The Hard Places Aren’t Wasted.

This last post has a lil’ to do with Reality SF’s Deliverance series and lil’ bit to do with what I learned spring semester.

First let’s go with the podcast. Hard places. Like Horeb, the desert-mountain place where Moses meets God. Are you in a season of dryness? Perhaps, with your sheep? I’ve been there. Sometimes it feels like I am there. And get this. I never new that Moses was probably around 80 years old when God tells him to go back to Egypt. He was 40~ when he left so…that’s 40 years of desert. Can you image 40 years of (figurative) desert? I would not survive. I’m flattering myself to think that I would.

But, I am super super thankful that our story isn’t wasted in the hard places. It’s not like the author is scribbling over our finite number of blank pages for 40 of them. Nope. God’s building our character so that when he asks us to leap, we can say yes.

This is the final post in my longest (5? parts) series. So I’m going to wrap it up with this.

When I arrived at BU (Boston University, if you’re wondering), I didn’t realize (I suppose, how could anyone) that I was going to enter a season of desert. And, yep, I did cry a lot. But now that I’m looking back (hindsight is 20/20, after all), I think I was being gently chiseled so that starting in January of this year, I could start saying yes to God. It was stressful. I prayed a lot. Barely anything went according to plan. Sometimes, I don’t know how I kept myself from screaming at God and everyone around me. At the end, though, I learned an open hand is essential to approaching God, because we need to be ready to receive what he gives.

Starting in January, God really began asking me to trust him. I didn’t feel ready. I definitely felt unqualified. I was even afraid. But I was willing. And I am so glad I was.

So, my friend, I hope that wherever you are right now, you are encouraged that each page of your story matters; that you see the pressure’s off; that you understand that God is sufficient where we are deficient; and that all we have to do is say yes.

Disrupting Comfortable.

So, remember the post about the danger of comfortable? Welp, on that same vein, my friend also talked about how God disrupts comfortable. Specifically, we talked about Reality SF’s podcast “The Call,” part of the Deliverance series. If you listen to it first, this will at the very least have more context, and at best, make more sense.

Anyways, so we know that we love being comfortable. I’ll shout it, even. I LOVE BEING COMFORTABLE!! I AM A CONTROL FREAK!! But here’s the thing. In “The Call,” we’re talking about how Moses has reached perhaps the epitome of comfortability. He’s hanging out with his sheep; nothing too big is expected of him; life is chill, fine, and dandy.

Santa Rosa Lavender Festival 2018

I guess the first thing is, what’s your sheep? Like, what’s your comfortable place? I’ll list a few of mine. But, don’t worry, you don’t have to put yourself on the chopping block if you don’t want to.

  • I love being at home alone ignoring the world. Probably reading a book.
  • I love routines so I know what to expect.
  • I squeeze myself onto paths I don’t want to be on, because they look safer than what I really want and am too scared to reach for.
  • My biggest comfortable place? Getting myself into environments I believe I can control well, so that I am not dependent on God but rather can relegate him a conciliatory role while I take care of everything.

The next thing we talked about was the burning bush. That’s Moses’ call away from his old, comfortable life; it’s thrusting him into the unknowns, pushing him into a role he feels he is ill-prepared to accept. And you know what he does? Tries to talk God out of giving him the gig. How many times have you done that? I do it pretty much every day. I’m not ready. I don’t know enough. I’m not prepared. That other person has so many more resources. I’ll never make it. Why me? 

But tell me, friend, what do you feel you’ve been called to do? Have you thought of it? And I’m not talking about the thing you want to be called to do. I’m talking about the thing that maybe makes your stomach drop because you want it or know you need to be there but you just can’t bring yourself to step into that place.

As the podcast notes, this is Moses. He questions God. So. Much. Says someone else should go instead of him. I think every excuse and insecure thought that could be given and had, Moses gave and had. And honestly, that’s me, too.

