To All The Insecure Young Adults

 

townhouse

Today I started researching the possibility of buying a townhouse in the next couple of years. As I started looking over the logistics of a down payment, closing costs, and what the heck taxes are, I realized that my dream of owning a townhouse or any house at that matter was going to be quite a ways off. And not without sacrifice.

I think that for many young adults, with the online diaries of everyone around us filling up our feeds, can start to feel insecure at where we are in life really quickly. It can be easy to feel insecure that you are living at home when all your friends have moved out. It can be easy to feel insecure that you haven’t met Mr. Right yet, while all your friends are on the way to the altar. It can be easy to feel like you aren’t succeeding in your career all because a friend of yours got a promotion before you. It can be easy to feel like you aren’t making a difference for God’s kingdom all because you don’t have thousands of Instagram followers. No matter where you are at today, we can all feel insecure about our progress at some point.

As I grappled with the reality of having to stay at my uncle’s longer and gave up the dream of being able to get an apartment by myself, I realized that part of the reason I was feeling so anxious is that I wasn’t feeling secure. I was looking forward to years in the future of my life and already feeling like I was behind. I started to panic about the fact that I would never have enough to save up for a down payment coupled with the fear that it was terrible I couldn’t afford my own property because my dating life was drier than the Sahara desert and that meant I couldn’t even marry someone rich, so I was most definitely screwed. And as I started to have a mini panic attack in my head and feel the thoughts of the next year fill my chest with dread, I realized something quite important. I wasn’t factoring God into my future.

girl laughing at future

I had let my mind take me on a wild goose chase of what could be or what could happen or I can’t do this on my own and forgot that I never have to do anything on my own. Even though I was feeling so insecure about my future or where God was taking me, I forgot that I was always, always secure in His arms. That if I took the time to slow down and listen, I could hear His voice saying this is the way, walk in it. I am not alone on this journey of adulting and you aren’t either. Don’t let someone else’s ending chapters dictate where you are beginning today. God is with us at the beginning, middle, and end of a transition. And even though I have no idea if I will be able to buy my townhouse while affording the miniature schnauzer that is very much needed to be a part of my life, I know I can count on God to provide for me.

I don’t need to look to the end goal, I need to remember that I just need to do the next step today that is going to get me closer to my goal tomorrow. And often that looks like slowing down and taking time away from my phone to think. It means praying and reminding myself of these verses:

“Hear my cry, O God, and listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth, I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. “- Psalm 61: 1-2

“For God alone, my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress, I shall not be shaken.”- Psalm 62: 1-2

Gently reminding myself that my life isn’t made up of the highlight reels that present themselves on social media, but it is made up of a journey where there are plenty of hills and valleys.

footsteps in the sand

I hope that this article can encourage you today if you find yourself in a similar position to myself. Wondering what and maybe even where your future is calling you, and feeling behind the rest of the adulting world before you even started. Everyone is a beginner once and we are all learning and trying our best to navigate life. But as you are striving to navigate these transitional times, remember that your pal Jesus is there walking beside you and sometimes even literally carrying you through life’s ups and downs.

You are not alone and yes you’re right you can’t do this on your own. But God sent us the Holy Spirit and died for us so that we never would have to experience a life where He wasn’t by our sides. So take a deep breath, turn off your Instagram feed, and lean into God’s word today. He is the one who can help you as life seems unsteady and He will always make your path secure.

Are You Noticing God This Spring?

 

sunflowers

Normally I stick to a nice normal color when getting my nails painted. I am a big fan of the French manicure and subtle or darker pinks. But that Friday afternoon as I sat getting my nails perfectly tended to and looked outside my window at the snow still coming down in March, I knew I needed a color that screamed spring. So, I picked a bright Tiffany blue. And for extra measure, I asked the girl who was doing my nails to paint bright yellow sunflowers on my ring finger. The effects of that manicure on my mood were soul shaking. I walked into that salon run down, tired from work, and agitated at the weather, and left feeling like another person. Spring might not have been there in terms of the outside weather, but my soul was finally starting to smell the roses. 

I didn’t realize how deeply entrenched I had gotten in my own everyday tasks and just general monotony until the other day when I was driving to work. Normally on my morning commute, I am silent in my car, I will tell you that I am praying, preparing my heart and mind as I head to work, but in reality, I am really just running through the never-ending to-do list in my head.

All of a sudden, I looked up and noticed that the trees had green bulbs on the end of them. Spring was starting to bloom and I had no idea. I looked around wildly and realized that it wasn’t just one tree that was starting to bloom, but all the trees. I had been driving to work for days and weeks and how many times had I driven by those trees, stuck in my own every day struggles to not notice the very obvious way God had been speaking to me. Every green bulb was a tiny reminder from God like, “Hello, remember me on your commute, spring is coming. Winter won’t last forever, hey look up, look up.” 

spring

But stuck in my daily routine of work, gym, friends, Netflix, etc, I had not noticed that spring was coming. I was not open to being reminded that God was all around me desperate to get my attention, desperate to break the focus I had on myself. I hope that many of you out there can relate to my feelings of being stuck in a rhythm. But one of the best parts of the seasons changing is that we have the opportunity to see God changing the outside world along with our insides changing in return.

