searching for a savior

Some days the world just really hits us in the gut. Every picture, every news title, every thing media related. It all screams of anger, greed, judgement and injustice. It’s all coated in depravity and sin. And it’s everywhere. You cannot escape it. You cannot hide from it. It’s everywhere. We live in a fallen world. We live in a world that is depraved, because it’s desperate. It’s desperate for a savior.

The world and everyone in it is on a perpetual search for something to save them. I see it everyday. I see it in myself, my friends and family and every human on this planet. We search and search for something to fulfill us. We turn to fame and power to make us feel loved, alive, in control. We turn to money as the answer to all of our problems. We look to drugs as the magic pill and alcohol as the only means to having fun. We sleep around in search of someone who will fulfill us intimately, someone who will save us. We look to food and exercise to numb, to cope, to fit in. We search for a savior in friends and partying, in more clothes, newer technology, a bigger house, nicer stuff, a better job, thinner legs, more likes. And when this search inevitably leads us nowhere we, the world, get more desperate.

The world is both desperate enough and lost enough in it’s search for a savior that it has turned to heartbreaking crimes against each other, against all things good and beautiful, against God Himself. The world is desperate enough to sell young girls for sex. Desperate enough to sell tiny babies as nothing more than “parts.” It’s desperate enough to kill people simply because they’re a different color. Desperate enough to bomb buildings and murder thousands. It’s desperate enough to defile sex into a perverted, demeaning, relationship-killing industry. Desperate enough in it’s search for a savior to worship all that is evil and the evil one himself. The world is desperate indeed. Desperate enough to participate in these kinds of things, yet not quite desperate enough, and far too stubborn, to turn to the Savior that already came.

It’s easy to be depressed by the state of the world, the state of man, the state of ourselves, but as Christians we cannot afford to live paralyzed by sin. We cannot afford to cease hoping, cease living like Jesus. We cannot afford to stop praying for His Kingdom to come. We cannot afford to forget that He has already won, He has already crushed the head of the serpent with His heel. He has already overcome the world and all of the desperate actions it has taken and will take.

So we don’t lose hope. Instead we choose to pray that man would continue to search. That he would search to the ends of the earth if he has to until he discovers that the Savior has been here all along. We pray that he would search the world until he realizes that there is nothing of this world that can save him, for Christ is not of this world. We do not pray that the world’s desperation would cease, but instead that it would become more desperate. We need to pray that the world would become desperate enough to stop the violence and choose to love. Desperate enough to quit pornography and pre-marital sex and commit to God honoring marriage. Desperate enough to choose love over hate and mercy over judgement. Desperate enough to make the hard choices that go against the grain. Desperate enough to turn from evil and cling to the One who is good.

I pray that our desperation would lead us to Christ, instead of away. I pray that our search for a savior would reveal the truth that only Jesus Christ, the Savior of all the world, can save us. He is the Savior that the world is searching for.


I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.  John 16:33

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Craving Connection

Hey you. We might know each other. We might not. But, regardless, there are 5 things that I know for sure about you. You want to be seen. You want to be heard. You want to be known & understood. You want to be loved.

And you and I are very similar, we want the same things. We both want to be seen, heard, known, understood and loved. Everyone wants the same thing. Everyone is searching, seeking out and craving the same thing. We are all craving connection.

This craving unites us. You can look at anyone and know that at your cores you both desire the same things. You know why? Because you were made to crave these things. You were made to crave connection. But you were made to crave The Connection. It’s only under this ultimate connection that our craving is satisfied.

You want to be seen. You want people to notice when you walk in the room. You want people to smile at you when they pass by. You want people to give hugs and high fives. You want people to notice when you fix your hair or get new glasses. You just want to be seen. We all just want to be seen.

You want to be heard. You want friends to listen to your rambling stories and stupid jokes. You want family to listen while you relay the events of your day in great detail. You want your opinions and ideas to be heard and considered by those around you. You want to have a say in things concerning you. You really want to be heard. We all really want to be heard.

You want to be known & understood. You want to be known by those around you. You want close relationships that mean you can talk without words and laugh without retelling the inside joke. You want loved ones to know you so well that they can tell how you’re doing before you speak. You want your story to be known, so that you can be understood better. You want people to “get” you. That’s what we all want, to be known & understood.

You want to be loved. You do. You want to be loved for your flaws, your mistakes, your insecurities and weird quirks. You want to be loved even though you’re no good at sports and you laugh too loud (maybe even snort!) at the worst possible times. You want to be loved because you’re a good listener and a great story-teller. You want to be loved for your adventurous side and your book reading side. You want to be loved for everything you are and everything you are not. We all want to be loved for these reasons plus a million more.

