Sometimes it is really hard to fit in with the people around you. You feel like everyone around you has a different way to say or do things. You feel like you are on the outside looking in. You feel judged and looked down on. This can make it hard to go to a social gathering or hang out with “friends”. You try to put on a good impression for those around you to think that you are having a good time, but you actually aren’t. You feel unheard and ignored. No one takes your advice or hears out your opinions. You feel like you still need to please them, even when they don’t respect you.
This has been my struggle over this last month. It has been really hard. But I know God, by His strength in me, brought me through the worst of it and taught me so much through that. The biggest step I took was talk to my housemates about it. Apologies are the #1 healing key for overcoming this hurdle–asking them for forgiveness and forgiving them, as Christ has forgiven me. Through sharing with them and a couple other people, I have felt better and less overwhelmed with this struggle.
Yes, I still struggle with it, but it is going to take time – God’s perfect timing. God has reassured me a ton lately that I am created just the way He wants me to be, in His image, with the personality of exactly who He wants me to be… I am just going to be myself. I am not going to care anymore what other people say/do/think about me. I’m just going to be who I am, who the Lord wants me to be…
Making that decision and being reassured that God always loves me, no matter what I’m like, has also helped me to know that He also loves them all, too! Even if I see that they are different than me and I have to fight so hard to get along with them, God has taught me to have grace for them – even when I feel like they have failed or have not done things the way I think is right. No one has done everything perfect; I know I have not. Jesus, perfect and sinless, offered so much grace and forgiveness upon His disciples and us believers, so how much more should we, imperfect and sinful, have grace and forgiveness upon ourselves and those around us. I am reminded of a very good example of grace and forgiveness… Jesus says we are to forgive seventy times seven, meaning numerous times over and over. I have learned to accept people for who they are, and by God’s marvelous grace upon me, I am now able to have more grace towards myself and those around me.
So, I want to encourage you to be yourself! Don’t be ashamed of who are and what the Lord has created you to be. Don’t let the people around you judge you and try to change you into something you are not. Live the life the Lord has in store for you. . . And I used to think I wasn’t very emotional. But I have come to learn that we all need our emotions. Emotions are the glue, the main key, that connect us to other people and build relationships. So, find just one person (even just your mentor or pastor!) to be open with and process those emotions.
Imagine with me you’re at home. You’re going through your day and nothing eventful has happened thus far. You are relaxing reading a book or an article online when all of a sudden, someone runs in and tells you that your best friend was just in a car accident. They explain that your friend is in critical condition and will die if they don’t get a kidney transplant right away. They ask if you want to see if your kidney was an option. You agree right away and run out the door to go see if it will work. It’s a perfect match.
The doctors ask if you want to donate and start explaining things that may go wrong. Before the doctor can even finish their sentence, you urge them to start the procedure. They try telling you some possible complications but you just insist that they do it now. So they do. Your best friend makes it and after a long time of recovery, heal completely.
I can relate to doing whatever it takes to see your friend safe and okay. In emergencies like this or even things WAY smaller, we’ll do whatever it takes to help those we love. We don’t thoughtfully think through pros and cons, if the doctors are the most qualified, or if you have the time to fit it into your schedule. No. That’s ridiculous. You just respond and are willing to do whatever it takes to help your friend.
In March this year, GFA’s ministry focus was clean water. There’s a big need for clean water, right? We all know there is. This month I am understanding more and more how much of a need there is, though. Look at these statistics with me:
Those are big numbers. I have known there was a big need for a long time, but it rarely impacted me. This month has been different, though. I have been admitting to the Lord I didn’t have a heart to see all those people helped. I was sad for them and prayed in prayer meetings, but the “sadness” didn’t stay with me as I left. I started praying and asking the Lord to break my heart for what breaks his. I wanted to have compassion for the millions of people that are suffering in extreme poverty, but I just didn’t have it.
Think of the story I started with. When someone we know and love is in even small need, we want to help and will do whatever it takes to do so. I’ve been pondering in my own heart lately why it’s so different with people I don’t know. I see and speak of these needs, but it’s just numbers to me. It doesn’t impact me in a way that I’m really concerned or do something about it. It’s just a fact of life that there are millions of people without clean water. There will always be people who are in need. Why even bother at all?
Maybe you can relate. When I see big numbers I can’t really process and understand them. I have a disconnect from the heart and humanity of each individual. We as a class recently were challenged to remember the story of one. Meaning, if we can focus on the effect a Jesus Well had on one person and how it completely changed their life, then we can keep from discouragement and keep having a heart for the masses who still need help.
“Remember the story of one.”
It’s estimated that every 90 seconds a child dies from not having clean water. I have a lot of friends that I love so dearly that are under the age of 5. What if every minute and a half one of them died? I don’t think I could handle that anguish. The Lord has put it on my heart to think of all these kids that are dying as if they were my greatest friends. That changed things for me. My heart really did break when I thought that way. Even that is just a glimpse of how the Lord looks at them with love and compassion.