After noticing those bulbs I had a realization, I had not been allowing God the opportunity to show me and present me with small gifts throughout the day. I was too stuck on my own daily routine and life and not open to something interrupting it, even if it was God. So, I decided to make some changes in my life to allow my soul more space to experience God.

I decluttered my closet of the clothes I no longer wear and threw out the ratty track and field t-shirts I had since middle school. I started to practice the art of Sabbathing, truly for the first time in my life, which allowed me to pack my weeks full, in anticipation that my Sundays would be rich and life-giving. I started making it a priority to write several times a week, to practice the craft that I love, even if I don’t let anyone see it. And finally, I started to freshen up my time with God. I did this by pulling out my journal, listing my daily gratitudes more often, and praying out loud so that on my way to work, I didn’t let my to-do list overwhelm me. 

spring bulb

I don’t know what steps you may need to take in order to make room for God to speak to your soul this spring, but I encourage you to stop what you’re doing today and think of something. The God of the universe is trying and wants to communicate with us every single day, which is something no other religion can claim. Make sure that as you start to get used to the warmer weather, that you don’t just use it as an opportunity to swap the clothes in your closet around, but you allow this season to reset and recharge your mind after a long winter.

Winter is the season where the earth remains dry and barren. There are roots working underneath the surface, but all you see at the top of gardens are dust and decay from the season prior. With spring coming and the break to my all too inflexible routine, I can feel myself starting to rise from the soil, not quite ready to bloom, but starting to make out the sun and features of the ground above me. Give yourself room to reset goals, reset priorities, and work through issues with God as you go into this new physical and emotional season. Maybe as you drive to or from work today instead of automatically putting on that audiobook or playlist, you stop, take a deep breath, notice the blooms, and ask God to speak. 

4 Ways Worriers Can Trust God to Fight Their Battles

worrying

I have always had a problem being still. I am a very energetic person by nature, often tapping my foot, flipping my pen cap around my fingers, or just jittering with unused energy. If you have been around me for any length of time, I am sure you have witnessed the many times I have tripped over my own two feet or randomly run into a wall, all in the name of not being able to be still.

However, one of my goals for this year has been to learn how to be still in all areas of my life a little bit better. Though it’s easy to joke about my lack of hand-eye coordination or incessant energy, being still for me is more a heart issue than a physical one. In the book of Exodus, when the Israelites are being pursued by the Egyptians and are looking out at the deep waters of the Red Sea, God offers Moses this advice.

“ The Lord will fight for you; you have only to be silent.”

In the non-ESV version, the be silent verse is translated to be still. God is telling Moses that it though looks like everything he just spent the past months and years working on was about to end in a matter of seconds, God is still there and is still fighting.

I have never been faced with an army pursuing me as I look at an ocean as my only way to escape, but I do have many experiences from my life where I felt trapped where I was. And that’s exactly how I am sure the Israelites felt. They felt trapped physically by the ocean but also trapped by their circumstances and their lives. I am sure we can all relate to a time that we felt trapped by our circumstances. The man you are seeing suddenly calls it off. You get laid off from your job. A bad diagnosis shakes the core of your family.  It can be easy to think that our problems are ours alone to deal with and forget that we have a great defender who is standing by our sides, waiting to part the waters.

As a natural worrier, it can be really hard to trust God with the bigger areas of my life. What my career path looks like, making friends, moving to a new area, meeting my future husband. I find myself looking towards the future, grappling with the wideness and depth of the ocean in front of me, certain there is no way I will be able to cross it. I am learning that I often turn inwardly to myself or others to help me navigate these waters. I try to tentatively wade out on my own, thinking that I can swim to the other side, but I only make it a few strokes before I am drowning quite literally in the sea of my tears and fears.

But God doesn’t want me or you to live this way anymore. He wants us to stand back, relax, maybe get a manicure, and come back to see the sea parted for us. He doesn’t want to have to wade out and pull our struggling forms out of the water, though He will. He wants us to trust Him with everything.

And I wish I could tell you that I was great at trusting God with the small every day things. That yes, I can’t let go of the big stuff, but the small decisions, have your way, God.  But then I thought about it for a solid two minutes and realized I don’t even trust Him with the small stuff always.

I depend on myself to make money so I can buy my food so that I can pay my bills. I rely on my uncle to continue housing me and not to kick me out on the street, but not God.

I pray a big game. I mean I really do. I am the queen of praying to God about stuff that I entirely don’t trust Him with. And I know that He can see that I am a phony too. When I pray to Him about my future or about my future spouse, I always pray for Him and the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me, but I don’t look out for them. I pray for my heart or circumstances to change, but then I don’t let them work in me.

At the root of my being, I know that I can trust God. But I don’t always trust Him to provide me with good things. A quote I love by CS Lewis sums up what I am feeling perfectly,

“It is not that we are necessarily doubting that God will do what is best for us, we are wondering how painful the best will be.”

