Wednesday, July 8, 2015

If you think you don't make a difference in anyone's life... Think again.

All of us fall into this trap of self-doubt, worthlessness, and little to no significance to those around us. All of us can quickly become consumed by the thoughts of "I don't make a difference", "I'm not impacting anyone", "I will never be enough." I fall into this lie way too easily and way too often, and I just want to say... Hey. It's not true. You make a difference. Yes, you may be struggling; yes, you may have lost vision, passion, your goals, to an overwhelming darkness and confusion. I understand. I get that, too. I go through life wondering if I'm doing ANYthing to lighten the load for anyone. I wonder if I'm even doing a speck of work for God; if I'm reaching out enough, advancing Christ's Kingdom. Anything.
Literally every time I fall into the trap, the deception, God shows me something and it's difficult to acknowledge, but almost impossible to accept. He tends to show me that it doesn't matter if what I'm doing is simply saying hi and smiling to the cashier at the grocery store, or giving a friend (or acquaintance) a hug at church, or writing the world's next bestseller, or even sending out encouragements over facebook chat. It doesn't matter. It. Doesn't. Matter. So long as you're doing something, you're doing something. Any step in the right direction is better than no step at all. Sometimes all it takes is to show up and that's enough. Sometimes you have to invite someone over for tea and spend quality time and invest in their life. And sometimes (and this is the hardest one for me), you have to be okay with the mundane by going to work each day, just to come home and spend time with family for a few short hours before bed.
When God has a plan, it doesn't mean all the pieces will fit together perfectly the first day you set out to do His will. Sometimes it's about the waiting. Sometimes it's about the mundane and being content with that. Joyful, even.
The same with people. You THINK you don't make a lick of difference in anyone's life, that you just pass through each day doing the same things and seeing the same people and nobody notices you. That you're just a wallflower. Let me tell you a secret.
You're NOT just a wallflower. YOU, yes you, make a difference. I can't explain how or when or why, so I'll leave that up to God to decide. I can't possibly know His mind or understand anything He's working out for the good of His children, but I think the key thing is to trust that there IS a plan and that it's being worked out right now. Through us. Through me and you, through every interaction with every human being on this earth.
You and I both know deep down that we need people, no matter how much it hurts to be vulnerable, no matter our past experiences, and no matter whether we're introverts or extroverts. How does it feel to you when someone pays attention to you? Gives you the time of day when they really could just ignore you and continue on with their lives? I know it gives me some twinge of hope, and like I'm not completely abandoned or alone.
The next time you pass a stranger on the street, give them a smile, maybe say hi. It may very well brighten their day, or brighten yours. The next time you see someone you care about, whether it be a family member or a friend, talk to them or hug them. Don't ignore them. If you can't believe you don't make a difference, I can't help you because I know how incredibly hard it is to sweep that mindset. But I think we need to start believing, and then make an effort, if a small one. Any effort, even if it's just getting out of bed and going to work--showing up--could impact someone's life.
Think again.
You make a difference.
God has a plan and He should hopefully be making a huge difference in your life.
You are significant and important in God's eyes. You're part of His plan.
You make a difference.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

And then I was nineteen...

Eighteen. One year in my life. A year where so many changes happened, I could barely keep up. There were bad changes and good ones: mostly, there were good ones disguised as bad. They were necessary to get me to where I am now, mere hours away from nineteen.
My eighteenth year included a lot of sorrow. Four people whom I knew and admired passed on to heaven’s gates and entered Christ’s Kingdom. I experienced heartache like I’d never felt before. And then without warning, I launched back into the depression of my fifteen-year-old self. Except much worse.
My eighteenth year also included a lot of wonderful things. I started Bible college as a part-time student, while still trying to keep up my full-time job at a cafĂ© in town. I left work when the first semester came to a close, realizing that Bible college was exactly what I needed and that it was healing a lot of the brokenness inside of me. I knew the only thing that would take away the hurt was to focus on studying God’s Word and to be in constant community with fellow believers who were going through similar battles. So I left work in full confidence that things would brighten for me. It took many long and extremely difficult weeks, filled with anger at God and feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness, before I began to see God for who He really is, and realized the only thing to turn my life around would be to constantly pursue a relationship with Him and seek after Him daily.
My eighteenth year included a lot of writing. I wrote papers in college and I also finished my 2nd novel, which includes a protagonist who deals with similar mental/physical issues as I do. I attended two One Year Adventure Novel workshops, one in the summer with my brothers, and the other in the winter over New Years. I was still dealing with a lot, but I developed some amazing and lasting friendships with the people from the workshops, and they all helped me in more ways than I thought any human being could. They contributed in helping me to seek God, and they also helped me make some headway on my novel so that I could make it better and perhaps more impacting.
I played a lot of soccer in my eighteenth year, and attended a lot of movie nights with people whom I appreciate and who quickly became a second family to me.
I got closer to my siblings and had some amazing times with them.
I found people who like me for me, and who I can feel comfortable being myself around.
I read a lot of books: theology, but also novels.
I sang. Tons.
I went on many adventures, both here in the community and far beyond.
I found joy.
As I sit here reminiscing on all that my eighteenth year consisted of, I am incredibly thankful. Yes, there are mixed emotions. My last week of school just wrapped up and it still hasn’t hit me that goodbyes happened today, perhaps some of them for the last time before heaven. There is also still so much uncertainty of the future, that it scares me beyond words. But I know that God is good and that He will provide, just as He always has. I know there are so many wonderful expectations of the summer and next fall and my nineteenth year in general. I’m terrified, but extremely excited.
Nineteen. I don’t know what this year will hold. Everything thus far in my life has been unpredictable, so I predict something of a similar nature this year. It’s going to be an adventure. A fantastic adventure. I can’t wait.
Farewell, eighteen. Hello, nineteen. :)