Unexpected Love

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This past year I’ve been on the pursuit of love. Not a romantic one, but the world’s most intimate one: a love for the Lord.

I remember last year being so bitter towards love and the idea of it. Surrounded by a community that places such a high emphasis on dating and marriage, I felt insignificant and as though I couldn’t be single and happy. My bitterness played a role in my worship as well. I questioned whether or not I could even worship God truthfully because I questioned whether or not I truly loved him. The words I was singing felt like lies and I had to take a large step back from the community in order to find myself and work through my thoughts. I was incapable of loving God because of my struggle to love myself.

I was so broken. I was going through my quarter life crisis. I was 20 and questioning everything. Everything I valued felt like it was being taken away. I had no clear vision as to where I was going. More than willing to drop out of school, I felt a call to missions and felt like I wasn’t living my life to the fullest. I remember sitting with my roommate and ranting to her about how I knew I needed to be doing more with my life, but didn’t know what that was. I was believing lies about myself and she listened to all of it, bless her heart. She was there for me during one of my lowest points. I wanted to just move on but had no Idea how.

My self-worth was so low that I felt like my life was not worth living anymore. I remember telling my roommate I didn’t feel capable of being loved. The words she said to me that night, “Halle, that is a lie,” have stuck with me.

Those words, “That is a Lie” have done more for me than I can even begin to explain. I remember just looking at her and having this crazy moment and realizing how right she was. Yet, it was a lie I was believing. That short phrase was the beginning to my freedom. It didn’t happen over night, but that was one of the major turning points in my life. I started doing more self-reflection and going through and pointing out the lies I was believing, and I was believing a lot of them.

I had this journal from that semester filled with some harsh thoughts and lies. I remember looking back through it and pointing out the lies that I was buying into about myself. I decided it was time to stop ignoring these lies and stop letting them have power over me. It is crazy how God was working during that semester. God gave me time to do this necessary reflecting. I was diagnosed with mono and it gave me a lot of free time. That was how I started getting into writing and sharing what God has been teaching me through this blog.

I made the commitment to go a year without dating. I made the commitment to God to remain single until October 1st, 2014. It was time to rethink singleness. Over a year has passed now and, well, I’m still single. But there is a night and day difference between who I am and who I was last year.

I remember praying passionately for God to reveal to me His love. I knew it was there, I just didn’t know it personally. You know? I told God to help me to live my life to the fullest, willing to go wherever He’d send me. God revealed to me that my ministry was here this whole time.

This year He has called me to be a freshmen RA. There’s a lot more to the story, but basically God has been overwhelming me this year with love through these girls. For example, on my birthday my girls surprised me by filling my room with 72 balloons! Each of them had something thoughtful written on it and or hershey kisses inside. I have never felt so loved in my life. I am blessed beyond I deserve and I have had nights where I fall asleep with tears of joy because I just don’t know what I ever did to deserve any of it. God has not only blessed me with an awesome floor of girls, but also a great RA staff, teammates, professors and friends. He has revealed to me that there is value in every day and in these relationships. I am experiencing a freedom and joy in my life that I have never experienced before.

My bitterness toward love was a personal bitterness I held because I didn’t know how to love myself. I didn’t see any value in who I was and I felt like I was failing everyone, especially God. I felt like he was calling me to do big things, yet I felt like I wasn’t doing anything significant. That was a lie. I wasn’t failing anyone. It was a time in my life where God was calling me to be still.

I am still always processing this past year, but one thing that has been clear to me is that God is showing me love in unexpected ways. I’ve been having a hard time accepting all these blessings and affirmations because I am still trying to replace these lies I have about myself. It’s a process that takes time, but for the first time in my life I am learning that I am capable of being loved.

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Confessions of a Fakebook User

Last year I decided to fall off the face of the earth.

I deactivated my Facebook and it was the most freeing thing I have ever done. I handed my password over to my roommate and told her she couldn’t give it back to me until I moved out. No one knew what was going on in my life. No one could know unless they actually saw me in person and have this thing called a conversation, which people need to relearn how to have. Not only were people clueless about my life, but I had no idea what was going on in theirs. You would think this is a bad thing, but It really isn’t. Having conversations and catching up with people in real life, without checking their Facebook page, is a good thing.

I went without Facebook for the semester and I reactivated it two days before I left for Costa Rica, where I spent four months living with a host family and studying at a university. Every part of me wishes I could go back and just not post my experiences from while I was living there.

