Desire

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4 


Sometimes I ask God for stuff when I know He’s already said it’s not His will. I hold tightly to things that God clearly wants me to let go of; this can include objects, people, actions, decisions, or whatever else I believe is best. These kinds of prayers often stem from selfishness, self pity, anger, etc.

For a few weeks I struggled with one of these things; I prayed to God for certain things to happen even though I knew it was not a productive prayer. I knew this because it didn’t stem from a place of wanting God’s will to be done; I just wanted my own satisfaction that things were right and “fair” in my own little world. Even though I was aware of this, I felt like I couldn’t let it go.

After sharing this with my friend, she encouraged me to ask God to change the desires of my heart. 

I don’t know if that hits you like it hit me. But like actually asking God to change what we desire? Like that’s pretty amazing. It BLEW my mind. I knew it in the back of my head, but hadn’t really heard it until then. So many of my prayers are focused on God fulfilling what I want. I create my desires and He fulfills them…it feels gross to type that out–to admit that I often view God as a genie who is going to grant my every wish.

After asking God to actually shift what I desired, so many great changes resulted (not that I’ve got a perfect relationship with God at all).

  1. Letting go of that desire actually became so much simpler. I still do struggle with at times (sometimes a lot), when I’m not asking God to consistently help me, but it feels more and more possible each day to let it go. I’m not trying to change my heart all by myself, God is doing it with me (He’s doing most of the work tbh). I know I’m not in the struggle alone.
  2. It has improved my prayer life. Instead of focusing on what I want, I can focus more on what God wants to do in me. So cheesy, but actually so true.
  3. I hold less tightly to my life plans. Maybe that sounds kind of awful, but in reality, it’s actually really freeing. In perfect Sarah-land, I’m supposed to have straight A’s, lose 1.5 pounds each week, marry a soccer player at 27, be preparing for optometry school somewhere on the East coast in a big city, have a perfect social and academic calendar, etc., etc. Almost none of those things are happening according to the formula I had in my head, but God is giving me the capability to look outside of my plan. I’m actually learning to take life day by day. If you know me personally, you know that’s a big leap for me. I still do hold tightly to my plans, but they seem less and less important the more I surrender to God.
  4. God didn’t automatically give me new desires. He didn’t give me a list that said I’m going to have straight B’s, lose 1 pound per week, marry a baseball player at 25 (also I hate baseball), live in California, and all that. Instead my desire is just desiring what God wants. To be close to Him, to know Him, and live in His presence.

Finally, this is kind of side note, but for the the majority of my life I actually thought that Psalm 37:4 meant that if you were close to God, He would give you what you want. While I do believe that God does bless His followers and often fulfills our requests, that old mindset was pretty toxic. I assumed that if God wasn’t blessing me it automatically meant that I wasn’t “close enough” to Him. I’m not denouncing that God may punish us when we step out of will, but setbacks don’t always mean that your relationship with God isn’t good enough. When I did have that mindset, I convinced myself to try and figure out God and somehow become worthy enough so I could get what I wanted. I sincerely meant well, but it ultimately led me to feel like I needed to jump through the right hoops in order to make God who I wanted Him to be; this just harbored resentment in my heart against Him that took a long time to untangle. Honestly, I could write a whole separate blog on this topic, but wanted to include it here.

Psalm 37:4 doesn’t necessarily mean that earthly success reflects spiritual success.

Now I read this verse as saying that a vibrant relationship with God completely changes your heart–instead of just desiring God’s blessings, we desire God.

When grilled cheese is your soul mate

Valentines Day was approx 1 month ago, but I’m still kinda thinking about it (not because I had a romantic date lol). This year has been filled with all kinds of heartbreaks and letdowns (but mostly joy-so don’t take that as a complaint); some of my people also know that I went through the divorce of my parents a few months ago. All this love from V-day (should we call it D-day tho??) and the heartbreak of past hurts left me feeling confused and empty.

The whole week before Valentines, I felt like I was preparing for war. Trying to prep myself to feel the knot of heartbreak in my stomach and forcing myself to remain strong.  My muscles were clenched and my heart felt tight all week–bracing myself for the pictures and captions and anniversaries and engagements–celebrating a kind of romantic love that I haven’t had portrayed for me in a Godly way at home and haven’t experienced between me and someone else.