It can be hard to see the good in our world every day. Families are torn apart; car accidents kill loved ones, friendships fall apart, people get laid off. And yes, God never promises that we will have an easy life as His followers, but He does promise to fight for us, we just have to be still.

So, this year, I vow to spend less time trying to solve my own problems, and more time sitting back and letting God work His magic. Because yes, God will intervene in our lives no matter if we trust Him or not, but if we do trust Him, we get to be part of a much more beautiful story than if we tried to do it on our own. We open ourselves up to our utter humility and just desperation for God, and I don’t know about you, but I constantly find myself needing to fill up on that. Maybe you like me, are a chronic worrier, someone who wants to trust God with everything they have, but just isn’t sure where to start. Here are some ideas that I have for the worriers in all of us.

 

Praying, Praying A lot

praying

I often go throughout my day only praying during my designated quiet time. But I want to be someone who realizes their dependence on God every day, every hour, every minute. My prayer is that I pray more and more. Because if you think that Moses stopped praying just because God said He would fight for Him, you’re mistaken. Now, I don’t personally know Moses, but I bet that God sharing that with him caused him to fall to his knees, thank God, and pray even harder.

Be Real About Where You’re At

worry

Don’t let your Christian friends or church community guilt you about not trusting in God. If you have someone in your life who, “can’t relate,” to not trusting God, you may need to step away from them because I think they have to be a sociopath. Everyone worries and forgets to trust God. What helps us is to remind ourselves and others of the times that God has shown up and taken care of our battles for us. Find friends you can be real with about this struggle; I guarantee that you won’t be alone.

Be a Testimony Collector

testimony

I think we often think about our testimony as the story where we either accepted Jesus for the first time or when we had our first big encounter with God. Me, I think of testimonies a little bit differently. I think at their core; testimonies are just stories where God undisputably showed up. It can be a miracle, healing, or when you got an A on a test, you thought you failed. Stories have become part of my love language. Partially because Shauna Niequist, but mostly because stories are what bring people together. They can be communicated in any language and shared around any table. So don’t be afraid to share your stories or to ask others about stories they can share when they trusted God, and He showed up.

Give Grace, But Don’t Give Up

grace

Don’t beat yourself up when you turn to your mom instead of God in prayer. Don’t beat yourself up every time that you start to doubt. But also, don’t give up trying to trust God above anything and anyone else. Though I am nowhere near the finish line for this myself, I know that giving up just because I am falling behind isn’t the solution. So find that balance between not feeling sick to your stomach with guilt, but also not being too lackadaisical. Give yourself grace in the moments you need it, and push on and cry out to God in the moments you want to toss in the towel.

I hope that you can relate to the words I have written today. And that if you are in a season of waiting, that you can take some time to be still before God today. Ask Him what He wants you to do, and set aside time to actually listen. I hope that this year is a year that we all can make some baby steps, strides, or even leaps to trusting God more and more.

If You Act Like a Spinister, People Will Treat You Like a Spinister: My Take On Modern Singleness

singleness

Now, I am the first person to admit that being single and a young adult in today’s modern age is no easy feat. Especially with the almost never-ending parade of couples posing in front of Christmas trees, kissing around you on New Years, or just writing unbearable captions on Instagram. It can be enough to make anyone feel insecure, especially women like myself who find themselves single as they head into the New Year.

I admit that I have fallen into the trap of self-pity during the holiday and winter seasons before, thinking something is wrong with me for being alone while so many people around me on social media seem to be declaring that they have found their soul mate. I have fallen into the thinking that my year won’t be deemed successful unless I find someone to bring home to my family or spend the holidays with this time next year.

But friends, it’s time to stop hating our singleness, to stop comparing ourselves to every touched up and perfectly captioned photo on the internet, and to make goals for the New Year that matter much more than how many dates we can go on.

In today’s article, I want to help you take a break from the monotony of couples pictures, engagement announcements, and tell you some hard truths about singleness in our modern age. Are you ready to stop complaining about your lack of fortune or binging another rom-com on Netflix? Good, let’s get started.

 If You Act Like a Spinster, People Will Treat you Like a Spinster

singleness

Sadly, I think that one of the biggest fears that young women, older women, and women of frankly every age face, is the fear of being what is considered a spinster. This is a woman who is typically older who has never been married and has no children. We normally imagine her as a wrinkly, not attractive older woman, who most likely has a mole on the side of her lip or some other unseemly blemish that makes you smile without showing your teeth when you see her.

She may have a lazy eye. She wears too much overwhelming perfume. And all the other old women in the congregation steer clear of her. Sure, there is always someone like Pam who tries to befriend the spinster, or the spinster still attends the church she grew up in so she can sit with her family every week. I know that in my church congregation, there were several women I considered spinsters, who still went to church with their older mother. I was horrified at the thought of that becoming me. However, I just want to say that my mother is fantastic and would be a very good church going companion.

I have found in recent years as I have reached the age that people are getting married, in serious relationships, or want to be, that the fear of becoming a quote on quote spinster, has reached astronomical levels.