Don’t think these desires make you weak or needy. You were designed this way. You were designed to want and need other people. “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). But we weren’t just made to be physically present with other people, we were made to connect deeply and honestly with other people. We were made to laugh and cry with others. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26). “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). We were made to share our lives with others, to encourage & speak Truth to those around us. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We are supposed to live in connected community as the body of Christ. That’s what we were made for. That’s why we crave it.

If we were made for deep connection with others, then why do relationships with man, even the very best ones, not satisfy us?

Because while we were made for connection with man, we were first made for intimate connection with God (hello, Garden of Eden!). He is who our hearts ultimately crave. Connection to other people is good, beautiful, even necessary, but connection to God is irreplaceable.

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1)

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, my God” (Psalm 42:1)

“For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.” (Psalm 107:9)

Only Jesus parches our thirst and satisfies our craving for connection, because He is the Living Water and the deep relationship that we were made for. In John chapter 4 Jesus responds to the Samaritan woman at the well and says, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again (will not be satisfied); but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst (because the Living Water satisfies our craving); but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). Jesus is what who we crave. He is the connection we desire. He is the one who will always listen, always see us. He is the only one who will ever fully know and understand us. He is the one who loves us unconditionally. And it is out of this deeply connected, satisfying relationship with Him, that all else should flow.

So you over there on the other side of the screen. Three things to take away from this:

  1. You were made to crave connection. You are not weak or needy or less than. You are human, made in the image of God who is the epitome of connection.
  2. Other people will never satisfy your craving for connection. You will never be heard enough, seen enough, loved enough, or understood enough by people. Similarly, you will never listen enough, love enough, understand enough or know enough. 
  3. God will always satisfy your craving for connection. Always. I promise.

You are seen, known, heard, and desperately loved forever and always by the One who really matters. Rest in that.

 

The Cross & The Tomb

If I’m being honest this semester has been hard. So good, but hard. It’s led me to be amazed by Jesus, but also appalled by own sin. But God remains faithful. He sent just what I needed through a simple text that held two questions that have wrecked my narrow, self-centered mind and brought me back to my knees.

What has the Cross set you free from? And what has the empty tomb set you free to do?

That’s it. Two short, self-explanatory questions. But they hold so much meaning. So much freedom when taken to heart.

These questions were asked for the specific purpose of video to be shown at a Good Friday service on campus, but they have meant so much more to me. I’ve thought about them all week long and I hope I never stop asking myself these questions, because they point straight to the Gospel and to the heart of Jesus.

The answer to these questions is the point of Jesus death and resurrection. He didn’t die to make a big scene or rise again to freak people out. He didn’t go through Hell (literally) and experience the crushing weight of every single human beings sin just so we would throw parties every spring. No, he died and rose again to set you and me free. That’s all. That was His purpose. That was the will of the Father, to set his children free of sin by the death and resurrection of his most beloved Son.

God looked at you in your brokenness and said, “You are worth my most beloved Son.” Jesus accepted the will of His Father because He thinks, “You are worth Him dying the most shameful, excruciating death imaginable.” Your freedom is worth that much. Do you understand? You are worth that much! If you had been the only person on earth, Christ still would have died for you, because you’re worth it. I’m worth it. We are worth it.

And now by the power of His blood we walk in freedom. But let us not be a people that take the Cross and the freedom it gave us for granted. Let us not be complacent with our freedom. Let us not remain in our jail cell, in our sin and shame, when Jesus has unlocked the door and invited us to walk out of the darkness into the Light with Him.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Here are my declarations of Freedom and I encourage you to write your own!

The Cross has set me free from fear. From the fear of failure and the fear of not being enough for anyone or anything. The empty tomb has set me free to share peace with others and let them know just how ENOUGH they are because of Whose they are.

The Cross has set me free from the shame of my sin, my past. And the tomb has set me free to walk confidently in the forgiveness and redemption that is graciously given to me everyday.

The Cross has set me free from the bondage of expectations. I no longer have to strive to live up to my own and others expectations in order to be loved. And the tomb has set me free to give myself and others grace when we fail.

The Cross has set me free from the need to be perfect. Because the Son of Man chose to become flesh and blood in order to die for my imperfections, I can live an imperfect life while being loved by a perfect God. And the tomb has set me free to do just that.

The Cross has set me free from the bondage to lies about who I am and whose I am. The tomb has set me free to walk in complete freedom trusting that I was made for such a time as this, by a God whose plans know no bounds.

The Cross has set me free from a life of timidity and fear of man. And the tomb has set me free to live a BOLD and BRAVE life for Him, sharing the Gospel without fear of man.