Santa Rosa Lavender Festival 2018

But you know what the good, good, encouraging news is? God is not looking for the most over-qualified, capable, prepared, smartest person. Here’s the thing that knocked my socks off. God just wants you to be willing. Yep. All you gotta do is volunteer. Because if you think about it, was Israel freed by by Moses’ might, brains, and ingenuity? NOPE. Literally, one of the things that saved them was a plague of frogs. #godsplan

What does this mean for us? We don’t even need to be prepared. Leave the safety goggles at home. As long as you’re willing, God’s going to use you. But here’s the catch. It’s hard to leave behind what we’ve known. Why do you think it’s so hard to start a new project? We’re too comfy on cruise control. The big question is, are we going to trust God is going to be sufficient in our deficiencies? Because like it or not, sometimes he’s just going to blow through like a tornado and disrupt! The only way to be ready? Holding on to him.

I (Don’t) Have a Dream.

To follow up with the last Agápē post, here we are with dreams. And, yes, this post is following the same conversation referenced in the last one, because this conversation was long. The car ride was two hours.

Santa Rosa Lavender Festival 2018

Anyways, on to dreams. Do you have one? I do. Actually, I have many, and if you know me, you probably know one of my big dreams—living in France! Forever. My friend, on the other hand, says she’s not a dreamer. And you know what? I think that is ok, too. To dream or not to dream; you have a choice.

There are merits to dreaming. You always want to see what’s next. But there are downsides, too. It’s hard to let dreams die. Same goes for not being a dreamer. I think one of the upsides is that you are more moldable. Dreamers can have tunnel vision and/or an iron grip on what they want. But being moldable gives God the ability to shape you into who he wants you to be. On the downside, it’s easier to be complacent, or maybe resistant to change from “going with the flow.”

Whether you’ve got a dream or not, I think both camps fall into the trap of not expecting God’s best. The dreamers are so white-knuckled on the steering wheel, they forget they shouldn’t be driving; the non-dreamers may have fallen asleep in the back seat. Either you remove God from the equation, or aren’t alert for the next thing he’s up to! I admit, I’m usually white-knuckled on the steering wheel (I also hate driving in real life), but I’ve fallen asleep in the backseat, too.

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Why should we expect God’s best? Because he wants it for us. Although, keep in mind that best doesn’t mean “OMG I’m going to love everything God does and it’s going to be a picnic!” Sometimes, what’s best is really hard. But the good news? God’s going to pull you out of that valley.

That segues into the next post: God will disrupt comfortable.

In the mean time, my goal with these posts is to foster a kind, healthy discussion about what you think about these topics. As long as you are polite and constructive, I would love for you to drop a comment. Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m missing something? Let me know!

Getting Uncomfortable.

This is an extension of an Instagram post. I’m not a super fan of dissertations in the caption box…but I am a fan of dissertations here. Ha.

A couple days ago, I was sitting in the car with a friend. The drive was long, but not tedious. California, as populated as it is, still possess stunning, unparalleled views. Especially in the Bay.

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No matter how nice the view, though, long rides can be at best, awkward, depending on the rapport between passengers. But chatter flowed freely. It was just two friends catching up about life.

We hopped from topic to topic, but mostly we talked about what we had been learning about ourselves. Long morning commutes offer time for deep introspection, if you’re willing to go there. Out of that conversation sprung several points that I mentioned on Instagram, and which I’ll be expanding upon.

The first is that we concluded that we love being comfortable. This has nothing to do, however, with our fashion choices nor our abodes, nor anything else in a material sense. We’re talking about mental comfortability. The stability and safety net a routine offers. Comfortable offers us white-knuckled control over our lives. But you know what? Comfortable is dangerous, too. It never challenges us nor asks us to expect more. We’re on cruise control.

And let me just be upfront here and say I LOVE BEING COMFORTABLE. My grip is like iron and I hate being in any situation I can’t control. But since January of this year, God has been gently showing me how amazing things can be when I loosen my grip to accept what he has to offer.

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That’s not to say being content is a bad thing. In fact, I would rather be content than happy any day. There’s a difference between contentment (which I believe is confidence and joy in where you are at) with being placid. And, this can be detrimental to our walk with God, because we stop expecting him to do great things. What’s worse, we see ourselves as the drivers of good things. Comfortability squashes (healthy) vulnerability and makes God a spectator, as opposed to the director, of our lives. And when we become comfortable, anything that challenges that is immediately threatening—even if it’s good for us.

My friend told me about a podcast she’s been listening to about Exodus and the story of Moses. It’s presented by Reality SF and this series is revelatory. It’s called “Deliverance,” and it’s not just looking at the miracles. It’s a character study of Moses and the greatness and imperfections that came with him. You know what’s nuts? We could all probably see ourselves in him.

