Monday, May 12, 2014

Dark Musings

Why do I write about the hurt?

Should I write about the hard things?

My goal is for this blog to be a positive influence that will draw people closer to Christ. I want this blog to celebrate life and hope and beauty. But I don't want to sugar coat things and make it look like my life is perfect. Because it's not. There are hard times. There will always be hard times. But the important thing to remember is that hard times are beautiful too. We may not understand why they happen at the moment, but there is a reason and it will all work together in the end. Each failure, each hardship, each battle that we face shapes us into who we are.

The weakest people on earth are those who have never experienced hardship. However, perspective is oh, so important. Because if we let it, hardship can make us too hard. Cynical. Miserly. Perspective shows us that hardship is good. We learn the most from failure; and when we do this, we can turn our failure into a stepping stone for success.

Find beauty in the difficult things. Look at them as opportunities to learn, to make yourself better. Be grateful for the struggle. It will make you stronger. Learn from your failure and you will find success. Let the hard things soften you and mold you into a better person. Cling to God with all your might and He will never let you down.

Secrets from my Past 1

Everyone has a story to tell. Yes, even that quiet girl who always sits at the back of the classroom and never comes up and talks to you. I love to hear about peoples' pasts. The little things that they hold close, those favorite childhood memories, and the stories that hurt to be told. It is so much easier to understand people if you know their background. You can prevent so many hurts and misunderstandings if you know what their past has held.

Growing up I always thought of myself as being defective. I felt like I was not good enough, and never would be. No matter how hard I tried to be everything that I felt others wanted me to be, I could never succeed.

Freshman year of college. I was invited into the honors college and we went on a retreat before classes started. We had to take the Meyers-Briggs personality test. I was an INFP, but I had no clue what that meant. We had briefly studied this in psychology, but not enough for me to really understand it. The honors college had a psychologist come and talk to us about the results and what they meant. The entire hour lecture was filled with new revelations and ah-ha moments for me. Each of the four categories are based on a spectrum. Zero is the middle, and there are 30 points to either side of the scale. So if you scored 20 on extroversion, that would mean you were mostly extroverted, with occasional introvert tendencies. Most people have some tendencies from both sides.

I scored 30 out of 30 for introversion.

This didn't surprise me, but at this point I did not really know what exactly an introvert was. As the psychologist described each point, I began to realize for the first time in my life that I was normal. It was okay to feel the things that I was feeling. I wasn't deformed or backwards beyond hope. I was simply an introvert. For a long time, this was all I really understood about my personality. And it was enough. It was a start on the path to healing - to accepting myself. Realizing that there was nothing abnormal about me, and that no matter how hard I tried, I would never be able to change myself at my core. Do I have things I can improve? Of course. Each personality has their own weaknesses that they must strive to improve. But deep down, there is nothing inherently wrong with being an introvert. Extroverts are pretty cool, and this world is set up for them in many ways. But that doesn't mean it is are inherently better (or worse) to be an extrovert than an introvert. The sinful human heart can twist either one to be selfish and self-centered.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Where the Past and the Future Collide

The Present. Right now, this moment. Today is such a gift; it is the only moment in time where we can make a difference. The past is unchangeable and the future has no guarantee.

So many emotions have been going through my mind lately... and I'm not sure where to start. Perhaps it will suffice just to say that as I was re-reading some of my past diary entries, everything became much more clear. A diary is so important. Even for people who don't like to write - everyone should keep a journal. It is kind of like an Ebenezer. You can look back on it in the future and be reminded of all the wonderful things that have happened to you and that have brought you to the place that you are right now. You can remember the raw emotions that filled those moments when you first listened to God. When you promised to follow wherever He lead. And when you felt His Holy Spirit prompting you to obey. Those beautiful moments.

Sure, you might remember them even if you don't write them down; but will you remember them as well? Will you be able to recall in full detail with complete accuracy. I doubt it. Writing it down puts it into stone. Our memories are such a fluid state, they change and morph over time. But writing doesn't. It will always be there in stark black and white to remind you of each lowly detail that you take time to record.

Enough of that though.

I was reading through my diary, and I found all these things. I rediscovered the excitement of those moments when I was first falling in love with Jesus. I happened upon all those lovely love notes that I had written for my King. Filled with love, and joy, and passion for life. A desire to make a change in the world.