On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, I kept getting comments and likes from my “friends” and when I got back from my trip people asked me about it expecting to hear about how great it was. I would expect that kind of answer too based on my social media. People were taken by surprise when I’d tell them how it actually was. I told them what happened between the highlights and they were caught off guard. I will tell you right now that my time in Costa Rica was far more difficult and not nearly as enjoyable as my Facebook page made it seem. I experienced and saw much more than I can even comprehend. I am still processing that trip, which was one of the most challenging experience of my life. My Facebook was Fakebook. It told a different story.

For anyone who knows me, they know that this past year has broken me down in more ways than one. One of my greatest convictions has been social media, specifically Facebook. I allowed my use of Facebook to impact me and have power over me. I found myself struggling. I saw my life as a distortion of lies. I didn’t start to see things clearly until I took a step back. After doing so, I was able to reflect and realize a number of things.

Facebook was my Idol. I wish I could add up the number of times I’ve turned to Facebook instead of God. I found myself more likely to start my day on Facebook rather than talking with the Lord. After experiencing a detachment from Facebook, I became more attached to God and less to my profile. When I am by myself, the first thing I turn to isn’t my Facebook page.  I’ve been learning that it’s Him I need to seek first. This isn’t rocket science when it comes to the Christian faith, but it’s important to think about what’s keeping us from putting Him first. For me personally, I allowed Facebook to distract me from my relationship with God. I let it replace Him. I can tell you right now that because I’ve refocused my life, Facebook is no longer my idol.

I made an idol out of myself. Not only was Facebook an Idol, but through it I was making myself an Idol. I did this by highlighting my life and making it seem greater than it actually is. I would only post pictures and statuses that made me seem as though I am the greatest thing since sliced bread. Although I am a pretty great person and you should get to know me, my Facebook only showed the good things. It was modified to show people what I wanted them to see. How are we supposed to share what’s really going on? We don’t want to highlight the things in our lives that make us look bad; we want to look as though we have it all together. I wanted to have control and I was believing lies about myself. I was looking to Facebook to try and shape who I was rather than allowing God to define me.

I couldn’t just live in the moment. I was focusing more on taking pictures. Every moment had to be shared. Whether it be a day with friends, a sunset or a plate of food, I had to take a picture of it because I wanted to remember and share it. It had to be captured. Whenever I was doing something with friends, I couldn’t leave without proof that I was hanging out with people. That way I could show the world that I am social. I have a life, a good life. I would compare my profile to others and do what I could to make mine better. I wanted to generate more likes because that’s all that matters, right? How ridiculous is that? Am I crazy for thinking this way, or are there others out there who catch themselves comparing their lives too? I just couldn’t take it anymore and since I stepped back my mind has been much more present. I don’t care about my profile or my pictures any longer.

Facebook took up way more time than I want to admit. I wish I could take back the hours and days I’ve spent scrolling and clicking through Facebook. I know I am not the only one who has wasted more time than I’m willing to admit. Scrolling through the newsfeed is distracting from reality and it is addicting. I would log onto my account to check something “important” such as a message or an event date. Instead, though, the first thing I would do is click that attractive little red flag in the top right corner. I was a stalker. I was completely addicted. After I spent over an hour scrolling through a dozen profiles and commenting on posts, I would try to remember why I logged on in the first place. I’d then feel guilty over how much I could have actually done in the time I had just wasted on Facebook. I claimed I was using it to keep in contact with people and to know events, but it was taking me away from living my life. We tend to use Facebook for so much more than we say we do.

The more time I spent on Facebook the more depressed I’d get. This was a defining realization in my time from Facebook. As I detached myself from my profile, I honestly saw myself becoming happier. Before, when I was attached to my account, I found myself spending more time alone and on Facebook feeling bad about the things my friends were doing that I wasn’t. Seriously, how dumb is that? I literally spent my time staring at a screen feeling bad for myself even if I had just gotten done hanging out with other friends. That should be a wakeup call. I’m embarrassed about this one but hey, I’m willing to admit it and because I am set free I am not ashamed anymore. Social media will only have power over your happiness if you allow it to.

I was becoming lazy in my friendships. Whenever I would think about one of my friends and wonder how they are doing, the first thing I would do would check out their profile. It’s was so much more convenient than calling a friend up and telling them that you miss them. Isn’t that sad? I would hardly go out of my way to contact my friends because their Facebook updates told me everything that was new. Facebook makes “friendships” easy but are they even real? I much rather prefer to spend time with my friends in person. I prefer to keep most of my pictures off social media and share them in person. It’s nice to actually talk about my experiences with people when I catch up with them. Has there ever been a time where you started telling a story and then one of your friends says, “oh yeah I remember seeing that on Facebook?” Well then what’s the point? We let social media be social for us.

