I asked 28 to surprise me, challenge me, and scare me and I spent many days of the past year asking myself why the heck did you do that? This past year absolutely scared me. I had days of feeling loneliness in such a deep and scary way. I also experienced the deep and beautiful feeling of community and family and the way we can love each other into wholeness. 28 definitely also challenged me and surprised me. I grew in ways I could not have foreseen, and have been pleasantly and not-so pleasantly surprised by the events of the year.
So to 28, I say “BOY BYEEE!” But really I will look back at you with gratitude for all the hard lessons and big growth. I will not look back for long because I am walking forward into new days, one day at a time — one step at a time. Walking forward with confidence in who God is, leaning fully on His consistent character, His overwhelming grace, and His perfect peace.
So 29, I promise to let you be exactly what you are supposed to be. As the last year of my twenties, it will be tempting to make you what I think you are supposed to be; to make things happen quickly, to figure things out, to get all my young adult ducks in a row. But I am going to take you one.dang.day at a time, letting life continue to surprise me, and maybe in that offering freedom to people coming behind me.
So last week we were doing simple adding and subtracting, this week we are moving on to geometry. Just kidding, let’s leave the math to the math people. Really what we are doing here today is talking about my word for the year. I know, it is already essentially February and you have already chosen yours and you have already heard everyone else’s but give a girl some grace, ok?
The truth is that this word came to me months ago, in the middle of the semester and in the middle of my mess. I felt like the Lord was opening my eyes to the amount of dishonesty flying around my life, whether it was my own or the dishonesty of others around me. I became aware of how often we all are telling lies, either through blatant untruths or by leaving out any kind of detail of our choosing. Often we think we are protecting the people around us by withholding information. I have started praying for the Lord to give me, essentially, a better BS radar – that I would be able to hear people and know whether or not they were telling me the truth.
Here is the thing. We live so much of our lives thinking that lying will make things easier. We lie to our parents when we are in high school. We lie to our professors when we are in college. We lie to our friends about all kinds of things – we think by lying that we can make people like us more, or protect our image, or get invited to more things. We live a lot of our lives in the darkness where the devil whispers, just tell half the truth. Or, just leave out that one minor detail, it’ll never matter.
I woke up to what I thought was the sound of the boys who live above me; I started to wonder if maybe they had taken up skateboarding in their bedroom because of this whooshing sound that shook my walls. Turns out it was the wind, whistling and rattling the trees at a surprisingly disruptive volume level. I got out of bed, came and sat on my couch and as I spent some time journaling I also watched the wind pummeling the tree outside my window. I watched as the wind threatened to steal the leaves right off of the branches.
Meanwhile I was processing life as of late and making discoveries with Jesus. I have been reading Love Lives Here by Maria Goff (book recommendation of the week) and she talks about how different she and her husband are. And she says that they have learned to laugh about their differences. I started to think about my own relationships, and how often insecurity and comparison keeps us from just owning our strengths and weaknesses and laughing about our differences. I wrote about how if only we could be confident in who we are and aren’t, then we could deal with our differences and laugh at them and love each other without fear or comparison.
I have been a little overwhelmed with all the scattered, random thoughts in my head. I feel like I have been learning a lot, but can’t really organize it well. I’ve been trying to write something cohesive and it has not been happening. Maybe it is because I’m reading Bird by Bird and Anne Lamott is teaching me about writing SFD’s (“crappy” first drafts – you can infer the actual name). Combined with how my life circumstances have been recently, it just feels like nothing is totally coming together. I am learning how not okay I am with this. I am not okay with messy. I prefer neat and tidy and pretty-packaged everything. I am okay (most of the time) with other people being a mess, but my life? That’s not allowed. Ideally I would never embarrass myself, have it all together, and never be wrong. My home and heart would both be clean, constantly.
But then the Lord whispered to me one night as I tried to fall asleep: What if you started telling people the truth?
I’ve realized I love Instagram more than Jesus.
I journaled this prayer a few weeks ago:
How do we retrain our brains to not be satisfied and fed by red notifications, but by the Presence of God?
To not hunger for the sound of a text message but for the sound of His Voice?
To not seek the approval of people but to know that we are His Beloved?
To dive into the Scriptures rather than swiping when we have a free moment?
We can look back and see – when have there ever been enough likes to make us feel loved? When have we heard from enough people to solidify our worth? When has a person’s approval ever made us feel wholly, fully good enough? When has scrolling ever made our hearts rest easy? Never.
While I’m in Africa, I’m having some friends post over here on the blog! And how fun and fortunate that this first one actually lives in (South) Africa! I learned from this post that we have something in common: we both thought high school was less than enjoyable. 🙂 Fran is super fun, writes hilarious things about being single (you know I love me some single-sass blog posts), and describes herself this way: Equal parts sassy, kind and fun, I tumble through life a writer, thinker and sushi eater. I reckon when we are generous, cool things happen. Running, writing and Jesus keep me sane. Somedays I eat banana chips for dinner and some days I drink wine with my friends while watching the Cape Town sunsets.
Soak up this story from Fran:
When I was a child I used to climb a hill to talk to God. I would put on my Tommie Tekkies (the pair with holes in the toes) and a zip up wind breaker. I’d take the dogs – Dad always said, “go, but take the dogs.” I’d climb through a barbed wire fence, run down the hill, avoid the thistles and cattle dung and jump over the stream.
He’s gone. Was any of it real? Was He who He said He was? Was it all a grand trick – and I fell for it?
I was part of planning the Good Friday experience at my church this year, so as you can imagine, I have been thinking about it a lot. I have been actively placing myself in the place of those who knew Jesus, who loved Him, who followed Him, who gave up their lives and joined His mission. And who watched Him be arrested, tortured, and killed. They saw Him die. I cannot imagine the deep sorrow they experienced.
I want to provide a place of encouragement, a place where we can bring our hurting and sadness and heartache and feel held. Where we can bear each other’s burdens, and hold each other’s lies up to the light of Truth. This is a space for speaking well of one another.
So, dear friend, this is the blessing, the “speaking well,” that I have for you today:
Over and over again, I am amazed at my capacity to be a crazy person. Do you ever feel that way? The most recent run-in with my psycho side happened this past weekend. My two best friends texted and asked to get brunch. I was meeting with my mentor, so I said no and encouraged them to do it without me. Their response was, “what about tonight? Sunday?” Why are they trying so hard to see me? Their persistence had only one probable cause in my crazy mind: they must be planning an intervention. Clearly I had been a bad friend recently and they really needed to confront me about it. That is the only logical reason they would go to such lengths to spend time with me.
I’m serious. I am actually crazy! This is how you know your mind is not in a good space – when instead of believing that an invitation is because people like you, you think it must be because they need to confront you about all your flaws.
It helped me realize that I was feeling as though everyone else around me must be disappointed with or mad at me too; it wasn’t just these two friends I was worried about. I get into these busy seasons where I try to fit everything in, with the goal of pleasing everyone and meeting everyone’s needs – and instead I end up feeling like I most certainly am disappointing everyone.
Galatians 4:7 “So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
Galatians 4:9 “But no that you know God – or rather are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?”
Galatians 4:16 “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?”
I feel these verses so deeply in every part of me these days. Why do we keep putting ourselves back into our chains? Why do we do this? Why can’t we actually live free? We are no longer slaves.
I told a student this past weekend that as much as we do not want to admit it, we want our chains. Because if we were actually free, so much more would be required of us.