CAN’T ADULT. SEND HELP.

SOS. As an almost 24 year old who’s been living on her own in Nashville for nearly 2 years, I can say with complete certainty that I have NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING.

You know what adulting feels like? It feels like running out of gas in the middle of a busy intersection, right next to a gas station (NO but like this legitimately happened to me about a month ago). For those few moments that felt like hours, I had absolutely NO control over my situation. I was coasting at 2 mph through a busy intersection (thank you Lord that it was somewhat downhill or I would have been SCREWED), people honking and throwing their hands up at me, power steering gone (fun fact: this happens when you run out of gas…), praying I could get out of the way enough to avoid an accident, and frantically dialing my mom’s number for help.

Isn’t this what adulting feels like though? Getting thrown into a situation you were neither prepared for nor expecting, with absolutely no control, and frantically trying to navigate through it without the slightest clue of what will happen? Adulting is one of those things that no one can ever truly prepare you for. I mean sure you know you are going to have bills to pay, have to work a big girl job to afford those bills, and navigate life in a new way, but you never truly know what you’re walking into until you’re face deep in it.

Since moving to Nashville, I have had a lot of emotional and mental breakdowns centered around my inability to “adult” well. I mean, I still miss my alarm some days, put off cleaning my clothes and/or sheets for weeks (this is a serious problem someone help me overcome this), forget to run errands, or maybe even run out of gas in the middle of the road. My message Bible app gave me a verse of the day a few days ago that I absolutely LOVED.

James 4:7-10 says, “So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

My favorite part of this verse is “hit bottom, and cry your eyes out.” A lot of the time adulting feels like hitting rock bottom. But it often takes hitting rock bottom for us to be reminded that God IS the rock on the bottom holding us up when everything else isn’t working. It’s amazing how meeting God from a broken place can create a life changing perspective shift. Not all lessons have to be learned the hard way, but for me personally, it’s through the struggle that I am humbled and reminded of who I am in Christ and where I get my sustenance from. If nothing else, it forces me to turn back to God and be present to him in a way that I had been missing before.. And isn’t that the whole point? To enter back into a relationship with God?

I talked to y’all a couple weeks ago about learning to be still. Obviously in the chaos of trying to adult, I still haven’t mastered this. But every time I slow down enough during the week to stop striving and let myself be loved by God, the fears and worries about not having my crap together fade away. The peace that washes over me is enough to move me into the next week, even when I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. When we slow down and “get down on our knees before the Master” he gives us the strength to get back up on our feet.

For me, adulting has been like a giant metaphor for my brokenness as a sinful human. A constant reminder that I can’t do it alone, I will never have all the answers, and that God’s grace is a powerful gift that I should never take for granted.

So I leave you with this… you CAN’T adult on your own, but if you seek your strength and sustenance from the Master of the universe, there is NOTHING you cannot do. We will never get it right 100% of the time, but the beauty of God’s grace is that we do not have to. Make time for Him in the chaos of the daily struggle. Perhaps you’ll find that it turns your chaos into order.

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you”

Mads

State of Limbo

So, the other day I was eating grapes and the last one I planned on eating tasted like the child of a sour patch kid and a tomato. Uck! It makes me shiver just replaying it in my mind! Thankfully, I had backup grapes to wash out the horrific taste from my mouth!

You are probably asking yourself, “Where in the world is she going with this?” Well, to be honest I’m not entirely sure, but this grape fiasco really got me thinking about life.

Peanut M&Ms are my favorite candy. Now, I’m sure you are confused about everything, except the fact that I love food! It is dangerous for me to be around Peanut M&Ms, because I can eat them like nobody’s business. But, sometimes a terrifying event occurs that catches me off guard: I get an M&M with a bad peanut inside. Anyone who has experienced this knows the soul-crushing effects. Yet, Peanut M&Ms are still my favorite candy, even with the risk of occasionally discovering a less than ideal tasting peanut. I do not eat Peanut M&Ms or grapes with the expectation that their taste will potentially give me the heebie-jeebies, otherwise I would not willingly eat or enjoy eating them at all.

This is the point God started to reveal something to me. I recently read a book by Grace Thornton titled I Don’t Wait Anymore. For any girl out there who needs a perspective shift and a spiritual challenge to embrace the incredible journey God has planned for each of us, regardless if it matches our expectations, this is a must read. For the girl (like me) who is perpetually single or is seeking to find the purpose for her life, Grace Thornton forces you to question where you place your identity and the expectations you place on God. Whether you are idolizing marriage, the perfect job, or appearance you have longed for, prayed for, and worked for, Thornton suggests that this mindset “would turn things that God designed to point us to Him into things we expect Him to give us in order to fill the holes we hold Him responsible for creating (p. 70).” This perspective encourages the idea that God is good only when life is good and it is hard to find God’s presence in unexpected challenges.

