In the past few weeks and months, I feel as though I am finally coming to a place where I feel like I can hold the things in my life – my career, my stability, my relationships – all with open hands. A place where surrender is the initial response, rather than this clamoring for control whenever a change occurs or something bad happens. But it’s not as though the journey to this place has been easy – or that I’m necessarily great at surrendering to God’s will all the time.
It’s been a hard fought road to get here. And I’m crazy grateful for the growth, the bumps and the bruises, and the faith that has led me to this place.
When my life was turned on it’s head by a two year season of sicknesses, losses, and significant anxiety – my surrender was only born out of necessity. When life began spiraling out of control, I hadn’t stepped into church in months and was honestly the furthest from God I think I’d been up until that point, but I was in desperate need of something to cling to. I couldn’t control the things that were happening around me and I couldn’t make these terrible things go away but through the nudging and whispers that only God could give, I gradually found my way home to Him.
I’m not the same person that I was back then, but still I fight every day to remember exactly how that season of my life felt. I fight for that, not so that I can wallow in sadness but so that I can be revived each day by the pure joy and peace that God granted me through all of it. Because if I don’t remember how I felt, if I don’t remember the promises that were whispered to me as I stood in the front yard of my grandmother’s home, just 48 hours after she went home to be with Jesus, as the paramedics attempted to resuscitate my Aunt Shelia – than I will forget them. And to forget them is to forget the absolute miraculous way that God moved in my life and in my heart that morning.
We have to remember the way it felt to be utterly and wholly broken before we ever knew what it felt to be healed, fully and completely.
Which brings me to today. The present. If there’s anything that God is using this current season of my life for, it’s to teach me and show me the redeeming qualities of both presence and stillness. The gift of stillness has come primarily through the practice of mindfulness and meditation in recent weeks and has been incredibly grounding. God has shown me the gift of presence that has come in the form of both my active presence in my daily life in this season as well as the presence of specific people that God has sent to me in recent weeks. My cup surely runneth over these days.
Since the start of this year, life has certainly been a bit bittersweet. To be in a state of relative suspense and uncertainty over what the second half of this year will look like all while being led to new friends and a broadening church community seems a little bit like torture. But friends, the enemy loves to keep us shrouded in the darkness of the lie that the future is something to be feared. That the unknown is a place where fear and doubt and darkness run rampant and if God is calling us to that than we should rebel against and fight to stay in our comfort space, in our habits and routines that are safe and comfortable. Nevermind the logic that says that if God is calling us into the unknown, into uncharted terroritory, than MAN OH MAN he must have something truly amazing and wondrous in store for us.
As I’ve journeyed down this path of relative blindness towards uncharted territory for me – the potential uprooting of my entire life from the only place I’ve never known – I can tell you that just because we step into a God-ordained journey does not mean it will be free of hardship or struggles. Quite the opposite, honestly. The enemy does not like when we are in tune with God and making strides in and for His kingdom. The enemy is banking on the fact that when the going gets tough, we forego the “tough get going” part in order to just curl up with our fuzzy blanket and hide away from our struggles with Netflix and junk food. He banks on the fact that when hardships arise, our instincts are to run back to shelter and back to our comfort zones instead of running to Jesus.
It’s in these types of moments that I remember the importance of the direction found in Ephesians 6 – “We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm.” (Ephesians 6:12-13, CEV)
While the enemy may try to get me to fear this path that God is leading me to, he doesn’t get to dictate a minute of it. My relationship with Christ tells the enemy that his fear induction and his attempts to dismantle the very thing that God is using this season to strengthen – my faith and my trust – have no place here. If there has been one quote or thought that I have picked up from following Mo Isom on Instagram, it is that the enemy does not get a minute of this story. He doesn’t get one moment of this experience, friends.
Yes, if I have to move away for a year and a half for grad school – it is going to be hard. It will take me away from my family and from my friends and from my beloved church community here in North Carolina. To be honest, just thinking about leaving behind some of the people that He has placed in my life just in the past few weeks causes a lump in my throat.
If it were solely up to me, I wouldn’t be embarking on any of this. My comfort zone is not a bad place to be, in my opinion. I quite like it and it would not be all that hard to just say, “Nah, I’m good” to what God is calling me to. But to say no would be to close a door to something beautiful with God – a God who has already proved to me that He can bring beauty and joy from the hardest of trials. What I know for sure about God is that He is the God who sees me here and now. He saw me through some of the deepest grief I’ve had to endure, and He will see me in and through this new season – wherever that will be.