God is wrecking my life

What is this, a scandalous title? The crazy thing is, it is true…God is wrecking my life.

He’s destroying the life I once lived and giving me a new life in the light of His glory.

Let me break that down for you.

I am shaped by my experiences. I have been shaped by my upbringing, my schooling, my friends, and my interactions with the world. For so long I’ve taken in what the world gives me and have considered it true. I had a less than ideal childhood, so I believed I was worthless. I struggled with depression through middle and high school and I believed that I was broken. I would hurt myself out of this profound sense of brokenness and believed that I would never be okay. From all of these things I carry with me a profound sense of anxiety that is always waiting to strike.

For so long I’ve lived in these things and have allowed them to define me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had little victories. I stopped hurting myself. I got medication for depression. I took all of the outward steps to try and fix myself.

The problem here is in that last phrase: I was trying to fix myself.

I still try to fix myself.

I look to other people to fix me, too. I look to professors for advice, friends to make me feel better, family to make up for what I was given growing up, and while none of these things are inherently bad the focus on was what I could do to fix me. The focus was on the fact that I was trying to control my life, and only once I felt like I had accomplished this or that I could turn to God and say, “now you can love me. Look at how smart I am!”

My life has improved but I’m still fighting to maintain control.

I still walk as the Gentiles do, “in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart” (Ephesians 4:17b-18 ESV). I continue to cling to my old self because it is what I am comfortable with. I know how to survive and get by in my old skin. Sure, it is miserable sometimes (most of the time), but at least it is controlled misery. I am a Pharisee, who in the face of Jesus performing miracles and changing the status quo thinks, “No, I’m okay with how things are right now thank you very much. I don’t need any of that.” I’d rather drink old wine and pass on the new, because at least I understand the old wine (Luke 5:39).

God offers me love, grace, and new life but I turn my nose at it because I’d rather be in control.

However, in the past week and a half it has become abundantly clear that when I’m in control things don’t work out very well.

When I’m in control I wake up dreading the day because I expect so much out of my time and know I will never be able to meet my own expectations. I go through my day avoiding relationships and avoiding deeper connections because I’d rather be safe and in control than put myself out there to be hurt. When I’m in control I ignore my needs, ignore God, and live an ultimately shallow life.

I live with a hardened heart.

God has been breaking that hardened heart wide open and I’m overwhelmed by it. I’m scared of it. Everything I’ve clung to is dissolving in the light of God’s healing glory.

God is wrecking my old life, my old expectations, my old status quo…

I’ve been made new. I’ve been created in the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

God has offered me a new identity, but it means I have to let go of the old and embrace it.

That’s where it gets hard.

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Purpose in the Moment

As I was cruising down Yorba Linda Blvd today on my way in to work I heard a story.

Ryan Tedder, one of the founders of the band OneRepublic, had called into the radio station I was listening to. He was asked to share his 9/11 experience. He told listeners that on the day the planes crashed into the World Trade Center he was crushed. A few days later he went down to a Navy recruiting station with every intention of joining the military. They told him no. He was an only child and it was highly likely there would be deployments in the future (and there were, as I think we all know the story of Iraq) and Ryan’s family did not need to lose their only child.

Disheartened, Ryan left and in that moment probably felt pretty helpless. Later in life, after his band took off the ground and he was well into his musical career, OneRepublic was able to play for the combined armed forces stationed in Hawaii. After playing a show for them on the 4th of July a woman came up to him, explained she was a sniper and had just gotten back from a tour of duty, and that OneRepublic’s album had gotten her through that hard time.

When one door shut, another door opened, and it ended up helping another individual through a hard time.

I think there is a huge lesson to learn from this: Everything has a purpose; good times, bad times, open doors, and closed doors. We may be going along in life, doing what we think we’re supposed to do, only to find a door we thought would be wide open is closed, locked, and boarded up. It is disheartening and hard to stare at that closed door, wondering what happened. However, a closed door for us in that moment might mean a door opened for someone else who needed it a lot more than us.

We’re such a small part of life that what seems like a tsunami to us is really just a ripple that reaches someone else and changes their life. Ryan Tedder wanted to join the military, to make a difference in the world, and when that door closed he was crushed. Yet that door closing meant he would go on to produce music that would touch the hearts of millions. There was a purpose for that rejection, even if it stung in the moment.

A professor of mine once wrote this on an exam and I think it sums up my point, so I will leave you with this:

There is as much purpose in the present moment as there is in your future. Don’t wait for your life to be meaningful, it already is. Have you ever considered that you already have everything you need?