But the real concern for you shouldn’t be becoming old and unmarried. In the Bible, Paul praises people that can be single, Jesus talks about how what the world views as status and praiseworthy aren’t important to Him. We as women are called by God to do extraordinary tasks that aren’t only able to be completed if we are married.

So though society places enormous pressure on getting married and pumping out 2.5 kids, God has never put that kind of pressure on his children. But out of this fear of singleness that women have created, I think a new monster has been allowed to be born; she is the young adult spinster.

That is the friend or person at church that we all know. The girl who is constantly bemoaning her singleness, crying woe is me on Facebook about her singleness, and even if you don’t really know her, will inform you of how she didn’t go on a date last year and that there are no single men around.

Friends, don’t become the young adult spinster. Try hard not to be the girl who chooses only to see one side of her singleness. Don’t succumb to being cranky, to cursing your friends who are in relationships, to letting bitterness and envy eat away at your heart until there is nothing left to tempt people to be your friends much less a man.

If you act like something is wrong with you because you are single, people will start to see that you’re single because something is wrong with you. But, if you act like you are beautiful, talented, smart, the daughter of the King which you are, people won’t remember that you are single.

They won’t tell people who ask about you that you’re single, they’ll tell people what a great friend you are, how you’re funny, and how you’re hardworking. They will want to set you up with the people they know who are single because they can see the amazing qualities you have because you show them off.

And yes, there is most definitely a time and place that you can be sad about being single. There are plenty of nights you are welcome to cry yourself to sleep. You are allowed to talk and ask for prayer from close friends to help spur you to grow to be content in singleness. And if you need to talk about the unfairness of that mean girl from high school or college getting engaged, call your mother and talk your heart out. But what you are not allowed to do is let your singleness be the only thing that defines you.

So, this year, instead of being the Debby Downer of singleness, put your identity in Christ and Him alone. Not in how many matches you get on online dating, how many of your friends are engaged when you aren’t, or if you find someone this year at all. Put your identity in the One who created you and cares for you. The One who knows what you need and what you don’t need. The One who understands that you are feeling painfully alone at times in your singleness. But don’t let yourself become a young adult spinster, don’t continue to allow this epidemic to spread.

Put Yourself Out There

singleness

I have a real problem with single women complaining about being single but doing absolutely nothing to change that. They are the type of women who are content waiting in their homes and are certain that God will bring them their husband on a silver platter when the time is right. And I am not saying that there isn’t a tremendous amount of God’s hand in the person you end of marrying. But, we can’t just be passive if we are looking to go on dates or find someone to be our boyfriends. We have to do our part so that God can do His.

That might mean that you join a small group that is mixed, or you join a rec league at the Y, or you do online dating. If you aren’t meeting available single men somewhere in your life, then you are going to be alone. That is not meant to be harsh; it’s just a fact. If all you do is sit at home and watch TV, the only guy who could be your husband is the Fed-ex or pizza guy.

I know that this is a flaw I want to work on this year as well. Sometimes I can hide behind the thought of online dating instead of just going up to people at my young adult group and talking to them. Not to say that you should be throwing yourself at any boy that is single and breathing at your church, but, we need to stop being so afraid to approach men. And we need to go up to men, with nothing in our hearts but the desire to find a new friend or work on communicating with the opposite sex better.

We need to get used to talking to more men and having guy friends. To not treat every interaction we have with a person of the opposite sex in the church as a signed contract of marriage. You can talk to guys, not want to date them, and still have them benefit your life. Single women need guy friends. They are the ones who can give you advice, can introduce you to other guys, and add a lot of depth to your relationships when you are still waiting to get married.

I know that many people will say you’ll either marry your guy friends or stop talking to them when you get married. That’s not wrong thinking. Not that you can’t continue to have friendships with the opposite sex when you’re in relationships or married, but it’s not the same. You can’t just go out with Joe to a movie or get pizza when you have a boyfriend. But, guy friendships can teach you so much about life and about the opposite sex. They can help to fill that hole of singleness so that you don’t become the young adult spinster.

So, this year, I am encouraging myself especially, and others, to just go up and talk to actual men. I promise you they aren’t going to think you’re weird or something is wrong with you. Act confident, not like you’re a burden, and people are going to like talking to you, I promise. Find ways to expose yourself to actual single men, and who knows? You might meet someone.

Trust Who God Created You To Be

singleness

You need to get to a point where you believe that nothing is wrong with you if you’re single. Try to get to a place this year where you can be happy for those around you in relationships and who are engaged because you genuinely love them and love yourself. An excellent tip to remember is, just because someone is getting into a relationship, doesn’t mean they got into a relationship instead of you.

There are still plenty of great Godly men out there. I definitely have to remind myself of this when someone online asks me if I want to be their friends with benefits, but I assure you it’s true. You are a great, great creation. God has plans, and goals, and purposes for your life. You were not an accident. Just because that boy you like at church hasn’t noticed you, doesn’t mean that you are unworthy of being noticed. You are.

I hope that this article has encouraged you to let go of the stigma and inner judgment that comes with being single, and can permit you to embrace your singleness this coming year. To throw yourself into different activities you want to try. To make and commit to finishing those hard goals you’ve always wanted. To do the hard work of growing in your faith, and other relationships.