My “friends” didn’t really know me. People had this belief that they knew me because they were my friend on Facebook. My profile had thousands of pictures from since I was in 7th grade, which I can tell you was quite fun to stalk. Yet, it really started to creep me out after a while because people could know so much about me without even really knowing me that well. I remember this specific time when I met someone on campus and introduced myself. He claimed he already knew me because we were friends on Facebook. Weird. We have never had a conversation in real life, why the heck were we “friends” on Facebook? I got into the habit of accepting every friend request that came my way because I felt popular. I mean, I had well over 2,000 friends. But were they all my friends? Did they even know me? Now I won’t be friends with people unless I have an actual friendship with them. People now have to go out of their way get to know me in person. If you want to know me you have to get to know me. You can’t just click “add friend” in order to be my friend.

The list goes on, but basically I couldn’t live with my Fakebook profile anymore. I couldn’t keep living a Fakebook life. I was sick and tired of highlighting my life and not living in the moments. I still want to be available to people, but I am trying to learn how to do so without getting sucked into the same routine.  I’m debating if I want to even post this blog post on my profile. I feel that convicted. After realizing all these convictions, my biggest question is what am I going to do about it?

I created this new Facebook page, and before you judge me, this time it’s different. I have a very simple page with just a cover photo and profile picture. That’s it. I try and keep my Facebook wall blank. There’s pretty much no information about me on my profile. I don’t post photos, when people tag me in photos I don’t accept them on my wall. I have this account for people to contact me, that’s pretty much all. I’m not trying to highlight myself any longer.

Honestly, I don’t even use Facebook much anymore and there’s a pretty good chance I get rid of it again. I don’t have all the answers to life or how to live perfectly. You don’t have to get rid of Facebook in order to live a better life. This is just something I’ve been doing because I realized I was abusing Facebook. I want to spend my life living, not hiding behind a screen and letting my life be consumed. I prefer to live in the present in the moments that matter with the people who matter.

Not everyone struggles with Facebook to the extremes that I have. If you’ve actually read through this post, I challenge you to think about how you use social media. Do you take time to get to know someone before you friend them on Facebook? A lot of us need to relearn how to be social instead of letting media do it for us. Sometimes it’s nice to just disappear for a while (deactivating your Facebook isn’t permanent). You don’t have to go to the extremes like I did, but I would recommend making necessary changes if you’ve had some struggles of your own with Facebook. Just be aware of how you are using your social media. Do you tend to build up yourself rather than others?

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Giving Up Control

Giving up control. It’s easier said than done. I hate having to give up control and having to trust others. Being here, I’ve been learning to let go more and more. Pretty much nothing is in my control. I don’t have control over when I wake up, I don’t have control over the language I can speak in my own (temporary) Home, I don’t have control over how much rice and beans I eat, Heck I don’t even have control over what my name is here. My host mom still thinks my name is Hellen! ( I don’t know what’s worse, being called Hellen or getting to a point where I actually respond to it…). Yet, life here has been so good to me. I’m learning simple lessons, but honestly those are the lessons we need to be reminded of.

Today, I’ve actually realized that I’m more go with the flow than I was when I got here. Usually when I need to get somewhere fast, I don’t stop for anyone or anything. Today while I was feeling a bit rushed to get where I needed to go, a woman stopped me and asked if I spoke english. Rather than pushing her aside and ignoring her, I actually listened to what she had to say. She’s looking to host students from the university and I just so happen to have a friend looking for a new home stay. I had her jot down her number and that was that. We’ll see what happens but it made me think about how easy it is to just ignore people and just block them out. You never know what they need unless you give them the time of day. Everyone’s worth your time. Had it been a creepy old man though, that would be a different story-I don’t want to get taken or anything.

For anyone who doesn’t know anything about San Jose, one thing you should know is that the streets are busy. Traffic laws may or may not exist here, I’m still trying to figure that one out. There are no speed limits, at least that I know of. People don’t always stop at stop signs. Traffic laws are taken more as suggestions. When I first got here it would take a ridiculous amount of time to cross just one street. I’d stand at the curb wondering if crossing this street would be the last thing I ever did. Now, crossing the busy streets of San Jose is childs play. Although I may or may not have had a few near-death accidents with red taxis (the movie elf is right on about taxis, the red ones here don’t stop), I’m not even phased by the absurd traffic here at all. I’ll be walking casually across the street and realize that my friends are still waiting on the other side for an opportunity to cross. It’s definitely something to get used to, but hey, you just gotta trust you’ll make it across. I really don’t believe that God sent me here to get hit by a car. Just look both ways, right? Traffic is one thing I’ve faced with no problem, busses on the other hand… that’s a different story.