Verses to read: Romans 8:16, Isaiah 61:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:9-10, John 16:33

Let’s Lead A Rebellion

Ladies, enough is enough. It’s time to call it quits. It’s time to put your foot down. It’s time to say, “NO.” It’s time for a rebellion.

Rebellion: refusal to obey or accept normal standards; resisting convention

Now, if you know me, you know that I am one of the least rebellious beings on this earth. I am a people-pleaser. I will do everything in my power to not rock the boat or cause confrontation. I was the person that would cry if I thought someone was disappointed in me, the kid that was afraid to order food or go shopping in case what I picked wasn’t “right.” I was the person that would lay down and invite you to walk all over me for fear of causing a problem.

I am not rebellious. I am not someone to call for a rebellion, which is the very reason that a rebellion is desperately needed.

I know that I am not the only girl that has felt like she’s too much and not enough. I know I’m not the only one who has felt unworthy. Unworthy life, of being seen, known & loved. I know that my sins are not unique to me. I know that the lies I believe(d) do not stop with me. I know that feeling ugly or (dare I say) fat is not something that only I have faced. I know that I’m not the only one who said nothing when they wanted to scream or followed along when they wanted to lead. I know I’m not alone in this. You’ve probably experienced the same.

Friends, let’s lead a rebellion. Let’s start a revolution.

Revolution: a sudden, complete and radical change

It’s been a long time coming. But the time is now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next month or year. NOW.

Let’s lead a rebellion against lies. Against shame. Against fear, anxiety and depression. Against evil. Ultimately, against Satan himself.

Let’s be defiant. Let’s resist and rebel against the standard of perfection that sucks the life out of us. Let’s revolt against the idea that we have to show everything to be worth anything. Let’s stop the comparing game and start saying, “good for her, not for me.” Let’s be people that stand strong underneath the pressure to gossip, be exclusive, and form cliques. Let’s fight the arrows (lies) that fly with our shield of faith and breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:10-18). Let’s declare over our lives, and the lives of those around us, “I am enough.” Let’s declare worthiness over every soul and every story.

Because you see, the battle is not with each other. We are allies, not enemies. The battle is against Satan, the thief who came to steal, kill and destroy all joy, hope and godly relationships (John 10:10). So, let’s join together and fight for Truth.

Let’s be the people who stop the cycle, put an end to it all. Let’s not settle for bondage, but fight for freedom (Galatians 5:1). Let’s be a generation of women too overtaken by our Jesus to care about anything else. Let’s rise up and be bold enough to ask hard questions and have real conversations. Let’s look at each other and the world in light of God’s grace and glory.

It’s time for a rebellion and it starts with you and me.

*This posts theme courtesy of the ever lovely and insightful, Caroline Morris. Thank you for spurring this rebellion on*

 

 

To the Girl Without a Date

To the girl without a date,

You are seen. You may feel invisible. You may feel at times that you don’t exist. You may wonder if you have an invisibility cloak that hides you from the view of all guys. But, you are seen.  You may not have guys clamoring for your attention, but you are still seen. At parties, you may be the girl that stands alone. At dances, you may be the girl that is never asked to dance. In your friend group, you may be the only one without a “significant other.” All of this may be true, but the real truth, the truest truth, is you are seen. Jesus knows the desires of your heart and the perfect timing for each of your desires (Psalm 37:4, Ecc. 3:1). He sees all things and you are no exception.

You are known. You may look around you and feel as if there isn’t a soul in the room who really knows you. You may feel like no one, especially guys, would ever care to know you. You may be discouraged and feel alone. You may feel like you are simply too much to handle or not interesting enough to know, but you are known. You may not have guys lining up to talk with you or even a date in the foreseeable future, but you are still known. All of this may be true, but the truest truth is that you are fully known by God who made you cell by cell for an individual purpose that no one else can fulfill. Ya, that guy across the room may not care to know you right now, but the only Guy that matters wants nothing more than to know you right this very minute and to have you know Him.

You are beautiful. You are. You’re probably rolling your eyes or laughing under your breath right about now, but it’s true. You may not have guys fawning over your outward appearance or gushing about your beauty. You may not be “magazine material”  or have a guy that tells you you’re beautiful daily. You may feel unattractive or plain on your best day, but the truth is that you are beautiful. If you’re anything like me, then you still don’t believe me. So let me tell you a secret…no one on earth will ever be able to convince you of your beauty until you are convinced that you are worth being called beautiful.