Embrace this season, because one day, maybe sooner than you think, it’s going to be over. And you might look back and wonder, did I miss out on truly living out my single life well?

Related Article: Dear Anxiety: How To Rediscover God In Busy Seasons and Especially Anxious Moments

Dear Anxiety: How To Rediscover God In Busy Seasons and Especially Anxious Moments

anxiety

I like to think that you can tell the state of someone’s heart by looking at the state of their nails. If you looked at my nails, you might be startled by what you see. My nail beds are often red and bloody from where I have picked and scratched at them. Leftover glue from gel nails that I tried to compulsively pick off but couldn’t, remain on the ridges of my nails like some ice on the sidewalk you just can’t scrape off. And the tops of my nails sticking out in disarray from where I have picked and nibbled at nails that have gotten too long.

I had no idea when that nasty habit started, but I know it must have been at a very young age. Whenever I got stressed or overwhelmed at school, I would start to pick away at the loose skin around my cuticles. I answered a question wrong in math class, pick. Got made fun of by the other nasty 7th grade girls, pick. Had a track or cross country meet I had to run in the next day, pick. Stress, pick. Busyness, pick. Perfectionism, pick. It got so bad that my thumbnails now show the signs of my abuse. Tiny, close, horizontal lines now dart the once smooth nail bed of my thumbs. They are not the attractive sort of ridges that old women sport because of years of working in garden beds or changing children and grandchildren’s diapers.

My hands are of a young woman, with a secret for stress and anxiety, that only appears if you look closely at my thumbs. Which of course all the nail technicians everywhere I go to get my nails done do. They cast furtive glances at one another as they examine my nails and whisper to each other in a language I am not meant to understand. I know that I have nasty nails, I just didn’t realize until recently, how much my nails reflect what is going on in my heart.

Yes, I have been down the dark, deep, never-ending hole of anxiety, but maybe I hadn’t conquered as well as I thought upon looking at my nails. I remember early days of learning and realizing that the obsessions in my head were not something that most of the population heard on a regular basis.

My mother first thought I had anxiety when I was in maybe 9th or 10th grade. I somehow got it in my head that I needed to pee everytime I got up in the night. Come to think of it, it wasn’t really that I was afraid of wetting the bed, I knew I could hold it, but just that I might wake up, maybe sometime in the future and be discomforted in some way that I couldn’t control.

anxiety

And, anxiety, the betrayer of the body, took that fear and twisted it into a compulsion that I didn’t even realize I had trouble ignoring until my mother pointed it out. I remember her voice ringing out tired in the night, if you don’t stop going to the bathroom I am calling a psychiatrist to check you out. That did the trick, though I was afraid of discomfort, I was more afraid of being labeled.

Those were years before words like obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and medication, would be swirling around in the sentences of those closet to me. I thought everyone was that way, maybe that’s why it took me so long to tell others when I started to notice the unmistakable signs of anxiety. But no, I would just wake up, tears streaming down my face, knots of pure evil rumbling around in my belly, and think I was going insane. That if I dared to tell someone how I was feeling, what I was really thinking, they would have me committed. And in a good Christian school like Grove City College, you could be ostracized for having such an illness.

Good Christians prayed that their anxious thoughts would go away, maybe I wasn’t praying hard enough. Maybe like the blind beggar in Matthew, this was to atone for the sins of my parents or grandparents. Christian people didn’t turn to antidepressants; they made their children have secret panic attacks in their rooms and go to see Christian pastors who thought they were also ordained to be counselors. If I had had such parents, I would have been quilting Philippians 4 on a nice pillow cushion while fighting off another panic attack, not throwing my Bible violently against the wall of my dimly lit chapel prayer room annoyed that the medication hadn’t kicked in yet.

It was in that musty, dusty, comforting room adjacent from our main chapel hall that I really found Jesus. My roommates throughout my college career were people who loved to be in the room in the afternoon, right around the time I did my devotions. I always would be ready, sitting on my bed, hands poised in an uplifted position, Bible and various markers ready to go deep into a study, when one of my roommates would arrive breathless from the cold, or class, or just filled with excitement and chattiness and the moment would be lost.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I realized if I wanted to have a truly holy, uninterrupted prayer time, I would need to find a different spot: that and the fact that I kept falling asleep and waking with a lurch and feeling terribly guilty during my devotions. So I found that chapel room as my new safe haven.

The room was a little dusty, with rays of sunlight or sometimes rain glinting through. On cold winter days or particularly damp ones, I would have to turn on a light to read and see. The walls were layered with prayer requests from strangers on campus and half-finished Bible verse artistic attempts that petered out on the walls hopefully not like the faith of those who first thought to construct them. There were cushions to sit on the floor, some very dilapidated Bibles with peeling covers, a random smattering of pens on the floor, and a chalkboard outside where you could mark if you wanted people to join you or leave you alone.

anxiety

It was here, in this dusty, hidden corner of my college campus that God began to speak to my heart. Many times I would come to Him stressed, with worries of boys I thought I loved, sorority drama and tests and papers to be prepared. I came to him often in joy with fun news to report and exciting moments throughout the day to share. Sometimes I came to him sad or angry. Like when my anxiety left me crippled for months or when the recent boy I decided would surely be my husband had decided I was wrong.