My friend recommends “The Call” and “Evil Never Goes Down Easily.” “The Call” specifically talks about comfortability…and why we need to let it go.

Wow, ok. This has been long. I’ll be following this post up with my next point: Dreams.

In the mean time, my goal with these posts is to foster a kind, healthy discussion about what you think about these topics. As long as you are polite and constructive, I would love for you to drop a comment. Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m missing something? Let me know!

Leading with Love

Lead

Hey, friends.

What does it mean to be a leader?

I feel like culture and society glorifies the word. After all, what organization isn’t looking for someone with exceptional leadership skills?

The question I’m going to pose is: How often do we think about leading with love?

The word leader evokes power, strength, control, and people with stern faces wearing suits. Leader, when I think about it, does not bring to mind smiles, fun, laughter, or kindness.

When we find ourself in leadership positions, do we strive to lead with love? Or, do we strive to exert our power and flaunt our superiority? I know, finding a balance in between is difficult, and being a girl…well, that’s a different story altogether.

What I forget is that Jesus led with love. Glynnis Whitwer wrote: “Jesus didn’t scold those whose weaknesses were evident. He didn’t shame the prostitute or the beggar. He didn’t publicly correct those struggling with sin. Instead, He welcomed them to come to Him and receive mercy and forgiveness. Jesus always led with love.”

Isn’t that wonderful? Jesus was not a macho, I’m-stronger-and-better-than-you guy who was always ready for a throw-down. He hung out with the uncool kids…the people that we sometimes feel aren’t worth our while. Maybe we are those people.

I had a beautiful conversation with the security guard who works in my building. His name is Robert and he really exemplifies what it means to walk with God…and to lead with love. Right now, he has a terrible roommate. This roommate is messy, loud, and generally inconsiderate. But when recounted his situation to me, Robert spoke without bitterness nor hatred. He was frustrated, but what shone through more than anything was Robert’s desire to be more like Jesus. Instead of talking bad about this roommate, Robert has been trying to help him. Quietly, not judging, because he knows that this roommate needs Jesus. And, Robert understands that to shun and hate this man makes him no better. So, as he shared with me today, Robert has made it his mission to love this roommate.

It’s really, really easy to judge people. I’m saying that because I judge people. A lot. And, it’s not easy to lead with love. But, I want to challenge myself (and you!) to judge less and love more. Culture says that doing this wouldn’t make us very “strong” leaders. It goes against a lot of the notions that go along with power. Thankfully, we’re not being held to the standards of society, and we don’t have to be in positions of power to lead with love. We’re being held to God’s standards. If we claim to be His followers, then we will strive to live a life that emulates Jesus’. Think about how beautiful it would be to lead with compassion and kindness instead.

Have a beautiful week. Don’t be afraid to lead with love! And as always, here is the original inspiration: http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/i-want-to-be-right/

My Greatest Dream

Night

Hi, friends!

If I asked you, what is your greatest dream?, what would you answer?

I’ve never known exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. A princess. A fashion designer. An ice skater, a dancer, a writer, and even (for a brief moment) a lawyer. Though my potential occupation constantly changed, there was one running theme through all of my little-girl daydreams: Security.

You may have just said, “what?!,” which is fine; security is probably not on a lot of eight-year-olds’ minds, but it occupied a significant amount of brainspace in eight-year-old Marissa. Outwardly, my greatest dream, what I wanted to be when I grew up, seemed normal. A lot of girls want to be a princess or a ballerina. Inwardly though, my greatest fear was revealed: That I wouldn’t make it in the “adult” world.

Now in college, I find that not much has changed. When I allow my brain to wander, it often wanders to what will happen after college. Right now, actually, I will admit that I am going through a quarter-life crisis. It has me shaken to the core, really, because everything that I had so meticulously planned is now on the cusp of dissolving.

I’m seriously considering dropping the more practical of my two majors (public relations) in favor of something that I really care about. Please don’t misunderstand, I have enjoyed the PR classes that I have taken thus far, and it’s quite interesting, but I find that it’s not…fulfilling. And, if we only get so much time on this earth, then I want to make sure that what I’m doing does more than just affect me.

