Tag Archives: fulfillment

The big picture

31 Dec

Since it’s New Year’s Eve, I figured I might as well do the quintessential blog post: reminiscing about 2010 and looking forward to 2011.

2010 was a hard year for me but because of that, it was also life-changing. From March until last week, I had a job that constantly pushed me beyond my comfort zone, challenged me in ways I have never before been challenged, and forced me to run to God every day to maintain my sanity and character. I can look back on this past year and see God’s faithfulness and steadfast love everywhere.

I learned that I rely on my own ability to get things done instead of trusting in God and His timing and plan. I found that I often “feel responsible” for things and that prevents me from letting God be responsible. God showed me that my claiming responsibility is what stresses me out. I need to be faithful in what I can control but the overarching theme and thought of my life needs to be trust in God for all of the mundane, practical details, as well as the big picture items.

Work-wise, I learned that I do not do well working from home. I like an office. I like interaction with people. I like unexpected interruptions (self, remember this when they happen!). I also learned that I like change but only in the context of routine. I am much more happier doing tedious administrative tasks than I am managing big picture things. I am a details person. The job I am doing in the church office right now is exactly what I enjoy doing. (As such, I am really hoping that they hire me full-time! But more on that another time.)

Through numerous coffee dates with my good friend Cathy, I have also learned a lot about what it means to be victorious in Christ. I have made huge progress in my long struggle with loathing myself and constantly seeing sin. Through talking with Cathy, reading books, and insight from the Holy Spirit, I have seen that resting in the cross doesn’t mean I ignore my sin – it means the cross is bigger than my sin. Enjoying who God has made me to be doesn’t mean I enjoy the sins I commit – it means that I am able to trust God to conform me to Christ and unveil to me and others who I really am.

In short, as I look back on 2010, I praise God for His work in my life. I struggled, I failed, I didn’t believe, I didn’t trust, I handled situations poorly. But God brought me through it all. I honestly can say that I wouldn’t have made it without Him. The thing I love the most about going through struggles like this is very simple: when I have a good day, when I feel joyful and peaceful, I know that is from God. He is the source of that feeling. And I feel so immensely blessed by Him. I wouldn’t feel that way had I not gone through a very rough year of a lot of bad days.

As I look forward to 2011, I have to admit that I hope it is easier than 2010 was. But I also hope that God does just as much work in my life. So I will, with His help, joyfully accept whatever means God employs to bring about that sanctification.

I am hoping to find a job (whether at the church or elsewhere) that fits me well. After having a job that I pretty much hated in every aspect, I no longer underestimate what a job can do to your entire well-being. Right now, though, I am very content with working part-time at the church. I got a lot of things crossed off my To-Do List this week!

I am also hoping to write a lot. Being a writer is my dream. I just read in John Eldredge’s book Walking With God, “More often that not this awakening of desire is an invitation from God to seek what we’ve given up as lost, an invitation to try again.” So I’m going to respond to God’s invitation and try again.

Spiritually, I want to pursue an even deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ, as described in Eldredge’s book that I just read. I want to be so close to Christ that I can hear him speak to me. That I seek His opinion on every decision, that I walk with Him all day, every day. It’s a lofty goal. But a very rewarding one. And even a little progress is better than none! I also want to be more intentional about reading – I have averaged about 15 books a year for the past 3 years. I want to increase that to 25 or so. But I also don’t want to burn through books so fast that I don’t remember anything. Kind of defeats the point of reading. So 25 is a loose goal.

Emotionally, I want to be more open and vulnerable in my marriage. I just recently realized that a lot my spiritual battles this year I fought alone. I didn’t let Travis know that I was struggling so much. And when I think about why, I see pride everywhere. With God, I can admit that I’m weak and pathetic. With Travis, I can’t. I think this emotional withholding from Travis has bigger implications and effects than I can even recognize right now. So I want to grow in being vulnerable and humble with Travis.

And finally, blog-wise, I think I am going to change my blog title again. When I changed it from Learning and Loving It to Joy in Being Broken, I was in the midst of my struggle with hating myself because I was so focused on my sins and failures. I thought that God was teaching me to find joy in Him even despite hating myself. As I’ve grown and understood more truth this year, I believe that we don’t find joy in being broken – we find joy in God healing us. We are broken as sinners – we are healed as God’s beloved children. We find joy as we see the cross conquer our sinful natures, as we find freedom from the things that bind us, as we anticipate heaven and perfection.

