Wednesday, April 29, 2009

23 Days

And I will be graduated! Holy crap. Exciting, yet a little frightening. I'm really more excited to just get this semester over with so that I can spend more time with Ryan, watch movies, read a lot of good fiction, and just chill. Of course, I will be studying for the GRE so that I can get a better score when I take it again some time this fall. Eh, no problem. :)

It's amazing how God works things out. I always knew He would, but sometimes I get so caught up in waiting for something to happen I forget that when it doesn't happen or doesn't happen the way I thought it should I should accept it - because God has a plan in it.

A couple weeks ago I was really stressing out about what my plans were for the next year or so. I started flipping through Psalms looking for some comfort. Of course, Psalms pulled through for me.

"The Lord will work out His plans for my life -
for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
Don't abandon me, for you made me."
Psalm 138:8

We're told not to worry about anything, but of course we all do. Blasted human nature... I also came across Psalm 103, which I really liked. Now I will give it to you. :)

"Praise the Lord, I tell myself;
with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name.
Praise the Lord, I tell myself,
and never forget the good things He does for me.
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
He ransoms me from death
and surrounds me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle's!
The Lord gives righteousness
and justice to all who are treated unfairly.
He revealed His character to Moses
and his deeds to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious;
He is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
He has not punished us for all our sins,
nor does He deal with us as we deserve.
For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our rebellious acts
as far away from us as the east is from the west.
The Lord is like a father to His children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.
For He understands how weak we are;
He knows we are only dust.
Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone -
as though we had never been here.
But the love of the Lord remains forever
with those who fear Him.
His salvation extends to the children's children
of those who are faithful to His covenant,
of those who obey His commandments!
The Lord has made the heavens His throne;
from there He rules over everything.
Praise the Lord, you angels of His,
you mighty creatures who carry out His plans,
listening for each of His commands.
Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels
who serve Him and do His will!
Praise the Lord, everything He has created,
everywhere in His kingdom.
As for me - I, too, will praise the Lord."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Are You a Mannequin?

Think about all the Bible heroes and heroines. The men and women we hear about in Sunday School and at church as Christians who did God's will. Ruth, who decided to take care of her mother-in-law instead of running back to her family; David, who was God's chosen king; Solomon, who asked God for wisdom and was blessed with that plus everything else; Peter, whom God used to build His Church.... I could go for days.

But wait a minute - these people were not ideal role models. Adulterers, murderers, liars, deceivers, lawbreakers - these are the people we look to for models of Christian faith??

What a lot of non-Christians want to see is those people's mistakes. They had affairs with married women, slept with their family members, disowned Jesus, broke all the rules of custom, ran from their responsibilities, etc. How are we supposed to be "good" Christians if all we have (minus one) for examples are these sinners who a lot of the time seemed to only be living for themselves?

Obviously Jesus is the only perfect example we have to follow. All of the others in the Bible were simply human, like ourselves. They made mistakes - just like we do - that we should be able to learn from.

More than that, I believe there is a more general lesson to be taken from the stories of these great people's mistakes.

A lot of Christians worry about looking "good" - and not just physically. One thing I've heard from Christians and non-Christians alike is that a lot of Christians are just straight up fake. I've seen it myself. I've honestly done it, as well. We love to play this game, wear this facade that everything is okay because we love the Lord! Yes, we love the Lord - but everything is not always okay. You can raise your hands during worship at church all you want, but if the conviction is not there, if the faith and confession are not there, you're just waving your hand at the ceiling.

One time I was going through a really hard time in my life, and I was constantly in a depressed mood. A friend (who was struggling as well) told me, "If you act like you're okay long enough, eventually you will be." I didn't quite agree with it then, and I don't agree with it now. I am not saying that you should tell everyone you see your entire sob story; not everyone wants to hear it, trust me. I am saying that you should be honest about not always being at the top of your game. Everyone has bad days, everyone struggles with their faith at some point - it is okay. One day an acquaintance asked me how was I was doing as we walked towards each other on the sidewalk. I can't quite remember my answer, but it was something along the lines of, "Well, I've been better." She said, "I'm glad you were honest! Most people just say 'Fine' and move on!"

I strive to be a good role model, and fail quite often. I'm bound to mess up, but that does not mean I give up trying. Nor do I try to hide the fact that I do in fact fall. Jesus's message is about forgiveness, but so often we try to act like we don't even need it! His forgiveness doesn't just forgive what we did before we were Christians; it completely covers us after as well! Why do we keep missing that or try to cover it up?? Are we ashamed that we still need to be forgiven? When we try to act like we're perfect, we give others too much to live up to. If we want to reach others, why do we set ourselves so far apart? We're not helping fellow Christians by pretending to be perfect; those that are struggling are afraid to shatter their image enough to ask someone else for help.

Why do we have to look so good? Yes, we are called to follow Christ's example, but that does not mean hiding our indiscretions and praying no one finds out. The people in the Bible who tried to hide their mistakes were always revealed; they were always brought to judgement. Why do we think we won't meet the same fate? Those people were most of the time publicly confronted about their sins by prophets who were sent by God to show that no one is above reproach and no one is inaccessable to forgiveness.

God never asked us to "look" like we were doing His will. He actually practically asks us not to do that - yet we still try. We are saved by faith, not by anything we do, say, or think - and definitely not by how people see us. What are we living for if all we worry about is what someone else thinks of us? God calls us to live for His glory - not our own nor anyone else's.

Own your mistakes, learn from them and move on. Learn your weaknesses, work on strengthening them and ask for help. Confess your sins, know that everyone messes up and don't try to hide them. We are all human and shouldn't be expected to be anything other than less than perfect - that goes for you, too.

By the way, mannequins creep me out (see title above). I always hated that I could mistake them for real people, yet they weren't. It's unnatural. Literally.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Up Next?

I got a rejection letter from Appalachian State University, my counseling program of choice. When I first got the news (the letter was sent home), I became upset. I wasn't sure what to do next. I'm still not %100 sure, but I know everything will be okay. Right now I'm going to work on getting accepted later to App State and getting a psychology related job somewhere here in Jackson or nearby.

God has a plan and He is in control - that settles my hearts more than anything. Things may not be going the way I thought they needed to, but there is a reason for this. I knew that this was a possibility, and I am taking responsibility for my own fault in this. I know where God has put my heart, and I am determined to get there with His help.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Past and Now

Holding on, letting go
To all that ever made me who I know
Bring me up, tear me down
Challenging everything I thought was sound

Looking to the past
While still moving forward
Am I stuck in limbo
Starving myself?

I am here, fully
Because I've hurt and been hurt truly
It's my own fault
For imagining what could be

Nothing to regret - maybe
How can anyone be sure
When all that happened
Is set in malleable stone

Words restrict me, hold me back
My heart can say so much more
Tell my story, tell my truths
But only God can hear it all

He brought me here
And I am finding daily
That His strength is all I need
His grace gives me my love