In the midst of a culture that praises those in high places, what does it look like when Christians actually choose to make themselves lower? In this video I talk briefly about why humility is so important and how being humble can positively impact our daily lives.
In the book of Mathew we find a passage about Jesus calming the storm. A pastor came to my church this past Sunday and shared this with us. The message I learned him was so powerful that I wanted to share it with more people.
The funny thing here is that the disciples were following God, but were surprised when a storm came. In fact, they were afraid of the storm! At this point in the bible they had already seen Jesus do crazy things, but yet when this storm came the first thing they did was go into a place of fear.
What does this all mean to us?
Sometimes the “problem” is never actually the problem. Our reaction to the problems in our lives are what really matter. Because Jesus never actually called us to live a life that was easy. He never promised that to us. In fact, he promised the exact opposite.
My prompt to you today is to think about your reactions to problems in your life. Are you doubting God?
It feels odd to write down, but it’s so true. Everyone feels sad sometimes. I don’t know why I imagine that I am the only person who feels the way I do when I go through rough patches in life. Sometimes that sadness can seem engulfing and the scariest thing in the world to do is to address what I’m feeling. The bible says that there is a time for weeping and a time for rejoicing. But all I want to do is rejoice!
I’m sure that there are lots of people who feel the same way that I do. I don’t want whatever situation I’m going through to burden others. I don’t want other people to know that I’m experiencing pain. And I imagine that everyone really is exactly the way they appear to be on the surface. But nothing could be farther from the truth.
Absolutely everyone we meet in life is facing his or her own battle. And this is all the more reason to love and to love like never before.
My mother was the first person to make me realize this. She told me to be kindest to the people who seemed the meanest. Because when you stopped and took time to get to know them, it’s like peeling an onion! There are layers and layers underneath and everyone has a reason for being the way that they are.
In particular she told me there was a woman who she saw daily who seemed to hate her. It’s so hard to love those who hate us. The bible can vouch for this fact. But she told me that when she learned of the pain this woman experienced in her life, she suddenly understood the bitterness. She understood it instantly. And her love for this woman was not in vain, now they’re actually really great friends!
The perfect biblical model for this kind of compassion is embodied in the life of Jesus. He looked at the defects and the outcasts of the world and somehow he chose to love them. I guess he saw us in a way that we cannot even see ourselves. It’s funny because sometimes it’s not even people who are putting these labels and ideas on us. We do it to ourselves.
If there is anyone like me, who is reading this, please know that you’re not alone. Sometimes I feel so sad tears feel like tiny needles shooting from my eyeballs. Or so angry that my veins will burst! Or even so happy and loved that I imagine my happiness is contagious. We are not our emotions or our temporary feelings. Feelings change. And we are never ever really alone, never at all.
Forgiveness. Is there anything harder to do in the entire world than to forgive someone you feel wronged by? I sincerely doubt it.
The funny thing is that so many times, people act as though they do something amazing by forgiving others. But in many ways, once you are able to forgive, you are the one released from all bitterness and hate. Forgiveness is not even something that is entirely our own. Jesus came into a corrupt, desolate and hateful world, but still forgave. Giving up his own life to atone for the sins of people who spat and mocked him. As Christians, this is the type of love we strive to emulate in our lives. A type of love that is willing to forgive others because we understand that we too need forgiving.
There have been so many times in my life, when I’ve wanted nothing more than to hold unto hate. But there have been so many more times in my life where people have forgave me, even when there was no reason for them to do so. No other reason than the fact that they are a child of God and when you’re really close to God- you become like him. Silly things don’t matter and you’re able to forgive someone who seems unworthy of forgiveness.
Being on the other side of the coin, I value value forgiveness so much. There comes a point where we need to learn to even forgive ourselves sometimes. And that can be the hardest thing of all to do. Because realizing we are wrong is so painful to admit, especially to ourselves.
More than anything when we realize how wrong we have been, we value the gift of forgiveness so much more.
For those of you who have never heard of “Big Event” its basically a yearly InterVarsity retreat in which college students have the opportunity to register for different tracks to learn about God with people from different colleges in small groups. Small groups are normally…small groups of people, I know who would have thought that’s what it meant? Please bear with me as I write this post, I realize that for those of you who have never heard of Big Event everything I’m saying will sound really odd to you.