When I was told we were going to have to take the bus in order to get to the YWAM base, I told myself I’d rather walk. Turns out, it’s a bit too far of a walk for this young gal. Even the distance runner in me doesn’t want to try. Guess what, we took the bus! I know it probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but here in Costa Rica that was something that stressed me way out. Busses and Taxis. If you could only see how many busses come through here, it’s very overwhelming. Do you have any idea where you could end up if you got on the wrong bus here? Not only that, you could be dropped off in the middle of some strange city you’ve never heard of and surrounded by a population of people who don’t speak your native language. I’d have to rely on my basic spanish to try and get home. Granted, I am more confident in my spanish than I was when I first arrived but I still wouldn’t want to take my chances. In order to get to the base though, I have to do it. So I got over myself and decided to just trust. Trust that God wants me to get to the YWAM base and that he’ll make sure I get on the right bus at the right stop.

Surprisingly, it was much easier than I thought it would be. When people give you directions here, it’s really confusing to get used to. Places don’t have distinct addresses. They use landmarks to pinpoint locations. For instance, my address is actually just a sentence of directions from the university. So, in order to get to this bus stop we were told to get on the Santa Maria bus across from the KFC which is past two stoplights, up a hill, around the corner from the ISA office and blah blah blah, you get my point. You have to pay attention when you walk. Although a bit overwhelming, we found our bus right where we were told. Without even questioning the bus driver, I hopped on the bus and prayed that God would reveal where we ought to get off. Abby hasn’t been here for as long and so she was relying on me to lead us to the base. Why in the world anyone would trust me with getting us somewhere beats me.  If I didn’t have God to rely on, I would be hospitalized for anxiety. The only thing that gets me through is reminding myself that God is in control and He brings us where he wants us. He wanted us to go to the base today and so He led us there. We got off right where we needed to and actually got there 45 minutes early. Moral of the story? Be willing to give up control. Just trust.

Where You Are

I’ve been gone for about a month now and I’m beginning to realize that I’m missing things that I didn’t think I would miss. I didn’t think I would say this but, I miss Bethel. Last semester was a struggle and I spent more time complaining and wishing that the semester would end. I couldn’t wait for my adventure abroad to begin rather than appreciating and counting all the blessings I had around me. Back at Bethel we always boast about the great community that we have and after awhile it got old.

What’s so great about Bethel anyway? We all boast about being so into our faith, yet each and every day we keep making the same mistakes. I got so sick of going to vespers (which is our worship service each sunday night) because I felt like it was all just so phony. Why are we here? Are we even worshipping God? Do we even mean these words that we’re singing? Why do we come back every week and sing the same songs? We know we’re not going to be any different and for most of us we’re not going to change our lives or how we live. We’re just going to keep messing up. It all felt so fake.

I’ve realized that that’s just life. We ARE sinners and that’s why we need to worship.

I’ve realized just how badly I am craving to worship God with people who have a faith and I miss having relationships with people who understand where I’m coming from. I never appreciated what I had and here I am now, realizing all that I have back home. But hey, look at this awesome opportunity that I’m living in right now. I am surrounded by people who may or may not even know the Lord. I know for a fact that one of the girls I’m living with doesn’t know Jesus and that’s a great opportunity.

So if there’s one thing I’ve realized so far, you need to learn to appreciate where you are.

Rather than spending my time here dwelling on the people back home that I miss, my hope and prayer is that I’ll be able to use the time I have here to make awesome friendships and maybe even share my faith with those who need it.

No Time to Regret

Life is too short to waste time dwelling on the past.

Moving on is one of life’s most difficult battles. I have many things that I wish I would have done differently, things I wish I hadn’t done, and there are things I kick myself for not doing. I find that I sometimes feel trapped and stuck with the decisions I’ve made. I’ve let them get ahold of my life in some aspects.

It has gotten to a point where it has been interfering with my worship. Instead of worshiping God for who He is, I find myself feeling guilty and regret for missed opportunities and mistakes I’ve made. We all have skeletons in our closet, things we are embarrassed of and also opportunities that we never took and wish we would have. The thing is, the entire purpose of the gospel is to set us free from these past mistakes. I guess I’ve always been so hard on myself that I don’t feel worthy enough to deserve the freedom that the Word of God brings. Obviously I’m not worthy enough to deserve this. No one is and that’s why we need Him. It feels like a lesson that I should have gotten a long time ago, but for some reason I feel like I actually need Him now more than ever. I’ve realized just how long I’ve been holding onto things. Things that happened years ago and things that have happened recently and it has gotten to a point where I just can’t take it anymore.