Girls, please don’t feel like I am calling you out! I am preaching to myself right now. We are not the first and will not be the last people to unknowingly place expectations on God and experience doubt and confusion when those expectations are challenged or seemingly unmet. The Israelites expected God to provide them with food in the wilderness. He did. He made manna rain down from the heavens (Exodus 16). Sounds like something you could expect the God of the universe to do, right?! But, after 40 years of manna, the Israelites expected more of God after He had continuously answered their prayers to be nourished and demanded that He give them meat (Numbers 11). They overlooked His provision and goodness for their needs and focused on their desires. This dilemma made Moses question God’s purpose for the journey in the wilderness and led to the rebuttal of all rebuttals from God. Not only did God send the Israelites more meat than they could stand, He asked “Is there a limit to the Lord’s power? Now you will see whether or not my words come true.” (Numbers 11:23)

A similar situation occurred with my main man, Jesus. The Pharisees proclaimed that since “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon, And his sisters live right here among us (Mark 6:3),” that he could not be the Messiah. The Pharisees were so fixated on the specifics of their idealized version of the Son of God that they missed the power of His messages that were “quite unlike the teachers of the religious law (Mark 1:22),” that set Him apart from any and every one. Because they already had pictured what God’s blessing would look like, they were blind to the most miraculous gift God has ever given, because it was not what they expected.

In both of these instances, God provides for the needs of His people, in the form of food and a Savior (NBD!). But, these massive blessings are overlooked, because people can’t get over themselves and their precise expectations of God’s plan for their lives. Since being slapped with this realization, I have felt like I’m holding a daisy in my hand plucking off petals until I know the answer to my spiritual relationship issue. I’m not debating if “He loves me, He loves me not”. Thankfully, I am confident in that answer. But, I’m questioning “To expect, To not expect”. My heart and mind are in a limbo state. In an attempt to destruct the expectations I have placed on Him, I have found myself expecting less of Him. Talk about Jekyll and Hyde thoughts! For example, rather than expecting God to provide me with a godly husband, at times I have convinced myself that I need to get comfortable with the idea of being lonely forever. Either way, these thoughts encourage me to focus on desires I do not feel like are being met, rather than the blessings God has already provided and continues to provide everyday that may not be exactly what I expected, like my friendship with Maddie. Either of these trains of thought lead me to miss my ultimate destination: God.

“He had pieced our paths together in a way we never could’ve imagined through the seeming wastelands of failed dreams and changed plans. “I doesn’t look anything like I thought it would.”(p. 125) ” That one bad grape or peanut inside an M&M made the next bite so much sweeter and memorable (I take eating seriously!). You don’t want to anticipate the scary, plan-altering events in life, because getting out of bed in the morning would be an absolute chore. That is why we can rest in the fact that although those unexpected events or seasons may arise, God is faithful, His mercies are new everyday (Lamentations 3:22-23) and He plans to share His victory with us forever (John 16:33). Even in the bad grape seasons of life, God promises to be with us.

Ultimately, our confidence in eating good grapes has to increase and the fear of eating gross grapes has to decrease. Or in the words of John 3:30, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” His desire for my life is greater than the desires I place on my life, because Ephesians 3:20 is no joke! Now I am working to replace my specific expectations of God with an overarching one, that He is AMAZING and is working in me, giving me the desire and the power to do what pleases Him (Philippians 2:13). This process is not cured overnight, but by replacing my expectations with God’s promises, He is transforming my desires. Even though He is the only One who knows the unknown, when I believe He holds my future with plans to prosper me, I can “know the truth, and the truth will set [me] free” (John 8:32).

So, if you have felt discouraged or unfulfilled lately, grab some grapes or Peanut M&Ms and contemplate life when you bite into one that makes your tongue do cartwheels. It might make your heart do one too!