But, it’s hard to take the leap because in my worldview, it’s not practical. And I’ve been raised and trained by my environment to seek the practical. Practical has also been narrowly defined. There’s not a lot to work with, there.

I’m afraid because if I take this leap and abandoned the practical major, I may not achieve my greatest dream…to take care of myself and do “well” by the standards set for me.

That’s why, when I read this Proverbs 31 email that popped into my inbox, I held onto it. It’s been sitting in my inbox for a few weeks now, but I haven’t been able to let it go. Because Alicia Bruxvoort underscored such a beautiful point: Our greatest dream shouldn’t be material success. Our greatest dream should be Jesus. Bruxvroot wrote: “I wanted Jesus to bless my greatest dreams, but I wasn’t certain I wanted Him to be my greatest dream. I wanted to do ambitious things for my Savior, but I wasn’t planning to make Him my chief ambition.”

Can I say, wow. For all of my life, I have wanted a blessing over my greatest dream, but I never thought to pursue Jesus as my greatest dream. Honestly, that’s probably why, right now, I’m caught in a current of indecisiveness and fear over my schooling.

There’s the wake-up call, though. I think that if I make Jesus my greatest dream, then it doesn’t really matter what I choose. He will find a way for me to serve and do good with whatever whatever degree I receive. Or, He may take me on a path that never related to anything for which I had ever planned. Right now’s a good time to remember: God’s ways are not our ways, and His timing is not our timing.

I hope this encourages you, friends, wherever you are struggling, to make Jesus your greatest dream. When we look at life through the framing of His kingdom, we can be at peace.
Have a wonderful week.

Overwhelmed.

Run to God

Dear friends,

I hope you’re having a fantastic week! I hope this adds a little sunshine to you day.

Truthfully, my week hasn’t been sunshine-and-daisies. Actually, I’ve been slowly eaten up with indecision and fear. If you’ve known me for any length of time, you probably already know that I hate surprises and that suspense absolutely kills me. You probably also know that I like being over-prepared for things–I don’t like being caught off-guard in a situation I didn’t plan for or that I don’t think I can handle.

So, you probably also know that I had a major (two, to be accurate) as soon as I walked into college. French and public relations; in my mind, they were as ideal a pairing as peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My four years at BU were mapped out. I was set. I knew everything that had to happen so that I would graduate on time with not one, but two, degrees.

But, you know what I never account for? Speed bumps. I think that we always forget that something’s going to go wrong…or, we just pretend that nothing’s going to go wrong, because it makes life a tad more pleasant.

Freshman year rolled by with few speed bumps. Sophomore year, however, has thus far been peppered with them. First, there was a little inkling in my mind that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t love PR. It was easy enough, and fun at times, but I didn’t love it. I also started thinking about what I would do…post-college (which is insane, but I am prone to over-thinking), and PR just wasn’t fitting the bill.

You see, life’s pretty short. I mean, look at us…sophomore year is about to wrap up! I’m hypothesizing that the rest of our lives aren’t going to just leisurely float by…they’re going to come at us at the speed of an airplane. So when I thought to myself, PR is what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life (?!?!?!?!), I took a few steps back. But, that’s not all that I did.

In the approximately 72 hours that I’ve been mulling the rest of my life over, I’ve been doing a lot of talking with Jesus. A couple weeks ago, I was sitting with a friend, and she made an excellent point: Too often, God is the addition to our day. After our conversation, I was convicted. Jesus usually is the addition to my day, the last thing I turn to before I fall asleep. That’s not how I want it to be, though. If a relationship with God is like having a meal, then shouldn’t God be the main course, and not the appetizer?

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I am still feeling very much overwhelmed. BUT, I am choosing to seek peace in Jesus, because he has already promised that he will take care of us. Maybe my perfect plan is unraveling, but, as Jennifer Rothschild (from my favorite Proverbs 31 Ministries) put it: God wants us to run when we’re feeling overwhelmed. He wants us to run to him.” Friends, this week I’m encouraging you, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, to run. Run to God. Talk to him. Know that he’s listening. Know that he cares. You’re not so small that you’re insignificant. You matter. Know that whatever you are facing, the battle is already won. And when we look at things through the lenses of his Kingdom, we can put all else into new perspective.