I Wanna Love You

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“To keep loving someone is an act of bravery. While it deals with matters of the heart, it is not for the lighthearted. There is nothing weak about loving someone. Nothing timid about it. It is for the strong, the ones willing to let love ruin them.” ~Jamie Varon

Lord, teach me how you love. Teach me of an active love. A love that is always in pursuit of the object of my love. Teach me of an unconditional love. When everyone else doubts, and everyone else accuses, teach me to lovingly trust instead. Teach me to fill my gaps of skepticism with love. Teach me of a sacrificial love. May I know the cost that loving often brings, and choose to love anyway. May I not be afraid of the cost of sharing my love. Teach me of a fearless love. When everyone else runs, when I myself want to run, may I draw nearer Lord. Trusting your love to cover all in these moments. Teach me of a relentless love. A love that comes after people, one that does not surrender to a resistant, and hesitant heart, but a love strong enough to work through that resistance with Your unstoppable love. Grant me a love so strong that it creates in me a burden for those suffering around me. May this burden not leave me paralyzed in pain though, but draw me to your side, and their side. Lord, teach me how you love.

 

“Even if my heart turns black and blue, I will love you.” ~ ‘If You Fall’ JJ Heller

Having Hope In the Midst Of Tragedy

The Advent season just began this past Sunday, and with the lighting of the first candle of the Advent wreath we are reminded of our eternal hope in God’s unshakable promises. We are reminded that He has come, that He will come, and that even now He is here with us through His Holy Spirit, and through this, is great hope.

But what when the reality of this hope isn’t tangible? What when everything around us points to a dim future? It’s no secret that our world has witnessed disaster after disaster with no indication that the pattern will end. Everyday we hear a new tragedy, many of us experiencing these tragedies first hand. Our world is facing death, natural disasters, murder, cancer, terrorism, and so much more at a increasing rate. How do these things coexist with hope?

It’s hard. But that is exactly what hope is. Hope is the expectation of that which has not arrived. We have yet to receive the peace of the Heavenly realms, where disease and violence finally cease to exist. For now, we remain here, where sin is alive and active, bearing with it growing consequences. Yet, while we wait on the returning of Christ which will bring about this peace, we have the Spirit with us here and now. The Spirit is our gift to live in this season of waiting and anticipation with hope. We may still experience pain and confusion while in expectation, but we have the peace and strength of the Spirit to teach us that pain and hope can coexist, that they have to.

It’s not about having the answers, the solutions, or the reasons why. That is beyond us. Our hope is in God, and God’s promises remain even when everything else fades. Jesus Christ has come, and He will come again. And in the waiting, His people will remain confident in hope, for even now His Spirit is with us.

“I will remain confident in this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.” Psalms 27:13-14

Be My Strength


We all want to be the strong ones. The ones who have it figured out. The ones with all the answers. The ones to overcome temptation. The ones who encourage and uplift. We want to be the ones who don’t cower down in moments of fear, or run and hide. We all want to be the strong ones.

But sometimes we aren’t, and that’s ok.

You don’t always have to be the strong one. You don’t always have to have it all together. It’s ok to not have the answers this time. It’s ok that you your still fighting off that temptation. It’s ok that you have no encouragement left to offer. It’s ok that you don’t wanna stay and fight. And it’s ok that you feel unbearably weak. It’s ok to let someone hold you up and be your strength.

But it’s hard. We would rather fight the current, struggling to just keep our heads above the water than reach out and let someone take hold of our hand. At least I would…

I’m scared to show you my weakness. I’m scared to admit that the strength I once extended towards you, is slowly fleeing from myself. I’m scared to let you in to see the parts of me that don’t quite measure up.

So instead I hide my weakness. I hide my struggles and my temptation. I hide my failures and I hide my fears. I put on my mask of strength, and tell you that I am good. I tell you about my life, filtering out the things that don’t reflect the deep, inner strength I so long for.

But the truth is, sometimes I am weak. And I need you. I need you to be the strength that I am so desperately fighting to find. I need you to throw me that life vest that you hold, and help me get back to the shore. I need you to remind me of the things I know, the things I believe, and the things I am still fighting to hold out hope for.

But I have to let you in first. I have to let you see the parts of me that aren’t as pretty as I’d like. I have to be honest, vulnerable, and transparent with you. If I want you to love me, I have to let you love me. I have to break down these walls that surround my heart, and take hold of your hand. I have to be willing to lay aside my pride, my unrealistic expectations, and my skepticism and let you love me. Because I need you, and that’s ok. 

