly want and have yet to see come to fruition. Many days, I feel sad and disappointed. I question God and His great plan but then I hear Him whisper,

“Lizzie, trust me. Just trust me.”

I hear those words and my hearts becomes stilled.

I stop and think, am I really trusting God? How can I trust Him more? For the most part, my heart desire has transformed from what I want in life, my plans, my hopes and dreams into a desire to serve the Lord and chase after Him.

Everyday is a new chance to trust. I’m still processing through what this looks like in my life today, with graduation just a few months away. I am far from perfect at trusting and serving with a grateful heart. I still feel overwhelmed by where the next part of my journey will take me.

I don’t feel like I’m skilled enough, good enough, or brave enough. But God sees me differently. Throughout the Bible, God uses the least likely people to be ambassadors. Moses, Zacchaeus, Rehab, the list goes on. He uses the weak to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth so that we may not boast in ourselves, but in Christ.  In 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 it says:

4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but out competence comes from God.

This is the hope that I cling to. Even when I don’t feel like I am good enough, God asks me to be willing, not perfect. So when I start to feel overwhelmed by the lies that I revert back to and believe, I remember that the God of the universe is there, and He knows what He’s doing.

Where does your confidence lie? Is it in your ability and your plan? Or is your confidence rooted in Christ and dependent on what He can do through you?

Lord, show me how I can do this in my life today, not when I’m graduated or when I have a stable job or when I’m married. Show me how I can serve and trust with all that I am today instead of waiting for tomorrow.

I hope you feel encouraged today!

Lizzie

When God says no.

tahoe-2What happens when God says no?

I’ve been struggling with this lately. There are so many areas in my life where I want God to say, “Yes,” and provide in a real, tangible way. I want Him to provide reconciliation, my dream job, and my dream man. I am pretty impatient most of the time and I find myself wanting to see God provide these things right now. But sometimes He says no. Sometimes He says wait, be patient.

Those are my least favorite words.

“Be patient.”

“But, God, why not now? Why do I have to wait”

This is usually how the conversation goes.

It ends with me asking why and God saying wait.

This makes me wonder, is my tendency to doubt God and base my faith on feelings? Is my faith based on whether or not God moves in tough situations or provides when I ask? Or, is my faith placed in knowing that God is good and faithful, even when I don’t feel like He is answering me?

I think I tend to base my faith on feelings rather than simply because God is sovereign. When things are going well in life, my faith soars but when I walk through valleys, I feel distant from God, lacking trust and faith that He’s still there.

But recently, I’ve seen my attitude towards faith change radically.

Even though I’ve felt God in real, tangible ways throughout my life, it’s easy to forget those moments when life is hard. I’ve realized that my faith have very much been tied to what I am feeling and that’s a dangerous place for me to dwell in. My faith has not always been accompanied by God’s presence and the feeling of walking down a perfect, easy road. My faith journey has been scattered with brokenness and suffering. I have walked through valleys that have seemed long and filled with the word no. If I had let my feelings dictate my faith, I would not be the woman I am today and I would not have faith that is rooted in who God is rather than what I am feeling. I think that I would have turned from my faith long ago, because I just didn’t feel that God was there.

Each of those valleys, though, has caused me to put more and more faith in who God is, rather than if I am feeling God at that moment. But I also haven’t be passive during those moments. I have cried out to God, asking Him to move in the situation, to speak to me, to fix whatever is wrong. In crying out to God, He has mercifully answered in ways I could have never imagined but that are also not in line with what I had hoped for. He often times says, “No,” to what I have imagined the fix to be but has answered in ways that are so much better. Knowing that He is sovereign, holy, and good gives me the ability to trust in the plan He has ordained, knowing ultimately that He will never leave me.

So what does happen when God says no?

I think it’s important to remember that even though God may not be moving in the way you had hoped, He’s still moving. He may have a better plan than you could ever have imagined. If God says no to giving you your self-chosen “dream job,” He has a better plan in mind. If God says no to healing, trust that He will use it for His glory and that good will still prevail. If God says no, rest in the knowledge that He is good and works everything out for the good.