You are loved. You may have been hurt in the past or simply overlooked. You may feel unlovable. You may believe that there is nothing about you for a guy (or anyone) to love, but you are wrong. You are so very wrong. Please hear this: You. Are. Loved. You may have moments, memories, that seem to prove the contrary, but the truest thing about you as a human being is this: you are loved. It’s that simple (John 3:16).

You are worthy. You are worthy of love and affection. You are worthy of respect and honesty. You are worthy of faithfulness and gentleness. You may not consider yourself worthy of anything, much less of these characteristics. You may have been told you are unworthy by someone or had a guy in your life that made you feel unworthy of good. You may have done, been, said, seen things that left you feeling completely unworthy of all good. You may simply believe, for whatever reason, that you are inherently unworthy regardless of anything you do. But that, my friend, is simply not true. You are worthy.

So, to the girl without a date, you are seen. Even if you are overlooked in the moment and feel invisible in a sea of pretty girls, you are seen by the Father. Even if no one asks you to dance or looks your way, you are still seen. You are seen by El Roi, the God who sees. No matter where you go, you will always be seen by Him. There is not a place you can run that will hide you from His gaze. He has His loving eyes on you forever and ever.

To the girl without a date, you are known. You may look around and see the couples, hear the stories and feel alone, unknown, unworthy of being known. But you are not alone and you are entirely known. In fact, you were known before the beginning of all time. God sees you and wants to know you intimately. He wants nothing more than to spend time with you. He wants to capture your attention and to have a relationship with you. You are known by your Father from the inside out.

To the girl without a date, you are beautiful. You probably look around and see the girls that have guys fighting for their attention and wonder what makes them more appealing, what they have that you don’t. I bet you come to this conclusion–they’re more beautiful, thinner, funnier, more outgoing and fun, more of everything that you are not. But I want to challenge that. They are beautiful, but so are you. You are altogether beautiful and there is no flaw in you because you were perfectly made in the image of a perfect Father.

To the girl without a date, you are loved. There doesn’t have to be a so called “prince charming” in your life for you to be loved. Look around you at all the ways that God is loving you in this moment through His people and his creation. You are SO loved. So loved that someone died for you. And better yet, He died to save your life. Is there a better, more novel worthy love than that?

Lastly, to the girl without a date (or the girl with the wrong date), hear this: you are worthy. Just because there isn’t a guy pursuing you right now, doesn’t mean that you aren’t worthy of one. You are worthy of a man that will respect and cherish you. You are worthy of a guy that treats you with patience and gentleness. You are worthy of a gentleman and of being treated like a lady. So, be that lady and wait for a gentlemen. Because you are worth waiting for.

I will leave you with this: You do not need to be thinner or taller or funnier or smarter or more talented and flirtatious or anything else under the sun. You are seen, known, beautiful, loved and worthy just as you are, date or no date.

I Shall Not Want

Six years old. Lying in bed staring at my wall. Too afraid to fall asleep. What if I have a seizure? What if I lose all control? Can’t breathe or stop my limbs from flailing? What if no one knows and I’m alone in this as I sleep? The “what ifs” start young.

My mom comes in nightly. Novels read. Curly Bear tucked close. Prayers whispered. Lastly, we read Psalm 23 together. Gazing at the framed verse beside my bed we read the old words together…The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His names sake. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever…that was the routine. That was my comfort when I was too afraid to fall asleep.

Ten years later and the Psalm 23 poster and the nightly routine are gone. I’m living in my own little self-imposed hell, not allowing any hope or grace into my hardened heart. The only comfort being certain death and thus lasting reprieve. You’d find me dead before you’d find me whispering Psalm 23. No hope-filled words crossed my lips in those days.

Countless therapy sessions that ending in tears and no visible progress (and I’m sure my therapist questioning why she still saw me) later. Countless prayers cried out on my behalf by more people than I can thank and days lived that simply left me wondering why God kept me alive. I still wanted, wanted for everything, yet didn’t take hold of anything before me.

Twelve years since I first memorized Psalm 23 and I still, I still, don’t have it down.  God is still bringing it up and washing the words over me. The seed He planted, the little lesson of the Psalm 23 seed, is still being grown.

This past summer my therapist brought up Psalm 23, that ever-recurring verse of mine. We recited it aloud together in her office, my safe place. Since then, it’s been my unconscious heartbeat. That one line, the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Day-in and day-out. Coursing through me, washing over me, reminders all around. I can’t move past that first line, the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. The truth is, if God wants me here, sitting, meditating on this verse, then here I will sit though I know not why. 

One week prior to today. The only instruction, rest. Eno beneath, friend (hey Bess!) across, trees above, the familiar heartbeat all around. God, what would you have me rest on today? One of my old favorite songs came to mind and hasn’t left since.