Orpah Left, And That’s Ok.

20150714_194027“Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, and said goodbye.” Ruth 1:14

When we read the story of Ruth, Orpah, and Naomi we normally tend to focus in on Ruth’s decision to stay with Naomi and return to Moab with her. We glorify her decision, and teach this lesson as an example of sticking it out with people for better or for worse. And don’t get me wrong, Ruth was surely following God’s will by staying with Naomi. Through this, God used her to bring about His son into the world. But what about Orpah. Orpah also set out on this journey to Moab, but Orpah turned around, and went home before reaching Moab. What does this mean? Was Orpah wrong to go back? Did God maybe want her to go with Naomi too? Did He have great plans for her in Moab? I don’t know, but I do know that her leaving did nothing to harm the plan God had for Ruth and Naomi’s lives.

And because of this, I know that the people who leave me on the way, and the people who leave you on the way, or not going to take anything away from the great plan God has for us. They are not going to leave us lacking anything essential for our journey. Because the Lord is a provider.

But it still hurts when people leave. Especially when they leave with no warning or explanation. We find ourselves standing there, alone, right where they used to be standing. Standing there in that place of solitude, the questions are unavoidable. We question if we did something wrong, or maybe could have done something better. We wonder if they regret leaving, if they ever will come back, or if somehow they have already forgotten that they were suppose to be here still. Sometimes the questions take on the face of bitterness. We ask ourselves how anyone could treat us that way, how they could leave in such an abrupt manner without any form of reasoning. We are hurt. We are betrayed. We are confused. Not only do we have to answer these questions ourselves, but we have to face the same questions from those around us; they’re wondering the same things we are, and somehow expect us to have the answers. But we don’t. Because all we know is that they left.

But that’s ok.

It’s ok that they left, and it is even ok that we don’t have the answers as to why. God is not taken off guard by the unreliability of those around us. He is not baffled at inconsistencies. And He is not shaken by abandonment like we are.He is all-knowing, all understanding. He is a firm, constant, and reliable source. He sends what we need, when we need it, and for how long we need it. We may be thrown off balance when people leave us, but God isn’t, and He is standing right beside us, right in the same place we were betrayed. He nudges us onward. He reminds us that it is in Him we find our source of strength, our hope, our joy, and our identify. Not only is He not leaving our side, but just as He let Naomi keep Ruth for her journey back home, He will give us the people we need in our lives too.

I know it hurts when people leave, but it hurts even more trying to hold on to what is already gone. Release those who have left you. Release them, and don’t cultivate hatred to them. God is bigger than what they have done to you. Their mistake does’t have to result in your bitterness.

Relatable?

I visited a new church a few weeks back while back home with my family. And it got my brain going on the church and it’s mission.

Before service, the pastor got up to give an analogy using his family as a example. He began to tell us how his boys are currently using the word, “relatable” with their friends as their new catch phrase. If a friend would be complaining about the load of homework he had, the pastor’s kid would respond with, “relatable,”. As if to say he was experiencing the same thing. He then paralleled that with his church. Explaining to us how maybe this atmosphere was different that we are used to for a church setting, the lights, the music, the technology, ect. He explained that this is their way of making the gospel, church, and Jesus Christ more relatable to unchurched individuals.

Let me begin with this. I’m involved with church organizations that are also using fancy lights, different music styles, and updated technology. And this doesn’t bother me. Because maybe some people are drawn to a unique atmosphere that doesn’t fit their stereotypical, condemning church mentality. So they come in. And when they come in, they find Jesus.

But when our attempt to make the church a relatable place pushes Jesus out of it, we must reevaluate our choices.

And that, that is the very fear that struck me this Sunday morning. I looked for Him. I looked for Him in the worship, but all I found was feel good lyrics and a performance with fancy lights. I looked for Him in the word, but all I found was a self-help motivation. I looked for Him in the silence leading to and following prayer and worship, but all I found were desperate attempts to fill that silence with noise, any noise.

We are called to be missionaries of the gospel. To proclaim truth. To spread joy. To heal the wounded. We are called to bring Jesus to the lost. And to do this, I understand we have to reach different individuals in different ways. Even Paul himself said, ” I have become all things to all men, so that by some means I may save some,”(1 Corinthians 9:22). But I don’t believe that in doing this, Paul ever compromised who Jesus was for the sake of anyone’s salvation. Because fact is, if we are going to bring someone to salvation, it’s going to be through Jesus and His untainted identify, not some artificial Jesus. If we think that a cheap imitation of jesus is going to save someone’s life, we are sorely mistaking. Because just as easy as they accept this lie, they will loose grip of it as temptation and heartache come.