It says in Romans 8:26-28 (MSG):

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

The God who created the universe knows and loves us. He has called us to faith that is not dependent on feeling, but rather trust that He is good and sovereign. He knows our prayers, even when we have no words left to say. He knows every detail, desire, and hope we have far better than we know and allows us to stay present before God. He works in our lives to produce something good, even in the mess and suffering.

And especially when He says no.

Friend, I don’t know what struggles you have, the path that you are on, and the condition of your faith but I do know what it’s like to be in those places. Don’t loose faith because God says know. Have hope because He is working on something far greater than you could ever dream of.

Have faith. Trust that He is God. Trust even when you don’t feel like God is there. He’s still moving.

Just wait.

It’s going to be awesome.

Lizzie

P.S. This MercyMe song has been on repeat the last couple of days for me and I’ve had to ask myself, will my hope still be in God even if He says no? If you’re needing encouragement, give it a listen!

 

Hope in suffering.

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I sometimes think about how Eve ate the apple and get frustrated. No, actually, I get angry. I’m angry that because of temptation and evil, there has to be pain and suffering in the world. I’m angry that because of disobedience, there is poverty, inequality, and starvation afflicting so many around the world. I’m angry that there is conflict and war devastating people’s livelihoods, forcing them to flee to foreign places, not even knowing the language spoken in those countries. Mostly, I’m angry that God has given us free will and choice to do what we please because we usually run in the opposite direction.

But, when I think about it, I’m also glad. I’m glad that God gives us the choice to either walk in truth or reject it and He never forces us to submit. I’m glad that He loves me enough to give me free will, even if it means that I might walk away from Him. I’m glad that even through suffering, there is goodness and faithfulness.

Over the summer, I got the opportunity to live in South Lake Tahoe on a summer mission. I was there for ten weeks and experienced community in ways I never could have imagined. That summer has changed the way I view my relationship with Christ. I am more in love with Him now than ever before. I also experienced hard things that summer. I remember one Sunday, I was at church. The music and preaching was mediocre, I felt overwhelmed by the pain that I was going through, and I was pretty apathetic toward the whole church thing. The worship band began playing the last song and I stood there, halfheartedly singing the lyrics. Suddenly, I felt the weight of God’s goodness and faithfulness on my life. I recalled several times in my life where God had come through, when He was good to me and most importantly, when He was faithful. I had to sit down because I was so overwhelmed. I had never experienced God in this way before. I felt as if God was saying,

“Lizzie, look what I have done in your life. I will continue to move just like I have in the past.”

That was the most intense encounter I’ve had with God. You see, just weeks prior, I had cried out to God in desperation and it felt like He was not listening.

But He was.

Why do I ever doubt that God is good?

With so much pain and suffering in the world, my tendency is feel overwhelmed and doubt that God is good. I can’t explain why there are children dying of starvation and lack of medical care simply because that’s where they were born. I can’t explain why I was given the opportunity to grow up in a loving home, free from worry about where our next meal would come from while children are born into poverty and hate. This is something I have struggled with throughout my walk with God and during this summer. I couldn’t answer the “why” questions. I had doubts, fears, and anger about why God would allow things to happen that were painful and out of my control. I felt so much anger towards God. It simply couldn’t be that pain and suffering was in His plan.

I remember so many nights when I wept, screamed, and cried out to God.

And it felt like He was silent.

Up until that one morning when He showed me He was still good, He was still God, and He was still faithful. I am so grateful that amidst my pain, God showed up, like He always has and always will. I’m grateful that He choose the perfect time to remind me of this, a time when I was at my lowest.

Friends, I don’t know what you’re going through right now or how hopeless your situation feels, but I do know that I’ve been there. It’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to ask God why, it’s okay to just sit in your grief.

But don’t stop there.