Love,

Pay

Learning to Be Still

Where my fellow over-thinkers at?? I am quite literally ALWAYS living in my head to some degree… replaying that conversation from yesterday (or from 3 years ago and still cringing at my response), thinking about my next meal (let’s be honest, this is probably the most frequent), dreaming about my ideal future life, etc. While spending a lot of time in your head is not necessarily a bad thing, it can lead to a dangerous slippery slope of emotional distress and unhealthy fixation. Let me elaborate…

As an emotional, identity-seeking, individualistic enneagram type 4, I have mastered the art of overthinking. I am driven by my emotions.. A “feeler” rather than a “thinker,” who spends a lot of time internally processing through all of my emotions to make sense of why I feel the way I do. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the enneagram, us 4s tend to “default” to sadness, determined to feel through all the negative emotions to get a better understanding of our identity and to better be able to relate to others. I am not only driven by my emotions, but by my strong desire for deep relationships with people. Because of this, I can put a lot of weight on my interactions with people and form unhealthy attachments to people. Through these interactions I end up placing expectations on myself as well as the people I’m interacting with and amplify my own need for approval in the process.

I recently came across a verse that hit me harder than the struggle bus. Galatians 1:10 says this, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

YIKES.

Okay woah woah woah.. I mean it’s not a sin for me to want to connect with people so don’t try to tell me I’m not a servant of Christ.. Jeez Paul. Isn’t it funny how quickly we can jump on the defensive when we know we’ve been called out? After taking my pride out of the equation, I thought about this verse. It’s true that community and relationships with others are AMAZING things that come from God himself, and should be sought out; however, the danger is when those relationships become more important to you than your relationship with God.

IDOLS.

In his song Clear the Stage (go check this song out it’s amazing!), Jimmy Needham describes idols as anything that you want with all your heart, anything you give all your love, anything you put before your God, and anything you can’t stop thinking of. Take a minute to identify what you spend the most time thinking about… is it your significant other (or desire for one)? Your job? Food? Past or future? For me it’s all of the above, and rarely do I choose to clear out any space for God.

The other day I had an emotional breakdown out of NOWHERE. I’m talking puffy cheeks, tears.. The whole shebang. Now as I mentioned before.. I’m a feeler. I’m used to having strong emotions and dealing with them, but this time I was caught off guard. Apparently a lot of feelings had been circulating in my mind without my knowledge (or permission) and they all got triggered as I left a coffee shop where I had been doing homework. I got on the phone with Payton a couple hours later and the word vomit and tears came flooding out before I knew what was happening. I won’t hash out everything that caused those feelings, because you would be here a while.. But let’s just say that it was well rooted in relationships and experiences that I spend a LOT of time thinking about. I had been putting so much of my energy toward overthinking every aspect of these experiences and interactions with people that I drove myself to insanity without even realizing it.

The pastor at the church I go to has been talking a lot about attachments. He says that you know you are attached to something by looking at how much energy you put toward it. I realized that I have been putting all of my energy (and therefore forming attachments) to people, experiences, and expectations rather than God. I’ve allowed those things to occupy all of my head and heart space when I should have been letting God in to still my constantly running mind. I’ve constantly heard the words “be still,” but never known how to actually apply this. Every time I try to sit still in silence, I either get bored, fall asleep, or my mind starts wandering which defeats the purpose. I have not come anywhere near mastering this.. But lately I’ve been trying to learn how to be still. Instead of letting my mind focus on all my fears or fantasies, I’ve been learning to put my energy toward simply being. Clearing the stage of all the things that distract me from merely being in God’s presence. God is always present, but I am often not aware of this until I choose to be present to Him. Being still and shutting off the overthinking is hard for me, and it probably always will be. But the peace that comes when I allow God to steady my anxious heart makes it worth it.

So my question for you is this… What do you put all of your energy towards? What is keeping you from being in God’s presence? Perhaps self-awareness is the first step toward freedom.

Sending a hug!

Mads

Eternal Tree Pose

It had been one of those semesters where the light at the end of the of the tunnel [Spring Break] seemed to be getting dimmer as I was drawing closer. A grueling nine straight weeks of going to school, teaching my heart out and feeling beat down emotionally and physically, I desperately needed a perspective shift, because my focus was solely on the obstacles I was and would potentially face with the students in my classroom.

No doubt, God called me to teach. But, I allowed myself to bask in the desperate darkness of frustration in the Land of “What Ifs”, more than the glorious light in the Land of “What’s Next God”. Even after two years of questioning God’s plan and sporadic moments of understanding His purpose for the pain, I could not seem to shake the dust off my soul. My default, unkempt thought process led me to view God as my personal Reward Giver, rather than my Ultimate Reward. Leaving part of my heart in cobwebs, unable to notice what God placed in front of me, right where He led me, His goodness.