I haven’t yet decided what my new blog title will be. I’ve thought about something like “More Than Ordinary” to reflect my desire to live a life that rises above the status quo to glorify God. I’ve also thought about something incorporating the idea of being healed through the cross or discovering truth. I’m totally open to suggestions!

All that to say, I’m excited for a new year! Happy New Year to all of you!

reminiscing

Hope amidst Hopelessness

24 Oct

I talked to Travis on Wednesday night about what I wrote in my last post. He said that he felt that way at times too, though not to that extent. I think a natural part of our human nature craves to be part of something bigger than ourselves. I know that I had that desire even before I became a Christian–in fact, it was the biggest thing that attracted me to becoming a Christian: something to live for.

So what has happened since then? Christ is still my only hope of salvation. I still daily surrender (or at least try to!) my life and will to the Father’s. But I lack one very important thing: courage.

As I was praying about this Wednesday morning, it dawned on me that even though I know what I want to be doing and what kind of life I want to be living, it is still a giant leap from where I am now to that place. And to be honest, that giant leap scares the $#!* out of me.

Tangent: It’s kind of ironic that the thing in the Christian life that I’m the worst at (in the sense that I don’t do it at all) is evangelism. I can’t remember the last time I shared my faith, it’s that bad. The reason why it’s ironic is because I was deeply involved in Campus Outreach in college–a campus ministry that focused on reaching the lost world for Christ–and now I work at Dare 2 Share Ministries–if you didn’t catch it in the name, we’re all teaching and mobilizing teens to share their faith with the teens they know.

My lack of courage is what is currently holding me back. Before, I didn’t even realize that I was moving through life on a conveyor belt. There was an expected progression to things; I accepted it without question. I realize now that I haven’t really strived for anything. I’ve worked hard (to graduate with honors and get a good job) but that’s just because I’m anal-retentive.

But now that I’m out of college and married, I have realized that I have something they call “options.” I can choose what to do with my life. It’s very weird and hard to get used to. As I’ve been mulling this over in my mind, I have come up with some ideas of what I could do to move myself toward the life I want to be living:

1. Start intentionally writing–whether it be the full story of how I became a Christian, or just freelancing to build a portfolio.

2. Take a class–or two. I really want to take a class on Photoshop (for my current job) and a class on writing non-fiction (for my dream job).

3. Get a new job (shhh…don’t tell my boss) writing for a magazine or Christian company.

4. Read books about Marketing and Leadership to continue to grow in my current role at D2S.

5. Get my ESL (English as a Second Language) license and teach immigrants (with CAK?)

6. Find an organization that I can get involved with through volunteering. Thoughts have been: Big Sister, a pregnancy center, Samaritans Purse, a nursing home, etc.

7. Plan a mission trip with Travis (it might have to be in 2010…)

8. Volunteer more at my church by helping with planning/organizing events or translating resources into Spanish (though I would definitely have to brush up on my skills!!)

I feel like these are good ideas but I am aware that I have only so many hours in the day. I can’t do them all, nor do I want to. I need to figure out what my passions are and what I really want to invest in.

But the good news is, God is faithful!! (like He ever isn’t…) On Wednesday during chapel I had to laugh at God a little–only He would give me hope amidst hopelessness. Kind of like Abraham and Sarah–they hoped against hope. God is a God of hope when there is no hope. And I feel the sparks of excitement and anticipation of what I can make my life be like with God’s help. I am not relegated to being a mediocre bum!!

A self-imposed glass ceiling

21 Oct

“I want to feel that each day is better than the day before and that I’m happy to be waking up and have the opportunity to do the things I do. And when I no longer feel that, I’ll do something else.”

That’s what Helene Gayle, CEO of CARE USA, said in the Newsweek from October 13, 2008. As I read that statement, I find myself half-scoffing at her, half-wondering what her secret is. How did she get to that place where she enjoys her job and feels that her life has meaning? How can she be so content with the world and herself to say that she wakes up feeling that every day is better than the day before? How I wish I had that contentment!!