But the comfort I felt in this room, was such a small taste of the comfort I know we will discover one day at the feet of the cross. I think now that my life has gotten so busy and so full of activities and hours that must be worked, that I have not allowed myself to have time like that for a really long time. My devotions these days tend to look like rushed readings of scriptures before heading out the door to my commute, podcasts to replace listening for His voice, and prayers that are more centered on me than ever before. I think that we all go through seasons like this — seasons where we suddenly find ourselves farther from God. Like we accidentally took a train but realized we got off at the wrong station, not really sure how we got here, but looking anxiously to find our way home.

I believe that God still shows up and meets us in these moments. Because he knows our hearts and all things, and His spirit has a way of discovering that girl who wrote those letters and cried out those prayers many years ago on the dusty floor of her college chapel. God doesn’t ask for us to be perfect in our pursuit of Him, but He does ask us to show up. And I intend to spend this holiday season reconnecting to the God of Harbison chapel. The God of whispered wisdom, a soothing voice, and a whole lot of patience.

Yes, I have changed from that anxious girl I once was. I still pick my cuticles, but I get weekly manicures now. I let someone else take care of my hands, assess them, and make them beautiful. In many ways, I think that God is doing the same thing with my heart during this season. Taking it delicately in His hands, surveying it, smiling, and picking up His tools to get to work again.

Do You “Live On Mission” With Those Who Annoy You?

monday meditation

 

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2: 4

This past Friday night, I found myself at my least favorite place in the whole world, the grocery store. Now, there are many of you out there who truly relish going to the grocery store. You may be one of those people who love to meal prep and cook and smell the scent of your own handiwork rising from your oven. Oh, how I wish I were one of those people. But, I was not in the grocery store on a Friday night because I was making something delightful for dinner, I was there because my brother was visiting and as the hospitable person I am, I was too lazy to buy the lunch meat he would need to eat the night before.

The problem with that is that I have become, over this past year of adulting on my own, a late person. This is not something I enjoy sharing. I was never a late person before, so it was startling to realize throughout months of showing up five minutes late to many occasions that I was turning into one of those terrible late people. And even though I know that being late is incredibly rude, I honestly just try way too hard to cram everything into the last minute.

Let me just send one more text, check one more post, finish one more conversation, etc., etc., and then I’ll leave. You may have been there before as you rush to work while putting on makeup or try to squeeze the last couple of minutes out of a particularly good TV show before meeting up with friends. Because of the busy life, I live, and because I just have not been able to budget my time accurately, I was a little bit late to welcome my brother home as I was standing in line to check out at the grocery store.

Most grocery stores are not my friend, but this grocery store was turning into hell on earth that Friday night. All the self-checkout lines were not working, which frankly should be illegal in this day and age. And to top it off there were only three lines open with some extremely slow-moving high school teenagers who were honest to goodness double bagging every single item before handing them over to the patron. So there I was waiting to be next in line, cursing myself and vowing to never be a late person again, when the lady in front of me decides it’s time for her to lose her mind.

Apparently, the predicament was over a mismarked product. As someone who had the distinct pleasure of working at a grocery store for a summer, I could tell by the way the woman used a clipped tone to ask about how much her laundry detergents had cost that she was a lost coupon away from going to town on this poor cashier. I had been there many times myself as various women and men had yelled at me about brownie prices and two for one deals.  Dear God, I prayed, please make this not turn into world war three.

“Is it really 12.99 for two laundry detergents?” she growled, “The sign says two for $10.” Here we go I thought wearily. This annoying woman was about to continue to ruin my Friday night. The line of what felt like a hundred people behind me stirred uneasily as her tone rose. I looked longingly at the self-checkout cursing myself again for being a late person. She went on for a good five minutes, the managers had to come over, and a lot of fuss was made. By the end, I wasn’t just angry, if I were a cartoon character steam would be starting to slowly come out of my ears as my face turned red.

Because, who did this stinking lady think she was? Why was she ruining everyone’s Friday night with her melodramatics? Couldn’t she think about the others who had to listen to her go on and on for ten minutes, for a second?  Eventually, because she had made such an unbelievable racket, she got her desired price, and it was finally my turn to be checked out by the slowest cashier alive for the lunch meat and four apples I had waited all of eternity it felt like to receive. As I exhaled in annoyance and stepped forward to finally get out of this awful place, I saw something that stopped me in my tracks.

The loud, annoying woman, as I had dubbed her, was pushing her heavy cart and also helping what appeared to be an almost blind woman push her cart out to their car. Though both of them appeared to be dressed well, I realized with a start that both had used food stamps to pay for their purchases. I saw the woman tenderly push her cart and turn around to help what must have been her sister who couldn’t see, steer her cart as well. I felt the pit of my stomach drop.