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“I Shall Not Want” by Audrey Assad

Just as the words and music wash over me, so does my Shepherd’s voice whispering “I’m your good good Shepherd, you shall not want for anything.” 

I don’t know about any of you, but I have lived and still live out of want, out of a place of lack. My go to is, “I can’t. I don’t have what it takes. I’m not good enough.” I know I am not alone in this. I know I am not the only one who is living out of want and throwing “I’m not good enough” around like candy.

In this first month of college I have slowly been nudged and convicted of my posture. It’s a posture of defeat, of failure, of distrust, discontentment and jealousy. It’s not where God would have me. It’s not where He would have you, either.

College has brought up a slew of things that I thought had been laid to rest. This college month has had it’s fair share of, she has more friends, more invites, more attention, more opportunities, more control, more laughs, thinner or prettier such-and-such.

In this new life I’m living, where I feel so small and unknown, God still whispers and sings over me, “When you taste my goodness, you shall not want. No, you shall not want.” We need not, no it’s a command, we shall not want.

I shall not want for friends, for community, for comfort. I shall not want for attention, for my God’s eyes are always upon me and His ears are always attuned to my voice. I shall not want for opportunities or growth or real conversation. And neither shall you for just as the Father’s eyes are always upon me so are they always upon you.

I spent so much of life, still do, living out the posture of “I must do enough to be (good) enough.” I must work hard enough, workout enough, dance enough, rehearse enough, study enough. Anorexia drove me to “I must weigh little enough to be good enough, to be loved and accepted.” Depression drove me towards, “I must do everything I can to disappear, because my presence is not good enough.” Anxiety drove me to a place of “I must be perfect to be enough.”

No grace. No grace at all. No recognition of Christ’s covering. No acknowledgement of the blood shed for me. Nothing but “must” and “should’ and “have to.” Pressure. Performance. Lies. Comparison. Want. Lack. That was my posture. This is still my posture many days, my posture towards God. But for every “I must” and every thought that makes me feel inadequate and not good enough I can counter with the Truth. the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want

But, you know what? Just as Jesus sings “You shall not want” over me, He sings it over you too. Just as Jesus covers me, He covers you. the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want

Challenge for this week:

What are your “I musts” and the thoughts that make you take on a defeated posture? What makes you live out of a posture of want?

What would you insert into this statement? The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want for ________. Now repeat that statement as many times as needed this week, until you believe it.

Breathing Room

Lord, I need breathing room.

That has been my prayer the last couple weeks. When my therapist breathed those words out and I breathed them in– breathing room– a weight I didn’t even know I carried, lifted.

Breathing room. Space. Leeway. Margin. However you say it, I need it.

I’ve never had breathing room. I’ve lived the last 8 (at least) years in a confined space, a box, a little square drawn in the sand. I’ve lived stuck. Stuck in a tight spot. Claustrophobic but afraid.

Eating disorders, many mental illnesses and compulsive behaviors leave no breathing room. They are the tightest-of-tight boxes and the smallest-of-small spaces. There is no room for anything but the rules, the expectations (of self or others), the behaviors. There is no bending from anorexia to go to a birthday party. There is no pausing over-exercising, self-harm or purging just because there is an opportunity to travel. No. No, because there is no breathing room in any of those situations. There is no room for error, no room for a change in plans. You do not stray from the black line. You do not change plans. You do not change your mind. You simply do not, because there is no room for that.

There is no room, because room, margin, leeway. They all mean mistakes, errors, mess-ups, mishaps — failure. Room to breathe means room to fail. And I have never allowed room to fail. Perfection, yes. Failure, absolutely not I’d rather die.

Perfection leaves no breathing room. Anything outside of the realm of perfection, of the expectations placed upon us, is utter catastrophe, sending the world into a dizzy.

I grew up sticking myself in that little box out of fear, desire to please, perfectionism. No one had to put me there. I didn’t need anyone to draw those black lines of my “allowed square inch.” I did that myself.

Strangely enough, I have always hated tight things, anything that confines me physically. I am seriously claustrophobic, yet I am drawn towards this tight confining life. The life that says when and what you can eat, who you can see, what you can do and say, unwritten rules galore.  Rigid, unrelenting, changeless, unforgiving.

So when I heard those words — breathing room, give yourself breathing room– I thought “Can I? Can I really?” All the confining I had done on purpose. All of the restricting I had inflicted upon myself. All of the rigid rules. I did those things. I inflicted it, enforced it. I gave myself a life of confinement, a life without air, without any room to breathe, to fail.

