How many times have we found ourselves in the midst of God’s plans and said, “This isn’t how I imagined it would be…” I could stop there and not finish that sentence and we could have a whole blog post painfully dwelling on the million thoughts of “what if things were different” about a past we can’t change. That is not this post.
Some of you may have been wondering what’s been going on with me these last couple of months. Well, this is my life update in a nutshell:
This isn’t how I imagined it would be… but it’s so much better.
I can’t change my past no matter how hard I try. I don’t find my sole identity in it, though it has helped shape who I am today. My past doesn’t dictate my future, but I’ve been learning that my present will help shape my tomorrow. Specifically, my being present. This is Philippians 4:8 living. This is living Matthew 6:25 -34 in obedience.
I’m a dreamer and have a wonderful imagination that I’ve often escaped to in times of stress or boredom in an effort to escape TODAY. It’s a “the grass is greener over there” mentality which obviously isn’t a healthy state of mind I should live in.
I have found that my mind is both a blessing and curse, a landscape of ideas and plans, yet a cage I get easily trapped by when I try to live in a future that hasn’t happened. In that cage I can feed fear and worry in all of its forms: fear of failure, fear of meaninglessness, fear of people, fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, and fear of unfulfilled dreams. Anxiety.
The only thing that has been able to cut through the fog of my mind has been the Bible. Matthew 6 is an amazing passage that is part of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. It addresses the problem of worry (lack of trust in God’s character) and provides a very clear solution to live out truth. Take one day at a time, because that’s how God intended us to live.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
I’ve been learning the “one day at a time” living principle over the last couple of months of being home. Last December I reached my wall in regards to my health and school and decided to withdraw from college so I could seriously focus on getting healthier. It was simultaneously the hardest and best decision I have ever had to make to this day. It was hard because I had detrimentally put off focusing on healing to push through one more year of college. I was miserable mentally, physically, emotionally, academically, and confused spiritually. Thankfully God drove me to my knees and made me face some harsh realities about trying to live up to my own standards versus simply living in obedience to Him.
Basically, I had come to a point where I had to stop, drop, and heal before I seriously (and permanently) damaged my body. (Chronic stress will do a number on you!) The first few months were extremely hard on me as I sorted through the jumbled mess of my heart and head when all of my close friends were preparing for graduation and I was indefinitely postponed from participating.
Oi, did that hurt. I felt like an utter failure, left behind, and worthless. There wasn’t an end in sight. I thought I would be walking, and I wasn’t going to, not to mention I didn’t know if I was going to be able to any time soon. Everyone was moving on into a new season of life and I was in this weird invalid limbo, useless and (in my lying thoughts) easily forgotten. Safe to say, I was extremely frustrated with myself and the prison of an unhealthy body and mind.
God never leaves His children or forsakes them. Instead, He provides peace that passes all human understanding to help us grieve, to comfort us, and strengthen us to take the next faith step in His timing. I was driven towards His Word which was my only comfort and my only clarity during the first couple months of 2018. I had the luxury to take all the time I needed to immerse myself in meditating on God without the pressure of urgent responsibilities. I had the luxury to have precious unhindered one on one time with the Lord, and the luxury of being still and quiet so I could hear Him clearly. I learned a lot.
- I learned about His abundant Grace towards me. (2 Cor. 12:8-9)
- I learned more about myself and began to find my identity in Christ instead of my own human expectations. (Psalm 139)
- I learned crucial lessons about living in FAITH and accepting God’s grace in my daily life. (2 Corinthians 5:7, Heb. 11:8b)
- I learned about His perfect LOVE that casts out fear (1 John 4:18, 2 Tim. 1:7) and how I could rely on God loving me perfectly and allowing different experiences into my life to refine and push me to be more like Him. (James 1:3, Romans 5:4)
- I learned to TRUST in a Sovereign God who completely understands me, who anticipates and meets my needs, and who cherishes me and provides the emotional security and stability I was searching for. (Isaiah 55:8-9, Jer. 31:3)
- I learned to think and inundate my mind with TRUTH so that my expectations reflected God’s expectations for my life rather than what I thought other people wanted me to be. (Phil. 4:8)
- I learned to take steps of faith on God’s terms at God’s pace, reassuring myself of the steadfastness of His mercy and character instead of worrying about the end result. (Prov. 3:5-6, Ps. 119:105)
I learned to trust God with my future however it looked (health-wise, academically, and relationally) and continued to pray for direction. I still had the question about finishing my education because it became clear that God closed the door to finishing school at the university up north. My health was seriously aggravated by the weather and I honestly needed a fresh start if I wanted to be motivated to finish my degree. Out of nowhere, a friend offered me an opportunity to join her on a trip down south where we’d visit her alumni university in South Carolina. I prayed about it and went on that trip in faith, waiting to see what would come of it. It soon became evident that God was working through this opportunity and multiple people I met began to affirm that this might be a new direction for me to go.
All of my questions about health care, transferring credits, connections, and living arrangements were basically answered. I found myself surrounded by some of my closest college friends who had graduated the year before and moved to the area around the university I was looking at! I had abundant access to health resources that could assist my healing process. I had people who shared and understood my experience with chronic illness. And I had a opportunity to get the fresh start I desired as I pursued God’s perfect will in my life. I was invigorated during my visit due to the climate, and I actually felt healthy for the first time in 3 years! It was incredible!
Fast-forward to today, I have more energy because I’m allowing myself to rest and I’m cognizant of a healthier homeostasis. I’ve changed several bad habits and am earnestly working on making newer healthier ones. I’ve been accepted as a transfer and will continue pursuing my music ed degree down in Greenville, SC. In a few months I’ll be moving there to live on my own for the first time! I am anticipating all the lessons God is teaching me in this season of growing health, new unknowns, and faith tests.
With this season of change comes a lot of future content as I continue to share what God is teaching me as He leads. I’ve learned that He controls my “pen” and when He wants me to write, I’ll write.
I hope this gives you encouragement that while the seasons of waiting may be long and silent, God is still working! He is always steadfast in His love, and His love will manifest itself perfectly in our lives as He directs us. God always has a plan for our lives, even when it doesn’t seem clear to us. That’s when we need to apply Philippians 4:8 to our thoughts (Whatever is true -think on these things.) Our clarity isn’t a requirement for God to be working. He isn’t in the business of always answering to the benefit of our immediate happiness. God always is looking for our eternal joy and happiness which only comes through Christ and a life surrendered to Him.
This isn’t what I imagined my life would be.
It’s so much better.
To God “that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” Praise His Name!