I know where my place is. I know where I will end up. And even if I don't know all the details of how the journey will look, I know who is leading me. I know who is writing my story; and if I follow Him, everything will be alright. I may not understand the dark passages He takes me through, but I know it will all work out in the best way possible if I just trust Him. After all, what type of a book would only have happy stories and an easy life? No one would read it would they? I know I wouldn't. It's the suspense. The incoherent sub-plots building into one grand climax that make a good story. All the moments of raging battles, the intensely fought for victory - make the ending all the sweeter.

The more wearisome the battle, the sweeter the victory!

My passion is to make a difference in this world. Anyone can say that right? I'm not exactly how this will look for me, but my ultimate goal is to open a nonprofit organization that will provide nutrition (physically, spiritually, emotionally) to children in developing nations. "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." One day I will be there, on the front lines fighting for the souls of these precious little ones. Ones that cannot fight for themselves. Ones that have not had the incredible opportunities that I have. It is my duty - I cannot stand idly by.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Beauty of the Night

A cool breeze engulfs me as I step out into the blackness. After hours of tossing and turning for no apparent reason, I was tired of the glaring red numbers of my alarm clock screaming that it was getting later... and later... with no hint of sleep in sight. 1am...2am...3am. And I gave up. Obviously sleep was going to elude me tonight, so I might as well look at something a little more beautiful than my alarm clock. As I perch on the top step of my porch, I pull my blanket closer around me, thankful for its fuzzy warmth against the chilling air. The world seems so oddly silent. So empty and peaceful. I serenely gaze up at the sky as the song of the crickets lulls away all my thoughts. The moon is bright and cheerful, casting a delicate glow on the sleeping world. In between and through the quickly moving wispy clouds I catch glimpses of stars. Their ferocious power all but lost to me through the millennia that separate us. As I focus on their beckoning light, the chatter of crickets fade into the background. The nagging breeze no longer has my attention, nor does the friendly smile of the moon draw my eye. Somewhere out in the vastness, are things that I cannot even imagine. Things that man has not seen. Wonderful and great things. I feel so small and frail. As if the slightest calamity could totally obliterate my memory. How can problems in my life seem so big and out of proportion? The faintest breeze could blow it all away.

My thoughts take another turn. How awe-inspiring and majestic must God be? If He created all this, if He simply breathed it into existence, how much more incredibly imposing must His being be? How small and finite are we in comparison! The enormity of our universe pales in comparison to an omni-present Deity. 

As I slip back inside, my heart is still filled with awe and wonder at the presence of God. Oh, how little reverence we give Him. We treat Him as if He were a vending machine, or some slave that we control - demanding Him to give us our desires and take away our troubles. If only our eyes were not so blinded by selfishness and our hearts so puffed up in pride. If only we would realize how little we give Him what He demands...

We may choose to ignore the obvious. We may choose to live our way instead of His. But one day, our perfect little self-centered glass bubbles will be shattered. That day when our body breaths its last breath, and our soul enters into eternity. We will then be faced with the harsh reality that we chose to obliviously ignore. Only then it will be too late to change our path. God's mercy will no longer be available, and our eternity will be sealed. Is it worth it? 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Ebenezer

I am sure we are all familiar with the words of the old hymn... "Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy grace I'm come. And I hope by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home." Ebenezer literally means stone of help. In 1 Samuel 7:12, Samuel places a stone of memorial for the Israelites to remind them of God's mercy in bringing them back to Him. This stone was a constant reminder of the new beginning that the Israelites had started.

I've been reading through Exodus and Leviticus in my Bible readings lately and the words of this hymn are often brought to my mind. It seems that God often required the Israelites to implement memorials to remind them of important milestones. One of these "ebenezers" was the Passover. This feast was to occur every year, and it would help remind the Israelites of how God had mightily brought them out of Egypt, and how he had passed over their houses when the death angel came. 

I think it would be beneficial for us to raise more Ebenezers for ourselves. Whether it is a memory verse written on your mirror, a certain song that has special meaning for you, or a picture hanging on your wall that reminds you of an important event that God brought to pass in your is important to have reminders of God's incredible mercy and love towards us. 

Come, let us raise an Ebenezer.