Did you ever think being a Christian would make your life…easier? I think a lot of Christians are in that boat. We think (even subconciously) that knowing Jesus and the truth about salvation will make this earthly life a breeze. It is true that knowing our Savior and the waves of grace makes life manageable, and even joyful. Yet an easy life is not a promise in the Bible…Far from it, in fact!
Recently I faced a situation that I never, ever anticipated would happen to me. I
thought I was wiser. I thought that my knowledge and education would keep me from that situation. If I’m completely honest, there was even a part of me that thought Christ would spare me from that type of situation. Yet…Christ never promised our life on earth would be easy. Never. Recently, I discovered that Matthew 11:30 (“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”) is not translated well. Instead of “easy,” the word from Greek is better translated as “suitable,” “well fitting,” or “useful.” The crosses we have are well-fitted to us, and useful for the particular growth we need as individuals. As much as we protest our crosses, they are fitted to our shoulders, not someone else’s. Christ gives us many forms of grace to endure whatever it is we face.
Being a Christian doesn’t make us immune from the troubles of this world. Countless Christians have done the “right things” and still faced martyrdom, spousal abuse, bankruptcy, natural disasters, chronic illness, and any other struggle you can name. We are in the world, though we are not of it. The advantage we have as Christians is knowing Who helps us carry our burdens. We are never left to our own devices, but in every moment we are completely loved and upheld. We know that the suffering here is not the end, but there is a life of eternal joy that awaits us one day. Our suffering is not without meaning. Remember what came after the crucifixion? We can look forward to the same, whether on the horizon of our earthly lives or in Heaven.
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” Hebrews 10:36
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”
We grasp at the seasons we consider good. The being born seasons, the planting seasons where we joyfully await the fruit of our labor. The building and healing seasons, and the laughing and dancing seasons. Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything, a season for everything under the heavens. All of the seasons are necessary. Without the different seasons, we would not grow. We would not learn to rely on our Heavenly Father if the seasons were all easy.
I know that many believers, and the world in general, are enduring the difficult seasons: uprooting seasons, seasons where there is emptiness and mourning. There is even threat of killing and war. In these circumstances, we learn to lean on the Lord and His steady faithfulness. We learn to better love our neighbor. We learn to await His promises, and the joyous seasons. Embrace your season. This earthly life is temporary. Seasons don’t last forever, but the enduring love of our Father does.
Today I am featured over at Modern Ruth Project with a post titled “Fear, Joy, and Change.” This year is bringing many changes for me. I’m learning to let go of fear and jump into the new things that He has for me–even though it can be terrifying! Head on over and read! I hope you’re blessed by reading!
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”~Isaiah 43:19
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”~Romans 8:38-39
Happy Valentine’s Day, dear readers! This day and every day, at every moment, you are totally and completely loved by God.
Have you ever examined your current life and found it is just not what you expected or wanted? At my current age, I thought I would be married with two children, living in a house
purchased by my husband and I. Obviously none of that has come to pass. For so many years I lived under certain assumptions about how life would go, that the milestones expected by society (and dare I say by some members of the Body of Christ?) would just fall into place. My life has turned out very different than the milestones expected by society. I have come to a place of joy and contentment. This did not come overnight. There are a few steps I’ve realized that those of us who are very single (& expected to be living life married by now) can benefit from:
- Accept the disappointment. Ignoring it won’t make it go away, but will make it worse. Pour it out to God! Be honest with God. Talk to trusted people, other single friends, maybe even a counselor. Figure out what it is exactly that you are grieving. Put a name to it, realize your disappointment, but don’t let yourself stay there.
- Accept the reality of your current situation. Most of all, find the blessings in it! Find the wisdom. For many of us, marrying at a young age may have been detrimental. In your current season of life, there are many blessings. In fact, single people are doing amazing things! We have more “free time” than married couples/parents. We have more time to focus solely on the Lord, not distracted by human love (1 Corinthians 7:34). Though it can be painful, there is much freedom found in singleness.
- Pray to see the bigger vision. I’ve written before about this. At least for myself, I had a limited vision for my life. My Heavenly Father continues to expand my vision and show me new aspects of my self and the purpose for my life. There is so much more than marriage or children. He will surely do the same for you. When you are living within the bigger vision and understand it, you will find great peace and contentment. You can also ask loved ones or spiritual mentors how they see the Lord working through your life in order to gain more insight. The Lord has the full vision for our lives-we see but a glimpse.
- Love others. We were created by Love, for love. You have the time, and you have love to give. For now, it’s not a spouse or children. However, there are so many others in need. Perhaps they even live within your home or right next door. Service is so important. Don’t dwell on your own single state. Build community.
- Love yourself. I’m not talking narcissism. I’m talking about taking good care of yourself, a unique human being created in the image of God. You are a temple of God! Realize your own needs and the way God made you. Treat yourself with kindness and make sure you are not ignoring any part of yourself.
