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. :)

Monday, March 23, 2015


Today, Saturday 21st, 2015, I went on a food drive. This food drive was to help the Sexsmith Fire Department collect non-perishable food items for the homeless of Grande Prairie. I and my Evangelism class traipsed through the snow, rode in the fire trucks, got pulled along by a horse and carriage, all the while knocking on local peoples' doors and asking them for donations to the cause. Initially when I thought of this outreach event during the days leading up to it, I found myself dreading it. It would mean I would have to extend past my comfort zone and say words to people I didn't know for three to four hours on a Saturday I could otherwise be using to catch up on sleep. It would mean working together with a large group of people to accomplish a necessary task--only necessary because it's an assignment and I get graded on it--when what I thought I needed was a break from people altogether.
I also felt inadequate and like I wouldn't be much help because of my lacking social skills and having almost no experience in the area of outreaching. What I discovered as I found my way to the fire hall at 10:15 in the morning and joined one of three teams dispersing throughout town was that nobody really cared about experience or social skills. All they were asking for was our participation, in whatever way we could give of our time. The people working at the fire hall were thankful enough that many of us were willing to come out on a snowy morning and volunteer our services. Technically, it was an assignment, so we had to do it, but luckily, I got over that mindset quickly. I realized over the next few hours of knocking on doors that even though it doesn't come easily to everyone, the point is that we made the effort to reach out and to help others to reach out as well. One elderly man actually ran after my partner and I as we were walking away, and gave me a hug in appreciation as I took his bag. There were several children along the way who waited in glee with their parents for the fire truck to come their way, and then they presented their bags of food items with joyful smiles. It’s so easy as we grow older to lose joy in giving and to do it simply out of duty. The children and the elderly were more than happy to attend to the needs of the homeless in these small but helpful ways, so it encouraged me to have a heart of desire to do such things. I actually found myself having fun and enjoying the work that we were doing. I felt encouraged even as people handed over small amounts, because I was beginning to realize the benefits of giving even when I don't have much. Little bits from a lot of people will add up and end up helping in more ways than just in financial cases, and usually will be beneficial to all parties involved.
I learned a valuable thing about evangelism as a whole. Although I didn't get the chance to strike up a conversation about the Gospel message with anyone, I did get to experience others doing so. I also got to see evangelism being worked out in a new way, one I would not have expected to be productive and effective. The biggest thing I got out of it was that evangelism in subtlety can often be one of the best ways to arouse curiosity in people. Even the simplicity of gathering food for the less fortunate can be an incentive for people to ask about our motives behind the act. Assuming our motives are pure and intentional, people are likely to ask questions about our faith, which could lead to them being curious about God.
My attitude got better as the day went on and I found myself wanting to do more, even as things came to a close and we headed back to the fire hall to eat hamburgers. One major thing I learned about myself was that I find great joy in helping people. It takes effort to actually get outside and start something, but it usually ends up being worth it when the day is done. I figure if I want to impact the outside world in some way or another, I may as well start in my community and work up to bigger things.
The compassion of a firefighter moved me to recognize that some firemen are not simply living up to what's expected of them, but they're going beyond the expectations. After four of us students had done some last minute food collecting, we were heading back to the fire hall in a fire truck, and the driver stopped when he saw an elderly woman shoveling her driveway. He knew he should probably get back to the fire hall because that's where everyone else was headed, but he stopped, got out of the vehicle, and shoveled the driveway. Two students also helped shovel the sidewalk, and they did so without hesitation. Simple acts like this can go a long way for some people, and it certainly showed me that it's not hard to do. You don't have to be an accomplished person to stop by and help someone in need, but at the same time, you can be accomplished and still desire to go past what's expected of you. If you're only going about your life fulfilling your duties and not constantly seeking to do more, you won't really gain a whole lot. I felt encouraged as I saw God working through the community of Sexsmith on Saturday, through the food drive and beyond.