Monthly Archives: June 2013

Eagles and Emotions

I was standing in church, one of a handful of white faces amidst a sea of darker.  It was praise and worship time, my main reason for ever attending any church service.  (First is worship, second is community, third for the stories the pastor tells, fourth for the occasional doughnut, and fifth is for the actual sermon – sorry.  It’s not that God doesn’t speak to me through the sermon, because He does.  It’s just that normally, if I want to hear from God, I close the door to my bedroom, find my journal, turn on some worship music and then start praying.  Sometimes I pull out my Bible.  After that, I call (or, usually, grab coffee with) some of my wiser friends.  Wisdom and advice is always more easily swallowed with a cup of coffee (or, in my case a cambrick) in hand. )

So, anyway, I was one sweaty (it wasn’t fall yet, and temperatures were still above the 100’s) white face in a sea of non-sun-burning faces in church. And we were singing, thanking God that, like the wind beneath an eagle’s wings, He lifts us up above the storm.  I don’t remember the exact song actually – just that image.  And I remember praying, “God, just walk with me through the storm.  I want to feel everything.  I don’t want to escape life’s bumps and bruises.  Just walk with me.”

Silly me!  That was at the start of the hardest year of my life to date.

Why on earth would anyone pray that silly prayer?  “Don’t lift me above the storm God, I want to experience it, I want to be bumped and bruised and broken and tossed about.”  Sounds painful.  It IS painful.

But by that point in my life I knew enough to know that God often does His best work in the smack middle of our pain.  And I desired God to do His best work in me.

I also knew that I wanted to experience life  – all of it.  Including the pain of the storms the song was talking about.  I didn’t want to just glide above them, I wanted to be down in them, feeling the roller coaster waves beneath my feet.  Thrilling in the ride and risks and healing that would be taking place.  I didn’t want God to protect me from this life.  I wanted to KNOW all of it, that I might know Him better, that I might share Him better with others.

But, you know what?  I don’t think I needed to pray that prayer.  I mean, yes, I did.  My heart needed to tell God where I was with Him; that I trusted Him to take care of me no matter what.

But I didn’t need to pray that prayer because God doesn’t do that – lift us up above a storm.  I was right – God walks with us, side-by-side through the storm.  Sometimes He stops us and surrounds us with His body, protecting us from some airborne shrapnel, but for the most part, we get to feel everything.  That’s kinda part of the point of this life – to experience it.  Somewhere along the line of growing up in a very Christian environment, I picked up the idea that God’s protection means that He’ll keep you from feeling too much pain.  That you’ll never get depressed because of Him.  Yeah, that’s not how God works.  Him walking beside you does NOT mean He keeps those emotions away.  Him walking beside you means He’ll help you manage those emotions, that you don’t have to be overcome or ruled by them. But He still wants you to feel the emotions He placed inside us, that respond to the situations we are in, that we might get to know Him better.

The more you live life with someone, the better you get to know them.  So, live life with God.  Get to know Him.   Don’t be afraid of the storms that come, He’s with you.  Don’t get bored during the gentle, quiet times of calm, He’s still with you.

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Summer Time

So, it’s summer.  That wonderful time when you don’t have to do math assignments, or write research papers, or discover the force of gravity.

But how are you spending all your free time?  Are you in front of your TV for most of it?  Or on Facebook?  At the mall?  Or texting?

Some of that is good.  Some of that is restful and necessary.  But not a lot, actually.

I’ve discovered that the most restful way to spend time is often doing the things you love most…as long as those things don’t include texting, Facebook, tumblr, Twitter…you get the picture.  Go spend some time doing the things that God gave you a love for.  Use whatever it is to encourage, engage, and get to know someone else.

Give God a bit of your time this summer.  After all, we hang out with those we love right?  Why would God be any different?

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Community

A week ago I had a huge disappointment.  I had applied for an internship that seemed too good to be true, and I made it through most of the whittling-down process.  In fact, I was in the last six.  But, I found out last Thursday that I didn’t get it.   I had prayed since the beginning that God’s will be worked through the process, and so I was surprised at how hard it was to hear the “no”.  Hard might be a bit of an understatement.  It hurt like –  heart-being-pulled-out-of-you-while-still-fully-alive-and-breathing hurt.  Like I-suddenly-couldn’t-breathe hurt.  Like 1,000-paralyzing-brain-freezes-hitting-you-all-at-once hurt.

So, like any self-respecting woman who has emotions and admits to it, I cried.  I actually curled up on the floor of my bathroom and poured my heart out to God in tears (I didn’t have words).  Eventually, I pulled it together enough to text my dear friend, asking her to pray for me, because I wasn’t in a very good spot.

And then I went to Lifegroup, because it was Thursday, and Lifegroup happens on Thursday nights.  And no, I didn’t really feel like going.  But these people are the ones who weekly remind me, and challenge me with different aspects of my walk with God.  These people also care about me pretty intensely.  And, well, I’m a sucker for routine.  Routine is a great place to hide if everything is not okay.

So, when I showed up at the door and one of my friends asked me how I was doing, I tried to pretend everything was okay, and said “good”.  Except my friend knew me better than that.  She knows me so well, that she could look straight into my eyes, and say, “No Honey, you’re not okay at all.  Let’s go talk about it.”  She has, after all, been a part of my life for over a year now – almost two.  And she can read me pretty well.  That’s one of the benefits of Lifegroup.  Some of the people become friends who can tell when something’s up with you before you even know something is…or can tell when you don’t want them too.

Anyway, my friend somehow pulled the super-human feat of understanding what all my tears were about through my sobs and sniffles.  Later, when the group was sharing prayer requests, and I knew if I even opened my mouth, more than my eyes would be leaking (which they had been doing all evening), she went ahead and added me to the list.  She knew.

And really, that’s the point.  Wherever you are in life – young or old, student, or adult, you need friends.  The really good kind that care about you, and that tend to know what’s going on; the kind that will keep you accountable and remind you of the big picture.  It’s called living in community, and if you intend to live your life in a way that pleases God, it’s vital.  You HAVE to have it.  You won’t make it without a close group of friends.

That being said, of course, if you pick the wrong friends to surround yourself with, things won’t be pretty for you.

So, be careful who you invite into your community.  Be purposeful in who you invite.  Are they people you want to be more like? Only invite those sort.  Because whoever is in your community, your friendgroup, that is who you eventually will look like.

Have friends; have challenging, God-loving, honest, awesome, slightly scary friends.  And then let them in to your life.  You will be incredibly blessed.

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