Complacent Confession

I have a confession. It’s something I’m not proud of. I haven’t failed to be critical of others, but I have come to the conclusion that I’m the one with the problem. I have all these frustrations with our culture. I want to change the world. But, I’m not willing to change myself. I am complacent.

Complacency is defined as “a feeling of calm satisfaction with your own abilities or situation that prevents you from trying harder.” I’ve found that I’ve settled into the cycle of complacency and it’s something that has snuck up on me. I didn’t realize it’s a problem in my own life until just recently, when I was willing to admit it to myself through self-reflection. It’s something I easily point out in others, but this time I’ve realized that the only direction my finger can point right now is in my direction. It starts with me. So often I think, “Man. I just want people to get this,” or, “Wow, wouldn’t our world be better if everyone did that?” I see all these things I want to change in this world, yet find that I’m unwilling to change myself.

I find that as I sit in church on Sunday mornings, listening to the sermons and thinking to myself, “Okay, this is the week that things will change.” Yet, another week goes by and by the time Sunday comes around again, I realize I didn’t make the changes I was hoping I would. I hadn’t spent more time in prayer, I didn’t read my bible more and I didn’t have many meaningful conversations. I haven’t been willing to put in the work.

So often, I allow excuses override my desire to commit.

I recently read a book by Eugene Cho called Overrated. The main question on the cover asks; Are we more in love with the idea of changing the world than actually changing the world? I had to sit with this question. It’s challenged me to stop and think about what I’m actually doing. Eugene points out that our generation, according to statistics, shows more desire to make a difference than any other generation. Are we going to be the generation to reach this potential? Or are we an overrated one that is all talk and little to no action?

Through social media and the ability to connect with hundreds and thousands of people, we often think that we are making a larger impact than we actually are. We may retweet an article about injustice or post a Facebook status about how we volunteered at Feed My Starving Children. We do these things thinking it will make a difference. We do these things and feel like we did something good for the world. But is it truly requiring much sacrifice from us? Is it enough to make a difference? Or should we be doing more?

Now, I’m not saying that posting articles about social issues or going out into the community and volunteering is bad. In fact, I encourage those things. However, I believe it’s dangerous to just stop there and accept that as your one and only contribution. When Jesus calls us to follow him, he’s not asking for just something, he’s asking for everything. I’m preaching to myself here too because I’m realizing that there are areas in my life where I need to be sacrificing more. I need to be willing to commit more to God; to purse the passions and gifts that he has given me. I keep claiming the things I need to be doing more of, but then fail to follow through with doing them.

So, here is my confession to settling into this complacent culture. Feel free to hold me accountable to never settling and to pray for me to be motivated to work towards my calling.

Last year, someone prophesied that I was called to be the change this culture needs. God is calling me to step up and that I have a voice. It’s a long story that I will tell another time, but notice the words carefully. I’m called to be the change. Not promote the change, not talk about or write about the change. I need to be the change. It starts with the willingness and commitment to changing myself. So here’s my confession to being complacent and a public commitment to begin changing that.

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How Are You, Really?

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How are you? Let me guess. “Good?

Well, what if you’re not good? Are you going to say it?

When we ask people how they’re doing, are we prepared for them to say something other than good?

Lately I’ve been bothered by how we don’t even take the time to really answer this question. Part of me wonders if we even know how to answer it. Do we take the time to stop and think about how we are actually doing throughout our day? I find myself so busy that I get caught off guard when someone asks me how I’m doing. I honestly don’t even know how to respond most of the time. My first thought is, do they actually want to know how I’m doing? Because if I’m going to be honest, I don’t want to be judged for it. My second thought is, do I even know how I’m doing? If I truthfully answer this question, it’ll take a moment for me to know how to respond. Maybe it’s that moment of our time that not many of us are willing to give.

I wouldn’t say that we don’t want to be real. I think that we have forgotten how to be real. We may have even forgotten what is real. I know I find myself struggling with all this and I sometimes wonder if it bothers others as much as it bothers me.

Maybe we’re trying to keep up with what our profiles are saying. Our Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat stories are painting a portrait of a perfectly happy self. I think there’s this idea in our heads that everything has to be good, or better than it is. It seems like we live in a comparative culture and everyone is working to highlight their lives, not showing what’s really going on.

Maybe we don’t want to be known as a negative person. We don’t want to burden others with what we are actually struggling with. Crazy thoughts in our heads may be saying, “I’m feeling depressed or I’m having a bad day, but everyone else around me seems fine so maybe theres something wrong with just me. It’s not worth sharing.” We believe these lies that we aren’t allowed to say what’s really going on.

Maybe we just don’t take the time to do so. I’m especially guilty of this one. People will ask me how I’m doing in passing and all I have time to say is “good” and by the time I get the words out, they’re half way down the hall. It frustrates me because I feel like if you don’t care, then don’t ask. It goes both ways though. Sometimes when I ask people how they are doing, I don’t even give them enough time to think about it and respond. I’m realizing it’s time to change this habit because who am I to get upset about something I catch myself doing too?

