Honest Confessions of a College Senior

When I was a little girl, and let’s face it still to this day, I used to be terrified of the dark. I was afraid that something was sure to grab me, kidnap me, or torture me if I didn’t have at least a little bit of light shining in my room. This of course seems ridiculous to someone who is older and wiser now, but I still can’t quite seem to fall asleep in absolute darkness. I like being able to see at least a sliver of the moon.

I wish I could say that the fears that plague me today are as easy to solve and cure as being afraid of the dark. Yet, there is no night light, cracked door, or moonlight sliver that can save me from the fear of the future or maybe just adulthood.  In around 30 days (give or take a few days) I will walk across the stage of my college and receive a piece of paper that represents the last four years of my entire life. It seems terrifying to me that something so easy to spill something on, be torn up, or blow away by the wind could be used to represent the most important four years of my life. That tiny piece of paper can’t begin to hold the countless friendships I have been blessed to find, the lessons I have learned inside and outside the classroom, the activities I’ve been able to lead and participate in, the tears I’ve cried, laughs that hurt my side, and memories that changed me into the woman I am today.

As I spend my last couple of weeks walking around the campus that has been my second home for the last four years I wonder, where has the time all gone?

I hope that you won’t scoff and laugh at my honesty too much in the rest of this post, but I hope that you can look at the words I feel compelled to write and feel a sense of relief that you aren’t alone. So what are my thoughts as I think about my life after college? It’s easily summed up in one word.  Terror.

college bible verse

I am terrified of being catapulted into a world where I have nothing to study, no new young people to meet, and have to make my own meals edible. I am terrified of never getting hired, or worse getting hired only to hate the job I have accepted. I am terrified that I will get fired from every job because my college education didn’t prepare me for the real world. I am terrified that my employers will hate me just because they can. I am terrified I will never make enough on a Communications salary to actually be able to live in an apartment, even with a roommate. I am terrified of losing touch with the amazing friends I have made in college. I am terrified of having no community. I am terrified of never getting married because I couldn’t find someone in the biggest pool of Christian boys I have ever known here at my college. I am terrified of getting fat because when will I ever have time to work out when I work a 9 to 5. I am terrified that I peaked in college. I am terrified that God is going to leave me alone to navigate this whole new exciting and terrifying world on my own.

And if you’re honest, I hope that you can admit and agree with some of my fears as well. I am not saying that I want to stay in college for years and years and never leave. I am simply saying that the date of graduation is approaching far quicker than I expected.

If I’m being honest, I would say that truthfully I have been pretty proud of myself for how I’ve handled this whole “college graduation approaching” thing. I have been calm, collected, trusting in God, and prayerful. I have not been intimidated when people asked me about my future, because I so ardently believed that God had a great plan for me. One that preferably included me landing a job before graduation and moving into an apartment right after. I thought that my June would be filled with me beginning a new chapter in my life and going to craft stores to decorate my apartment. Even though I love my home and family, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to work at Tommy Hilfiger for the fourth summer in a row. So what happened? What happened to the girl who couldn’t be shaken in God’s plan for her? One word again, rejection.

I’ve had phone interviews, skype interviews, in person interviews, second interviews, third interviews, and what do I have to show for all of that?  One word, two letters, NO. Perfectly polite emails telling me, “Thanks, but no thanks,”  “If only you had 2 or 20 years of experience,” “We wish you the best of luck with your future.” And frankly, I just hit my breaking point.

To continue with my bout of honesty, I feel like I did the best I could to set myself up to get a job. I worked so  hard on my grades in college, got involved in a wide array of activities that could help boost my resume, but also that I just really enjoyed, I stressed, I persevered, I singlehandedly led group project after group project, and what did I have to show for all that work? Oh right, no husband and no job. It probably wouldn’t seem that bad if the comparison hadn’t set in. It’s hard not to feel like crap when it seems like you are constantly  surrounded by an endless wave of people gushing about their futures and exclaiming their great news through creative social media posts.  I am so happy and excited for all my friends that have their futures sealed up neatly with a bow, but it’s hard not to wonder why I can’t be as happy as they are too? Please, God, just this once?  Why does God always have to lead me through the a path of mud, steep heels, and tree stumps to get to my destination? Why does God make it look so easy for everyone else?

Maybe you’ve asked yourself that same question. Maybe you’re wondering where the heck God has been when He’s supposed to be planning your happily ever after?

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But I am here to tell you some honest news that I desperately need to hear as well. God is good. Not sometimes, not when He feels like it, not to just certain people, not depending on the weather, but always. He is always faithful. He is always just. He is always looking out for us. I can tell you the story after story about my life that sound just like this. God leading me through a path that is full of thickets and thorns, brush burns and scraped knees, which ultimately lead to me learning a lesson along a journey that grew me into a more Christ-centered person. Because every time I have come up against a challenge and a period of waiting, God has revealed Himself as far greater than I could ever imagine.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”- Ephesians 3:20

 “ Our soul waits for the Lord: He is our hope and shield.”- Psalm 33:20

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, take heart, and wait for the Lord.” – Psalm 27:14

He was there when I was stressed out and crying because I had bombed my math SAT and thought I would never get into college. He was there when I was terrified about not making any friends in college. He was there when I thought I would never get an internships last summer, and provided me with one when the time was right. He was there when the social activities, papers, and assignments seemed to be all too much for my sophomore heart to handle.

God knows what we need and when we need it. He knows where we are going to be a year from now, when we are so grateful for all the “No’s” we have received. He alone can build something good and beautiful out of the wrong turns, mistakes, and sins that our lives are littered with.