Because though I had just spent the last ten minutes cursing this woman, I should have been blessing her. I realized that I had reacted to the situation with my typical human impatience, instead of looking to God and seeing this as an opportunity to show love and grace to someone who desperately needed it. I had let my own lateness, and eagerness to get home, make me look down on another human who probably really couldn’t afford the laundry detergent at full price.

And here I was, not even worried about what my food would cost or the weekend ahead where I would be eating out plenty of times with my brother, rolling my eyes at her. Yes, she was loud and a little rude, but was that an excuse to give her my worst behavior? Had I treated her like I was a Christian living on mission for God’s kingdom like I acted at church, or did I treat her like everyone else in the store huffing and puffing and sighing loudly in annoyance?

This made me stop a second and reevaluate how often I bury my head to those around me and quickly judge them. Have I become someone who curses others when I am the one who showed up late, or because I let my pride tell me that they are less than me? I say that I am a Christian and that I want to show others God’s love through my actions, but as soon as someone is difficult, I throw in the towel.

So today, I encourage you and myself to pray for those who annoy us. For the ladies that give you grief at work, or the rude guy you bump into on your way to class, or the lady who raises a fuss at the grocery store.

As Monday is drawing to a close and the rest of the week is creeping forward, I encourage you to spend this week looking for opportunities to be God’s light to others. To maybe take a break from your cell phone, and look up at the people you are passing by on the sidewalk. To be intentional about paying attention and looking for opportunities to let our actions lead others to Christ. I’m ready to not only talk the talk of a Christian but to put forth more effort to walk the walk with those I am surrounded with every day. Can you say the same?

Resources:

1. Everybody Always- Bob Goff

2.  How Sarah treats Haggar- Genesis 21: 8-21

4. Jesus and the Woman at the Well-John 4:4-26

The 20-Something Year Old Guide To God-Centered Rest and Soul-Care

self care

If you have been around me for any amount of time, you may have learned about one of my favorite simple joys. And that simple joy is pajamas. By pajamas, I don’t mean athletic shirts and old Varsity Track and Field T-shirts, I mean soft, color coordinated, warm, and fuzzy pajamas. The kind you buy in a set or off the rack at Target. I have to admit, when I put on a pair of pajamas after a long day, I truly feel closer to God.

So, as a person who loves pajamas more than most people, you probably think that I have a pretty good idea of how to rest well. And you would be right if we were talking about the amount of sleep I get each week. But if you looked at my actual soul care, what I did to take care of the spiritual part of my body, you might be surprised.

In the church, people have become almost adverse to rest. Thinking that if we stop to rest, that means that we are missing out on opportunities to serve God. Or, maybe you are one of those people who simply can’t rest. Your brain is always going a hundred miles an hour, and you book your calendar up so full that you don’t have time to think about anything, let alone rest. Maybe you are a tired college or grad student who is working, studying, and trying to have a social life. Most likely, you are someone like me, a working young adult who doesn’t know how to balance their work life, social life, Christian life, and rest all in one seamless day.

I always find myself wishing there were more hours in the day, more time to read, to do work, to catch up with others, to watch another Netflix episode, and of course to sleep. But unfortunately, I think as young people we put off rest. We think that we’ll have time to rest when we complete this project, or get this degree, or get this number of friends. That rest is something people need to earn, not something that is actively given to us each week by God.

But friends, we can’t possibly try to fill up others or expect to be the best versions of ourselves if we are constantly running on empty. We can’t talk to someone accurately about the grace and peace of Jesus when we can’t remember the last time we dug into His word. We can’t fill up others when we only take breaks to fill ourselves up with social media. Rest isn’t just getting your recommended 8 hours of sleep a night, or if you’re me more like 9 or 10. Rest is also soul deep. And if we are not taking the time each week to rest our souls, we are going to find ourselves living in a world where we are frazzled, stressed, and tired to our very cores.

So today, if you feel like your life is an out of control mess of tasks, events, and little free time, this article is for you. We are talking about the things that keep us from truly resting our souls, and how we can start caring for ourselves better each week.

We Feel Guilty

self care

Even though we have been saved by grace, we can sometimes act like we still have to earn our salvation. This can apply to “kingdom work,” but it can also apply to all areas of our lives.

For example, maybe you feel guilty about letting people down at work, so you constantly take on extra tasks. Maybe you feel afraid of letting people down, so everytime someone invites you to do something, you do it, even if it means you don’t get to rest. Maybe you look around at the Christians at your church who are doing so much more than you effortlessly and think that if you stopped to rest, people might think you are lazy.

Here’s the truth, God never made anyone in the Bible feel guilty about resting. In the Old Testament, when you could literally die for breaking the Sabbath, God always made way for His people to rest. He provided them with enough food and water so they wouldn’t have to gather it on the seventh day. Just like He can give us the ability to complete more tasks or get our workloads finished in six days, so we are able to rest on the seventh or just at points in the week. Truly allowing yourself time to soul rest means you are trusting God to help you get everything done, so you have time to rest.

Being a young adult is an absolutely crazy time in life. We normally spend our days working 8-9 hours, some of which involves us interacting only with people or staring at a screen, then we force ourselves to attend an exercise class, maybe we throw together a hurried meal, and end our night resting by falling asleep watching Netflix. We don’t give ourselves any room for our souls to breathe. Instead, we try to force our souls and our soul’s needs down to the very bottom of who we are. Thinking if we just quiet them for long enough, we won’t really need rest.

