Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Who Am I?

Recently a newly acquired friend was scrolling through my Facebook postings. We came across an article of sorts, in which I listed out several unknown or hidden aspects of my life, and my personality. This particular posting happens to be several years old, and I had completely forgotten that I'd even posted it, let alone the content and information I'd written. So with a slightly increased heartbeat, I went to the posting and read through it.

I quickly realized one thing: most of what I'd written back then was no longer true. Certain fears I had, and insecurities that I never thought I'd leave behind were now so far in the past that the idea of agonizing over these issues at all seemed completely foreign to me. And it got me thinking that maybe I should revise that post. After all, the person that my new friend had just read about was no longer the same person that I am today. Frankly, I'm surprised that she even recognized me as the same creation that I had been so long ago.

So now I've decided to fill you in on a few of the things that I know to be true of myself, the person I've grown to be over the years.

- I am a daughter of the Almighty God.
- I am still learning to understand what this means.
- I have come to recognize -and depend on- God's interventions in my life more now than I ever had before.
- I have had many hardships in my 22 years of living, some harder than others.
- I have learned what its like to grieve, and I've felt the hurt of losing someone I loved.
- I love the color green, but my favorite color scheme is brown, tan, teal, and turquoise.
- I have a hot temper, and a short fuse.
- I spend lots of time dreaming of what my life will be like in the years to come.
- I try not to sweat the small stuff, but I usually do.
- I can never quite figure out where I belong, or what my contributions are.
- I am definitely an animal person.
- I don't regret things, even some of my biggest mistakes. Because regretting means not learning, and not learning means I might make that mistake again.
- It takes me a long time to forgive people. Myself included.
- I don't really know what it is that makes people like me.
- I HATE being lied to. I hate finding out that some thing-or someone- I thought was true, is actually a lie.
- However, I still believe that people can be honest without being unnecessarily hurtful.
- I tend to be a very pessimistic person, and its hard for me to look on the bright side.
- I have an amazing husband who complements me more than I thought possible.
- I am a bit OCD sometimes.
- I love lists. They make me feel secure.
- I follow my Dad's advice: Its better to do things right the first time, even if it takes a bit longer to do it.
- I believe that puzzles help me make sense of the world.
- I am slowly realizing the creative potential that I possess, and that it's OK for me to not be a painter, actor, singer, potter, sculptor, sketch artist, or master costume maker like my siblings.
- I am currently a housewife. Someday I hope to be a stay at home mother, as well.
- I am slightly scared of having children. And I'm terrified of the possibility of being unable to conceive.
- I make a lot of the mistakes of my parents. This scares and frustrates me.
- I feel complete when I am at the ocean, or in the mountains.
- I will be a marine biologist someday.
- I have a bucket list. It isn't complete yet.
- I am still learning who I am, and where my life is going to go.

As you can tell, this is a pretty sizeable list. However, it is in no way extensive, and there are still many more areas of myself that haven't been expressed here. Some of them I haven't discovered yet, some of them I still don't fully understand. I may never understand everything about myself. However, I take solace in knowing that there's someone else who DOES know all of me, and understands every single piece. It is encouraging and strengthening to know that my God knows me in ways that no one else could even fathom. I don't have to explain myself to him, because he knows already. This makes my uncertainty so much easier to handle. I am still learning about who I am, and why I think, feel, say, and do the things I do. But I'm lucky enough to have a Redeemer who already knows the answers to my questions.

"I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb." Jeremiah 1:5

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Fear or Faith?

How can we tell if what we're experiencing is an abundance of fear, or a lack of faith?

Personally, I don't know that I've been able to answer that question yet. I feel as though I'm right on the verge, right on the edge of understanding, but I'm just not quite there yet.

Recently, I felt a push to volunteer with the Children's Ministry at my church. I went to the Ministry Fair, spoke with a few people from the First Impressions Team, the Worship Team, the Children's Ministry Team, and by the end of the event, I knew that I was being led towards the Children's Ministry. I don't know exactly why I felt the pull for that particular group, but I filled out the application anyway. 

My plan was to work with the babies. What could go wrong? Who wouldn't want to spend the morning cuddling and loving on newborns? It sounded great to me. 

I was approached by one of the leaders a few weeks later, and they were offering me a position elsewhere. Two and three year-olds. They want me to work with the toddlers. Inherently, there isn't anything wrong with that idea. Toddlers are adorable, they're hilarious, and I'm sure that each one of them has a lot that they can teach us adults. But the idea of leading a story-time in front of a bunch of over-active children sends me into a slight panic. 

I have a hard enough time talking in front of groups of people my own age, without adding into it the necessity of goofing around, adding in silly voices, and generally making myself look a bit less-than-sane for the sake of maintaining the attention of these children. Just the thought of it makes me queasy. I still have yet to give an answer to the leader who approached me.

And this is where my previous question comes into play: How do I know if my reluctance to help out in this area is coming from a lack of faith? 

I was completely willing-and joyful, even-to help in the Children's Ministry when I thought that I could work with the newborns. I had no second guesses, no moments of panic, when the ideas and choices were my own, and were within the realm of my comfort zone. But now that I've been nudged in a slightly different direction, I can't seem to commit to it any longer. 

Is my reluctance based on an understandable apprehension about my capabilities of working with toddlers? Is it not, in fact, a total lack of faith in the direction that God is guiding me towards? 

I could give a dozen different excuses, each more valid than the last, as to why I am currently unfit for the position of leading the toddler group at my church. But the amount I offer doesn't change the fact that they are all still excuses. None of them are actually valid reasons for why I should not trust in God's calling, and follow after him with faith and confidence in His ability to guide me. Because the truth is, there are no valid reasons. 

Do I trust my God? Yes. 
Do I believe that what He has planned for me is nothing short of the best? Yes. 
Do I know deep down that His strength is sufficient in my weakness, and that He can overcome anything? Yes.

So then after this, I have no reason, no logic, to excuse me from following after Him, and allowing Him to use me in ways that I could never allow for myself. Because I know that no matter how unfit I am, my God is strong enough to overcome. And no matter how nervous, and even scared, I could be, I have faith that God will guide every action. And I know that in the end, He will have used this opportunity and this call of faith as a reminder to me of His glory, and His power. Nothing I do while I am with those toddlers will actually be my own. It will all be His.

And that is faith stronger than even my worst fears.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise- in God I trust and am not afraid. Psalm 56:3-4

Your turn: When have you decided to forsake fear, and have faith instead? What was the outcome?