Ask God for clarity, ask Him for faith, even it when it seems hopeless, and ask Him for joy in the midst of pain and suffering. Ask Him to just be with you. Even when it feels like life is falling apart, there is hope. Even when you’re experiencing deep hurt and pain, there is joy. And even when you feel alone, God is still there.

This is the hope that I choose to cling to. Romans 15:13 says,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

He is the God of hope and He will fill us with joy and peace as we trust in Him through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I hope you feel encouraged today!

Lizzie

 

How deep the Father’s love.

img_2607In this busy season of life, there’s one thing I have too much time for. Reflection. Each and everyday, I drive 30 minutes to where I student teach. This is ample time to reflect on life, feel overwhelmed about school, and focus too much on the fact that I’ll never measure up to the standards of the world. As a result, most mornings, I hate the drive. Not only does it cause anxiety, but 6 am wake-ups, spending way too much on gas, and overall weariness are a part of my regular routine. I grumble and complain way too much about this situation. One day, though, as I was working my way down this one particular stretch of road I’d seen a million times, my tune began to change.

My eyes began to see the glory in creation and I sat in awe thinking about God’s power. He created everything around me. He created the Earth and made it so that the seasons change. He created powerful oceans and majestic mountains. And then, He decided to create me.

He didn’t need me.

He didn’t have to make me.

He wanted to create me.

When He created me, He allowed me the opportunity to step into His plan and into His mission. He wanted me to love Him and seek Him first in everything. And He wanted me to know the depth of His love for me.

This reminds me of the song,”How Deep the Father’s Love,” and I think about how often I do not understand how deep His love really is for me. I sing the words at church, but pass over the significance of the cross, when Christ showed exactly how deep His love for me is. It’s endless. How can I expect to show Christ’s love to others when I don’t fully understand and step into that love myself? I think a lot of this stems from not understanding the significance of the cross and forgiveness.

Growing up in the Church, I was taught from a young age that Jesus died on a cross for me but I don’t think I’ve ever really understood the significance. In fact, up until a year ago, I had no idea what walking in the reality of the cross and forgiveness meant. I wasn’t aware of how much sin I actually had in my life because of this perspective. I was blind to my sin because I thought of myself as a good person. However, I also felt distant from God. If I thought my sin wasn’t too bad, then why did I feel like something was separating me from God?

I’ve had forgiveness explained to me many different ways over the years. The one that stuck out to me was an illustration of a bicycle. As we sin, we need to acknowledge, repent, and walk in the forgiveness of the cross, just like peddling on a bicycle. It’s a constant, repetitive motion that gets easier the more you do it. I was not walking in repentance and forgiveness. My heart was hardened towards my sin and it was building up a wall in my heart. When I finally understood the power of repentance, I started asking God to make me aware of my sin. My seemingly “sinless” life was so broken. I felt the crushing weight of my sin but then something amazing happened: I felt the overwhelming freedom of forgiveness. I finally knew what it meant to walk in forgiveness and experience the depths of God’s love for me.

Fast-forward to my long drive that one wintry morning. I felt awakened again by the sight of creation to the fact that Jesus loved me enough to create to me, knowing  full well that His son would have to die to save me. What an awesome God we get to serve! He chooses us to step into His plan. He doesn’t need us but He will use us if we just say yes.

How are you using your time for the Lord? I realized that the time I spent driving each morning could be a time to reflect on what the Lord is doing in my life, a time to worship my Creator, and to pray. Now, when my alarm goes off in the morning, I am no longer filled with dread (okay a little, no one likes getting up a six!) but with excitement for what the Lord is going to do that day. I get to spend that time worshiping Him and reflecting on what He has done and is doing.

Today Jesus, I thank you for loving me so that I may walk in forgiveness and truth!

Lizzie

A Gilmore Girls connection.

IMG_2671.JPGOne of my absolute favorite shows is Gilmore Girls. My roommate introduced me to it last year and I couldn’t watch it fast enough. I love the relationship that Lorelai has with Rory. They’re more like each other’s best friends than mother and daughter and they relate to each other so well. They share in each other’s ups and downs, have the same interests and do everything together. They love unconditionally, not expecting anything in return. What’s not to love?