I know all the trite Christian stuff: Christ gives my life meaning, I have so much to be thankful for, I have been given the greatest mission on earth, yadda yadda yadda. While I’m not saying those things aren’t true (since I still am a Christian, I know they’re true) what I have felt stirring in my heart and soul for the past year goes a lot deeper than that. Those pie-in-the-sky answers feel like a band-aid for a severed limb.

I’m disturbed lately about what my life is like. I’m not satisfied with it. I don’t like what I do everyday. I think it’s pointless. I’m living for myself and my own pathetic desires. I get up every morning to take a shower, do my hair and makeup, get dressed (while wishing for more and cuter clothes), eat breakfast, make lunches for me and Trav, read my Bible reading plan, fix some coffee and go to work. After work, I come home, make dinner (most nights), read/watch TV/blog, exercise, and go to bed.

These are the times when I think that being a non-Christian must be so much easier. Instead of fighting all the natural desires, you get to indulge them. Sure, they end being your ruin but at least you go down without a fight. But as a Christian, I feel like I’m stuck in limbo between 2 worlds. Half of me hates the materialistic, vain, narcisstic culture than we live in while the other half of me takes the bait and runs. I want to be free from the desire to have a big house, cute clothes, go on exotic vacations and see the world, have gorgeous wedding pictures, etc. But when I see others who have or do them, it feels like jealousy eats me alive.

Last weekend, I was in a major funk. All I wanted to do was sleep, laze, do nothing. So that’s what I did–and at the end of the weekend, I felt disgusted with myself. Yesterday and today I have been more active but still, what did I do that was of importance? Sure, I educated myself about the Colorado amendments and exercised. But I also watched 3 episodes of House and an hour of Boston Legal. Even if I had spent that same time reading though, I doubt it would have done anything for my conscience or sense of self-worth.

Some would say that my job (at a non-profit Christian ministry) is contributing something worthwhile. I suppose in some remote way, I am helping teens get trained to share their faith. But that’s just the thing–they’re the ones being trained to get out there. They are the ones living our vision out. Me? I just work there. Punch in my 9 to 5 and come home to…what?

I’m somewhat confounded at the seemingly sudden unrest with my life. Where did it come from? Why is it here? Why am I not like everyone else, going through life, content with the status quo, never doubting or guessing why their life is the way it is? Isn’t this what I’m supposed to be doing–working, married, living, breathing.

But it’s not enough for me.

I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life. Sometimes I feel like I don’t even want to do this for the rest of the year. My life is passing by right before my eyes and I am doing absolutely nothing about it. I do dream about what my life would be like if I was doing something I really believed in, something I could feel good about leaving behind. A legacy of any sort. But I fear that if I died tomorrow, only my family and a few friends would truly care. Surely the world would not notice at all.

As I said earlier, this has been going on for about a year. Really, ever since we moved to Colorado. There’s something about being out here, about being torn away from everything so familiar that you don’t think twice about, that is revealing and intrusive. I try to think about my life back in Minnesota, about why I didn’t feel like this then. Why was I ok with my life? I’m really not all that different from who I was then. Actually, I’ve volunteered more out here in Colorado than I did back in Minnesota–one year vs. 24. Doesn’t that show that I’m becoming more concerned about others, rather than wasting my life on myself?

If anything, the times I’ve volunteered out here in Colorado have shown me just how little I do for anyone but myself. All of my thoughts constantly center on me and what I want. When I feel like I don’t do enough for other people, instead of moving into action to remedy the problem, I mope and feel depressed. Which just shows that it’s really all about me in the end anyway.

What I yearn to do is break free from living under my own glass ceiling. I dream about doing big things–but I always rationalize my way out of them. I fantasize about being impulsive and about throwing all my eggs into one basket to achieve something of epic proportions–but well-meaning advice from well-meaning friends coaxes me from the edge. So I try to pacify myself with a life of mediocrity, monotony, and quasi-fulfillment.

It may sound to some reading this that I’m on the verge of doing something rash. But I’m not. I know that the Lord is in control of my life and I truly believe that He has put this unrest in my soul for a reason. It has come along enough times now that I finally realize that I need to grab it and ride it, though I have no idea where it may take me and when. While my fleshly desire is to despair under the comforter on my bed, my Spirit is preparing me for the biggest battle I will ever have to fight–the battle against myself.

Was that last line too cheesy? 🙂 I couldn’t resist.