Trust and patience.

This has been such a stretching season for me. The past several months have been me preparing to transition into a new season of life. I if could sum up what I have learned through this season it would be these two words: trust and patience.

It all started four months ago when I had to make a split second decision about where to live. Did I want to move to be closer to potential jobs or stay in small town Cheney and be surrounded by friends? I choose the latter but in the coming months, God would use this decision to adjust my trust from myself and my own strength to God and His mighty power. A couple months after I made my decision to stay, put down my deposit for my new place, my roommates and I found out that we were not guaranteed an apartment until September. Unfortunately for us, we had to be out of our current place by July 1st. Cue the panicked, frustrated phone calls (and moments that weren’t my best yelling at the poor woman on the other end of the phone). I prayed for guidance but just felt like God was asking me to fall further onto His strength and trust His timing. After my first major freak out over our living situation, I never once felt anxious or afraid that we wouldn’t have a place to live in over the summer. And you know what? God did provide, more than I could even have asked for and Friday marks the day we move into our new place.

While this whole apartment fiasco was transpiring, I had also just entered into my final quarter of college, student teaching in a third grade classroom. My students were awesome and so sweet but I always came home exhausted and drained from the amount of work I was putting in. My friendships began to suffer because of it. I no longer wanted to go to Bible study or weekly meetings. It was a struggle for me to say yes to showing up and connecting with friends. I remember each Tuesday, I would drive home and convince myself that I had too much work to do and that I couldn’t go to Bible study that night. But, I would always feel God’s small voice telling me that I should go, that it would be worth it and it was. I certainly felt lonely this past quarter but I knew I wasn’t alone. I think the enemy tried to convince me that I could do life on my own when in reality, I needed people in my life to grow in community with. These past months have felt like the hardest and most rewarding. I felt alone but that caused me to lean into Jesus even more. God used my loneliness to produce patience and trust in who He is and what He was doing in my life. As I think about how all I could do was press further into Jesus for strength these past months, I’m amazed at how God really was my strength.

During this time, I also felt God calling me to step out of the community of believers that I had been in the past couple of years and into a new community. This terrified me because I am super introverted with new people. I tend to put on a front and have a hard time allowing people to step into my life. I remember one night as I was crying out to God asking Him to allow me to have favor in finding a new community, I remember hearing so clearly, “Lizzie, I will bless you with community.” With only this to hold onto, I plunged into serving at my church. It was intimidating and I dreaded going the first couple of weeks because I was new, didn’t know anyone, and felt out of place. But I kept showing up and it certainly wasn’t on my own strength that I was able to walk through those doors each Wednesday. God was so merciful in allowing me to find strength in Him. I saw that community didn’t develop overnight and that it would take time but I trusted that God would provide.

Throughout this past quarter, I also started to look for jobs. At first, I had it in my brain that I would get a full-time teaching position right away and things would be great and exciting. God had different plans. I put so much effort into filling out applications, arranging for supervisors to come in and observe me, and getting the right letters of recommendation. I’ve applied to so many jobs I’ve lost count. But week after week, I got rejection after rejection. I had an interview that left me feeling inadequate for the profession that I had chosen. Each new rejection dashed my hopes of ever becoming a full-time teacher. I felt lost and unsure. I applied to become a substitute teacher, just thinking that it would be my fall-back plan, that I would surely get a full-time job. Well, it’s almost the end of June and I’m still without one. I’ve struggled over the past couple of weeks with feelings of rejections, inadequacy, and lack of trust. Throughout this whole process, I’ve prayed that God would lead me in the direction that would put me in a position to be used for His glory. More and more, I’ve been feeling like He wants me in this substituting position. This has been a hard pill to swallow because it doesn’t match up to the expectations I had for my life. I began to pray that God would give my joyfulness in being a substitute if that was where He wanted me to be. He totally has. I’ve been humbled by the place in which God has chosen for me to work in the fall but I also never imagined that I would feel excitement and joy too. Yesterday, I went and picked up my badge and I was overwhelmed with joy that God provided a job for me, even though it wasn’t what I had expected. I’ve leaned more and more into Jesus because I didn’t know what the outcome would be. I think of the verse:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

This couldn’t be more true and evident in my life. I’ve asked for God to change my heart about substituting and He did. What a gracious God He is!

I’ve also felt the weight of broken relationships be lifted from me. A year ago, my family went through a major upheaval. I didn’t know how to respond. In the months that followed, I wept and cried out to God to fix what was broken. I felt anger and resentment. This went on for months. I pushed my emotions down, removed myself from that life, and plunged deeper into the life that I was living in the present. But every time I entered into this relationship, I felt anger and resentment. I felt like I had lost one of the most important relationships in my life. Then one day, I got tired of feeling this way. I was done and I didn’t want to feel anger. So I asked God to take away those feelings. I didn’t happen right away like I had thought but I kept praying, kept leaning on God’s strength rather than my own. Then one day, I felt God prompting me to extend forgiveness and so I did. Something changed. Each new day after that, I asked God to allow me to live in light of that forgiveness. My heart changed. This relationship that had caused so much pain was finally starting to feel right again and I no longer felt pain and anger towards this person. I’ve found more healing in the power of forgiveness than I have before. What a sweet Father I get to serve that would take away my pain and die for me so that He could carry the weight of my brokenness.

The final thing that has allowed me to press further into trust and patience in Christ is singleness (you’re probably rolling your eyes but yes I’m going to talk about this again). My prayer over the last few months had been for God to provide in this area, whether it be through a man that I could enter into relationship with or through finding complete joy, happiness, and contentedness through Him. Each day it feels like I would pray this prayer and not feel a difference in the way I felt. I still so desire to get married and have a family; that has not gone away nor have I felt like it has diminished. This was hard for me because I’ve seen how prayer for God to change my heart has come to fruition, as mentioned above but I still felt the same day after day. In all honesty, I don’t think the desire to be out of this season of singleness has diminished but what has changed is my trust and patience. Because I feel helpless, I have given up control in this area. I cannot on my own strength have enough patience and trust that God will provide but God in His power does. The other day, when I once again prayed that God would be enough, I felt Him saying, “Lizzie, do you trust me? Be patient.” Oh friends, what a sweet thing it is to feel completely powerless but to find strength in Jesus. He is enough and has proven that to me over and over again not only throughout these past months but through my entire life.

Yes this season of transition has been hard and yes I’m still in the midst of it but God has shown me that He is greater. He wanted to teach me to rely on His strength rather than my own. I think back to several months ago when I prayed a dangerous prayer. I asked God to be my everything and I put my yes on the table, meaning that I would do whatever He asked of me, wherever He called me. What followed was this crazy hard quarter. He has taught me that I can trust Him and that He will provide what I need and that’s where the patience comes in. Things don’t always happen when we want them to but Jesus loves me so much that He would not leave me half-way finished. He will carry out all that He has begun in me.

Sweet Father, thank you for your grace, kindness, and love. Thank you for your strength and that as I lean into you, you will provide and you will walk with me through every hill and valley.

Friends, I love sharing my heart with you! Any connections, comments, or wisdom you have is appreciated. Thanks for being willing to read this blog written by someone who’s still a work in progress.

Lizzie

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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

 

 

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