So take a look back at your life. Has there ever been a moment where God has not seen you through? Where His way has not ultimately made you the happiest and led to the best results? Where He has not had your best interests at heart?

Being a senior in college is a terrifying time, but instead of wasting our time pouting, crying, and stressing out about what is yet to come, we need to bow our knees before the King and ask Him to show us. Ask Him to strengthen our hearts as we wait. Ask Him to allow peace to invade our anxious and competitive souls. Ask Him to show us the path when we are left out of options and have absolutely no where to turn.

So in tbible versehe honor of continuing in my honesty, there are still some days when I am really frustrated with God. When I see yet another Facebook post of another friend getting that dream job or getting engaged, but that doesn’t take away from the amazing and good plans God has already put into place for you and for me. There are days where I can barely fall asleep because my stomach is sick with the thought of what life after graduation is going to look like. Days where I cry to God because I don’t know why I was rejected from yet another job that seemed so perfect for me. Because we can’t see the big picture that God can. We will never understand why we have to endure struggles, see pain, and have these frustrations, but we do know that God is ultimately leading us to Him.

 

Remember back to the beginning of this article when I was talking about my fear of the dark. Now, it’s the fear of the future. But this time, instead of the night light or sliver of moon to help me feel safe, I have something much better. And He’s just waiting to take my hand and yours and lead us out of the dark and into the light.

5 Ways To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

Oftentimes, comparison to others can start off harmlessly enough. Someone that inspires you to be kinder, wiser, or dress better. But the problem with comparison, ultimately, is that it doesn’t just stop there. Soon enough everywhere we turn we find someone who is better at this or that, prettier, or more Godly. Suddenly what started out as a good intention becomes a nasty habit that latches itself on to our deepest insecurities and doubts.

I think as women we can all relate to times that we have become prisoners to comparing ourselves to others. To the times we’ve cried because we wanted to be smarter, prettier, funnier than the girl sitting beside us, one of our best friends, or a girl in our office.

Comparison has always been an area where I have greatly struggled in my faith. From wishing my prayers sounded like another girl’s at youth group, to wondering if I’m not a true woman of God because I’m not taking any Biblical classes, to striving to make my makeup look just as effortless as the girl who sits beside me in class; I constantly wish I was someone else.  Comparison quote

At my smaller Christian college ring by spring isn’t exactly a joke. I definitely anticipated meeting the love of my life at this college. I easily pictured getting married the summer after graduation, and then living happily ever after as all our children sported “Future Grover” onesies. I wish I could say I was kidding. Yet, here I am the spring of my senior year, just as single, though hopefully wiser, than my naive freshman self who thought all of this would happen. Being single is a great gift, but it can also be a curse. I know that there are hundreds of fabulous single people all around me on my college campus, but I don’t choose to focus on them.   I choose to spend my days focusing on the people that are dating. And trust me, I’ve heard plenty of the “The right person comes when you aren’t looking,” “God has someone so special saved for you,” and “Would you even want to date who are they dating, anyways,” crap to last me a lifetime. But some days, it doesn’t change the fact that I am confronted online every minute with pictures of happy couples, flashy engagement rings, and Pinterest wedding boards, all while I’m sitting across from a couple canoodling in a study area across from me. This is not to say that I am not wildly happy for my friends that are in relationships and getting engaged, I am, but I also want it to be my turn too. Let’s all be happy and dating together, am I right?

I have liked plenty of boys over the course of my 21 years here on this earth, and with that comes plenty of opportunities to both be liked and to not be the one liked. I constantly find myself in positions where I’m not chosen over another girl. Sometimes the boy has no idea I even liked them, sometimes they do and they only liked me as a friend, and sometimes I just annoyed them. But either way, it is too easy for me to find myself comparing myself to those “better” girls they chose over me. It is easy to get consumed about why you weren’t chosen. Is it’s because she’s funnier than me? Because she’s shorter than me? Am I too much, or not enough, or show my gums too much when I smile? The list can go on and on. And I’m left crying in my bed knee deep in her 8th grade pictures on Facebook wishing that God had made me more like her. Because according to that boy I had obsessed about, she was worth it. And since I wasn’t picked, I was not.

That’s how I used to let myself think. I used to let myself get jealous of my friends successes, spend my days wishing I was someone else, and hating certain qualities about myself that made me who God wanted me to be. This New Year, I am learning to be expectant. I think it is all too easy at times to believe that God has great plans and ambitions for other people. The type of people who can recite whole chapters of scripture, who never have a bad hair day, and who always win awards. But that’s not the case. That’s a lie we have told ourselves again and again like a bad nursery rhythm to ease the pain that we are not enough. You are special, you are loved, you are chosen. Not enough? That thought is unfathomable to a God’s whose thoughts we can’t even begin to imagine. He wants to use you right where you are today. comparison quote

In this crazy life we think we can be satisfied if we are given a sense of worth; if we win the employee of the month at our work places, get complimented on our outfits, or get the highest grade in the class. We think that our worth depends on what we do, who we know, and how we look. I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t. Our worth was determined for us long ago when Christ hung on the cross to pay the price for our sins. He didn’t just die for the people that have it all together, the popular kids in high school, the girls you think are more beautiful than you, He died for all of us. Because we are all worthy and equal in His sight.