For several weeks, I had my quiet time in my classroom, before students filled the desks and biology words exited my mouth. I continued to pray, “God, please let me see you, in the little things, in a student, and in me.” Yet, once the morning bell rang, it was as if I experienced short term memory loss and forgot to be on the lookout for God’s Presence. By the dismissal bell, I felt drained and uneffective. I was missing the point.

One day my legs with the flexibility of steel rods were attempting downward dogs and warrior poses, in a yoga video. It was the scheduled recovery video for the week, after breathtaking cardio and butt-wrenching leg workouts earlier in the week. All of the videos in the program include a stretch portion at the end, but I typically skipped it. I didn’t see the need to spend time on something that wasn’t burning many calories. Although I was looking forward to the easier workout, I continued to watch the clock tick down, like a hawk. Yet, it was here that God spoke to me.

I initially struggled to find myself in tree pose, with one foot planted on the floor and the other resting on the planted foot. Once I found my center, by looking at the same point on the wall, I instantly gained pride in my ability to not collapse for the past 10 seconds of my existence. The yoga instructor began discussing the importance of finding balance in life. Yada, yada, tick, tick. But, then she threw me a curve ball. “Close your eyes,” she said. Simple enough, right?

Wrong!

I was wobbling all over the place. I was losing my balance, because I was missing the point I had been looking at directly. God hit me like a wrecking ball right there. And, it looked like He did as I stumbled to regain my balance.

Everyday He has given me the opportunity to see Him in my classroom. Yet, I wasn’t focused on this point, I had no balance in this area of spiritual discipline. I was asking Him daily for a point to fix my eyes on, but I seemed to be refusing to look to Him. Therefore, by the end of the day, I was left with my head in my hands wondering why God never revealed Himself to me and why I felt like the purpose and passion God gave me for teaching had disappeared. As I contemplated the physical reenactment of my inward spiritual struggle, a verse came to mind,   2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

I was expecting God to be flashy and show up in what I my eyes were focusing on: student’s emotions, test scores and teaching strategies. Rather, He met me where I was, with my eyes closed, to show me that my focus was in the wrong place. Balancing is not impossible with your eyes closed, but it does require more intense concentration. The same is true for a strong relationship with God.

You will lean and sway, like a tree in the wind, as you learn to trust and follow Him, sometimes to the point where you almost topple over. But, when you choose to align yourself with Him and focus on His plan for your life and His kingdom, you regain your balance, your passion to be with Him and know Him more. Colossians 2:6-7 says, “6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” This verse reminds me of when I initially asked God to be my Focus, my Savior, the Center of my life and the passion that came with that invitation. But, Paul also insinuates that this isn’t a one time decision in verse 6, but a constant choice to focus on Him and His goodness. As I stood in tree pose with my eyes closed, the instructor directed me to, “Fight for my balance and to be rooted like a tree, standing tall and firm.”

I couldn’t help but smile at the way my clever God had shown up in the workout I always skipped over and couldn’t wait to end. He was stretching my faith by showing me the importance of establishing my focus on Him. Rather than skimming for His Presence in what I can see, remembering that roots grow underground, out of view, and my faith grows out of His love and a reciprocal pursuit of one another. God used a mundane yoga video to help me grasp the divine significance of gaining rest and rejuvenation in acknowledging His Presence. There is no doubt that He is in my ordinary, but I have to choose not to skip over the commonplace and make a point to focus on Him in order to find balance in what He makes extraordinary.

Scandalous Grace

Recently, my year long bible reading plan has led me into the always unpredictable book of Leviticus. Nights of reading have triggered heavy eyelids and gag reflexes as the dimensions and specifications of the Tabernacle are outlined and explanations of sacrifices and skin diseases are provided in detail. However, the Living Word of God never ceases to amaze me at the little nuggets of wisdom that are showered throughout the pages, even in the least expected places.

I have tried to stay open-minded and understand more of God’s advice and characteristics, as well as the applicability of the practices throughout my reading of Leviticus. But frankly, it has been difficult. I have a strong stomach, but when blood is being splattered and rubbed on big toes (I promise it’s in there), I have trouble focusing. I haven’t given most of the book a second thought, especially the part about offering God only animals without defect. I mean, duh, God deserves our best, right? Even though we don’t offer animal sacrifices anymore, the concept still makes sense. But, then I stumbled across a passage where the tables were turned and I couldn’t help but stop and reread.