One of my favorite songs has a line in it, “and I don’t have the time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that he loves us.” I can’t believe it has taken me THIS long for those lines to actually mean something to me.

The other night I was at a church service and during the worship, for some reason, I opened my bible and came across James 5:16, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”  I looked at the verse, and didn’t want to think about it. I don’t want to talk about my problems with anyone, it’s not important. Then, OF COURSE, during the service we turned to that passage and it was part of the sermon. Of all passages we had to read THAT one. I can’t stop smiling at how God works like that. Later, I ended up chatting with one of my friends and felt the need to confess. It was a really freeing experience, something I’m not used to. I don’t like to admit my mistakes. It’s incredibly uncomfortable, but at the same time it’s crucial to find someone you trust and know that it’s okay.

We have to be willing to be more vulnerable with one another. If we aren’t, then how are we going to encourage others to experience this type of healing? I realized that I need to be done holding back. In reality it’s true, we DON’T have the time to maintain these regrets. That’s why we need Jesus. We need to confess, we need to repent, we need to be forgiven, and we need to move on. Our purpose here on earth is not to dwell on our mistakes. While talking with my friend, He pointed out that if we dwell on our mistakes we’re more likely to make them again. That is why we need to set our minds on what is above. We need to set our eyes on God and make that the focus. He has already forgiven me, therefore I need to forgive myself and be healed. When we admit and repent God forgives and forgets. I guess you’re never too old to learn the simplest of lessons. 

A Tragic Wakeup Call

Last night was when I found out Zack had committed suicide. Although I wasn’t close with him, my heart just breaks at the thought of it. To think that he left this world with pain and sadness, he let darkness take over. I can’t even believe it.

He was in my youth group at church, and I never really knew him but what if I had? What if I would have taken the time to get to know him? Would I have been friends with him? Would his life have been different? What if someone would have reached out to him? Would that have saved his life? I can’t help but wonder why God didn’t put someone in his life to stop this from happening. Why did God let this happen? Why didn’t anyone see this coming? Did anyone see this coming?

I can’t help but feel heartbroken for those people in his life that were close to him. Especially his girlfriend. I hope and pray that she will somehow grow closer to God through this situation. I don’t understand why God let this happen. A natural response is to get mad, angry at God but all we can do is trust that He will somehow use this for good. I just don’t see it now, but to someone maybe it does make sense.

Based on Facebook, a lot of people are being affected. There are tons of posts, and I hope and pray that others out there are praying too. I called my mom to tell her the news, she’s good friends with his mom and she’s with her today. Does his mom blame herself? I hope not, pray not. Does his girlfriend? I just can’t even imagine. I didn’t know him all that well but his death has affected me.

I can’t stop reflecting on how I’m living my life so obliviously.

Do I do a god job showing other that they are loved?

Some people are harder to love than others, but God loves us all and it is our job to show His love. To let it shine through us. I wonder if there is anyone in my life who is suffering inside just like Zack was. There probably are. They do a great job at hiding it, and you would never know until it’s too late. Just like now, it is too late for Zack. I want God to use me, now, to open my eyes to the people around me and to see where people need loving. No one should go through life feeling unloved. I need to do a better job. I have been failing. It’s so easy to be caught up in you own problems, or you own life, and it’s easy to ignore others around you who are dealing with problems 100 times more serious.

It was interesting scrolling through Facebook and Twitter. Among all of the posts about Zack, I would see posts about how people are stressed about homework or that they are “so hungry” and all sorts of dumb small problems and here we have someone who took his own life because he didn’t see the purpose of  life. He let darkness win. What is the purpose of life, then? Zack just died. His life ended but life here moves on. People that knew him are affected but others simply say, “that sucks” and continue on with their lives. We can’t stop the world from moving on. It’s always moving. Even when my life ends, life beyond mine keeps living. To take another moment and reflect isn’t a bad thing to do. Sitting here and reevaluating life is necessary.

This has been a tragic wakeup call.

Let God use this for God. Let Him change my heart, mind and actions. Life is bigger than you and me. Life is bigger than my problems, grades, friendships. God is life. God comes first. That’s where I need to start. It shouldn’t take a tragic death to realize that, but it has been a wakeup call.”

This was from my journal, written the day after Zack’s suicide. He passed away two years ago and to this day, I can tell you that this has made an enormous impact on my life. The drive and desire to live my life with a purpose, I believe, comes from this tragic death because it really put life into perspective for me. It’s really sad that sometimes it takes a death or something tragic for someone to realize the importance of God and life.