Well this was my second year in InterVarsity and because I got involved from the get go, it was my second time at Big Event. The previous year I had the opportunity to go to both Big Event and Basielia (InterVarsity’s second retreat which is longer and holds less schools). Before going I remember everyone telling me I would love it so much that I would have so much fun and that it would change everything. In all honesty leaving both Big Event and Basielia my freshman year I definitely did change a lot but those retreats felt bland for me. I was watching everyone else doing all these amazing things and even though I did benefit, I wasn’t enjoying things on the same level as other people. In fact there were times during Baseila that I just felt sad and confused because I wasn’t sure why I was feeling the way I felt. I never shared this with anyone in my chapter because I didn’t want to be the person to bring other people down. So I plastered a smile on my face and focused on everything that was actually good that was going in during the retreat.
My mentality was so off for those two retreats. I literally walked into Big Event knowing everything everyone had said about it in the past and felt entitled to an amazing experience because I payed money. I wasn’t excited and I expected other people to make me excited. It was because I knew something was wrong that I refused to approach Big Event this year the same way I approached Big Event all other times in the past.
Before registering for Big Event I was asked along with some other people in my chapter to register for the leadership track. That was something I really didn’t want to do, I wish I could explain just how much I didn’t want to do it. In fact I guess I can explain it to you right now. Registering for that track scared me and intimidated me because I didn’t feel as though I was good enough for it. So I told my exec team I would register for it and purposely waited until the track was closed to beg my mom for permission to register for Big Event. I had technically asked her back when leadership was open but because I didn’t want to go for that track I asked in a way that I knew she wouldn’t be happy or say yes. It was only when I really needed to register that she said yes. And by then I looked at the mess I made for myself and was actually kind of sad but at the same time incredibly happy. Happy because I made a promise in my mind that I would get the most out of my track this year. The track I registered for was Transformation or Foundations and mistakenly registering for it may have been the best decision I ever made for so many reasons.
Growing up in church I felt as though I knew God because I gave him my 3 hours once a week. I had my idea in my head of what God was to me and I was satisfied putting him into a box. For so long I felt as though I was trying to build a roof to this house while my foundations were crumbling beneath me. I needed to be sure that I knew exactly who the God I was serving actually was. Being honest with you again, I had it all so wrong.
During my retreat I realized that I wasn’t the only person who felt the same way about retreats in the past. I wasn’t the only person who felt like I was really missing something important. But somehow it took me going to Baseilia and feeling so sad to know that I couldn’t keep going on my walk with God the same way I had always done so. I really needed to change the way I approached God in my life and I needed to learn to put him first. I realized that if I had opened up earlier I would have saved so much heartache and even sympathized and grown with someone else who was going through what I was going through. We eventually did get to sympathize with one another but only at this year’s Big Event! Funny how things work out right?
I was also struggling with vulnerability. Most of the time I feel like people are afraid to open up and that this is why they cannot grow. My problem was that I felt as though I was being too vulnerable with too many people. I grew up in a house where my mom would sit down with me everyday and ask me to open up to her about my feelings, that was the way I was raised to act. And I felt like there was something wrong with me because it seemed like no one else felt the same way about opening up as me. What I realized for myself this was past weekend was that I needed to be vulnerable. I really needed to be open and honest about my feelings with the people in my life. Because I’d rather have a bunch of people know this mangled, messed up and growing mess of a person that I am that is not perfect than to have a bunch of people know me on such a superficial level that they don’t actually know who I am. But that’s just me. Maybe I’ll change my mind about this 10 years from now but if I ever did I would need to stop blogging. I would need to stop blogging because my soul is kind of sprawled out on all of these posts that literally anyone could pick up and read. I’m okay with that though. Because I know I am not the only person who feels the way that I feel.
Big Event this year was amazing. It was absolutely amazing and so much more than I thought it would be. But it also wasn’t easy. I left Big Event feeling great but also knowing that the real work starts now with my relationship with God and even my relationships with people. I realized somehow that I didn’t understand what it meant to love people the way God loves us, or even how to love God the way he loves me. I know that I am so flawed and I know that I have so much to learn but now I am ready to learn more about God than ever before.