Leviticus 21:17-20, 23

17“Give the following instructions to Aaron: In all future generations, none of your descendants who has any defect will qualify to offer food to his God. 18 No one who has a defect qualifies, whether he is blind, lame, disfigured, deformed, 19 or has a broken foot or arm, 20 or is hunchbacked or dwarfed, or has a defective eye, or skin sores or scabs, or damaged testicles (I promise it’s in there). 23 Yet because of his physical defect, he may not enter the room behind the inner curtain or approach the altar, for this would defile my holy places. I am the Lord who makes them holy.”

Now we weren’t talking about animals, but people being without defect. What?! At surface level it was alarming. I couldn’t help but feel for the people afflicted with these conditions and wonder how hard it would be to place your hope in a God who wouldn’t let you into His presence. I would already feel hopeless from my condition, much less being physically prohibited from entering God’s quarters behind the curtain of the Holy of Holies.

I am not trying to say God changes from the Old Testament to the New Testament, but His relationality seems to. The Old Testament is filled with a logical, step by step way to get to God that seems to have a disconnect and a fixation on faults. On the other hand, the New Testament is consumed with an overflow of emotion as the Presence of God came to earth and ministered directly to the people this passage exiles from the Tabernacle, as He ultimately accepted them for who they are. Talk about mixed messages.

When Jesus was hanging on the cross and took His final breath, it was “at that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart” (Matthew 27:51). This is the moment everything changed. “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) God’s Presence was no longer contained in a temple, behind a curtain, but entered into each of us. There is no longer physical separation, because Easter is an everyday occurrence! Can I get a hallelujah?!

But on my second glance on the Leviticus passage, I was ironically hit on a personal level. God’s spirit is within me. Ephesians 2:13 proclaims, “But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.” I no longer have an excuse for separating myself from God. Even though I have never dealt with literal blindness, lameness, deformities, or severe skin conditions, that would have kept me from entering God’s Presence in the days of the Old Testament, I have spiritually had these afflictions and let them control me. I have failed to acknowledge God’s Spirit working within me, because I have been blind to the opportunities He gives me to grow, I have refused to move into His presence to vulnerably share my heart condition with Him, I have focused on my physical and personality flaws rather than how I can learn more about the character of God, and have carried shame for not appearing as I have it all together. These sound like good enough excuses to keep me from experiencing the love and life God has in store, right?

Seriously, Payton?!

“Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins” (Romans 3:24). I couldn’t bear to think of a time when people would be separated from God, but thanks to “God’s unfailing love and faithfulness [that] came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17), that separation no longer exists. Yet, I constantly CHOOSE to separate myself. Why?! Because God’s grace is beyond my comprehension, but shame is so easy to hold on to. God wants you and loves you as you are. The same God I was slightly agitated with for ordering people with “defects” to stay out of His presence, is the God I can’t fathom yearning for me and all of my flaws to come be with Him. Grace is such a funny thing to me. I can’t think about living without it, but I struggle to live in it. Pastor Steven Furtick warns that the familiarity with the definition of grace can be dangerous, because we lose how scandalous it actually is.

Everyday God gives us the choice to live in His grace, to see, move, and work with His love shining through us. We have the choice! He wants us! He asks for purposeful intentionality as we embark in a relationship with Him.

Let’s get real for a minute. When I was first learning about what it means to follow God, I realized that I had never understood that He wants me to know Him like He knows me. When this switch was flipped, so was my entire world. That was 4 years ago and I continue to get frequent spiritual punches in the gut that remind me of how often I forget to BE with Him in my everyday. This is a privilege the original followers of God did not have access to, yet I neglect the opportunity when He dwells inside me.

Girls, this is a place to be real. A place to lay everything down, including the facades we put on each day. A place to break down the emotional walls we have built up and express true humility and vulnerability with one another. And a place to share how amazing, glorious, precious [and every other adjective that demonstrates the greatness of our God] is and what He is doing in our lives. I am not perfect and I will not pretend to be. I struggle with understanding and accepting God’s grace in my life. You might too. Or you might have some incredible words of wisdom that can help me gain perspective. Ultimately, this is a place to be ourselves and share our love for the One who first loved us. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for this blog and I can’t wait to start learning through each of you!

Happy Easter!

With Love, 

Pay

Philippians 2:13

 

Letting Go of Expectation

Where are my fellow struggle bussers at? I mean seriously.. I basically drive the thing every day. But lately I’ve been pondering a question.. is it possible to be driving the struggle bus and run over by said bus simultaneously? Somehow I’ve managed to find a way to master this. Let me back up and give you some context.

