The long summer.

It’s been a really long summer. Despite the fact that I’ve been on vacation and experienced so many new things with my family (things which I am SO thankful for!), I’ve felt like this summer has dragged on. I just want it to end. You see, I’m a routine person. I like having things to do that are planned out and routine each week and in the summer, I lack that. I honestly can’t remember which day I’m on. They all seem to blend together. Not having a routine has caused me to come a little bit undone. I crave daily and weekly routine. (My little introverted, planning heart can’t take much more of this haha) In this loss of routine, I’ve also felt a loss of purpose this summer in a big way that I’ve never felt before.

Since each day is open to endless possibilities, it has caused me to loose the sense of purpose I had throughout college and this might be some peoples’ idea of a dream life. It felt great the first couple of weeks to just sit around and do nothing or go out on a whim and hang out with friends, but after a couple of weeks of this, it had me questioning my purpose and abilities. We were made to work, to complete tasks during a day. To fall out of the routine of doing this threw me for a loop.

In June, right after graduation, I had it in my head that I would find a part-time job for the summer and then go right into substituting this fall. Well, it’s August and I still don’t have a part-time job, not for lack of trying. I’ve sent out dozens of applications to various jobs but have yet to find one. The same thing has happened with teaching jobs. I have sat at my computer for hours filling out applications, bettering my resume, and finding the right things to say on a cover letter but have been met with rejection after rejection. It has been so hard feeling so much rejection this summer and it has caused me to feel so much insecurity about my worth and abilities. Do I even have what it takes to be a teacher?

The other day, I’d had enough. I was driving back from a weekend serving middle school students at summer camp (so I was already emotionally tired) and found myself questioning whether or not God had a plan for me. It has been really hard for me to see Jesus working in my life throughout this entire summer. So I asked God to give me purpose again, I asked Him to provide for me, and I asked for Him to be enough. I wanted to feel free from the constant desire to be in a relationship. After months of praying this prayer over and over, I kind of just gave up. And that’s when it hit me. I had been trying to do things on my own strength but I convinced myself that since I was praying about it, I was giving it up to God. In my heart though, I still held on tightly. During that moment, when I was physically and mentally exhausted and I just couldn’t anymore, I realized how much I was trying to fix things on my own strength. Being able to say, “God, I can’t anymore so you have to,” lifted the burden of trying to figure things out and placed my trust where it needed to be.

I’m honestly still trying to figure out why after months of praying that Jesus would be enough in my life and that God would take away this huge desire to not be single, He still hasn’t taken it away. However, I am confident of this: my heartache is not because He loves me any less, but because He wants to use my life for His glory. I’m also trying to figure out what God’s plan for this next season of my life is but I trust that He will provide.

Even through this difficult summer, I’ve learned to trust in God more and more. When I think back over these past few months, I’ve never once lacked peace and the knowledge that God is working in my life each day. My identity still remains in Jesus, knowing that I am enough in Him, no matter where I work or how long I am single.

Jesus died for me. That’s enough to find life in Him and trust in His faithfulness.

And He has been so faithful. This past week, I got calls for not one, but TWO interviews for teaching jobs. Yay!

I am constantly amazed by God’s goodness and am so ready to start this new season in my life. Here’s to the season of FALL, the changing of seasons, flannel, pumpkin spice, falling leaves, scarves, sweaters, boots, new jobs, cold weather, and endless possibilities.

I. LOVE. fall.

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

 

 

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