I can’t even begin to tell you how quickly the past six months have flown by for me. It’s been one of the most strange, confusing, hard, weird, and somehow still good seasons for my husband and I. But I am thankful for the lessons learned in 2018, for God’s unfailing grace and His perfect timing, and I’m so hopeful for the shiny, brand spanking new year ahead.
It’s gonna be a good year. I can feel it.
I didn’t have many words to share during the last few months of 2018, but recently they’ve been pouring out of me so fast that it’s hard to keep up. I’ve been pretty active on my Instagram page writing those obnoxiously long captions that exceed the word count limit and spill into the comments. It’s just convenient, and sometimes I need to get my words out as quickly and as easily as possible. I process my feelings (and I have many of them) through writing and so it’s like therapy to me. But one of my goals for this year (and the past five;)) has been to blog more consistently, so I’m going to tryyyyyy my best!
I know there’s nothing magical about a new year… but it feels like there is. I love seeing everyone’s posts about their goals, their summaries of the past year and their inspiring words for the next 365 days. Some are cynical of it, but I never grow tired of that ‘fresh start’ feeling. I know it’s a mind game but there’s just something intangibly magical about it.
I wrote a post on Instagram a few days ago about “Being You, Bravely”, and I think those ramblings officially decided my word for 2019. Bravely.
Why not just “Brave”? I’m not sure. Probably because I’m an Enneagram 4 and I have that unquenchable thirst to be unique. Probably also because I’m a hand letterer and adding “ly” makes it a much more fun word to letter… but also because it implies action on my part. DOING something, BRAVELY, instead of just sitting around waiting for the courage to BE BRAVE.
Being Vulnerable, Bravely.
The last few months of 2018 took a lot outta me, to be honest, and in the spirit of being vulnerable, bravely, I wanted to share a little bit about it.
My husband and I moved to Virginia Beach two and a half years ago to be worship leaders at a church out here, and in October, we made the decision to take a step down from staff in order to work on some personal things, prioritize our emotional and spiritual health, and specifically, our marriage.
It felt like a failure. It felt like a step backwards. It felt like a wasted season.
I say “felt” in past tense but some days I am still fighting to believe that those feelings aren’t true.
It was a hard decision, but a good one in the long run. If you have ever been in ministry, you know that it can be all consuming, and if you aren’t careful, you can easily find yourself linking your performance in your ministry to your relationship with God, and your priorities can get out of whack so easily.
The devil is a liar and he will do whatever he can to throw you off track, isolate you, burn you out, and stress you out, and he’ll do anything he can to keep you craving the fleeting approval and validation from everyone but Jesus. He loves to pervert good intentions and you best believe that being in ministry puts even more of a target on your back. It’s a battle out there, y’all, armor up.
The enemy loves to make you feel like God’s love for you isn’t real; but if he can’t do that, he’ll settle for making you believe the lie that God’s love for you is performance based.
I recently heard someone talking on a podcast about how we have all these great intentions in wanting to do these great big things for God, and we burn ourselves out in the process and ignore our need for rest, we keep going and going and pouring out and giving all we have – all in the name of doing these things FOR God. If we look at our callings that way, we are still viewing our worth and God’s love for us as performance-based. We put this pressure on ourselves to do all the things faster, better, more excellently because God needs us or is relying on us. On the contrary, I think God longs to use us in a mighty way, but because He wants to, not because He needs to. And certainly not to earn His love. We should look at our calling/using our gifts He’s given us as partnering alongside God to do all these things WITH Him, instead of FOR Him.
He’s a good, good father – but not only when we get straight A’s.
He is still faithful when we drop the ball.
He still accomplishes amazing things through us even when we are struggling.
He knows we can’t ‘handle’ it all, that we need rest, that we need His help. We’re human because He made us human.
This has been a totally freeing mindset change for me, one that probably could only come about from a season like this; and for that I am so thankful.
If He’s not in it, I don’t want it.
On midnight on New Years Eve as the countdown reached zero and we watched the ‘beach ball’ drop at the event we were attending, I felt a tear roll down my cheek in relief, exhaustion, and quite honestly, hope. So much hope. “This is going to be a better year”, I whispered to my sweet husband, squeezing his hand. He smiled at me and nodded in a agreement.
