Growing Pains

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 

1 Timothy 4:12

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. 

Proverbs 12:15

 

  1. Know that I should be doing homework.
  2. Know that as a grad student I should always be doing homework.

But this blog post has been waiting in my drafts long enough. Early August in fact, 3/4 of the way through my internship, facing an upcoming season of uncertainties and uncharted territories.

Nearing what I believe is the end of that period and entering a new, yet to be charted season, I can feel the inner conflict beginning to stir.

Turmoil that, when left unchecked, is known to make my battle ready self hesitate.

It is not that I fear God failing. No, I believe in him 100% of the time.

But I have struggled with believing in myself.

I have struggled to believe that I can communicate, discern and complete those tasks in front of me. Oftentimes I am self-convinced that I am getting the message wrong and surely God has called someone much more… much?

In today’s world this struggle is a genuine one. The world we live in is hardly encouraging most of the time. And if we are not tuned into what God is saying and what he has said, then who are we listening to?

No matter where you are in life or what career field you are working in, there will always be “the voices” in “the moments.”

While I hope you are not familiar with the voices or the moments, living in this world is an unfortunate guarantee that you are more familiar with them than most of us would like to admit.

You know the ones where you are “too young,” “too old,” “too conservative,” “too liberal,” “too educated,” “too naive”… and all the other “toos” that make you unable to understand. Your answer is wrong. It’s not your fault, you are just “too much” or “too little” and that is too bad.

And in these moments, in early August, amid all the voices, I found I really missed my mom.

In these moments a part of me wishes I would have grown up faster. That I would have grown up more gracefully, gliding past the obstacles and never missing a step.

Unfortunately I was one often caught between hard places, getting back up with scrapped knees and bloody knuckles. Generally walking away with a hard earned and learned lesson accompanied with a loving, motherly, “keep going.”

Mom was a great director on walking the line between “do not let them undermine you” yet “listen to wise counsel.”

So here I am, walking the line, and it is getting slimmer. Its one of those moments where the enemy has gotten a hold of one of the ends of the line, turning it into a tightrope and has begun shaking it. You’re not sure if you’ll be able to remain upright, let alone move forward without losing your balance.

And so I spent some time laying my case out to one who has all the time in the world- eternity in fact. My fragile and fear disposed heart repeating that I believed in Him, but… but… me, the me part of the plan was questionable.

God haven’t you heard? I am not ready. I am not qualified. I am too much this and not enough that.

And in those moments that still small voice whispered- but I believe in you.

I believe in you.

I created you. Who knows better what you are capable of? And remember- you are not going in alone. I will be there. And you said yourself, you believe in Me.

True.

So repeat the problem?

And the tightrope stopped shaking. Because in that moment I handed the end back to God- and stopped jumping up and down on it as I was placed back on solid ground.

I remembered that He is before and behind me. Above and Below me. Even should I fall, He is already there. My own worst enemy had been myself, and the enemy’s doubts I had adopted as my own.

And in that space, on that grounded line, I found it.

Humble Confidence.

A graceful clumsiness. Somedays you will fall. Others you will dance. But everyday you will be fearless.

Because should all else fall away you know your Strong Tower is always before, behind, above and below you. There’s no direction you can fall that he won’t be there to catch you.

As if He wasn’t enough, He has also provided family and friends along the way to encourage us and be lights in an otherwise darkened world.

People who are always behind you, some of who you will meet going forward and others who are watching the ground below you from above.

I know beliefs differ, and I do not have the ultimate answer (I am still in Bible college and God has not granted me a vision or revelation that has been withheld from others until now- not that I haven’t asked), however I highly suspect that loved ones can see us from above. At least to an extent. (I generally reference the story Jesus shares in Luke 16:19-31 of Lazarus and the Rich Man and personal experience).

With that said I also fully believe that our loved ones who have passed into Jesus’ presence are in a place with no sorrow, no tears or hurting and pain of any kind. They are in the best of places, praising our savior and rejoicing.