After his death, I became depressed and really hard on myself. Life kept flying by and as time went on, less and less was heard about Zack. It’s a harsh reality when you realize that your life is very small and insignificant compared to this large, fast-paced world. I can tell you right now that since his death, many people have been impacted and Maybe there are many people out there who can relate to this story, maybe there are many out there who are struggling with the death of a friend, loved one, or even just an acquaintance.

My hope and prayer for anyone out there who is suffering is that they will not turn away from God or become bitter with Him. I hope they can evaluate life and how they are living it. We can’t blame ourselves for a tragic death like this one, but rather we need to look forward and think about how we can be living life in a way that reflects God and his purpose for us to love Him and love those around us.

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My Mind is Not Here

In twelve days I’m moving out! In less than 2 months, I’m leaving the States! Not that I’m keeping track or anything, but anyway I guess you can say I’m somewhat looking forward to it.

Do you ever find yourself looking forward to something so much, that it makes it hard for you to enjoy where you’re at? This semester has been challenging in just about every possible way. Most of the semester was spent thinking about what is coming next: a four-month adventure living in Costa Rica! I literally haven’t stopped thinking about this trip and I still haven’t fully registered in my head the fact that I am Actually leaving!

At the same time, it’s hard to “be here” in a sense that all I keep thinking about is what’s coming. I keep looking forward to studying abroad and I forget that while I’m so focused on what is to come, I’m missing today! It’s like my mind is not here. I don’t really think about how hard it’s going to be when I leave all of my friends and family. So, Instead of trying to think about how much I want to leave I really need to shift my thinking to how much I appreciate here. It’s important to take the time to look around and enjoy where we are at.

Yes, God has a future and a plan for the future (Jeremiah 29:11), but he also has a plan for today (Psalm 118:24) and He wants it to be lived to the fullest!

Rethinking Singleness

Love seems to be the center of everything, doesn’t it?

“Love is all you need” according to everything. Society tells us that we need to be in a relationship in order to be happy. We need to get married and have a family in order to live a life to the fullest. Getting married and raising a family is something I would love to do someday if it is God’s plan for my life. However, I feel as though having that be the focus of my life at this age is not healthy.

In college, so many people are dating or on the hunt to “find the one.” People are settling into relationships that are unhealthy, but the thought of another breakup would be too devastating to go through. It’s also easy to encounter couples who have been together for so many years that they practically feel married. It doesn’t matter how unhappy they are, they feel as though they can’t move on from all those years. I’m surrounded by all sorts of relationships. Not all of them are bad, but not all of them are good. And what’s sad is that not many single people are content with the status of being single. Even Christians aren’t content with being single.

Do we forget that God is love?

Isn’t it weird that so many sermons are about marriage and relationships? Where are the single people preaching about how awesome it is to be fully in love with God, yet single? I feel like we don’t hear about the positives of being single enough. How many times do you hear singles moping around about the fact that nobody likes them and that they are never going to find someone who loves them? Why does that have to define the quality one’s life? It’s foolish to believe and hope that one relationship will fix everything one day.

I think that this focus is way off. You see, it’s not about finding the right person. Actually, it’s about becoming the right person! When we are single we can work on being the person that the person we’re looking for is looking for. When I went through this breakup, rather than letting it get me down and hating myself, it got me thinking. How easy it is to let one relationship mess with someone’s life. We have to choose whether we want it to make us or break us. I was believing lies about the necessity of being in a relationship. I realized that the single life is totally underestimated! Now, I’m not saying that I want to be single my entire life, but at the same time being single isn’t as bad and lonely as people make it out to be. I believe that this time in my life is unique and provides opportunities that I won’t always be able to have once I’m in a serious, committed relationship and or married. When you are single and independent it is a time to cherish rather than loathe! I think it’s time to rethink singleness.

For me, being single hasn’t been viewed as a positive thing until recently. I’ve dealt with low self-esteem and had very negative thoughts about my body image and appearance. I’ve hated myself to the point where sometimes I’d wish I wasn’t even alive. Sometimes I still have these thoughts come back to haunt me however, I’m learning to recognize them as lies.