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I gave myself that kind of life, but now I’m choosing to give myself a life that breathes. I need  to give myself room to have hard or bad days. I need room to get overwhelmed and cry. I need room to be imperfect. Because life is not perfect. My family and friends are not perfect. College will not be perfect. There will be overwhelming, hard, straight up bad days where I just want to throw my hands up in defeat. Without breathing room those days are too much, unrecoverable. Those days are failure and make me want to quit. But, insert some breathing room, stretch that square inch a bit, and that same day can be called good. I can laugh at that day. I can pause, breathe deep and say, “this too is good.”

That extra room means that what would have been failure in my teeny-tiny perfect box can instead be called grace, growth, good. That extra room means release of the pressure to be good enough, an end to the proving and the living up. That extra room means God has room to move. Room to change me, bend and break me, mold and challenge me, love and grow me. In my confining life there was no room for anything “else,” not even God.

As I have thought and prayed over this need for breathing room, God gave me this — You don’t need more breathing room. You already have all the room you need. I gave you all the room you could possibly need on the Cross. Just take it. Use it. 

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(image via Pinterest)

Talk about dumb-struck. Of course I have all the room I need. Jesus gave me all the room in the world to fail and fumble and fall on the cross. He gave me so much room, grace (unmerited, undeserved favor), to mess up that I will never be able to use even half of it. It’s immeasurable the grace He has bestowed upon me. James 4:6 says, “But he gave us more grace.” He didn’t just give grace, He gave more grace and even more on top of that. His grace has no constraints. It is freely given to all. Titus 2:11 says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” Not just the good or the perfect or the tall or the thin or the pretty or the smart or the talented, but to all. Yet this grace was not given because of something I did. No, this grace is a gift. It’s a gift that God gave in His Son. It’s a gift that cost more than we will ever be able to comprehend. And it’s a gift that we choose to breathe in and live out of daily.

I will leave you with this question — do you need to use more of your gifted breathing room?

Remembering: Two Years Later

Two years later. Two years older. Two years changed. Two years different. Two years stronger. Two years braver.

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It’s been two years since I first began treatment. Two years since I shuffled through the doors of Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders. Two years since that became my home away from home. I remember that first day, like it was yesterday. Walking in to unfamiliar faces. Having to sit down with these strangers and face the unthinkable. Then being forced to talk about how it went. Did you enjoy the food? No. What did you not like? All of it. Were you afraid? Uhhh…yes, out of my mind. Did you use any behaviors? Of course I did. I didn’t finish that disgusting cottage cheese that you evil people are trying to make me fat and ruin my life with. That was the gist of that first day. Curled up on a chair in an “illegal” position, journaling my fear and hate while avoiding having to speak.

Life for the first several weeks was rather ugly. Blind weigh-ins. Blood pressure monitoring. Constant meals. Never ending FOOD. Exhaustion. Insomnia. Coping skills torn away from my tightened grip. Trying to put on a strong front, while wanting to disappear every moment of every day. I got good at pretending and making people believe I was doing better than I really was. I think it’s part of the territory.

Needless to say, two years ago my life was a wreck. Not in school. Not living at home. Not on good (or even speaking) terms with my family. Anxiety and panic attacks sky-rocketing. Depression chronic. Anorexia raging. Pretending my way out of questions and consequences. Pushing everyone away, except my “chosen” few. My body eating itself until it shut down so many processes that living “normally” was getting hard. My brain on one track and one track only: restrict until you’re worthy, until you disappear, until you’re enough, until the anxiety & sadness go away.

I entered the anger phase of treatment. Anger coursed through my being. Why do I have to eat? Why is everyone forcing me to eat? Why does my body need it? I was angry that I had to succumb to such weakness (eating = weakness). I thought I should be stronger than food. I should be above it, above the physical need for it. I hated food itself and anyone who made me touch it. I even hated myself for needing it (for some reason I thought I should be the only human ever that didn’t need to eat…like what?). Every meal I battled for control. Less food means more control. More control means less fear and unworthiness.

Everyone around me that was trying to save me, were (in my eyes) trying to kill me, ruin my life, take away everything I loved/needed while giving me absolutely nothing in return except weight (i.e. fat, because to an ED patient all weight is fat even though most of it is bone mass, organ mass, heart/brain mass, water, etc).

Part of an eating disorder is suppression. Suppression of appetite, hunger/fullness cues, emotions, thoughts and feelings, even reality. Treatment is designed to trigger the release of that suppression, so at some point you become a ticking time-bomb. You become a walking volcano of everything you’ve been suppressing. If you’re like me, then you still suppressed things in public, but trust me, my journal and my therapist got spewed on daily, many times a day.