As much as I miss my mom, my best friend, my grandfather, my aunt and several others; I wouldn’t want them to be in that perfect place missing being here. And I know if my mom (or any of them) recalled the pain our temporary separation caused this side of Heaven, her heart would break.

So I have this hope that should my belief be correct and that they are able to look down at times, there is what I have coined as an “eternity filter.”

A filter that when my mom looks down its through the light of eternity, a light that erases the darkness of this world. While she sees us in the good and bad, she knows that the bad will not endure and the good is not even remotely close to the best. And that we have all the time in world, for one day- there will be no more goodbyes and no more ends.

On this side we see through a “world filter,” its dark and broken. Things are hard and you never fully feel like you have made the mark. There are days when the time inches by and others where it feels as if it flew in the blink of an eye.

Further evidence we are just journeying through this world. Our hearts can never fully fit into this world’s concept of “time,” for He has placed eternity in our hearts.

So lesson learned this season:

Growing up is never a task fully accomplished on this side of heaven. Growing pains mark growth, not completion.

In the moments where the growth is hard come by remember you have a Creator, His host of angels and His saints, who count it a hard earned and won Victory.

So fellow Saints, put on your Armor and remember no victory is too small and certainly no matter how beat up and bruised you may emerge, every one is worth celebrating. Moses didn’t think he could lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Peter was uneducated. David and Mary were teenagers. Abraham and Elizabeth were old.

The reality is that you don’t have this. But God does and He’s called you.

And as the prophets and the early church leaders prayed, so we pray, to continue to grow in the knowledge of God, bearing fruit of every good work. No longer seeing this world through it’s broken and twisted filter, but through the filter of eternity to which we have been called.

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Thank James Pond on Unsplash for photo.

There and Back Again

Having had the opportunity to see the pre-advance screening of Tolkien this past Tuesday I felt the need to share a quick Public Service Announcement:

GO. WATCH. TOLKIEN.

If you are not a fan…

Why not?

But in all sincerity I would still encourage you to go;

1) because it is a beautifully well done film

2) because it tells a story about a life beautifully lived.

… It is just a good story, go enjoy the story. Your Tolkien friends will thank you.

If you are a fan… like myself… and have read a few books on Tolkien and his life, his work and maybe even listened to an interview or two… still go.

There is so much more to learn, trust me.

My first lesson was I shamefully and accidentally have pronounced his name wrong my entire life. (I know, I was surprised too).

Secondly, this covers the pre-World War one years. These years are not as heavily discussed. These are the years, and the First World War, which lead to the creation of The Hobbit. After World War Two Tolkien wrote his most well known works- The Lord of the Ring Trilogy.

It was also after WWII he met Lewis (this too should one day be a movie, but I will settle for this one for now). However, as much as I love Tolkien and Lewis’s infamous friendship, I learned more about and now love the story of the friendships which built him up and carried him through those earlier years.

Finally, fan or no fan, watch the movie or don’t watch the movie, the greatest lesson is the impact we can have on this world when we allow our experiences to give us insight and share the stories and words which live in us. Use your experiences to create that which you feel called to create. God has given you talents and gifts- tell your story, which tells God’s story- and use those talents!! Write, draw, sew, quilt, crochet, build, construct, photograph… do what it is and prepare to stand back and marvel at what it is God has crafted in you.

Tolkien was probably not aware of the impact he would have on his generation, let alone the generations to follow. Just like he probably didn’t suspect that converting his stout atheist friend Lewis to Christianity would build the platform for one of the greatest Christian authors of the twenty-first century.

Only God knows the impact you will have on this earth. The lives you will change. Or maybe just the one life… that creates a domino effect… and changes the world.

Meanwhile, just know I highly recommend Tolkien (always) and personally cannot wait to see this adventure God has begun continue to play out.

Also honorable mention to the best sister cousin ever- Jaime- who though uncertain she’d enjoy this movie (a Tolkien fan but not a biography genre fan) selflessly stepped into the theater with me for not only the film – but live Q&A to follow. She also establishes that it was completely and totally worth it and highly recommends much to her own surprise and my excitement. In summary-

GO. WATCH. TOLKIEN.