On My Mind Today:

“Hope is the fuel that the human heart runs on. We can survive the loss of an extraordinary number of things, but no one can outlive hope. When it is gone, we are done. Therefore the capacity to stay focused on the presence and power of God in our lives becomes supremely important. When we forget this, we become more focused on the overwhelming nature of the storm than the overwhelming presence of God. The Bible speaks of this often in terms of ‘losing heart.’

If we’re not careful, we can come to believe that no matter how hard we try, nothing we do will make a difference. And so we stop trying. However, the conviction that our effort makes a difference and that we are not victims of circumstance is what keeps us persisting in the face of setbacks. It saves us from apathy, hopelessness, and despair.

Hope and optimism are not quite the same thing. Optimism requires what Christopher Lasch calls a belief in progress- that things will in fact get better for me. Hope includes all the psychological advantages of optimism, but it is rooted in something deeper. When I hope, I believe that God is at work to redeem all things regardless of how things happen to be turning out for me today.

Our ability to live in hope–to remain focused on Christ during the storm–is largely dependent on what we feed our minds. As Isaiah says, ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.'”

 

 

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I Will Trust In Him

Sometimes all you have is this: the firm belief that no matter what you perceive, no matter what you feel, no matter how bleak or hopeless things seem, God IS.

And if that’s all you have, that’s enough.

He is holy.

He is good.

He is mighty.

He is powerful.

And He loves us. He loves us with a love that is too big to be understood by our limited human brains. I’m so comforted by that. If He loves me more than I love my nieces and nephew, more than I love my cats, more than I love the people my heart calls family, then certainly I can trust Him.

And, not only can I trust Him, but how praise-worthy it is that the God of the universe loves me with a love so profound!?

I’m so comforted by the fact that His ways aren’t our ways, His love is bigger than our understanding of love, His plan for my life is better than what I could plan for myself.

Not only do I not have to understand, but I won’t be able to. I cannot wrap my mind around what He is doing or the vastness and greatness of who He is. And I’m so, so comforted by that. It gives me permission just to be still and know, to just be His child. To let go of my need for control.

It doesn’t have to make sense to me. And even if it does’t make sense, I can trust that IT IS GOOD. He makes all things good.

My tears matter, my heartbreak matters, my disappointments and defeats and losses matter, BUT THAT’S NOT HOW MY STORY ENDS. So while God empathizes with me, while Jesus sheds tears on my behalf and reaches down from heaven to dry my face when I cry, He also smiles. He is joyful. Because He knows what is coming. He sees the whole picture, and He says not to be afraid. He says to rejoice.

I don’t have to understand.

Lord, help me to trust and love You more each day that I live.

Joy, I ask of You. Peace. Hope. Fullness of life. Love. Family. Fulfillment. Freedom. Healing. Happiness.

But even more than that, Lord, I ask for more of You.

I don’t know how to fix it.

I don’t know how to be okay.

I don’t know why my brain and heart are all twisty and achy and completely devoid of energy and laughter and lightness.

But You know. You understand. I am not a mystery to You.

I am so grateful for that.

Lord, I trust You with me. I trust You with my heart and my life, with my hopes and dreams and plans and desires. I trust You.

(Lord, help me to trust You…)

Just don’t let go of me. If all I have is You, I’m going to need You to hold tight to my hand, to tell me over and over that You love me, to kiss my forehead before I go to bed at night and smile at me when my eyes open in the morning. I’m going to need You to call me beautiful and ‘daughter’ and hold Your arms open wide for me to run into them when I’m sad or happy or insecure or just need to feel nearer to You.

More of You, Abba. More of You.

Take my heart, Lord. Take my life.

But give me You.

I am thirsty.

I am desperate.

I am Yours.

I trust You.

*

“The need to control is rooted not in strong and capable, but in fear and distrust.

However, when we finally allow the truth [that God loves us] to envelop our core, we are left breathless to the wonder of such grace. That a love so profound and eternal could have a plan for all of our yesterdays, our todays, and our tomorrows is a roller coaster ride like no other.

We no longer turn our ears toward fear, but listen intently to the voice of unfailing kindness. We no longer follow the urge to commandeer the controls, but rest in complete abandon to everlasting Love.

And we once again give ourselves permission to anticipate what’s ahead. To be fascinated with the possibilities that lie beyond our own reach. To release control and throw our arms in the air with certainty that no matter the destination and no matter the stretching beyond our comfort zone . . .

We are held.

We are loved.

We are never forgotten.”

Tired

I’m not the kind of person who gives huge weight to my dreams, but when they’re reoccurring, I think that requires that we at least stop and take notice.