I remember the day that Taylor and I saved the day…or something like that. Bathroom buddies are totally a thing in treatment and so is asking a fellow patient “are you puking in there” and then going to get help because obviously that’s a no-no.

I remember the day we smashed scales in the parking lot with huge hammers and released balloons with notes inside about what we need to let go relating our disorders. Smashing the scale was smashing the lies, the standards, the expectations, the anger, the fear and everything else. Plus it was a great stress reliever and we got lots of weird looks which was funny.

I remember the day we made puppets and talked down our eating disorder voices. I watched light bulbs go off around me. I remember watching now friends and recovery partners throwing clay as hard as they could at the wall and yelling at their ED voices. I remember when we had hard days where abuse was spoken of and people wanted to jump out windows and tears were shed by all and families gathered. I remember family therapy and letting a little bit of my shield down. I remember the day I finally opened up to one of the therapists and she hugged me and thanked me. I remember the new faces as well as the old. I remember saying hello as well as goodbye. I remember the worry when people discharged against doctors recommendation without a trace. I remember arguing over who was going to go see the psychiatrist first and making faces at each other across the table at food we didn’t like. I remember the day we all cried over chef salad and didn’t leave a man behind. I remember the video we watched on wolves and everyone trying not to burst into laughter during the pointless session about that wolf video. And of course, I remember that Prince George was born while I was at Renfrew.

Most of all I remember the complete hopelessness, the desperation, the lack of purpose. I believed I was worthless & unlovable so I lived that way. I remember the anxiety and anger, the withdraw, the avoidance. I also, remember the subtle shifts, the changes. I remember the first day I felt hungry. I remember the first day I asked for help. I remember finding my voice and asking questions that we all were thinking. I remember being challenged in my faith. I remember the ups and the downs and all of the things I learned.

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I learned to sit with hard emotions instead of act upon them.

I learned to use my voice.

I learned that my body is an awful lot better at knowing what’s best for it than I am.

I learned to trust the professionals around me.

I learned that my family is for me, I just needed to let down my wall and allow them to come in.

I learned to say, “I have anorexia” instead of avoiding the question or making excuses.

I learned to say “this too shall pass” when uncomfortable emotions and anxieties threatened to send me into a panic.

I learned that I have so many people on my side, praying and battling on my behalf when I was too sick to do so.

I learned that I don’t have to be happy all the time.

I learned that self-hatred was killing me and I was letting it.

I learned to put myself in positive, healthy places with people that speak truth.

I learned about my core beliefs and how everything stems from them.

I learned that though nothing will ever feel as comfortable and safe as my eating disorder did, things willbegin to feel okay, even good.

I learned that change is scary as it ever was, but it’s also so so good.

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Moral of the story is, treatment is hard, recovery is just as hard, but God is good and He provides, sustains, empowers and encourages. He does incredible works through the most incredible pain. He never stops or disappears even in situations where He is (seemingly) nowhere to be found. He moved mountains for me and still is. He gave love where I gave hate. He gave grace where I needed it most. He gave courage when I was about to give up. He showed me what redemption looks like. He gave me reasons to live, to mend, to hope, to love.

Two years ago I was lost, hopeless, afraid. Two years later I am a different person. Made new, new life and hope. Given passions to pursue and relationships to foster.

Two years later. Two years braver. Thank you Lord, for these two years.

What if God isn’t Good?

Okay friends, prepare to have a little look-see into my heart. Bare with me as this post will be long, jumbled and jumpy, but hopefully I can get years of life sorted into a somewhat cohesive post that you can understand. Here goes!

I’ve had this post on my heart and mind for weeks now, pondering and sitting with it, writing about it. I want you to know that I only post real things. Things that have hurt, helped, lifted. Things that I’ve sat with. Things that I’ve wrestled with and cried over. Things that have been important in my growth as a young Christian and a brave girl. From the very beginning, I decided that I would only post when I felt the nudge from God towards a certain subject. I never want to post for the sake of posting and I pray that anything I write on this blog would be real and vulnerable, because I’ve learned (through trial) that vulnerability brings about depth, growth and connection. The act of being real with others immediately links hearts and tells stories (more on this in a later post). All of that being said, this post is going to be a very real (and probably chaotic & rambling) one.

If you’ve read my previous post, then you know I struggle with failure and fear. I have anxiety and the future usually looks like a whole lot of scariness that I can’t do anything about right now. I’ve heard over and over again, “God has a plan for you.” I’ve told myself that very thing to chase away the fears, but there was always more to it. I just didn’t know what.

After a really hard, vulnerable, eye-opening session with my therapist I was left with some baggage to sort through, some thoughts to decipher and bring before the Lord.