Then there’s Lorelai’s and Emily’s relationship. I hate Lorelai’s relationship with Emily because it’s built on conditions, miscommunications, and work. A lot of work. Lorelai puts off her relationship with her mother because it always costs something and she must work hard to maintain it. Lost yet? Hold on, I’m getting somewhere.

During a season of drought in which I felt very distant from the Lord, I realized (courtesy of my small group leader) that my relationship with Christ mirrored Lorelai and Emily’s more often than Lorelai and Rory’s and that saddened me. I often viewed my relationship with Jesus as a lot of work. I needed read my Bible every day, pray often, mentor others, go to church, and try not to sin. If I did more for Christ, then He would love me more. This mindset was so draining. I found my worth coming from what I did rather than who I was loved by. When I messed up, I would feel like a failure because I just couldn’t get it right. It frustrated me. There were times when I felt so distant from God, even though I was doing so many “right” things. I felt defeated.

I desperately wanted my relationship with Christ to be as effortless as Rory and Lorelai’s but I didn’t know how to fix it. I searched for answers but came back to where I was empty handed.

Then one day, I was listening to worship music in my dorm room and everything changed. In one moment, I went from feeling distant from God to feeling the closest I had ever felt to him. I felt immense joy and happiness. But I didn’t do anything. How is it that I had worked so hard in the past to experience closeness with Christ but in a moment I had done nothing, I experienced what I had been searching for for months? That’s the truth about God’s love. He doesn’t expect anything from us but asks us to fully step into His presence and plan. The moments where I have felt closest to God have stemmed from me being at my lowest and therefore causing me to surrender all to Him.

Knowing this takes the pressure off. Although I want to be an active Christian who reads her Bible daily, brings others into my life to mentor, go to church, and do everything I can for Jesus, my salvation is not contingent on do these things. My surrender of idols, future plans, daily struggles and ultimately whole life to Christ is what God wants. He wants me. All of me, the good and the bad. But so often, I find this hard to do, even knowing the end result.

If I have felt what it’s like to surrender to Christ, then why am I so hesitant to do so? I think for me, it boils down to control. I want to control who my friends are, how I spend my money, what job I take, and my plan for my life. The thought of giving up control of those things scares the heck out of me. I feel safer living inside of my comfort zone, not surrendering control because I’m afraid of what God might ask me to do. But leaning into His plan shows me a greater view of life, one where I am stretched and tried but reliant on Him. Each little step of faith has brought me to the edge of His plan for my life, one that I’m still currently wrestling through. I’m about to graduate college but still have no clue where I want He wants me to be and what He wants me to do. God isn’t asking me to have everything figured out but He is asking me to step out in faith into His plan.

So just as Rory has an amazing trust in Lorelai that she will come through, so I will have that kind of trust in Christ. I can rest in His plan, His timing, and His control and wipe the word fear from my vocabulary. This is where God wants me. He doesn’t want me to be focused on all the things that I can do for Him as part of my salvation, He wants me to rest in His presence and surrender to His plan.

And that’s the best place to be.

I hope you have courage to step out in faith today.

Lizzie

P.S. The picture is actually from a pop-up Luke’s dinner that I visited! Excuse me while I go fangirl.

What I’ve learned (and am still learning) from this season of singleness.

 

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I’ve spent hours dreaming about meeting and falling in love with “the one” and guess what?

I still haven’t.

I thought that by this time in my life, I’d be in a serious relationship, leading towards marriage. But here I sit, coasting towards nearly two years of singleness. I’ve struggled with questioning this part of God’s plan for my life. My roommate often jokes that whoever I marry needs to be a crazy romantic because that’s how I’m wired, and she’s not wrong. But while I sit moping, watching Hallmark channel movies, and reading Nicholas Sparks on the weekends, I’m reminded of all that has happened. I’ve learned so much in this season of singleness.

And yeah, it’s only a season.