Lately, I keep having dreams that I cannot move. My limbs are soooo heavy, and I’m trying to walk, I’m trying to just LIFT. UP. MY. LEG. and I can’t.

And I’m in public. And it’s embarrassing. And everyone is looking at me like, “Why can’t you do this thing that all normal people can do?”

And I’m trying so hard to just take a step, and I’m looking around at people, wondering how to explain to them what I literally cannot move, and I’m panicking. Because I’m embarrassed. And I’m scared. And I cannot do it. I cannot do it, at least not on my own. And I don’t know why or what’s wrong with me or how to fix it.

God Has A Plan. And It Is GOOD.

I find a lot of comfort in knowing that God’s ways are not our own.

I think I’ve spent a lot of time fearing that God’s love and plan for my life couldn’t be trusted. I mean, yes, He loves me in a bigger way than I could ever imagine, and yes, He has a plan, but… He’s always had a plan. From the day I was born, God had a plan. He doesn’t wait until you turn eighteen and have to declare a college major to start getting involved in our lives. And, with that knowledge, it’s hard for me to understand why things have happened the way they have, and why things are the way they are now, and how any of it will ever be okay. It’s hard to look at my life up until now and think the future will be any different.

However, I know there’s more going on than what I perceive. I know there have been countless times God’s protected me and blessed me. There have been countless seasons of my life that I wouldn’t have survived had He not been holding tight to my hand.

And I know God can redeem what’s been lost and what’s been broken and what’s all knotted up within me.

I cannot untangle myself or heal myself or make beauty from the ashes, but He can. And He promises He will.

I don’t have to understand. Truth is truth regardless of whether or not I understand it.

Sometimes I worry I’m destined to live a life of aloneness- belonging to no one, being delighted in by no one, holding a special place in the heart of no one.

I thought that God was trying to teach me to need no one and nothing but Him. I thought my aloneness was His will for my life because, if I loved Him enough, I shouldn’t need anyone else. He should be enough. I thought my opportunity for love and family and acceptance and belonging had passed and that God was trying to help me learn to live a life of solitude.

I think that there’s definitely something to be said for the lessons learned when God is all you have, but I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to be forever.

Just think, Adam walked with God pre-sin. He had complete, unhindered access to God. And yet, God still saw it fit for Adam to “not be alone”, so He created Eve.

We aren’t meant to be alone. Even when life was the way God intended it to be, unity with Him, perfect peace and harmony, no sin or temptation or sorrow, God still designed us to need each other. And if that was true then, how much more true is it now that sin has entered the picture?

God doesn’t want me to be alone.

I don’t have to rely on myself. I don’t have to worry I’m unlovable. God’s plan for me is for family- a network of people who will love and support me. That plan isn’t contingent on me at all. God designed me to need people, and He designed people to need me, and He has a plan.

I think I need so much stuff, like love and comfort and family and hope, but when I make pursuing those things my goal, everything falls apart.

For instance, if I want comfort, I skip church and stay at home eating an entire pizza on the couch with my cats. But that’s not real comfort.

Rarely does seeking the thing itself read me to where God wants me. Instead, it is a distraction.

However, when I make knowing and loving Him more my primary focus, love and comfort and hope just seem to be the natural result.

He rewards us when we seek Him first.

Lord, protect my heart. Help me hope in You. Help my hope not be in my job or bank account balance or the people in my life, but in You, Father.

Help me not get distracted by things that You don’t have for me, but help my desires be in line with Your perfect will for my life.

Help me not get ahead of You, planning things that You have not planned for me. Help me do life with Your hand in mine.

Help me remember that all good things come from You, aren’t dependent on me, and aren’t as fragile as I might perceive them to be. Help me be able to delight in the blessings You provide without fearing they are going to be inevitably taken from me.

Thank You that my heart and my life are in Your capable, all-knowing hands. Thank You that my heart matters to You.

Help me to trust that You are good, that Your love for me can be depended upon and that Your plan for my life isn’t to be feared.

Lord, I pray for protection.

Help me submit my thoughts to You, Lord. Because regardless of what I feel or perceive to be true, Your truth still stands- irrefutably. Your Word, Your promises, Your truth, they aren’t dependent on my understanding.

You are unchanging.

Hallelujah.

Rainbows and Trust

I saw a rainbow today. Barely. I stared at the sky for a long time, trying to figure out if my eyes were playing tricks on me.

God knows I am forever hunting the sky for rainbows. He knows what they mean to me. To me, they are a hug from Him. A reassurance. He knows that.