In this time of my life, my happiness isn’t coming from the affirmation of some guy. But rather, it comes from the confidence in knowing that there is a God who loves me and is jealous for me and has a plan for my life. He is crazy about me. He always has been and always will be. So when I have those dark thoughts, I am able to fight the battles within myself by turning to Him and listening to the truth. My self worth does not come from whether or not I am in a relationship. For once in my life, I am finding self-worth and confidence in myself as a single individual. I can honestly say that I like being single and this is a good place for me to be. I’ve come a long way in my life. In this time, I’m choosing to focus on God. I’ve actually decided to give Him this year, as weird as that sounds. I made a commitment to God that I’m not going to date for an entire year. With the thoughts of other guys, it has been so distracting in my faith and so by taking myself “off the market” I have been able to rethink dating. The first couple months were spent getting over my ex, but now it’s shifting into the pursuit of my love for God. I’m investing my time in Him and have started falling in love with Him, for real! I’ve always loved Him, but I can’t say I’ve always been in love with Him.

I’m about three months into this commitment and it has been life-changing. When you are single, you have more freedom. I’m not saying that people in relationships have no freedom, however they have more of an emotional and time commitment. Now, with this freedom you can choose what you want to do with it. For instance, because I am single I have the ability to leave the country for four months without the stress of having a long-distance relationship to worry about. Right now nothing is holding me back from this adventure ahead of me.

Also, I have more time to focus on myself. Like what I said earlier, I am working on becoming the right person; a better person. I can focus on myself not in a selfish way but in a necessary way. I have learned some things about myself and have been also seeing areas in my life that I need to be working on. I have also seen guys in a different way. Rather than seeing a guy as a someone I would potentially date or my “future husband”, I see them as a friend, a brother, or just a normal person.

My standards have gone up as well. Because of being hurt by guys in the past, I have put an emphasis on getting to know someone really well and building a quality friendship before starting a relationship with a guy. I know that it’s going to take awhile before I can trust another guy again. There are some other personal standards that I am reevaluating and sticking to, but all I can say is that the next guy I date has a lot to live up to.

Taking myself “off of the market”, viewing guys differently and re-evaluating my standards have made me excited for the future and optimistic. Because I am building this confidence in being single and setting my standards high, I can be confident that I won’t settle for just any relationship and in the midst of being single I can truly be happy. Even if it is for a lifetime of singleness, it’s a beautiful thing to know that I am loved and that will never change. 

Are You Really Sending Me?

sendme

Last year when I came across that verse it really stuck with me. Those words, “Here am I. Send me!” I kept thinking about them. Send me where? I wasn’t really sure what God wanted from me or if He even wanted to send me somewhere. For some reason, though, that verse really stuck with me. As always, I put a lot of thought into it and then accused myself of over thinking things. Then I thought about it and asked myself: If God told me to go somewhere, to drop everything and just leave, would I go? I wanted to say that I would, but that is a lot easier said than done when you are actually presented with the opportunity to go. Part of me really wanted Him to send me. The other part didn’t think He actually would or that I was being called to go anywhere. That’s something people just tell themselves so they can justify leaving. God wouldn’t really tell me to go anywhere, but if he did I would go?

The year went on and the whole “send me” thing was just a thought in the back of my head. I figured that if God wanted me to go somewhere He would make sure I end up there. As a college student, this is a time in my life where I have the opportunity to study abroad. Studying abroad is something I’ve heard great things about and the thought has always been appealing, but would it be something that I would actually do? How could I possibly travel to a different country and leave my friends, family and everything I’ve ever known for an entire semester? Four months of my life spent in an unfamiliar culture surrounded by strangers? No thanks! However, As the year went on, my heart started to change. I felt really dry in my faith and realized that I wasn’t going out of my way for God. I really struggled with not understanding how God works and I questioned what He wanted me to do.

Going to a private christian college has its pros, but man it also has its cons. Seeing and hearing other people share their faith can be great, but sometimes it can get old and you start to see it all as phony and it causes you to question things. People would tell me about all these things that God was telling them to do. I would listen, and sure God is working in their lives, but when I thought about it I realized how easy it is it say that. How easy it is to say that God is working in our lives, but do we really believe that? I struggled with the question: Is it God or is it me? Is God telling me to do this? or am I telling myself to do it and then saying it is God? Is God really telling these people these things? How do we really know? When we say that God is doing something in our lives or that He is calling us to do something, are we saying so to glorify God? Are we saying that because we actually believe that? Or are we doing it to boast about our faith and to glorify ourselves?