I’m not buying into this whole “everyone is always good” phenomenon.

I’m sick of this fake “good” and I want to start thinking intentionally about how to be more real. It’s time to learn what is real and how to be that. If you’re actually good, say what is good! If you’re not doing well, say what’s really going on with you! Let’s encourage one another to take off our masks, stop trying to put on a face and lets talk about what really matters.

We need to be freed from living a surface-level life. The only way we can overcome the darkness in our lives is if we bring it to the light. What is kept in the dark will continue to have power over us. If you’ve got a lot to praise about, don’t hold back. Share what God is doing in your life! By holding things in, we are feeding into this fake culture. We can’t just continue to hide behind shallow responses. We need to start caring. We need to start loving. We need to give people the time of day.

How great would it be if, when we asked how people are, we actually cared about the responses?

It starts with you.

How are you, really?

Are You Really Sending Me?

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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!

Why am I Here?

I am at a point where I question everything. This past semester I’ve had some crazy thoughts pass through my head. Anything from dropping out of school and being a missionary to joining the army. Heck, moving to Canada and just living in the mountains sounds good to me. For some reason, I just feel trapped here and that I need to be doing something more, something bigger than this pattern of living. I’ve settled into the culture of the norm. After taking a step back, I’m starting to wonder what I’m doing. I don’t want to be like everyone else.

I feel like the majority here is chasing the “American dream.” Your typical life that entails going to college, pursing a degree, finding your “special someone” while in school, graduating, getting married and starting a family. But then, the real world kicks in. You have bills to pay, life to stress about, a job that you’re stuck with and whether or not you like it you need it because you have debt to pay. It can lead into a selfish and depressed life. There’s no wonder why over 18% of U.S. Americans 18 and older are struggling with anxiety and depression disorders. In the midst of this “American dream” something is lost and that is meaning. What is the point to it all? What are we pursing and what are our motives? When I talk with my friends here, I like to try and see what it is that drives them. Why are they here? What are they hoping to accomplish?

There’s a good amount of people here who are getting a degree just to get a degree. I find that many people aren’t passionate about what they’re studying. In fact, I hear many people complaining about what they’re studying but they’re doing it for the same reason as everyone else: to meet expectations. It is expected that everyone gets a degree. It is expected that everyone finishes college and then goes out into the workforce and gets a job to make a lot of money. How did we get to this point? Since when did wealth become our motive? Why am I here? Culture and expectations are literally controlling my life. If it wasn’t expected for me to be in school, if I didn’t feel this pressure to be here would I? That’s a question I’m not sure I can answer yet.

Why am I in school? I think it’s not a bad question to ask ourselves. Now I’m not trying to say that school is a bad thing. It’s a great and necessary thing, but I do believe that if we are doing it simply because our culture tells us that we need to, then we are missing the point. There needs to be passion behind what we are doing. We are only given one life to live and to waste it pursuing nothing more than success measured by how much money is being made is completely missing the point.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter”-Francis Chan.

Think about it. What are you hoping to accomplish? Are you going to settle for just an ordinary life when you were made to be extraordinary. There is not one person out there who is exactly like you and only you are capable of the life that you are living. For the year an a half that I’ve been studying at this university, I have learned more about myself than I ever even knew was possible. This is such a unique time in my life and I am trying to live it up and soak in every minute of it. Life as we know it is said to be short, so if you’re in school and pursuing a degree, it’s important to take a step back and think about what your are hoping to accomplish. Are you passionate about what you’re studying?

My biggest fear for my own life is that I am going to get my degree and then be stuck with a job that I am not passionate about and then end up hating what I am doing. This semester has been full of ups and downs and the questioning of life. It’s thrilling, yet repetitive. The cycle never ends in my head. Some days I feel like I’m doing it right. Like when I get a perfect score on my exam. There are other days where I feel convicted. I feel like I’m living selfishly here. I feel like I need to be doing more with my time than pursue a selfish life. I have the privilege of knowing who Jesus is, why the heck am I not going out and sharing the good news with every person around me?

I know that I have a passion for God and that’s what I want to be sharing with people. Is a degree in communication going to help me with that? I like to think it will, but it’s still something I’m questioning. Right now I feel as though being here is holding me back. So, given where I’m at right now, I feel like I am just about ready for my semester abroad. It’s going to be a great way to get out, see the world, indulge in a new culture and all the other typical cliches you hear about people who have gone out and explored this earth. Blah Blah Blah. I can hear all about it, but experiencing it will be completely different. I’m hungry for something new. I’m hungry to gain a new perspective on things. Right now, I need nothing more than to be expanding my mind and to stop questioning what I’m doing and start doing. The fact that I’ve had so much time on my hands to question things has held me back from actually doing them. So getting out for a while will be a good thing for me. Who knows where I’ll be when I get back. Maybe I’ll be a better person, maybe not. I don’t have any idea what to expect. But maybe having no idea what to expect is a good thing. Maybe expectations only hold us back.

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