And after carefully scrutinizing the sky, I felt something well up inside of my soul. It felt like I was being hugged from the inside. And I knew that my eyes weren’t tricking me. It was there, a rainbow, in muted pink and orange and yellow, arching across the sky.

And I bet no one else even saw it.

But I did.

And that makes me think that God put it there for me.

I was praying when I saw the rainbow. One of those, “You are big and mighty and holy and I am in awe of You… But, Lord, please just tell me that it’s all going to be alright,” prayers. And then I saw it. And my prayer quickly became, “I love You, I love You, I love You, I love You…”

And I do. I do love Him.

But it’s also a prayer, a plea, because I know I cannot trust myself. I know how hard it is to hold on to a God I cannot physically touch, especially when this life feels disappointing. It’s hard to not give up seeking a God who cannot hold me.

And I don’t think I’m alone in that struggle. We love Him because He first loved us, right? Which is selfish and silly and honestly kind of sickening to me, and yet, it’s human nature. And so, I pray His love for me will overwhelm me in such a way that my love for Him continues to grow stronger and deeper all the days of my life.

And I know myself. I know that I am prone to drowning in emotion. If things go poorly, if they don’t go my way, no amount of filling my head with scripture is going to counter the ache that forms like a ulcer in my heart. I know it’s true that He is good, and I know it’s true that He has a plan, but that doesn’t make this moment hurt less.

It does, however, whisper an important truth to my soul: “Do not despair.” And that’s immensely helpful, it is. But as I said before, I am prone to drowning in emotion.

And so I pray that prayer, telling Him that I love Him, because I need to feel Him smiling at me. I need Him to know it’s true. And I need Him to hold tight to me. When I turn away or try to give someone or something else God’s place in my life, I need Him to pull me back. I need Him to consume my heart.

I cannot control anything. I cannot control how my life turns out or whether or not I’m okay. I’ve tried. I have nothing left to offer. I’ve tried to battle my emotions and thoughts with scripture. I’ve tried to begin each day smiling at the sunrise. And I don’t have it in me to try to be okay anymore.

I want joy that is genuine, not happiness that I hold on to relentlessly, even while it’s struggling to get away.

I think for a long time I’ve done life with my happiness like an umbrella in the wind, constantly turning itself inside out. I’m soaking wet from the rain and my umbrella is inside out above my outstretched arm, but I refuse to let go. I refuse to say this isn’t working. Instead, I hold on anyway, insisting everything is great.

I cannot do it anymore.

And, ironically, I think maybe that’s where God has wanted me all along. I don’t think God asks us to be stronger than our pain, I think He just asks us to trust Him.

And I want to. I want my love for Him to be the biggest, realest thing in my heart.

I read last night that sometimes it takes more courage and strength to let yourself fall apart, trusting God to catch you, than it does to try to hold it together. I think that’s really, really true. It’s much scarier to throw your hands up and say, “I can’t do it!” than it is to attempt to power through.

It’s much scarier to give in to gravity, to loosen your death-grip on the ledge you’ve been digging your fingertips into to keep from falling, and to just fall. To let go, knowing that you aren’t going to grow wings on your way down, and knowing that you cannot ensure that your landing will be a soft one. You fall and all you know as gravity pulls you towards the earth is who your God is, that He is holy and mighty and He has a plan, and that You couldn’t hold on anymore anyway. There was no other option but to fall and trust.

Where I’m at right now is really embarrassing. But I cannot hide it or pretend everything is okay or else I know that I won’t survive. So I have to be honest with the people in my life who I love and trust. And that is terrifying. Completely terrifying. Because… I don’t know how anyone could love me through this.

I have no choice, though. It’s either risk losing love or risk not surviving.

And, as a friend of mine keeps telling me, love isn’t fragile. I’m trying to believe that, which is hard because I don’t know that I’ve ever known a love that isn’t fragile or conditional.

My friend says, when someone loves you the way the Bible describes love, they don’t stop. They don’t change their mind. They don’t give up on you. The love of the Bible is strong and unwavering.

And so that is my prayer, as well. That something beneath my feet will be solid, that something in my hands won’t crumble.

I pray this time, this season of my life and the people in my life, are from God. Because if they are, I can breathe. People will always let each other down, I know. We are flawed and imperfect and human and I am completely okay with that. But if God goes before me, if He paves the way, if He knew this time was coming and I’d need someone to help me get through it, then maybe the people in my life right now are in my life for a reason, and maybe I don’t have to be afraid.

And, if not, if things do get worse before they get better–(dear God, please say they’re going to get better!)–at least I’m still the daughter of a King who puts rainbows in the sky for me.