Dear Anonymous

Our paths never seemed too close; they only passed by but for a brief second of our individual eternities. Yet, how my heart longed they would somehow join. I never truly gave up that hope. If I’m honest, I still hold that hope, tucked away somewhere deep in the back of my mind.

Sometimes, it surfaces.  Sometimes, it’s a quite memory softly floating in my mind. Sometimes, it’s loud unanswered questions aggressively screaming, repetitively. No rhyme or reason as to the why’s and when’s of their occurrences. They just come.

The questions are insistent, but remain unanswered. It’s like a sappy love song stuck on repeat that sings softly and brokenly, Was this ever a reality, or all my imaginations. Is it possible to love so much your perception of reality is tainted so strongly as to believe something is real, that isn’t truly real? I’m not sure which is worse, believing something that never happened, or facing the reality that someone left so quickly, so easily, and with no explanation.

Regardless of the mutuality of this matter, what I felt was real. And it was strong. You never even let me in to love you, yet my love for you changed me. It broke me, only enough to heal me though. It left me distraught and confused, yet only enough to teach me how to find peace and calmness within the sound of raging unanswered questions. It taught me of a love so strong that I could still desire your happiness, even if I wasn’t by your side as you reached it.

And I do. Oh, how I do. I hope your life is leading you to abundant opportunities, and multitudes of possibilities. I hope your dreams are found, your goals are met, and your talents and gifts are fully appreciated. I hope you find love. Love that sees you for the beautiful soul you are. Love that grasp how massive the potential and abilities within you are.

You might not believe in the massive potential inside you, but I do. Your soul is one of the finest. It wasn’t just loving you that changed me, it was encountering you. You, unknowingly, taught me to believe in myself by believing in me. You, unknowingly, taught me how to invest in the souls around me by having a constant servants heart. You, unknowingly, taught me to love God in a new and deeper way just by the way you unreservedly loved Him.

Nonetheless, our paths have parted. Before us both now lay new, exciting, and uncharted territories. And if ever our paths should cross again, I believe it will be a sweet moment. For in that moment, the unanswered questions, and unmet dream will be inadequate to the bright realities I know we will be living out. And in that moment, the memories of the love that changed me, for the better, will be stronger than the many unanswered questions.

Begin Again

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“To begin again, we have to let go of every doubt we hold about why God has brought us to the place we are right now, and trust He has impossible to imagine good things ahead.” ~Bonnie Jensen

Sometimes that place doesn’t make since. Sometimes that place has so much hurt, loneliness, and confusion, that we hold tight to doubts about why God has brought us to that place. We question how His heart would allow it, and His good plan would need it.

I know, it is a hard thing to both accept the trouble given to us, while remaining joyful in the hope of coming change.

Right before I took the attached photo, I had read the above quote. Looking back tonight, so many memories come flooding in. My college experience, up to that point, had been incredibly painful. And here in this photo, I was embarking on a new chapter. A new chapter that offered hope, yet, that hope was so easily threatened by the raging fear of how things had always been, and how things currently were as I sat in that room.

Here’s the thing though. There is healing to be had. Hope to rise. Beauty to grow. And joy to feel. But to reach this, we have to come to peace with the pain we are currently facing. Stop blaming God. Stop questioning God. Stop expecting the pain to continue. Choose to trust God to bring about resurrection, no matter how long it takes. Commit to trusting Him in that process.

God’s plan for you isn’t pain. His plan for you is one of abundant life. Unfortunately, sometimes pain finds us on the journey. Trust God to use it. Trust Him to not let go of you. Don’t let the process get you weary.

God did bring healing to my life. Hope did rise. Beauty surely grew. And you can bet their is joy. But it was a process. But once I began trusting God despite my fears and doubts, once I stopped blaming Him and questioning Him, I was able to see the changes He was bringing about to my situation.

Trust Him to do the same to yours. You don’t have to deny the pain, or ignore the tears. But you do need to choose to bring them to Jesus, and open your hands and heart to His plan and timing. Trust He loves you. Trust He is with you. Whatever your facing, He is there with you in the pain. He is not the pain, but rest assured, He is there in the pain with you till the very end.

So go ahead, begin again. Why don’t you?