God gave us rest, not to make us feel guilty, but to make us feel grateful. So the next time you are getting ready to rest, stop thinking of it as a burden you have to bear, but as a gift, our gracious God has given us.

We Rest The Wrong Way

self care

I truly think that we can all rest and feel refreshed from different things. However, there are a lot of things that our society deems as restful, that end up just burdening our souls even more.

For instance, think about how much time you’ve spent looking at social media in the past day, compared to reading a book or giving your eyes a much-needed break from the screen. Think of a time where you just ended your day unwinding before bed, not watching an episode of Netflix and waking up to a blue screen.

Though technology can be a great gift, it can also be a huge detriment to our rest. I have to admit I love Instagram. It is by far my favorite social media platform currently. But, I know that if I’m not careful, I can start to put my identity, worth, time, and pieces of my heart into a platform instead of allowing those parts of myself to be filled with God. I can rely on it to wake me up and start my day, instead of spending time with God. I can find myself getting anxious when I haven’t checked it in a while, instead of taking that time to read a book, listen to a great podcast, or just sit alone with my thoughts.

And maybe for you, you find a different social media platform hard to resist, or you watch so much Netflix that you don’t remember how to rest without a screen in front of you. I am not saying that these aren’t good things in moderation, but when used in replace of soul rest, our souls become burdened and swayed by the world. We become anxious and feel like we are missing out if we miss a photo, snapchat, or episode. And let’s face it, every day has enough stress of its own without us creating even more.

So, I encourage you to think of some other ways you can rest. Is there a hobby you love that you’ve been neglecting? Do you love to read but haven’t picked up a book in ages? When was the last time you spent time nature and not because you had to take your trash out or get in your car?

If you are having a tough time coming up with non-technology driven ways to rest, here are some life-giving activities you can do that don’t require looking at a screen:

  • Take a walk or hike
  • Talking to a friend or family member on the phone
  • Writing a letter
  • Painting
  • Making something with your hands
  • Knitting
  • Reading( fiction too!)
  • Taking a bath
  • Painting your nails
  • Listening to music
  • Swimming
  • Napping
  • Fishing
  • Biking
  • Dancing
  • Exercising
  • Learning
  • Journaling
  • Playing an instrument
  • Singing
  • Baking

You get the idea. And that is not to say that you can’t indulge in some binge watching from time to time. But when we put our rest in earthly things, not only are we going to feel more broken, we are growing an idol. So take some time this week to just unplug, even if it’s just for 15 minutes.

FOMO

self care

The fear of missing out has only become more prevalent as our society has turned to technology. Now if you miss an event with friends, not only do you have to hear about it from them, but you also have to see the photos, videos, and captions you missed out on. Have you ever felt like you missed out on the perfect photo op? I know I have.

The truth is, when we start to fix our eyes more on eternity than what is temporal, we start to see how little those things matter. We realize that taking time to rest and spend more time with God is better for us in the long run than any Instagram post we missed out on creating.

What if we applied FOMO to our time spent resting with God? That we treated every time we missed reading our Bibles, praying, journaling, or giving our souls rest, with the same FOMO we feel when missing a night out with friends or a fall photo op. We might start to see what true FOMO is.

When we are overwhelmed and turn to worldly things to fill up our souls, it’s like ignoring the medicine a doctor prescribed to us when we were sick. When you feel sick, you take medicine, even if it’s just a tiny headache. So why is it that we reject taking medicine, or resting when it comes to soul care?

God has the solution for how to rest our weary souls, and it’s not found on a TV screen, on an Instagram video, or through essential oils, it’s Him. He is the solution and the medicine that our tired souls so desperately need. So to put it plainly, when we skip out on rest, we skip out on God’s best for us, on the medicine He has graciously given His soul tired people.

So stop being afraid to spend an introverted night in, to not sign up for yet another ministry need a church, and saying no to a friend because you just frankly need some time to be alone with your thoughts. You, yes you looking at this feeling exhausted to your very core, you need rest. Not the kind of rest that comes from a good night’s sleep, but the kind of rest that is only found in the presence of God.

Yes, I love to put on my pajamas when it’s the afternoon, and I have nothing going on at night, but that doesn’t mean my soul is feeling as comfy as my PJ pants. If we don’t take the time to self-care for our souls each week, we miss out on experiencing another part of God’s grace.

So, maybe you love wearing your pajamas, or drinking a cup of tea, or sniffing a particularly fragrant essential oil, whatever it is that brings you true rest, practice doing it this week. And then, practice it again. God doesn’t ask us to be perfect and structured in how we rest, but He does command us to trust Him. And when we start to give God more and more of our lives, we’ll see that taking the time to rest is His gift to us and a way to draw us closer to Him here on earth.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a book, a face mask, or an apron and get started resting. I know you’ll thank God and yourself for it.

Related Article: 4 Fears That Are Holding You Back From Finding Your Post-College People