God has done a lot in us over the past few months. Since October there have been a lot of hard things to face, but so many blessings, too. I have felt so much closer and more connected to my husband, there have been a good amount of personal breakthroughs, God has provided for us in so many ways, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that there is purpose in this season, He doesn’t waste anything we go through, and that He has grown us in the process.
There’s been a lot of crap too. Can I say crap? Yup…
It’s been a hard season. I’ve felt disappointed and misunderstood, misquoted and scolded, and I’ve begged for scraps of worth and identity from a table completely forgetting that I’ve inherited a seat at it just for being a daughter of the King.
I’m not blaming anyone other than myself… and the devil. The stupid, stupid, cheap-shot-taking-devil.
But friend, I just want to encourage you; if you’ve had a door that’s just been slammed shut in your face; or right now in your life it looks like a dream has died, or a calling has been questioned; rest in the assurance that God absolutely has something better for you waiting on the other side of this season.
Read these words until you believe them:
If He’s not in it, I don’t want it.
His will and His plan only. Anything less is a distraction and a placeholder.
Can I be super real with you? It’s been 4 months since I’ve led worship or sang into a microphone, and that is the one thing that has gripped my heart with purpose since I was sixteen years old. It’s the thing I never thought I’d need a break from, the thing that made me feel closest to Jesus no matter what my life looked like. Jesus did a lot of work in me on those stages over the years.
If it was up to me I would forget all the details and just worship all the time without regard for processes and structure and schedules. Girl just wants to SANG.
So you bet, I miss it. Of course I do… and I hope and pray that it’s not over, that this is just a season of surrender, and that He has a plan so much greater than my own. Of course I have dreams and desires and my own mental picture of what the future holds; but I only want it if it’s from Him.
But in this weird and unknown season, while my voice has been quieter, His has gotten louder.
There are still things He’s working on in me, I’m sure there always will be, but some things need to be worked out in prayer closets instead of stages.
But one thing is for sure; I’ve got a fire welled up inside my bones and in this season if it isn’t going to come out of my vocal chords on a stage then it’s going to come through my fingertips on a page because I may be slowed down and a little thrown off track, but I won’t be silenced.
And all of this is scary vulnerable for me to share.
I love authenticity and I always wanna keep it real, but this is recent and it’s still hard and there are days that I feel useless in the kingdom of God and like I’m not enough if I am not on a stage proving it – but I’m pouring it all out because I think we’re called to share the hard. I think God can work with our ‘hard’ while we’re right smack dab in the middle of it, we don’t have to wait til things are pretty and perfect and tied up with a red bow before He can use us. Come to him in your mess and your brokenness, and share it all bravely, friends.He welcomes you just as you are.
I sure don’t have it all together. If you know me, I feel like that’s painfully obvious. I’ve never accomplished anything too amazing. I’m 27. I don’t even have kids. I’ve never been a CEO or a high level leader and I may never be. Full disclosure? I’m not a natural when it comes to leadership. I can’t handle constructive criticism. My least favorite words are: discipline, practical, structure… and all of their synonyms. I laugh at really inappropriate things, I’m late for almost everything, some days I’m barely an adult, and I have a reminder on my phone to drink water and stay hydrated!
I’m just a girl who loves Jesus with all my heart and wants to be used by God and live out His calling for my life to the fullest, and while that sounds so simple it can be such a messy journey. And If you think I talk about my self too much, I would have to agree, but take it up with Jesus cause he’s giving me these words and telling me to be generous with them, and I think it’s because there are more people out there who are just like me.
And really, what do we have to share with the world besides our own stories of what Jesus has done in us?
As I wrote in an Instagram post this past week; if you wanna know why I write so much it’s because I believe that the enemy wins when he convinces us to keep the battle contained to our minds, when he isolates us and makes us think we are the only ones with our struggles. And I just really find great joy in screwing up his game plan and boldly sharing the truth, so I’m going to keep doing it, because we are better together.
You are loved, worthy, beautiful, and enough, and you’re not alone in this fight to remember that.
Keep going. Keep hoping. Keep trusting. Keep loving… and do it all bravely.
Let’s start a #bravelymovement ♥️