I’ve learned that my worth is rooted in Christ. I know, it’s so cliché but I’ve had to remind myself of this day after day. The only place I can truly have worth and confidence is resting in God’s grace. I am confident in the woman that God created me to be because He created me.

I’ve learned that I can do so much for Christ in this season of singleness. That’s not to say that I can’t change the world married, but I do have much more freedom to follow Jesus to the ends of the earth. One day I hope that the man I marry has the same desire to chase after Christ with reckless abandon. I hope that he will carry out the call of the great commission right alongside me, going into all the nations. But in the meantime, it’s exciting not to have anything tying me down. I can be rootless in where I live, but fully rooted in Christ.

I’ve learned that Jesus is enough. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. For so long I’ve bought into the lie that I need someone to love me here on earth, that Jesus wasn’t enough. And it caused so much pain. I would become obsessed with guys and any glimmer of hope in a relationship would cause me to plunge deeper into this obsession. I became so emotionally entangled in this heart idol and it caused heartache. But God was always waiting, with open arms, for me to turn my heart back to Him. His love is constant. His love is unfailing and before I start quoting 1 Corinthians 13, He is ultimately all I need. God has placed in me an innate desire to be a wife and a mother. I trust that He will provide.

“Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

And so, I keep pushing forward, delighting in the Lord, trusting that He will provide for the desires in my heart. It might not be in the way that I had planned for my life but He won’t desert me.

I’ve learned to love myself. I know, another cliché response, but it’s so true! Learning to love who you are is one of the hardest tasks you can be faced with but if God created us in His image, then how can we criticize what He has created? If I have confidence rooted in Christ, then I can learn to love myself, and not wish that I was different. It has taken time (and a lot of prayer!) to come to this point, but truly loving who I am in Christ has been one of the biggest blessings that has come out of this season of singleness.

I’ve learned to be patient. In my pursuit to honor God, I have chosen to save sex for marriage and it has been hard. But through this season of singleness, God has shown me how to be patient and how to wait. When I eventually do enter that serious relationship that will lead to marriage, I will have learned how to be patient and to wait. Although it still probably won’t be easy.

I’ve learned to trust. I am the least likely person to place my trust in something other than myself. It’s hard for me to trust when my best friend drives me around. It’s hard for me to trust that groups members in a project will complete their work on time. And it’s definitely hard for me to trust that God’s plan is better than I could ever imagine. Singleness has taught me to trust that God will provide for my every need, even if it’s not in the way I envisioned. Like the verse below says, I pray that as I trust, my heart may be filled with joy and peace and overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

I’ve learned to be content. Man, this is the toughest lesson that I’ve had to learn. I have so many hopes and dreams for the future that it’s hard for me be content with where I’m at. I struggle to be completely content because there are so many temptations and lies that tell me I deserve more than what I have now. So many times, I have believed the lie that my life would be better off with whatever material things that I thought I needed. But I’ve found out this is not true. I continue to struggle daily with being content in my singleness but I’ve realized that this is a season that I should cherish, one that will allow me to pick up my life and move wherever the Lord calls me, to be free to pursue after the Lord with all my heart and never look back.

So, I’m not going to end with final thoughts of encouragement or glimmers of hope. I know that if you’re single, you’ve already been told a thousand times what a catch you are and how this will not last forever. But I do want to tell you to take heart and think of all the things that you can do during this season. Make a list and actually live out those things. Find joy in doing life with the Lord and gratefulness that you get the chance to walk through this season with Him by your side.

I hope today you feel loved!

Lizzie

Vulnerability is scary

lizzie-1

I’ve been learning just how hard it is to be vulnerable. I’m finding it difficult to even publish my thoughts, let alone be vulnerable with real people in my life. How can we go from sharing everything as kids to putting up an impenetrable wall as adults?

My life is centered around working with kids and as a teacher, I have heard it all. I love that kids are so honest that it hurts. They seem to totally get this vulnerability thing. So, what does this have to do with you and me?