- Cultivate a strong relationship with God. God made Eve for Adam. He didn’t allow Adam to be alone for long. We have the ability to create community with other people around us. Yet I don’t believe that living out an extended period of singleness is natural. It’s not. Celibacy is not a call given to many for a lifetime. It is a difficult call to walk out, as long as anyone is asked to walk it out. Only by leaning on the love of God can we do this. We must find our identity in Him and in living within His great love and abundance. Only by living in relationship with our Creator can we make sense of our lives.
On this day when society (at least American society) might make you feel sad due to the focus on couples, delight in the perfect love of God. Delight in the love of the people around you. Reach out and spread some love to those feeling hopeless or unloved. This life might not be what you expected or wanted. Yet it is your earthly life, and in it there is abundant purpose and blessing. No matter whether you are courting, married, or completely single for the Lord. Let’s live in the joy and freedom!
It’s difficult to believe that 2016 is almost over! I feel as if the year was swift, yet when I look back, it’s hard to believe how much happened!
Let’s start with something that will begin in early 2017. My patron for 2016, randomly chosen through the Saint Name Generator, turned out to be significant. It was St. Ignatius of Loyola. I have been a fan of the Examen and Ignatian discernment for a number of years. It turns out that one of his patronages also became important in my life. He’s the patron of educators and education. This year, I really felt the Lord nudging me to go back to school. After an interesting journey, I was accepted to the program of my choice! I will be starting as a part-time grad student for an M.A. in Counseling, as of January!
The year started out rough. Within the first week of the year I was ill. There was a high
amount of drama at my workplace. It was a struggle. Through it all, I learned to lean on Christ even more. Reading the Scriptures & knowing my Creator through this became more important to me than ever before.
My city had a lot of victories. In June, I went to the parade celebrating our basketball team winning the NBA title! It was really a great celebration and a show of unity for a city that has had many setbacks and much division. The next month we hosted the Republican National Convention-and the candidate won the presidential election! Months later, the baseball team went to the World Series (though we did not win). In God’s eyes, this city is not “The Mistake on the Lake.” He is at work in this city.
I moved in with a roommate. Financially, this was a great decision. Even moreso, it is a blessing to have a companion on the journey & who is also seeking God. She gets the journey. Not long after moving to the new place, a seeming “super-mouse” pushed me over the edge to adopt a cat. Though he did nothing to help with the mouse, he’s brought much laughter. (And praise God–the mouse (mice?) are gone. May they never return to our home.)
For the second year in a row, one of my reflections was published in a book! This time, it was a book written by my very own roomie! It’s a raw reflection about a relationship breaking up, but I pray it ministers to someone who may be in a similar situation.
I visited Africa, finally! It’s difficult to put into words how much this experience affected me and the joys it brought. I am so thankful for the miraculous way God brought it about. The whole trip and all His movements on the trip, too, were truly miraculous! I will be forever grateful.
Truly, this was a year of beauty. Thank You, Heavenly Father. I look forward to 2017 and whatever adventures may lie ahead.
Happy New Year’s to all my readers! May our Heavenly Father bless, direct, and strengthen you in all your ways.
“Brothers, I do not consider myself to have embraced it yet. But this one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”~Philippians 3:13
The week of my trip had arrived! However, I wasn’t feeling the jubilation that I had anticipated. In fact, I was feeling completely stressed out and weary. I didn’t realize how much my stressful job had taken a toll on me, especially nearly a year of work with barely any time off. I got sick days before leaving. Two days before my flight there was a big work event for my program, which didn’t help my stress or my health. Time was short and I felt like more and more was being added to my list to do before leaving. I felt overwhelmed.
I called a friend for support. It was the night before my flight and I was so worn out. My friend was firm with me and very honestly told me that he thought I was afraid & that my sickness was caused by apprehension. He told me to stop worrying so much about the packing and other details and to get ready for a great trip. I pondered his words. Even though I had dreamed for years and years of Africa, perhaps deep down I was a little afraid. I’m accustomed to my predictable daily life. So much was unknown about this trip. I was definitely going to be thrown out of my comfort zone. I was afraid of the unknowns and what could go wrong instead of being joyful about my dream finally coming true.
I finally got packed and stopped worrying about what I could be forgetting. I still had a minor cold on the plane ride, but my stress melted away as the plane traveled closer to the place I had loved and dreamed of visiting for so long. I let go of all my worries from home and prayed and journaled on the flight. From beginning to end, the trip was a blessing. Why had I been so apprehensive? It was for nothing! The trip was one of the biggest blessings of my life. The way the Lord provided for this trip was a miracle, and so was all the ways that He provided and worked while we were there. I have been to Africa. It was the first time, but I know…It is only the beginning.