For example, it’s like being the worship leader at a church. Because let’s be real, everyone wants to be the worship leader, right?  It seems so exciting to be able to lead people in singing songs to the King of the World. They show love to people during altar calls, stir up the Holy Spirit through a simple repeated verse,  and get the credit for picking songs that quite literally save people’s lives.  No one really thinks about the person pushing the words along on the PowerPoint. Unless, of course, they get off and you don’t know the words to the song. But the person who is pushing the slides on the PowerPoint is just as valuable and important in God’s eyes as the worship leader. The worship leader needs the person pushing the PowerPoint too. If people don’t know the words to a song, the worship leader’s job is irrelevant. No one’s lives would be touched, no one would get that “Come to Jesus” moment they are craving. Because to have a great worship service you need both parts.

“For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

And I don’t know you or the area where you are struggling with comparison today, but I can guarantee you that wishing for another’s gift will only lead to you wasting yours. We all have different purposes, different tasks, and different challenges we face every day. For example, I am not a girl who has ever been overly self-conscious of my body.  It breaks my heart to see my friends and loved ones spending their days hating the details of themselves that were loving crafted. But, where many of my friends have dealt with that issue, they have had no problem getting boy attention, where I have struggled.  Because the enemy wants us to believe that it’s just us who feel left out, abandoned, and less than at times; but that is not close to being true.

Maybe you’ve wondered if God could ever use you because you look around at your Christian friend group, church, or college and see plenty of people more prepared, and in your mind, better equipped to serve God’s kingdom. Maybe you wonder if there’s enough room for you to also have this dream, or that desire, or that ambition. What if you’re too late?

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” – Matthew 9:37

I am not a competitive person by nature. When I used to run on my track team in high school, I would literally size up the other girls on the race line to see if I would be ok with them beating me. “If she beats me I won’t be upset because she went to States last year, but that girl, she’s so annoying. I have to beat her.”  I’m all about pushing myself, but I don’t have much of a pain tolerance or a big desire to push so hard I throw up. The ironic part of all this, is that while I would love to be more competitive on a sports team which is healthy, I chose to be competitive in comparison.

I hungrily read blog posts written by other strong Christian women, on the online magazine I often write for, or a book suggested by a friend and end up feeling miserable by the end. Because, I’m afraid that her great article that has so much wisdom and knowledge means there isn’t enough room for me to post anymore. After all, she got more likes and comments than me anyways, right? Wrong. Remember the verse above, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

comparison and grace quote

Just because she is very talented in the same area of you…doesn’t mean you have to get a new hobby.

Just because your friend got a job first…doesn’t mean you won’t also get a job you love.

Just because everyone around you is dating…doesn’t mean God is calling you to be a spinster.

Just because she has the same dress.. doesn’t mean you’ll look the same or less good when you wear it.

To be honest, while I was writing this article I took a break to casually peruse Instagram. Suddenly I found myself looking at photos of my friends studying abroad, seeing other friends reconnecting, and of course, date night photos. All while I was writing this article in my pjs on a Saturday night. I tell you this to let you know that I haven’t perfected this either. I can only give you some tips that have helped me and hope they can do the same in your life. Because like I said before, no one has it all together.

  1. Spend time with God each morning. This is a major struggle for me. If you know me at all, you know that I am a 10 pm in bed kind of girl. However, I don’t spring up and sing like Snow White in the mornings either. I like to sleep, 10, 12 hours. Getting up for me is never fun, frankly getting up from sleep ever is never fun. But I do notice a significant difference in my ability to control my thoughts when I do my devotions in the morning versus the afternoon or night. Every morning when we wake up we are facing a great battle. This happens between the enemy and our thoughts. Don’t give him any more ammo.
  1. Be on the look out. Every day from God is a gift. We need to be on the look out each day from the urgings of the Holy Spirit to talk to that person who looks lonely, speak the Bible verse our friends need to hear, and follow the call to sign up for a new club or activity. We need to realize that God has a plan to use us each day in big and small ways. Don’t miss your gift by noticing everyone else’s.
  2. Limit your time on social media. Social media is the food that feeds the comparison mResting in comparisons quoteonster.  Though social media is a great way to keep in contact with others, it is also too easy to get caught up in how many followers, likes, and comments we get on something we’ve posted. Suddenly, we are comparing ourselves to Amy’s photos wondering why we aren’t cool enough to get as many likes as she did on that picture of her cat.  That’s the problem with social media. So I’m not saying to quit social media, but if you know that you struggle with comparison, limit the amount of times you check it each day.
  3. Give yourself a break. Realize that you are going to have days where you are bloated, have zits covering your chin, and forget to pluck your eyebrows. On those days or other days where you feel like you could never be as good as insert name here, realize that you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. God has already proved to you that you are worth it and worthy of being pursued. The moment those toxic thoughts enter your head, simply take a deep breath and relinquish it to God. He can take these thoughts and give you the peace you require. He can give you the confidence to stand on top of these thoughts and conquer them once and for all.
  4. Finally, fill yourself with what God says about you, not what others think of you or the horrible things that you think about yourself. Look to the verses that say that you were chosen, you were set apart, you are loved, you are worthy, you were created beautifully and with a beautiful purpose. God can satisfy our deepest desires and handle our deepest fears. Let Him shoulder your burdens, insecurities, and doubts each day when they’re too much to handle.

Remember that comparison is a battle that we all are constantly facing, but what do you say? Are you ready to win that battle today?

Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Keep Failing

2017. A year that looms before us unknown and sweet with expectations. It’s exciting to think that we have no idea what this year will bring. Many of us wish to find something new to fill the void in our hearts this year; a new person, a new hobby, a new figure. Many of us see this New Year as an opportunity to become the person we’ve always wanted to be. The person who spends time regularly with God, who invests more in other people, or actually gets on that workout regime. C.S. Lewis quote

But we face a problem as we hastily throw down resolutions after resolutions on notebooks and random scraps of paper. We face the problem of reality. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when 2017 has just begun. It only takes a minute to look out at the gray and snowy January day for you to lose the hope that you had to complete the task. So why do we fail? Why do we forget about achieving our resolutions by the time March rolls around? Why do we not become those people that we hope to be?

I think that the answer is rather simple. We are set on being someone new instead of becoming someone new. From the minute our glasses clink ushering in the New Year, we are set on being this “new version” of ourselves.  Maybe for you that meant being less selfish, gossiping less, or being a better friend. Maybe you hoped to find contentment, to increase your spiritual life, or to help out your family more. These are all great plans, but we must remember that nothing comes easily in life. Process is everything. We need help. We need God. We are broken and damaged shells of people. We are not our own.

In the Bible, we see story after story of characters undergoing trials and joys on a journey that would lead them to who they were ultimately designed to be. They didn’t just wish that God would use them in big ways, they took steps to put God’s plans into motion. Think about the story of Paul. He had a major transformation, yet he didn’t become God’s vessel to the Gentiles overnight. He probably was scared to death and afraid, just like many of us. Luckily, God can take our brokenness and weaknesses to be used for His strengths. We are able to read book after book of Paul’s spiritual and personal trials to see how he learned to depend on God above anyone and anything else.

Or let’s look at the life of Peter. When God first called him to be a fisher of men, did he become one of the main leaders of Christianity the next day? No. Face it, he was just a smelly fisherman that was curious and maybe even a little bored with his mundane life. But he took a step. He gave God the opportunity to shape him and make him into who he was intended to be.  By letting God see his heart, his loves, and his failures, Peter became the man who was the rock of the Catholic Church. Do you think after the rooster crowed he was thinking how powerfully God would use him in the lives of others?

Just know that you are not alone in trying to improve yourself but falling short. You are not alone in having great intentions that you Proverbs 3:5couldn’t quite keep. We live in a crazy busy world. We spend our days racing from work to the gym to our quiet time to dinner to trying to squeeze in an episode of Netflix, all while trying to maintain 8 hours of sleep. Our eyes are bleary from the all-nighters we have pulled. And we find ourselves putting on more activities, finding new hobbies, maintaining more friendships, and having less time for God each year.  Have you ever stopped to ask God what desires and plans He has for your life? To ask Him how He wants to use and shape you this New Year? Maybe that’s where you need to start.

And then we face the question of what are the best resolutions? Thanks to social media and modern blogging( haha) we find that every publication, friend, and parent has an idea of what we should be working on this New Year. So we find ourselves up to our ears in self-help books, crazy weight loss solutions, and “read the Bible in a year” plans. All seem to promise that we will better ourselves, be someone different, and become who we always wanted to be just for signing up for their newsletter. That’s not true.

The only person who knows what we need to work on, what sins we need to improve, and what idols we need to kick, is God. Have you asked Him? Maybe this year He’s calling you to give up a bad habit, maybe it’s leading a Bible study, maybe it’s joining a ministry on your campus. But it could be as easy as smiling to everyone you pass on the sidewalk, or talking to that girl who seems lonely in your humanities class. Whatever it may be, I urge you to spend time prayerfully asking God what He has in store for you this New Year. Every year has its fair share of ups and downs, but by having God as your constant companion, you can be prepared for whatever life throws at you.

Over these next few weeks I will be introducing different resolutions I have for the New Year for you to either join in on or to ignore. This New Year, I hope to find ways to not be someone different, but to begin the process of becoming the woman of God I have been created to be. I want to become more content, unplugged from social media, expectant, intentional with others, and more serving. Now, none of these are easy tasks that I can complete overnight. Unfortunately, I can’t offer you any quick tips to become these things in 10 minutes or any cheats. My only offer is to dig into these issues using scripture and to start a journey that most likely won’t be completed in 2017. Because we shouldn’t be striving to become better just for 2017. We should be trying to become the person that God will say, “Well done good and faithful servant,” to at the end of our lives.

So are you ready to become a better kingdom server for God? Are you ready to stop making resolutions and start making changes? God is ready to guide you through this uncertain and unknown New Year, all you have to do is ask Him to lead the way.

Isaiah verse

To The Girl That Has It All Together

Who am I?

This is a question that has haunted women for generations. From trying to wear the right clothes in middle school, to picking the right major in college, to even going through that mid-life crisis, we find ourselves asking, who are we? Where do our identities lie? Where do we get our satisfaction and worth?

The typical Christian response is from Christ. It can be so easy to say “Of course my identity comes from Christ.” But have you ever stopped to consider what that really means?

When I think about who I identify myself as so many words come to mind.

I am a daughter, a friend, a student, an athlete, a reader, a blogger, a leader, a lover of preppy clothing, an overachiever, a sorority sister, a regular sister.

set apart quoteBut  I still have many sins to hide.

I am broken, I am selfish, I am prideful, I am judgmental, I am a gossip, I am hateful.

Yet, it can be so easy to forget the most important statements of all.

That I am redeemed, I am loved, I am worthy, I am beautiful, I am saved, I am a prize, I am His. 