After talking about eating disorder stuff, changes and fears in college we stumbled across this very real, raw fear: What if God’s plan isn’t good?

I had no idea that thought was in my mind. It just came. I don’t know where it came from, but there it was.

What if His plan for college, for friendships & dating, for my body & weight & eating are not good plans?  What if I don’t like them?

At the root of the question lies this one overarching question: What if God himself is not good?

Buried, disguised somewhere deep down, this question comes unannounced and I wrestle with it. It’s living and I’m not prepared to handle its writhing alone. It seems wrong, unchristian to think such a thought. Of course God is good! That phrase is repeated every Sunday and I live in and by His goodness daily, yet the what if God is not good remains.

Thankfully, I was not left alone with this question, this fear. My therapist had an answer to my question. The moment the words settled in the room, her voice countered with this. “God is good. There is NO darkness in Him. None.”

God is light [he’s pure, holy & good] there is NO darkness [no evil, sin, failure, or mistakes] in Him (1 John 1:5).

Wow. I sat with that for a minute. I love the imagery of light versus dark. I think it’s beautiful, especially when it makes things click in my head. God is light and light is good. If God is light (and He is) then He can not be darkness, because darkness can’t be where light is. It’s impossible. They’re opposites. They do not, can not coexist.

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Side note: I’ve learned that everything can be traced back to something else. My anxiety can be traced back. My depression can be traced back. Anorexia can be traced back. All of the trails lead back to fear, to lies. This question is no different. I can trace what if God isn’t good back to fear and lies. Even the fear and lies can be traced back. Those trails lead to the father of lies himself.

Satan knows God is good. He has seen first hand how good God is and thus knows how bad he himself is. He knows he stands no chance against the God of all good. He knows that he is going to die. He knows that he is forever separated from all goodness, and is bound and determined to see that you and I face the same fate, an eternity spent separated from the goodness of God. He will stop at nothing. No temptation, no evil, no seedling of fear, and no lie are too despicable for him. Not even a lie about God is below Satan. In fact, I bet he likes planting lies about God the best. He must throw a party down in Hell when we willingly believe the lies he feeds us about God.

Back to the story, so this lie boils down to me being afraid that what God has for me isn’t good. I’m afraid that God wants me to fail again. I’m afraid that what everyone tells me about the “freshman 15” is true and that I’m doomed before I’ve even begun. I’m afraid that the friendships in place will wither when people actually meet me in person. I’m afraid that the future husband I’ve prayed for (and my parents & grandparents have prayed for) is just imaginary. I’m afraid that my weight will be unsteady in college and that my eating will have to change due to the cafeteria scene. I’m afraid of not dancing anymore and having to find my niche in another physical activity

All of these fears receive the same answer, “It’s in Gods hands. He has a plan.” Yes, I know He has a plan….but what if it isn’t good? What if I don’t like it? What if it looks different than my plan?

The truth is, it will look different than my plan. I may not like it at first, but it will still be good. It will always, every single time be good. In fact, it will be better. My plan may look good to my fallen eyes, but His plan is good, because He sees and does through untainted eyes. His eyes see more than my glory, my comfort, my desires.

For some reason, I have this idea that God wants to hurt me, is out to get me or something. It’s silly. I know that is the furthest thing from the truth, but for every “I’m afraid” listed above there is a real fear that God is going to give me those exact things that I’m afraid of. My therapist is slowly getting through to me that God’s plans were not designed to hurt me. He knows that friends are important to me and is not going to leave me without community. He knows that the food thing in college is going to be hard and He doesn’t have a secret master plan to make it even harder or to make my fears come true. Hurting me is never His plan.

God heals. He doesn’t hurt. The hurting happens when I, in a desperate attempt to control, foolishly make my own plans. The hurt happens when I choose darkness over light, choose to live outside of His plan.

As you all know, I like lists. So here is a list to speak over my life (& yours) when the goodness of God seems unbelievable.

  • Everything God is and does is good (Psalm 119:68)
  • God’s goodness lasts forever, it is unchanging (Psalm 107:1)
  • Everything God makes is good, He makes no mistakes (Genesis 1:31)
  • God has goodness saved up for us, not harm (Psalm 31:19)
  • Everything from God is good, even the hard is good so give thanks (1 Timothy 4:4)
  • Every good gift is from God (James 1:17)

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (Psalm 84:11).

Before I leave, here are a few final thoughts for you if you never feel good enough:

This right here, whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, is good. And good is good enough.

When you let good, not perfect but good, be good enough, you’re living brave.

Shedding layers, digging deeper, separating light from dark, countering lies with truth, asking real though ugly questions, that is good. All of those things are good and God has His hands in all of them. Because He is good.