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.

Advertisements

The Ruby Project Revelation

Image

 

Sometimes it is too hard to try and write a polished, pretty blog entry.

So I’ll just wing it. Tonight I went to a showcase put on by a non-profit organization called The Ruby Project. In short, they help young women who have been through abuse, trauma, or other painful things in life get back on their feet. They help these young women realize that they have worth and that they can rise above their circumstances. This showcase ended their weekend retreat and let me just say this: The things The Ruby Project ladies are doing for these girls are amazing.

Tonight I sat in the audience with tears in my eyes as these young girls shared their stories through poetry, dance, and storytelling. Girls who have been through so much for people so young got up and shared stories of being sold into sex trafficking (yup, that happens in the United States boys and girls), of getting into drugs, of being abused by family members or people related to the family. These girls were brave, beautiful, and in love with Jesus. I admire them for their courage and for their willingness to fight against all odds to live a better life.

The thing that really stuck out to me, however, was this: This is what the church is.

My friends, the Church isn’t supposed to be a building you go to on Sunday morning and don’t think about the rest of the week. Church isn’t just a weekly thing. Church isn’t just a place where you learn about the Bible. The Church isn’t supposed to be static and unmoving. The Church is a living thing. It is dynamic. It should penetrate every part of our lives. Why? Because it is the only thing worth living for.

To be the Church is to be a part of the body of Christ. It isn’t to be a member of a ton of people who make an agreement to meet every Sunday. It is to be a living, breathing, dynamic, loving force in the world. The Church is supposed to love each other and love others. We’re supposed to be out doing things and living out the Word.

Yet I find myself sitting, fretting about the future, fretting about grad school or what I’m going to do once I graduate. I get so caught up in what I have to do to get to a place where I can be someone significant, where I can be good enough to really do some good work for the Lord…that I miss out on a beautiful truth:

I have already been called and equipped to do what I need to do. I just need to do it.

Instead of thinking, “once I get a graduate degree I can really start helping people,” or “once I get to a place where I know enough of the Bible and can earn my place in God’s church I can do great things,” I need to accept the fact that I have been called even in my brokenness. Did those girls at the Ruby Project Showcase have it all together? Were they perfect? No. Yet they put their hearts out there, they put their pride on the line, and they let the love of God shine through them.

Where I am deficient, God is sufficient. The more I’m willing to own up to the fact that I have got nothing, the more God gives me. The more I give up and surrender to Him, the more I’m able to love because it isn’t my love coming out…it is God’s.

 

If you would like you support The Ruby Project, please check out their donation page. Your donation will help them with future projects, including next year’s showcase. 

Family Ties

I miss my family.

The fact that I can say those words and mean them is really a testament to how far I have come. Two years ago I don’t think I would have been able to honestly say that. When I first began my out of state college experience I was ready to be out of the house. I was ready to be away from the relationships that I had struggled in for a good portion of my life. I wanted to be away from the dysfunction, from the reminders of past hurts, and from the town I grew up in.

I was ready for a change and I do not regret taking the leap to get in my car and drive to Southern California to attend some little barely-heard-of Christian school.

Nearly two years after this journey, though, I’ve come to realize that I miss my family.

Relationships have been repaired and are at the best point they have been in recent memory. I enjoy my family. I enjoy late night conversations with my dad and going places with my mom. I enjoy eating dinner at my sister’s, having a beer with my brother, and playing with my unbelievably adorable niece.

Had you told me, as a recently graduated high school student, that there would be a time that I would miss my family I probably would have laughed at the thought. I was not in a place mentally, emotionally, or spiritually to understand the concept of missing my family. At the time I wanted to get as far away from them as possible, so why would I miss them if I had been able to get away?

Healing happened, though. God happened. People in my life happened. Suddenly I was dreading getting in my car and heading back to California for the fall. The moment I crossed over the Oregon/California border I felt tears in my eyes as I realized I really was leaving them again. After a summer of healing and rebuilding relationships I realized as I pulled up to the fruit check point in tears, trying to compose myself so that the fruit Nazis wouldn’t get suspicious, that I was going to miss my family.

The thought of not going home for Thanksgiving was unbearable, so I bought a plane ticket and left. It happened again over spring break when I realized that I wanted to surprise my parents and be with them, so I bought another plane ticket. I had changed from an angry, damaged, hurt young woman who wanted to get away from her family into someone who grew up and realized that repairing family relationships and getting over old hurt is worth the work.

As my 22nd birthday steadily approaches I’m once again realizing just how much I miss my family. I want to wake up to flowers on the table from my parents. I want to get to see my sister and get a hug from my niece. I want to share a beer with my brother and rejoice in another year of life completed. I want to be with my family because for so many years I took spending my birthday with them for granted and now that I can’t have it I realize just how much I have loved it.

That’s healing, and it is beautiful.