I think that it can be hard for any of us to admit just how much we care about how other people see us. It’s easy to hide behind our plethora of activities, easy to hide behind our awards and achievements, and easy to hide our faith from the world. Every day we wake up and are faced with the battle of having to prove that we are worthy to the people around us somehow. So we force ourselves to get up early and make sure our hair is done just right, we interrupt our classmates in our pursuit to be the smartest voice heard, and we sign up for the mission trip we are unprepared for in order to get the accolades from our Christian friends.

But what if we stopped doing all that? What if we truly embraced our authentic identities in Christ alone? What if we didn’t question who we were in response to another?

“ But God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”- Romans 5: 8

“Therefore I urge you, brothers, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship.”- Romans 12:1

We aren’t perfect beings. And we never are going to be. So no matter how many awards, “Job well done”, and praise we receive here on earth, nothing is going to wipe away our sins except for Christ. That is why it is completely impossible for us to try to find our identity in any other earthly element, because God is our creator who has made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

I am talking about this subject today because I definitely speak from experience. I would definitely classify myself as a grade A overachiever. I am involved in so many different events both on and off my college campus, and take great pride in the leadership positions I have been able to attain going into my senior year. But I take too much pride. I take too much pride in being the girl who seems to have it all together. The girl who gets good grades, dresses well, is organized, and goes to bed early. But I’m not the girl who has it all together, and I am never going to be. And unfortunately neither are you.

I am just as broken as any other individual on my college campus. I face trials, endure hardships, and cry in the shower when my days become too much to handle. I get stressed out, say things I shouldn’t, and care way too much about impressing fickle boys. When I put my worth and my identity into being the girl who does everything and has it all together, I fail. My identity needs to come from Christ and Christ alone.

Too many days I find myself not seeking God when I am stressed out or upset, but turning to other things to get comfort. I seek to find my worth in social media, how many friends I have, and reminding myself of all the things I’m “good” at. I allow myself to obsess over my reflection in the mirror, for the girl who has it all togetherobsess over the conversation where I said something stupid, and obsess over posting a photo on Instagram to let everyone see how much “fun” I am having. But I don’t obsess about God. I don’t obsess about others and intentionally hearing them. I don’t obsess about the grace I have been given.

So let’s stop. Stop putting our worth in earthly awards and positions and start building up our treasures in heaven. To learn to love ourselves and to feel that we are worthy of love no matter how many campus activities we invest in. To be approachable and open about our struggles. To not be afraid to talk to our friends about Christ and encourage them to live life with Him to the fullest.

I can’t be perfect, you can’t be perfect, but together with God we can become perfect. I have no idea what identity you have been hiding yourself behind these past years. Maybe it’s being a really great athlete, or the mother of your friend group, or the smartest kid in your classes. But those things don’t define you, they are only evidence of the gifts that God so richly blesses us with; don’t turn a gift into your self-worth.

“He rescued me because He delighted in me.”

He delighted in you. Not because you were president of student government, not because you were Homecoming Queen, not because you went on 12 mission trips, but just because you were little old you. Riddled by sin and desperate for grace. So embrace your fallen nature today, you never know how God is going to use your scars to bless another.

 

How To Forgive Someone Whose Wronged You

In today’s society, it can easy to look around and have almost anything cause you to become angry. Maybe it’s the political post of an annoying Facebook friend, the lies you just found one of your best friends has been telling about you, or a hurtful comment from a family member. Maybe for a long time your heart has been angry at God for not granting you that one job or one thing you’ve always wanted.

Truthfully, I didn’t fully understand the depth of anger until almost two years ago. I was in the midst of starting my sophomore year at Grove City and I remember coming home on my fall break excited to relax with my family and finally not have to eat cafeteria food. Instead, I came home to my mother telling me that my father had left our house and essentially their marriage was over.

Now, I am not one of those kids who ever once believed her parents had a fairy tale romance. My father is a dairy farmer whose idea of spending quality time with me was forcing me to milk for him on Saturday nights. He wasn’t a bad guy, just not a good father. He never hit me or my brother or mom, he never cheated on my mother with another woman, but he also never made us a priority. It still stuns me to realize that there are girls out there whose fathers buy them flowers for Valentine’s Day and actually knows the names of their friends from college.

Since my parents have been separated for the past twoish years, I have had to start to form a relationship with my father on my own. Nothing could’ve been tougher. At his core, my dad is a taker and not very much of a giver. My relationship with him revolves around his work. I hardly hear from him during the crop season of the summer, but he will be texting me all the time like we are the closest friends when he is bored in the winter. Even when my mom finally told us what happened, I had to be the one to call him first.

And it makes me crazy angry. Like want to rip up something or scream in his face angry. Because people like my dad can never admit they were wrong. That they were the ones who neglected my mother, tormented my brother, and made me some sort of weird favorite. He can never admit that he actually messed up. And that’s the hardest part isn’t it? Forgiving someone who doesn’t admit they are wrong or who doesn’t ask you for forgiveness. How do you forgive someone who doesn’t realize what they did was wrong?

Ephesians 2:26-27

Now I can’t pretend to know your story or relate to the pain that anger or a lack of forgiveness has had on your life. I don’t know the number of tears you’ve cried over the boy who didn’t like you but tried to ask out your best friend, the mother who wanted you to be perfect out of the womb, or the parent who never made you their priority, but I know that holding that anger inside only destroys you.

The Bible talks plenty about God’s wrath and anger, but it also holds the answer to how we as humans can deal with our internal anger and conflicts.

Ephesians 2:26-27 says, “ In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Don’t give the devil a foothold.”

Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “ Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”

It seems that the only person our anger benefits is satan. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to give him any more advantage over me then he already has. We can be hypocrites in our anger, becoming self-righteous and not forgiving a person often times for the same crimes we have committed. Sure, I did not abandon my family or put my job over them like my father did to me, but I have ignored God. I have ignored Him in favor of friends or Netflix episodes or sleeping in. I have put idols and my own desires ahead of God’s and rushed through my devotions to get to the rest of my day. Frankly, I have done just what my dad has done to me.

Now I am not saying that we as humans aren’t allowed to feel hurt and let down and angry. The problem happens when we let this anger consume and intensify to passive aggression, hurting other people, and letting it damage our self-worth. God is the ultimate judge of the earth and He will see that each person will pay the price for their sin. Just like the women who was being stoned for adultery, we are not worthy to cast the first stone.

There might be days where your anger is incapacitating, or you feel like you can never forgive the person who has hurt you, but that is a lie. The power of Jesus Christ lives inside you and He alone can help you to conquer this anger.

But how can you start?

1.Talk to someone. Whether that be a family member, counselor, or friend, sometimes you need to get off your chest what has been bottling up inside you. Let them give you wisdom and pray over you for healing.

2.Write about it. I have always felt a lot of relief from talking to God through writing. It is a great outlet to be able to say whatever you need to without having anyone around. It can also be a great tool you can look back on to monitor your improvement.

3.Let go. It can be hard to forgive and pretend like nothing has happened when someone has wronged you so badly. But I guarantee you that letting the weight go is going to give you the freedom and peace you are craving. So what that awful friend of yours is never going to apologize for gossiping about you? So what you have a dead beat dad that has a pride problem? So what you had your heart broken by an ex-boyfriend who you gave everything to? Being angry isn’t going to make them change or make you feel better. If you want to let go of your anger, you need to be the one willing to change.

Last summer, I postponed the last of the seven deadly sins from my series because I didn’t want to share my story with anger. But now I realize that this anger I feel doesn’t have to define me, and it doesn’t have to define you either.

Are you willing to let your anger go today?

How To Stop Missing God’s Plan

Do you believe that God has a plan for you? Do you sometimes feel like you are missing out on bigger and better things?

We are told countless times as we are growing up that God has a unique plan for all of us. We have loved ones write Jeremiah 29:11 in our Christmas and graduation cards and are told “it must not have been part of the plan,” when something unexpected happens. But once we get into college we start to become frustrated with God’s “so-called plan.” Yes, God is sovereign and His plan should take precedence, but why does that have to result at my own expense?

Why does that mean I never get to date the boy I’ve had a crush on for months who is equally yoked, don’t do well on the quizzes I actually study for in school, and get cut from a group that is called to serve you? Why do those with the strongest faith get wrecked by debilitating cancer, why do children get raped by ISIS every day, and why are there those living in poverty in the streets of our own country? How can these bad things be part of God’s plan? I can’t at all pretend to have all the answers, but I also know that God has to answer to no one least of all little old me.

One verse that has constantly frustrated me over the years was,

Take delight in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”Bible verse

It frustrated me because I felt like I was constantly trying my best to please the Lord, and be obedient to His plan. So why couldn’t He start to show me some of those desires? In my mind I was the perfect Christian. I didn’t drink, went to youth group every week, and wore a purity ring to school every day. I mean if anyone deserved to have their desires it was me.

It wasn’t until I was a freshman in college that I finally realized something. That verse about God giving us our desires isn’t about our desires at all. It’s about His desires. God gives us everything yet all He asks is one simple thing. He wants our hearts. And not the tiny corner we try to give Him as we groggily whisper prayers to Him as we fall asleep. Not the tiny corner we give Him on Sunday mornings when we raise our hands exuberantly to the worship songs. Not the tiny corner we give Him as we quickly sneak a prayer in before our meal date in a crowded college cafeteria. All of it.

Because our lives aren’t about us at all. They’re all about Him. When we start walking intimately with the Father we realize that what He wants most of all is to give us the plans He has already made in advance for us. His desires that His hopes will become ours. I have been praying for a year or so now to let God’s desires become my own desires. I would rather live the life God wants me to live with Him than live half a life with my own plans. Every time I have not gotten something I wanted from God, He has given me something so much better in return or protected me from something that would’ve hurt me so much in the long run. Have you ever stopped to consider that God knows what we need before we even ask for it?

My friend shared a great song with me lately that I have actually attached called Clear the Stage. The song really gets to my point on this post. Sometimes we need to clear the stage of all the plans, dreams, and things we are clinging to over God to make room for His plans, dreams, and the things He wants to bless us with. Because when put our desires and plans over God’s, we miss huge opportunities to serve Him and bless other people. Maybe you’re thinking that you actually don’t have an idol problem. Well, these words from song can help enlighten you.

“Anything I put before my God is an idol. Anything I want with all my heart is an idol. Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol. Anything that I give all my love to is an idol.”

Sound familiar at all? These words remind me that my struggle against idols is far from over, but I know that with God all things are possible.

So what do you say, are you ready to clear your stage or are you going to be content letting God’s opportunities pass you by

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Is God Your Number One Priority?

What consumes your thoughts? Where does your mind drift to when you’re day dreaming in class? Who is on your mind? Is it God? Because if I’m being honest that is not always the case for me.

When people think of idols in our modern day culture they think that they are outdated. They think just because they aren’t worshiping a golden calf  that means that they have made God their number one priority.

“The idols of this nation are silver and gold, the work of human hands.” Psalm 135:15.