I’m a prayer group leader at my InterVarsity chapter and just now I have been handed a figurative smack in the face. I had a really dull moment and realized that I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. Not just that, I wasn’t even close to where I was saying others should be in their walks with christ. And I felt like such a hypocrite. I think that when I took up this position I imagined I would have to be perfect, infallible, and be at this peak with my walk with God. But I started writing this post right before my prayer group this past thursday. I ended up sharing how I was feeling and realized I didn’t have to be perfect. I was met by so much support from people who said they have all been where I felt like I was at the moment.
Earlier this week as a team (small group team) we looked at the passage in which Jesus calms the storm. What I found so ironic was the fact that here I was stressing and worrying about my own problems and forgetting what I had just learned. One of my team members pointed it out to another member but someone it just hit me so hard. How could I miss out on such an amazing message?
In this passage the disciples almost accuse Jesus crying out “Teacher don’t you care if we drown” when they are met by this massive storm that almost overfills the boat. The funny thing is Jesus was sleeping on a CUSHION right before. And before they could say anything else Jesus pulls a Chuck Norris move and calms the sea just by speaking.
How many times have we felt like that before in our life? Like the waters are overwhelming and we can’t stay afloat any longer? But the thing is God was always in control from the start. He has always been in control, will be in control and is in control right now. We never have to worry. For the opposite of love is not hate but fear because perfect love casts out al fear. We create this divide between us and God when we allow ourselves to be afraid like this. We are created to do so much more and be so much more in our lives.
I wrote this post feeling like a hypocrite but I realize now that I am just growing. I am not at a “peak” with my relationship with God, you cannot reach a peak and you can always know more and grow closer. I want to draw closer now and remember everything I learn. Because Jesus calms the storm and he can calm your storm too. Just give him full control.
1) What is your motivation behind certain things you undertake? What drives you?
I like this question a lot, I guess because it asks me to tap into this part of myself that I’ve almost always had. When I was really young I was really unmotivated but my mother motivated me. I remember thinking that getting a B in a class as big deal, fast forward to high school and I cringe when I get anything less than an A. My mom encouraged me to try as hard as I can because I could be the best I could. I’m motivated by my desire to actually do something of worth in my life, and to know that I did the very best I could at the end of the day.
2) What is your favorite holiday?
I like Thanksgiving the best, I guess because its the one holiday when I can actually do something with my church and we do it every year without fail. I don’t have a lot of things that certain in my life, but I know that every thanksgiving will start with my church and there’s something really nice and reassuring about certainty. Plus the food is always good. 🙂
3) Do you get irritated/upset easily? If so, by what?
Oh yes I get angry very easily! Sometimes I’ll just be in a bad mood or something will offset it. But I’ve learned not the let my emotions get the best of me, its not fair to anyone. So if and when I do get upset I try to pull myself out of that mood. If I can’t I wallow in sadness or anger by myself for a little bit! But sometimes its just the best way to deal with it. Because allowing myself to be angry is like a drug. Indulging feels great, but there’s always the aftermath. I’ve broken MANY phones because something caused me to become angry,and in the end it’s not worth it. Being angry is only satisfying in the moment.
4) What is your favorite thing to do on a hot summer day?
I LOVE finding a book I’m dying to read, siting down in the place where its sunny but not to hot and just reading. Maybe have iced tea on the side and just read all day. My mom may scream in terror when she sees I’ve become ten shades darker, but nothing feels better than finding a good book and reading it.
5) What is your definition of faith? Love?
My definition of faith is
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see
I believe love is selflessness, loving someone so much that their happiness and joy is more important than your own could ever be. Is that not the best thing you can do? Put other people’s needs and desires before your own? If someone can do that for you, then you know you’ve found a keeper! Because it’s easy to say, but so hard to do in practice.
6) What is unconditional love to you?
It’ll sound corny fo’ sure to you. But unconditional love to me is what Jesus did on the cross. He didn’t have to do it, we didn’t deserve it, but he did it for us. That’s love. Something so deep and vast you find yourself lost in it. That’s the love that Christ has for us each and everyday.
7) What kind of hopes do you have about this life? Or maybe about the life afterward?
I want to break the mold. I want to be happy and stop caring about all of these things that are so unimportant. I want to live breaking the conventions and teach my children to never be ashamed of themselves or their faith. I want to live for Christ and be someone who is so in love with God that nothing else can really matter at the end of the day.