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.
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Lately it’s been on my heart to share how I ended up on this path at Gospel for Asia. Looking back a year ago, I can see 100% how the Lord was preparing my heart and allowing things to happen in my life that would eventually lead me here.
Exactly one year ago, I was on a flight to Oregon for one week. Just a month prior, I thought I would be moving back to the west coast after staying in Virginia for a little bit, after being in South Korea for three months. I’m getting ahead of myself, though.
A lot of things were different a month before this flight. I felt good. I had a boyfriend, I was moving back to a beautiful state that I had fallen in love with, I was working out regularly, I knew what I was going to do with my life, and I had everything figured out. I had just gotten back from a missions internship; I was doing so good.
Then something happened that I never saw coming in a million years. I started doubting everything. All my plans… I started wondering if, maybe my boyfriend wasn’t perfect for me and if there was someone out there a little more similar to me; that maybe for the last two years of knowing and dating my boyfriend on and off, I was wrong. It was like I woke up one day and everything was literally right in front of me – my whole life. I’d move to Oregon, I’d marry this guy and we’d work at the camp or church that we met at, and that was my life. So of course, Oregon became a question too. Is this all there is for me? Am I ready to settle down?
Now, please don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like I thought there was anything wrong with that, but that is so not who I am. I want to travel, and do missions. I want to do things for the Lord on the field! Anyone who knows me, knows I can’t sit still in one place for too long. I get antsy. In the past two years, I’ve been to Virginia, South Carolina, Oregon, South Korea, Vietnam, China and Texas. It’s great – I love it.
Anyway, so after crying and seeking out the Lord and having my whole world come crashing down in front of me, I broke up with my boyfriend of two years. We kept it on the down low, because I wasn’t sure if I just needed to really spend all my time with the Lord and I was just having a mid-life-crisis, or if this was real. So, for the first time since I was 17, we didn’t talk once for a whole month. I was still freaking out because I always thought Oregon was the place I was going to end up, and now all of a sudden my heart was changing. It was hard. I talked to different people, and tried looking for an answer I liked. Whether they said to go to Oregon or stay here, none of them set well. I felt the Lord telling me to go talk to the worship leader at our church, and, after putting it off for weeks, I finally did. I didn’t know why I was going to him, it’s not like we talk all that much, and he only knew me through my brother who had been on the worship team for years. But God really used him. He said to me, “Neither of the places are right or wrong. It’s just a matter of where you will grow in the Lord the most.”
I left feeling a sadness in my heart. God had very clearly shown me in that conversation that if I went out to Oregon, that would be my life. Have a job, get married, have kids, grow old. The American dream. But if I stayed in Virginia, I would be pursuing missions. I could so clearly see how my life would end up in Oregon, but I couldn’t see anything from Virginia. I don’t even like Virginia. Why would I want to stay?
I knew, though, where I would grow the most. So with a monstrous leap of faith, I called my employer in Oregon and told him I would not be taking the job I had been offered. I cried a lot. But I had peace – a weight had been lifted. A few days later, I was telling my roommate-to-be in Oregon that it wasn’t going to work out and she convinced me to come visit. So I bought my plane ticket.
One year ago, I was on a flight to Oregon for a week. I decided to surprise my guy (who I technically wasn’t dating anymore), and not tell him I was coming. If I’m being honest, it was a really great week. We both felt like we were starting fresh in our relationship. I got to see old friends, my brother and sister-in-law, and my nephew. But my time was coming to an end. I got offered a position at the camp again and I was seriously considering it. My boyfriend and I had been together for a pretty long time, but there was just some things that were getting in the way of us being together. So before accepting that position, we had a talk and I basically told him that I couldn’t move out there if there wasn’t a future. I left it at that and gave him time to think about it.
When I got back home, I had an interview I had set up a few weeks before flying out to Oregon. I prayed a lot about that job and the job in Oregon. I decided that if I got this job, then that would be it. I would stay for sure. And of course, I got the job as soon as I walked in, pretty much. I felt so much peace about it all.
A few days passed since I had been back, so after there not being any mention from him about our conversation in Oregon, I finally brought it up and that was it. It felt like the end of an era. I had been crazy about him since I was 16. And now it was all gone. He told me he wasn’t ready for the commitment. I was devastated.
For months, I felt like I couldn’t breathe at night. I wasn’t prepared for the sacrifices I had to make in following the Lord. After my brother went overseas, I went straight to one of the pastors at our church and told him to send me overseas too. Instead, he then gave me the link to GFA School of Discipleship. So, with a joyful and excited attitude, I applied. Just kidding – I was so grumbly and annoyed and…ugh. But a few weeks later, I got accepted and here I am!
I have no doubt in the world that my King and Savior allowed me to go through the things I did so that I would end up here at School of Discipleship. There has been so much healing and love and grace in my life these past three months. I am finding who I am in Christ and His unfailing love for me. The love I so deeply desired and was searching for in my boyfriend was in front of me the whole time. My Jesus is so real and He pours that love on me more and more every single day.
There’s a lot more that goes into this past year, but a blog post wouldn’t be the place to share. Taking that terrifying and painful leap of faith essentially led me on a journey of self-discovery through Christ. So whatever you may be going through or struggling with, take the leap of faith. The Lord will always follow though in His promises. Chances are it’ll be painful and hard, but abundant blessings will follow.
I hope I could be an encouragement to at least one person today!
Read a GFA World Magazine article written by Anna, a GFA School of Discipleship Alumna from Canada.
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