I have been challenged to pray all the more fervently and work in the office all the more diligently knowing that I am a part of so many people being helped. If you can relate with what I’m learning, please pray with me and consider looking at GFA.org to learn more and see how you can help by donating towards a Jesus Well or a BioSand Water Filter.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)
This verse used to make my skin crawl. If you would have asked me if I agreed with this scripture before coming to GFA School of Discipleship, I would have perhaps said something along the lines of “Well, it is the Word of God, but I don’t believe our hearts are bad. We should live free and pursue whatever our hearts’ desires are. Do whatever makes you happy!” Note–just because I admitted in this response that Jeremiah 17:9 is Scripture, does not result in my comments afterward being correct. The response I provided was absolutely deceitful! It literally stands in direct defiance of the verse, which is the Word of God! (more…)
Leaving my home in Idaho to come to GFA School of Discipleship and everything that that step of faith entailed–being away from family, work, my church body, friends, the list goes on–has really showed me how near God is!
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! Lamentations 3:22-23
I have felt His presence so clearly, and it has been such a delight, knowing He is with me, no matter where I go, and who else is with me. He is omni-present, and is wherever I go. Psalm 139:7-10 tells us, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Or Where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” This passage been such an encouragement to me while being here, away from what is familiar to me.
I have been experiencing so many “God-Moments” and seeing His power displayed here so vividly! He is so faithful. I have learned to worship Him more, even in the smallest things. I have learned what it means to earnestly pray, which we do a lot of here. God is so powerful! I am in awe now. God is definitely working through GFA, and I feel so honored to be a part of and witness it.
So lately I’ve been feeling pretty overwhelmed and stressed. I haven’t had much alone time (I’m very much of an introvert) and the book we’re going over in class is pretty heavy.
This morning in chapel however, the Lord gave me a vision (I promise I’m not weird). Before taking Holy Communion, Bishop Danny asked us to close our eyes and quiet our hearts to prepare ourselves. So knowing that is definitely something I need to do and take advantage of in the midst of this busy schedule, I started imagining myself in an empty white room… Sort of. You know in movies when characters are dreaming and they’re in that white abyss? Exactly like that. There was no up and down, or left and right. There was only white. Bright white everywhere. Did I make that clear enough? So as I’m standing there in the nothingness, Jesus appears in His white robe and wounds in His hand and feet. Jesus Christ, my Lord and King was just standing there in front of me in all of His glory and beauty.
Well, you know how people always ask the question of “What would you do when you see Jesus?” A lot of the times you get an answer like, “The first thing I’d do is ask Him…”
My first instinct was to fall down. I was not worthy. I fell to my knees with my head bowed but it wasn’t low enough. I couldn’t get low enough. I got on my face and started kissing His feet and His wounds that He endured through for ME. All I wanted to do was show Him how much I loved Him. He lifted me up and I fell into His chest, hugging Him and crying… but I felt no shame or embarrassment. There was only love there. Just being in His presence, I had no doubts or fears. I knew this Man loved every part of me with everything in Him. And all I could do was cry because for the first time ever, I knew He would keep me safe and never let me go or give up on me. I could literally feel Jesus’ love radiating from His warm embrace. It felt so tangible, like I could touch it and take it with me everywhere I went. And He just sat there with me, holding and comforting me. No words, nothing needed to be said. But I wasn’t crying because of everything on my mind. No, I was crying because of who Jesus is. In fact, none of those negative feelings or sadness came to mind once. The focus was 100% on Him and who He is.
And so in the midst of feeling discouraged and depressed because I’m not where I want to be spiritually, my Lord showed me the real focus. He also showed me that my first instinct was to fall down before the King and kiss His wounds. So despite my feelings, I’m not failing at all. It’s just a tough season, but on this day, I got a little more perspective, and that is what’s getting me through it.
You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ’til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when He reminds you
That you’re an overcomer
Five years ago, a friend shared this song (Overcomer by Mandisa) with me, and God is still using it in my life this year. It had been my theme song for January. He has given me an abundance of strength and lavished His love on me to overcome so many struggles this last month. What a privilege to know I have victory in Him!
We read through and discussed K.P. Yohannan’s book, Touching Godliness, talking all about submission. Ultimately to God of course. But then to the authority He has delegated above us. “Bitterness leads to rebellion. And that rebellion to man leads to rebellion to God.” God taught me so much through that book! At times, I felt like it was too much. But He always showed Himself faithful. He caused me to humble myself under Him, and those in authority over me here. I have overcome so much through Him! And He has given me strength, hope, and faith to keep fighting, reminding me that He is holding me in His arms this whole time. He has saved me and bought me with his precious blood, and I have victory in Him! He gets all the glory for all I overcame last month.
Yes, I still have a long way to go, as it is a lifelong changing process, but I am praising Jesus for how far He has brought me. He is so victorious! He loves me, and has bought me with His blood. What keeps me going and gives me strength, by God’s grace, is pressing forward. Not to look back in regrets, but keep moving forward, remembering all God has brought me through. So don’t give up! Keep fighting. Make little moments matter. Look to the little things.
Oh victory in Jesus, my Savior forever He sought me and He bought me
with His redeeming blood He loved me ‘ere I knew Him
and all my love is due Him He plunged me to victory
beneath the cleansing flood
(Victory in Jesus by E.M. Bartlett)