Well, if I am to live in a community of Christ centered believers, then I should be able to get past the “I’m good” response when someone asks me how it’s going. I want to be honest in my answers so they reflect trust and vulnerability to the people that I call my brothers and sisters in Christ.

There’ve been times when I have been brutally honest with how I’m doing and most people don’t know how to handle those responses. I’ve seen people stammer to try and find the right words to fill the void and look nervous because our interaction has become heart-level.

Why is it, as adults, we fear the hard stuff?

Why do we not want to let people in on how we are really feeling?

And why is it so hard to let people in?

I had the opportunity to spend one of my summers in a rich, Christ-centered community. Going into that summer, I thought that I was a vulnerable person. I thought that I had opened myself up to people before. But that first night as I tried share my life story, the good and bad, I tensed up. I couldn’t bring myself to fully enter into the kind of vulnerability I needed.

And this didn’t go away overnight.

It took me weeks to open up to a handful of people but as I saw friends begin to enter into the kind of vulnerability I only dreamed of, I saw the impact being vulnerable could have.

And I loved it.

My friends no longer shouldered the burden of hardship completely on their own. The shared it.

At the end of summer, I saw myself be open with people in a way I could never understand or imagine. One night, I remember publicly confessing, in front of eighty other people, sin I was living in and summoned the courage to ask forgiveness. Another night, I remember standing in front of those same friends, shaking as I shared the pain that I was going through and saw how I could lean into community.

How can you step into vulnerability?

I’m not perfect at it and I often find myself reverting to surface-level responses but I want to try and live in the light that He offers.

Jesus, teach me to be vulnerable.

Lizzie

The first post. Like ever.

tahoe-1~This has been a long time coming~

Life is a messy, wonderful journey.

I would love it if my life could be as spectacular and perfect as the pictures I scroll past on Instagram and Pinterest, but the opposite is true. In a good way. Instead, life is messy, full of make or break moments that have shaped who I am.

Life is meant to be lived, enjoyed, and most importantly, not perfect.

There have been numerous times when I have scrolled through pages and pages of fashion tips, life advice, and home décor, wishing that even just a sliver of my life could measure up to those perfect images. But that’s not truth. It’s far from it.

How many hours have I spent thinking any less of myself than what my Heavenly Father wants, because of what I choose to spend time on? It saddens me to think that I have considered who God created me to be anything less than perfect. While I have been in search of the “best” life, God has been offering me the abundant life. He has been offering it to me with relentless pursuit.

And I finally decided to say yes.

I’ve tasted what it means to live the life that God has offered me, to live fully surrendered to the Spirit.

And I never want to go back.

There have been days that I’ve woken up, exhausted, dreading the work I had before me but somehow, I still had butterflies in my stomach, thinking about what God was going to do that day. There is gratitude and joy in the mundane when you are alive in Christ. There is no expectation to be perfect and to live a perfect life, but to be okay with the place that God has put me in, being content in the moment.

When trouble comes, my hope is that my identity would be so deeply rooted in Christ that my world does would not crumble around me, that I would not be consumed by the things that will fade but rather by the things that are everlasting.

But even if my world does start to fall apart, I know that my hope is not in people, not in things, and not in my circumstances. My hope is in the One who created me. I have seen His faithfulness and goodness be poured into my life. I have felt the weight of what He has done so fully that all I can do it sit, speechless, praising the One who created me.

When has it become okay to live a safe life?

If I am rooted in Christ and believe that He gave His life for me, then how can I say that risking it all, laying my life on the line is meant for someone else, not for me?

Throughout the Bible, God has called us to go, to live as sent ones, to finish the call of the Great Commission. We ask God to raise up people to go but we forget that He has called us. You. Me.

A bolder prayer is to ask God to raise up the workers for the harvest and to use us, fully expectant that God might call us to the other side of the world, being willing and eager to go. Let’s not be okay with choosing the safe life, the life that sees us worrying about physical safety and monetary stability. Instead, let’s ask God to increase our faith, to help use become eager to go, and rely on His strength as we take a step of faith.

I hope you are encouraged today!

Lizzie