I am going to tell you something that might confuse you. Idols can be good. Most idols start out as being good things, even gifts from God. They become bad when we decide to exalt them over God and spend more time dwelling on them than our Father in Heaven. They can be anything. School work, boys, friends, fear of being left out, how you present yourself on social media, etc, etc. For me, I feel like a big idol of mine has always been boys. I love to be that girl who has a crush and excitedly tells all her friends about the interactions I had with him during the day. I am also the girl who worries and worries and worries about if they like her or not. It completely consumes me. You know who is not constantly on my mind during those times? God.

I treat Him like a king if I was able to have a great interaction with my crush that day and like a pariah if I did not. I constantly didn’t understand why I couldn’t have the one thing I wanted. I had done in my mind what God had asked me to do. I didn’t sleep around, I didn’t send the boys I liked bad pictures of myself, all I wanted was a boy who I could love and help me to grow in my faith. But even though that is a great and normal thing to desire, it was taking all my time and energy away from the number one thing I should have been desiring. Sometimes God has to smack you in the face for you to realize you are not making Him your priority. We deserve nothing from God, yet oftentimes we expect everything

In our society it can be easy to look at the Israelite’s and scoff at them for worshiping a golden calf over the God of the universe. But we as Christians fail to realize that we do the same thing when we skip our devotion time to study with that cute boy from our chemistry class, work out instead of pray because our bodies have to look a certain way, and choose to put all our worth in academic success rather than considering what our life will look like in heaven. Because idols don’t just take us away from God’s love, they take away pieces of ourselves until we have nothing left to give God.

But I have good news. Because of Jesus’s death we are freed from these things that seem to take and take from our lives. We are not slaves to our idols, we are slaves to no one. So today I would encourage you to take a good hard look at your life and discern if it is truly one that puts God before anything and anyone else.

“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God will all your heart and all you soul and all your mind.”

Would you be willing to stand before God and say you did just that?

When You Want It All: Dealing With Greed

Let me start by asking you a question.  What defines you?

Is it the clothing of an elite label? Hiding behind the mouse of the latest Mac computer?  Or being first in line to buy Taylor Swift tickets? Do your passions reflect a love for God or the things your greed commands you to possess?

The definition of greed is an intense or selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food. Sometimes we are so caught up in trying to outshine each other on social media, with our $600 dollar prom gowns and Jcrew statement necklaces, that we start to be defined by our stuff more than by personalities. Nothing is wrong with taking pride in your appearance or saving up your money to buy something you desire, but it is a problem when that need becomes an obsession. Suddenly we can find ourselves being more consumed with having the latest and greatest gadgets than our Savior.

If you know me well at all, then you know that I absolutely adore clothing. You also might describe me as little bit of a brand whore. To me who made the shirt matters just as much as what it looks like. I take an inordinate amount of pride in people knowing that “Yes, that shirt did come from Tommy Hilfiger, thank you very much.” But when I truly look inside myself I realize that the only reason I care so much about my appearance is because I care too much about what other people think. Ever been there? It can be easy in today’s culture to think that we have to buy the latest this or have a certain brand of jeans to be cool, but in reality these products are not going to be the things that last forever.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will also be.”- Matthew 6:19-21. bible verse on greed

That verse definitely does not beat around the bush. We are on earth for such a short amount of time and when we die no one is going to remember that we were the first ones at our high schools to have a Michael Kors purse. They are going to remember us by our character. Were we kind? Did we put other people before ourselves? Or were we too busy tweeting everything that happens on our smartphones that we forgot to spend time with those around us?

As hard as it can be, we need to start thinking about eternity and more about how God perceives our actions than our peers. The love and grace of our Savior is the one thing that we can never buy and we never have to earn. He doesn’t care about the type of clothes we wear or that we start our mornings with Shakeolgy. He cares about the intimate details of our lives, like how many hairs we have on our head or how many times we’ve cried because we saw a picture of our friends going out on Instagram and have failed to be invited. He wants to know us even more and use us in bigger ways than we could ever dream or imagine.

But we can’t be used by Him as easily if we find ourselves being too consumed with making sure that all our friends see everything we’ve ever bought on social media. Posting endlessly about the new dress you bought from Lily Pulitzer is definitely not going to shatter anyone’s life, but putting that energy into showing God’s love could. Sometimes we have to take a step back and realize why exactly we post what we do. Is it to truly share our joy with other people, or is it to make other people feel bad about themselves?

So the next time you are stressing out because you don’t have the latest (insert blank here) ask yourself a question.

Do I want to be defined as the greedy girl who has a lot of stuff, or do I want to be defined as the girl who passionately loves her Savior?

Stopping The Christian Pride Problem

Is there really anything better than that feeling you get when someone tells you that you’ve done a great job? That feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you’re picked for the promotion or picked to represent your school in some way? Unfortunately, these early feelings often start to foster a sense of pride that becomes a monster of its own.

As I have mentioned many times before, I am about to start my junior year at a small Christian college. It’s a college that has many great qualities and has done a lot for growing my faith, but it is also pretty common to get judgment stares when you go to brunch on Sunday and you look like you haven’t come from a church service. As Christians, nothing excites us quite as much as the opportunity to pass some good healthy judgment. For example, just because someone regularly posts a picture of a Bible and a cup of coffee on Instagram complete with the #blessed, doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling with their own issues.  And just because someone else has never posted Hillsong United song lyrics on a Sunday morning, doesn’t mean they don’t  have a very real authentic faith.

