I didn’t update last week because I left Sunday afternoon with the college group to go to Oakland/SF for a mission trip.
BUT! that would not be chronological, so let’s look through the ol’ journal to see if there’s anything worth mentioning from the week before.
Well, there is a lot of change happening in my life, and as most people I am close to know, I don’t do too well with too much change. God has actually done quite a bit with my heart in this matter since moving out of my parents house about a year & a half ago. Even so, there is a lot more going on right now than is usual in the change department of the Fish’s life, and I am having a hard time with it. I would really appreciate it if you would all pray for me/with me as I pray for guidance and clarity. I want to make sure the decisions I make are not irrational over-reactions to my feelings (we will talk more about my over-reactions in a sec.)
I have felt pulled to spend more quiet time with God, and can feel the negative changes in my daily routine as I ignore God’s voice. I don’t know why it is so hard for me to spend time reading and being with God. I love reading, and used to be so motivated to have quiet time. I need to get rid of some of the distractions in my life. Please pray that I hear Gods voice, that I learn to listen to Him, and that I ignore the stubbornness instead of ignoring God. If you have been keeping up with this blog, you know what happens when I ignore God’s voice in my life. If you have not, refer back to June/July-ish.
Sunday morning at church last week was really difficult for me. A lot of emotions were brought up, especially during worship. By the time the last song played (I’m not sure which one it was) I realized most of my emotion was linked to something I used to struggle with, & that had apparently wriggled its way back into my heart. I am, in a way, a perfectionist. I sometimes think I am not good enough because I am not the perfect Christian. Although this will always be a true statement for every person, the way it’s phrased, as well as the implications of that, are what is important.
There are two things about the way it is phrased that makes it incorrect. The first thing that is incorrect is the phrasing. I feel like I need to be the perfect Christian to be good enough. The words “perfect Chrsitian” typically paint the picture for me of doing the right things and not doing the wrong ones. Christ doesn’t want works, He wants your heart. He doesn’t want you to try to be the perfect Christian. He wants you to be with him- in prayer, in silence, in awe, in pain, in apathy, in joy. He wants your presence. He is a living God and wants a living relationship with you. Could you imagine just trying to do things to impress your best friend instead of spending time with them? I emphasize instead because I don’t want to confuse you. God also does not want us just sitting around. As humans, we made the mess this world is in & we need to clean it up. The focus, however, needs to be on Christ first.
The second part about that statement that is incorrect is where it ends. The statement itself is true, but the focus is wrong and it can be misleading to our thoughts and actions. My statement ended with “because I am not the perfect Christian.” It should have continued, “but God calls us to allow His love to change us from the inside out.” Christ died and rose again to have a relationship with us to heal our brokenness and show us how to love Him, ourselves, and everyone else, not so that we would feel insufficient and insignificant.
All this to say, by the last song in church last week, I realized I need to turn back to Jesus. We were singing about giving all of ourselves to Jesus. I realized I had somehow become afraid of doing that again. I felt like I couldn’t possibly give Christ all of me, because I know I am imperfect & that I will take parts of my old ways back from Him. I will continue to sin, I will continue to do the things I do not want to do. In Romans 7 Paul shares the same struggle:
Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is not longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
This does not give me an excuse to ignore my sin. God makes it abundantly clear that He takes sin very seriously. I share this passage because it shows that I am not alone. It shows that my desire to do what is right, and my frustration with myself when I do not do what is right is understood. As I prayed through the last song, I began to realize I had to try. Just because I don’t feel like I can really give God all of me, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t give Him as much as I can. A lot of times I don’t even know I am not giving parts of my sinful nature to Him to be healed. But if I give Him nothing, I go nowhere. My relationship with Him does not grow, and neither will healthy relationships with my friends and family. Please pray that I will learn to give a tiny bit more of myself to Jesus every day. Pray that I will learn to let go of the things that keep me from growing.
The past week has been nothing short of interesting. It feels like It has been three weeks…or months. Sunday afternoon we left for our mission trip. We worked with a group called CSM (Center for Student Missions). I was happy that I had the opportunity to see SF/Oakland in a different way. We worked with a lot of organizations/day homes/ hospitals (*see my last post about Joe & B). We experienced a lot of aspects of the cities that seem to be overloooked by most toursits (typically what I am when I go there), and multiple groups of those in need. We worked with all ages at one point or another. God may be leading me to do more with CSM, and I am very open to it. Please pray that God would lead me to a clear decision and what kind of action to take based on the decision I make.
The biggest thing I got out of the trip was the realization that the kind of work they were doing there is truly where my heart is, and that I couldn’t live a different life. I become frustrated with comfort, with not being stretched or grown. I am too comfortable with the life I live now, and I know I couldn’t live this way forever. The life I chose may leave some wondering about my sanity, and that’s ok :p Jesus was kind of crazy too, at least by our standards. I can’t imagine living in a big house with all I’d ever want or need for the rest of my time here. I don’t want that life. I want to live the way Jesus did. I want to go wherever God tells me, I want to trust in God the way Jesus did. I know I won’t get there in this life, but I can do my best. Please pray that I will do what God asks, because sometimes (a lot of the time) it seems too big, too impossible, too uncertain. Pray that I will learn to hear Him over all the other voices in my life, and that I will trust Him over all the other people in my life. Pray that I come to really understand and know that God is bigger than anything I could face, and that He will not bring me to something without bringing me through it.
Ok, so I promised we would talk more about my over-reactiveness, so here we go.
*NOT my favorite topic btw, but if we are going with transparency it needs to be said.
I know I am emotional. Most of the time I am good with it. I have come to a place in life where I understand my emotions pretty well (for the most part) and can deal with them effectively. Sometimes, however, I get into situations that feel utterly hopeless and “black-holeish.” (Do ya see the over-reactiveness yet?) In my last singleness update I described two people I ended friendships with. The first I am still not talking with. The second is a bit more complicated, the one that felt hopeless & “black-holeish.”
The second friend is the one I have feelings for. The thing is, I don’t want to date this guy. I know it wouldn’t work out for a number of reasons, nor do I feel God is calling us together as more than friends. Still, the feelings remain for now. I over reacted when I finally was honest with myself about my feelings & felt like I had to stop talking to him. I told him of my decision, and proceeded not to talk with him much for about a month. A couple of weeks ago a mutual friend of ours was talking to me about my decision, and helped me understand why it was not the best way to go. He described it as “you swerved & missed the dog, but almost hit the tree.” He said that taking a good friendship out of my life was not a good idea, but setting up healthy boundaries & involving other friends is. I thought about it & agreed with him. I came to the conclusion that I was running from something good that can be a little distracting from my relationship with God (which is a lot of things in life, & if I ran from all of them I’d be living alone in the desert- also not what God calls us to), and I needed to instead turn to God and do more about focusing on Him. Please pray that my feelings for this friend would go away. Pray that I haven’t made things awkward (and that I don’t- I tend to try to fix things but end up making them worse). Please pray that we figure out how to navigate the friendship the best way, and that my focus will be on God above all else.
And for real guys, send me your prayer requests & stuff too. I love reading about other peoples walks with God. It is a big encouragement to me. You can be vague, like this: Please pray for some friends of mine who are going through a pretty rough time right now «actual prayer request. & you should even be able to do it anonymously (if you can’t, someone let me know please).
p.s. If you are still wondering who the Fish is from the first part of this update, look at the name on the blog :D it’s me