Having doubts about God and whether or not He is leading me to go somewhere created fear within my own life. Last year I let it become an excuse. I justified not wanting to go abroad and the fear of traveling somewhere alone by using the excuse that God isn’t telling me to go. However, in reality He hasn’t stopped telling me to go. Out of my own fear I was ignoring the voice of God. It wasn’t until this past summer when I realized that He, in reality, did want me to go. I just wasn’t willing to accept it. I used every possible excuse to not go. Excuses such as “My parents don’t want me to go and would never allow it” and “there are thousands of places I could go, I’ll probably choose the wrong place.” I told myself that I would never survive four months away from home all by myself and that I would never be able to handle it. Then I started letting all these doubts and fears keep me from trying, however I couldn’t get rid of the thought in my head that I needed to go. I researched just about every possible program, but dropped it for a while when summer came around.

I worked up north at a bible camp and focused on ministry and served for the summer. I only went home for one full day over the course of working there. The one day I spent at home, I was haunted by the pile of abroad catalogs in my bedroom. I decided to talk to my parents about it. I brought it up to my dad for the first time and, just as I feared, he rejected the entire idea. He basically told me that going abroad was a horrible idea. He also told me that it was already bad enough that I was working at camp all summer because I wasn’t making much money. His words stuck with me. He told me that going abroad isn’t something I am capable of doing and that I was already wasting my summer by cooking s’mores with kids. He told me that’s not going to get me far in life. I almost let his words ruin me. The fact that he didn’t support me and that he didn’t see the value in the ministry I was a part of hurt me really bad.

I was so offended by what my dad said that went to my room and started crying. I couldn’t believe that he told me I was wasting my time at camp and that he didn’t even give the idea of studying abroad a chance.That was when I realized that it was time to give it up to God and that everything was out of my control. I realized that I was battling too many doubts and obstacles. I was crying out to God. I told Him that if He wanted me to go, He had to make this easier and less confusing because I don’t have the ability to do this on my own. I told Him I didn’t want to choose where to go; it was too overwhelming. I told God that He would have to work within my parents in order for them to allow me to go if that’s what He wanted. I told Him that wherever He wanted me, I would be there. If He wanted me to stay where I am, I would stay and serve Him at my University. If His plan was for me to go somewhere, I asked Him to reveal to me where by narrowing it down and make it possible. I didn’t see it working out without His help. I felt as though everything was working against me. So I told Him to have His way with me. “Here I am, Send me! Wherever that is; overseas or here in Minnesota.” From then on, I stopped stressing out and over thinking it all because at this point, God would have me wherever He wanted me.

It’s crazy how everything started falling into place as soon as I wholeheartedly gave it up to God. Later that week, I was at camp having the best week of my summer. This was the week that I experienced the power of prayer in a whole new way. Through prayer, I had a CIT who was changed by God during the course of that week. Ask me about it sometime, it was incredible. Through prayer, I had a camper come to know Christ and she made a commitment to follow Him. That week, I saw God work in the lives of my campers and I felt the power of God working. I KNOW THAT SOUNDS CRAZY! I feel crazy even writing it. I wish it was something that everyone could experience, it was actually ridiculous. Anyway, later that week I received an email from my dad. In the email, he told me that he called my university and talked to someone from the abroad office. He had gone out of his way to find out more information about how studying abroad works. In the email he also gave me the email and phone number of the woman from the office and that I can work with her to figure out more information. WHAT!!!??? This is literally a few days after he told me that he didn’t support me or the idea of me going abroad and was completely against it. Now he was trying to help me!!?? How did God do that!!?? I have no idea, but I know it was Him!

Long story short, after much more prayer I was directed to where God wanted me to go. It was my last week at camp and I wasn’t fully sure where I was going but I had an idea in the back of my head: Costa Rica. No idea how, but for some reason out of all of the places in the world, that was the only one that stuck consistently. It’s hard to explain, but a few different things led me to Costa Rica. Anyway, the speaker that week just happened to be the pastor of the church that I grew up in when I was young. I hadn’t talked to him in years and so we talked at dinner one of the last nights of the week and he asked me about what I was up to in life and what God was doing. I shared with him about this abroad thing and he looked at me seriously and said, “If you want to go someplace where God can use you for ministry; San Jose, Costa Rica.” Sure enough, There was a program in San Jose that fit my class requirements and it was approved.

I still had that doubt of whether or not it was my calling, but then I thought about how many obstacles were removed and how much prayer was answered. I realized that in this situation I was given the opportunity that I didn’t think was ever going to happen for me. God made it clear by removing everything that had been in my way and showing me where to go. I was standing on the edge of a very big decision. It was when I was put in the situation where I realized that the only thing that would stop me from going was my own fear. It comes back to my original question: If God told me to go somewhere, to drop everything and just leave, would I go? Now that I am literally in that position am I going to be faithful and say yes? Well, my flight leaves on February 28th for San Jose!