When my mom attended the same college, there was a group there called Salt Company. It was basically just a Bible study that met on Friday nights at like 8’o’clock. According to her, it was like you weren’t really a Christian if you didn’t attend this prestigious group. All “who loved Jesus the most” were there on Friday’s and you better believe you faced the Grover judgment if you weren’t. This is one of the hardest parts of being a Christian, at least for me. You want the whole world to know how much you love God, but you also don’t want to be self-righteous. You want to be able to witness to people, but you don’t want to be too of the world.

Have you ever met those people who are so nice, kind, and patient no matter what life throws at them? When they are complimented for their hard work instead of thanking you and internally going “yes, I really am the bomb.com,” say “I could be nothing without God”? I always find myself being so frustrated by those people because I can’t relate to them.

Sometimes I swear, and sometimes I laugh at dirty jokes,’ and sometimes I love myself way more than I should. Now I’m not in any way making fun of those people because they are great gifts, and most of the time I know they are authentic. But after I talk to those people I always feel like, “Wow, I’m going to hell”.

Or how about when it comes time to share your testimony and the whole group just finished sobbing because Jimmy shared his heart wrenching tale of how he overcame his drug addiction with Jesus. Suddenly it’s your turn. As all the eyes in the room fixate on you, you’re thinking, “Crap all I have to follow this up is  I grew up in a Christian home and I gave my life to Jesus on the hill of a candlelit service in 5th grade.”

I think as Christians we can get stuck believing that if we don’t behave a certain way or even throw our faith in everyone’s face that we can’t be used by God. That is not even close to being true. God has a special place to use people who are different than us to reach certain groups of people. He has also placed you right where you are and with your gifts and talents because He wants YOU to reach someone right where you are.

“For who makes you different than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn’t give you? And if everything you have is from God , why boast as though it were not a gift?” 1 Corinthians 4:7.

It can so hard in our own walks with God not to look around in compare ourselves to others. We can quickly become the type of people who gossip/pray about our friends or feel the need to raise our hands at every worship service just to show off.

Something that can really help win over our non-Christian friends and family is when we can honestly admit that we don’t have it all together. My mom was really struggling with her faith when she thought she needed to be a certain type of Christian. She said she really contributes the growth of her faith in college to her friend Ann. She says Ann helped her because she was so authentic about her faith and struggles.

It can be so easy when we have already been Christians for a long time to feel like we need to impress each other with all our Biblical knowledge or have a dramatic story in order to make an impact. God can use our story to reach other people– whether we are the people who came to Christ from a drug addiction or the kid that never missed VBS. We need to be authentic about our faith and be quicker to admit our pride and our flaws. I hope one day to be an impact to my friends the way my mom’s friend Ann was to her, but trust me, every day is a work in progress.

So the next time you’re seated at church by the person who is notorious for “Yes Lording” everything the pastor says, just remember that all our faith journeys are different. Let’s not let our pride and judgment cause us to fall off the path.

When You Get Compared To A Sloth

I just don’t understand the new internet obsession everyone has been having with sloths. Especially the trend to compare other creatures, people, and objects to everyone’s apparently new favorite lazy mammal. Who wants to be compared to a tropical animal that looks like someone on sedatives hanging upside down from a tree?

Sloth is also mentioned in a much different light  when it is named among the other seven deadly sins. The definition of sloth is a reluctance to work or make an effort. Sound like anyone you know? Our culture seems to be absolutely riddled nowadays with a big lack of a work ethic. We’ve all met people that meet the sloth mold. That one person you work with you who pretends to be sick so they can go home early? Or the guy who seems to be near tears when he’s never scheduled, but once he get more hours is constantly calling off.

Sloth can appear in our lives in many ways other than not working hard at a minimum wage job.  It can be not studying as hard as you need to for your Chemistry test because you feel like trying to beat your high score on Candy Crush instead. It can be not truly giving you best effort at a sporting event because you have natural ability and sometimes it’s easier just to coast. It’s not putting any effort into a friendship or relationship because it makes YOU feel uncomfortable or sometimes they dare to not be perfect. Sloth is now starting to look an awful lot like selfishness.A sloth hanging upside down

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not man. Since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” Colossians 3:23-24.

I think sometimes we get stuck in mundane minimum wage jobs that we hate, relationships we are dying to escape with a family member, and attending a school where putting in our best effort doesn’t always translate over into As. You might be thinking right about now who even cares? If I’m still putting in some effort I’m good, right? Wrong. Here’s an example.

Say you have a job at a retail store this summer. On the weekends you find yourself constantly surrounded by foreign people who keep yelling S at the top of the lungs in your face to convey what size they need. Say one of them flags you down and asks you to get them a size in the midst of an afternoon of craziness. You are swamped so instead of going to the back to check, you wander around a bit and then inform them you don’t have the size. No one gets hurt and you have time to put away some more go backs from the fitting room. No one saw, so your reputation as a good worker hasn’t been tarnished, but God saw.

This is one of those times that God knowing our every move isn’t comforting. God alone knows when we’ve truly put in our best efforts and the times when we’ve slothed it up a bit. Just like the verse above says, we are serving HIM, not our cranky bosses, not our callous teachers, and not society. When we start believing that everything we do is a reflection of God, it becomes easier to put aside our cranky attitudes in order to serve Him.

Being hard workers in every aspect of our lives can really help to point other people to Christ. There are definitely still many days where I want to passive aggressively give a Canasian the wrong size just because they’re annoying me, but then I remember that my work is a reflection of me, which becomes a reflection of God.

So the next time you are debating cutting a corner during the day,  just remember that God has always given us His best without fail, don’t you believe He deserves the same?