Comfort

The Big Plan

I struggle with what exactly to say here that isn’t super dramatic or super cliche. But lately that’s what the pendulum that’s been swinging in my mind.

On March 23, I learned that I did not get accepted to grad school in Illinois. And in the past two weeks, I have learned that I have not moved forward in the selection process at 4 of the 6 hospitals where I applied for an internship. Even typing that leaves a sort of sour taste in my mouth and I’m realizing that I haven’t really spoken the words aloud very much just yet. Maybe it’s a little bit of embarrassment or maybe just disappointment, but yeah. My thoughts have been swinging back and forth from the super cliche “God works all things together for good”-type of thoughts to the super dramatic variety that has me questioning everything from how could I have misunderstood God to do I even still want to pursue this career. (I hear myself being dramatic, don’t you worry. I’m working on it!) Now, that’s not to say that I don’t think that God actually works all things together – He totally does and I believe that He is doing that here too – it’s just a verse that is used so often in comforting others that it has started to become a little cliche at times.

I think there is a certain sense of mourning, a transitional period, when this vision that you held and felt so strongly turns out not to be the path forward at all. It’s a little jarring, to be honest. For months, I felt so called to Illinois for school. Even my family felt strongly that this was where my next steps would take me. I applied to six hospitals also, sure, but I felt so sure that grad school was in my immediate future. But I am reminded of the words found in Isaiah 55, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (v. 8-9, ESV).”

While it’s easy to think that we know something because we are humans and small-minded, we serve a God who is so much bigger than what we can imagine. A big God who dreams big dreams for us. I think we (meaning me) can get so caught up in knowing the next step and knowing exactly what is coming our way when that is just simply not how life works. Just recently, in a perfectly timed message I might add, Bob Goff shared on Twitter, “What if we found out that God’s big plan for our lives is that we wouldn’t spend so much of our time trying to figure out a big plan for our lives? Perhaps He just wants us to love Him and love each other.”

But truthfully, even as cliche as the typical,comforting verses can be, I still wholeheartedly believe them to be true. As disappointed as I feel and as foggy as the road ahead appears to be, I know in my heart and soul that God is not done. I know that He is good and loving and faithful and that the future is beautiful, even if I no longer have a vision of what or where it will be. A dear friend of mine says often that “if it’s not good, than it’s not done” and this isn’t done.

I still have a few more weeks to potentially hear back from the two remaining hospitals where I applied for their child life internships. These next few weeks will be full of prayer and active listening to God. Lately, it feels as if I’m being directed to make a change in my work environment so that is something I am praying through as well. As someone who plans and thinks (usually overthinking) every detail of something, I think this is why this season and this experience is so jarring. But I can’t plan everything, no matter how much I think I am capable of it.

The big plan for our lives can only be directed by the One who can see the big picture, and that places me (and all of us, really) in the most steady and capable hands.

Courage

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….

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Uncomfortable

In life, I think it’s safe to say that we like to be in a relative state of comfort, am I right?

Uncomfortable

We don’t particularly enjoy being pushed too far outside of our comfort zones and we don’t care for awkwardness. I totally get it. As someone who is super socially awkward (#homebody), I totally understand the appeal of living within my comfort zone and staying in my own little bubble. But every so often, I find that I am reminded that this isn’t necessarily the way in which God calls us to live. He calls us to both love and live life boldly for Him and for His kingdom.

All too often, I find that I can be quite stubborn and set in my introverted ways. Maybe some of you might feel this way as well. My current reality is that I am working full-time as a public school teacher while also taking classes online part-time. Soon, I’m going to be adding volunteer work on top of both of those things. So basically I’m an introvert and a workaholic. For most of my formative years in the church when I was younger, church was basically something I did on Sundays and really sort of just went through the motions. For far too long, I viewed community as something that needed me to be open and vulnerable around others and that just didn’t seem like something that would work for me. But then, just over two years ago, I felt the Lord whispering to me that He wanted me to take not just a step outside of my comfort zone, but a giant leap outside of it.

He told me that He wanted me to leave the comfort zone of the church in which I had attended since I was three years old. I wasn’t in the habit or practice of regularly praying or speaking with God at this point, so truth be told, that whisper was probably a bit more like a yell. I had been deaf to the voice of God for a long time, but I heard Him then. And I listened. I obeyed….

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