So here we are after another long season of putting off what I know I need to be doing. I love writing. I’m starting to remember and believe that I’m actually created to do this. There’s something about it that frees up my soul and puts things back into perspective for me in a way that very little else does. But so often I get bogged down with the random little things that eat away at my time and I find myself dry, needing that cool, healing water from the Lord that floods into my weary veins through taking these fleeting moments of my life and weaving them into story. I’m back again and this time I’m praying that the Lord would help me. Help me be brave enough to write, brave enough to be obedient. I’m praying that I would be a vessel, and the things that are stirring in my heart would bubble forth and spill out onto the page and that we would all be changed and encouraged as we see His loving hand in each of our lives. Are you with me?
Here we go (again 🙂 )
I’ve been engaged for almost three months now, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that engagement is not for the faint of heart. There’s something that rises to the surface when you commit your life to another person that is just different than the more simple season of dating. I know dating is not always simple, but for Colton and I, it was pretty light and easy. We had our share of trials as we spent three months apart as he did mission work in South Africa, but other than that, it was pretty blissful. And then he came home, we got engaged, and he moved away to Texas for the year to attend the Antioch Discipleship School. It’s already been an incredibly experience, but one that is really hard for me at the same time.
Because I agreed to this plan with my mouth, but it’s taken my heart a long time to catch up. Because it’s much easier to tell God you’ll do/go/sacrifice whatever to know Him more than it is to actually let Him lead you into a season that is going to help you cultivate intimacy and history with Him. He’s faithful, and when you pray for these things, He actually does them (surprise, surprise). So be careful what you pray for my sweet friends.
It’s such a weird and messy and joyful and exciting thing to begin to tether your own life to someone else’s, but at the same time, doing it while you’re five thousand miles apart only makes it harder. I’ve been focused on how hard it’s been and have spent most of my time praying for relief, simply trying to buckle down and get through it instead of letting whatever God’s doing in both of us to take root and bloom. Waiting is a complicated thing. It’s hard, much harder than we think. We so desperately desire what comes at the end of the waiting, and I don’t know about you, but my heart is fickle, and I so rarely am willing to actually savor the waiting. And I could give you one of those cheesy quotes that it’s “not the destination but the journey that counts,” but I’ll spare you. The truth is that the waiting is better than we think it is.
The waiting is where the good stuff happens.
I get that not everyone has a trying engagement, but I think it’s a season that much more complicated than we care to admit. And I think it’s something we forget to talk about, or we’re too ashamed to bring up because in our heads engagement is full of cake tasting, dress shopping, gift registry, and premarital bliss. And those things are great and all, but if choosing which color napkins we want at our newly married table is the hardest thing we’re up against, I think we’re being deceived.
There’s just a new level of honesty and openness that I’m experiencing in this season, and it’s absolutely wrecking me. I keep telling Colton that it feels like my skin is coming off, like I’m totally exposed. Because all my junk is rising to the surface and I can’t really seem to push it back down any longer. My longings and desire are being awakened in a new way that is humbling, and it points me back to the Lord. I’m aware of my own neediness, my fickle desire for comfort and security, my fears and doubts and the mess of anger and disbelief that I never want to come out. So often my desires are off. I’m desiring intimacy with Colton more than I’m desiring intimacy with the Lord. I’m longing for comfort and relief more than I’m longing for the Lord’s will to be done in my life no matter what. It’s alarming when you are awakened to your own startling inadequacies, but it’s showing me that I’m human, and for a girl who’s spent her whole life trying to be perfect, I’m surprisingly alright with that.
In this season of my life, I can’t get away from Romans 8. Because it’s some of the most honest Truth I’ve heard.
Paul was a man who was familiar with suffering. And Jesus was too. Let us not forget the unbearable agony He faced on the Cross in order to win back our hearts and lead us to reenter relationship with the Father. He knew what it meant to suffer. And that suffering brought about more glory than we could ever find anywhere else.
Romans 8:18-25 says this–
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom of and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
Y’all, I am the first person to admit that I have not been patient in this season. I have yelled and screamed and cried and made a mess out of things because I am not comfortable with suffering. I haven’t seen it as a necessary part of life, but as a manipulation or punishment from the Father. Which is absolutely not the truth. I’ve been shaking my fist at God for my discomfort instead of falling at His feet and finding peace and comfort in his unending Love.
I was recently talking to my mentor, Beth, and she said that we have two options: We can judge the Truth through our experiences, or we can judge our experiences through the Truth. I’ve been doing the first. Because to me, long distance, risk, discomfort, and struggle do not equate with goodness. I’ve been throwing a personal pity party for longer than I care to admit, and it has not gotten me anywhere. It’s wrecked my heart with confusion and doubt. It’s made me push back against what God is doing in my life and cry out, “Why the hell are we doing this? This isn’t how I though it would go. This isn’t fair. This isn’t good. Take it away because this isn’t what I wanted.”
I’m so often blinded by my so-called need for comfort. I forget that suffering is part of life on this side of heaven. We will face suffering, even if we try everything in our power to avoid it. And we can keep avoiding it, or we can let it change us. We can let it transform our lives.
Paul continues in Romans 8:26-28–
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts known the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
This is one of the weakest seasons of my life. I’ve been praying desperate prayers, begging God to come and move because working in my own strength isn’t working anymore. But it’s glorious too, and slowly I’m becoming a woman of hope. I’m clinging to God’s promises because my own plans aren’t working out, and they sure aren’t as glorious.
So what in your own life is needing the Spirit’s breath of Hope? What plans of yours are no longer working for you? What is the Father longing to bring you into deeper intimacy with?
The truth is that we don’t have to run anymore. We don’t have to fight against what God is doing. We don’t have to bow to fear. No, life is not easy. The season you are in is likely not that easy, but God is using the trials to shape us, and to draw us closer to Himself. You can let go. You can let it happen. And we can be filled with hope instead of despair because He is good, and the good things are found in the waiting.