1.5 years ago I moved away from my small city vibes life in East Tennessee and moved to honkey tonk central in Nashville, Tennessee. I came here pursuing my graduate degree in occupational therapy (Yay OT!), completely full of excitement in embracing my independence and moving alone to a popular southern city that doubled as a hub for people my age.

OMGoodness I’m gonna meet so many cool people, be best friends with all my classmates, find an amazing church to get plugged into and a small group to go with it, maybe I’ll get a dog, I’m definitely going to meet my future husband……” Literally from the second I got my acceptance letter to Belmont’s OT program, these thoughts danced in my mind and graced the ears of anyone who was willing to listen to me ramble on about it.

EXPECTATION.

Before I even got to Nashville, I had created a world of expectation of what my life would look like. I also have a nasty habit of playing things up in my imagination.. thinking up this ideal version of life, relationships, etc. This only set me up for a brutal jab to the gut when reality came crashing through.

For 1.5 years now I have dreaded going to school every day because I’m not close to my classmates, have tried and failed to get plugged into various churches and small groups, have struggled to connect with people, and have not met my soulmate (not that I know of anyways). Every single expectation I placed on myself slowly slipped further and further away with every day that passed (with the exception of getting a dog.. cause I totally adopted a puppy. In the middle of midterms if that tells you anything about how well I handle stress haha). I spent 1.5 years shaking my fist at God.. “Why would you bring me here, God? I was SO sure about feeling called to Nashville. I have been putting myself out there, stepping out of my comfort zone and pursuing godly things, but here I am with nothing to show for it. How can this be part of your plan for my life that you promised would be good?”

For 1.5 years I was missing what was right in front of me the whole time. One day, very recently, I had my eyes opened to the fact that I am a RADICALLY different human than I was 1.5 years ago. I have embraced my brokenness in a way I never have before… I have been unafraid to show vulnerability and intentionality with people I barely know because I desire a new depth in relationships that I was never forced to seek out in my past… I have embraced my independence and gone places by myself, tried churches by myself, joined small groups by myself… I have had to learn to be responsible for myself, my bills, my dog, my decisions. The list goes on and on. I suddenly realized that I had been looking for tangible blessings to be given to me. Although things like a Christian community and a husband are strong desires of my heart and desires that are good and come from God, He never promised me these things. I just expected Him to hand them over to me because I wanted them. Reality check. That’s not how it works. I opened my eyes to the fact that just because I can’t see something unfolding in front of me, doesn’t mean that something is not unfolding within me. Not all blessings are tangible. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 reminds us not to spend our time focusing on the tangible things of this world because in the end, they are transient. God, and his intangible, unseen blessings are eternal.

I have been striving to reach these expectations that.. get this… I PLACED ON MYSELF. Have you actually ever stopped to think about why you have the expectations you have for yourself? More often than not they stem from our own social comparison and fear. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, envy, etc. All of those feelings are REAL. I’m not here to tell you that you’re not allowed to feel those things. But be careful how you respond to those feelings. If we keep running over ourselves with the struggle bus, we stay hyper-focused on our own failure at living up to the unrealistic expectations we placed on ourselves and become blind to God’s goodness in the midst of it. We get stuck in a never ending downward spiral of unhealthy defense mechanisms and withdrawal from God. It’s time for a change in perspective. We are going to screw up.. that’s what it means to be human. But that’s the beauty of grace and redemption. God isn’t surprised when we screw up, nor is He disappointed. He just wants us to let Him love us through the struggle. My friends, He sees us in the midst of our deepest struggles and He is constantly at work.. if we would just have the eyes to see it.

What would it look like if we could 1) extend grace to ourselves when we mess up rather than beating ourselves up and feeding our fear and 2) surrender our fear and expectations and fully embrace the journey that God has us on RIGHT NOW.

I’d be lying if I told you I knew the answer to these questions cause I’m still figuring it out.. and it’s a DAILY struggle. But I’m trying to do a few things. 1) Stop running over myself with the dang bus cause that’s not helping anything… and tire marks don’t do anything for your outfit. 2) Give myself grace that I am driving the struggle bus every day and stop expecting myself to have it all together, because God doesn’t expect that of me. 3) Surrender the fears, expectation, and negativity to God when they creep their way into my mind. 4) Stop stiff arming God and actually let His love break down my walls and wreck my life.

My advice to you is this.. Let God love you. Let God pursue you. Wouldn’t it be a joyous life we could live if we could stop controlling ourselves by expectation and instead simply live loved exactly where we are?

Sending you a big, warm hug. See ya on the struggle bus!

Mads