I made an effort to convince myself that I could grit my teeth and bear this torture by numbing my mind and pushing through.

There are more fish in the sea. 

You just haven’t met the one yet. 

You’ll get over him. 

Just because you come from a broken home doesn’t mean your relationships and marriage will also be broken. 

The heartbreak of divorce isn’t so bad…everyone’s parents are divorced. 

Get over the pain. 

It is your fault.

It’s not your fault. 

Don’t feel. Don’t think. Don’t let it get to you. 

I want to say that in response to these thoughts, God sent down an angel from heaven to hold me and catch all my tears; I want to say that He pointed me to the exact verses I needed as soon as the clock struck 12am on February 14th. I want to say it’s all just been a dream and I woke up and my home and my heart was never broken and some guy fell out of the sky ready to sweep me off my feet.

None of those things happened. But God did speak to me in the quietness of passing conversations with friends, through gentle encouragement at church services, and the stillness of talking to Him as I spent time on campus.

This Valentines Day God taught me to:

  1. Praise God for whatever season you are in. Crushing, flirting, dating, relationship-ing, breaking up, getting over, singleness. Praise Him.
  2. You are not your parents mistakes. You are not hopeless and incapable of love because of what you have been through. You are not the statistic that says kids of divorced parents are more likely to fall into the pain of divorce. Screw that stat and just math in general ūüėČ God is sovereign over the path of your life.
  3. This too shall pass. Heartbreak ain’t 5ever.
  4. Having a Godly relationship or finding the “one” isn’t the ultimate goal in life. It doesn’t mean you’ve reached the peak of life or that God is pleased with you if you find that special someone. Depending on someone to make you feel loved will not make you whole.
  5. Love yourself; treat yourself (life lessons from parks and rec lol) 
  6. There is a lot of love in the world. Maybe it won’t show up as a roses from a boy or as a parent’s 22nd anniversary, but it exists all over. In the smile of a child, the encouragement from a teacher, the treatment of a doctor, when a broken soul chooses joy, and especially when the Savior of the world sacrifices His whole life for the companionship and safety of his people.

If V-day week was also a bummer for you, hit me up so we can read the Bible and eat dark chocolate together.

When You Screw Up

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but wordly sorrow brings death.” – 2 Corinthians 7:10

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you that my life is really just a series of mishaps and awkward moments. Most of the time these are moments I can laugh about with my friends and my mom–just my own personal comedy show ūüôā

As fun and silly as my embarrassing moments can be, sometimes I really just screw up. I mess up. I sin. Anxiety isn’t even the cause–I simply just make a wrong choice, go against the Bible, or act out of fear, anger, and hurt.

Two years ago, mistakes with roots like these would have turned my world and my self esteem upside down. I used to feel like I deserved the punishment of self-hatred because making mistakes was unacceptable.

While mistakes often still convince me to dwell on them, my outlook has shifted significantly and self-hatred does not control me. Honesty, I did nothing to improve my own self perception; only God showed me (over much time and many tears) how I should deal with mistakes.

First of all, of course, we should all avoid mistakes. Often mistakes¬†can lead to strife, anger, and hurt. And God specifically points out that that’s not what we should be partaking in.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.- Colossians 3:12 

This verse could probably be unpacked in a whole separate blog, but keep in mind that God wants us to avoid sin and mistakes as much as we can.

If a mistake does occur however, beating yourself up will probably change nothing. If you hurt someone else, punishing yourself is not equal to an apology (just go apologize, you know?). If you got angry or upset or didn’t show Christ’s love, wallowing in self loathing will not prepare you to love someone better next time. In fact, this shame will probably only hamper your relationship with God. !!! (That’s so not necessary, considering you’re a BELOVED of the King of the Universe).

Paul’s got some wise words for us:

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,¬†I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14″

In this passage, Paul is talking about how he wants to be like Jesus. He starts off saying that he has NOT already obtained this goal (he’s not perfect on this Earth like Jesus was), but he still strains towards what is ahead; he chases his goal, his win, his prize, because that is what God desires for him. How does he do it? By forgetting what is behind. Paul isn’t feeling hopeless at his failures. He is recognizing that he must leave behind prior sin and move forward in Christ’s will for him.

If you have lived in sin or are currently sinning, destroying yourself emotionally will not help you get anywhere.You are too important in God’s plan (I mean, He died for you) to assume your sin is too great to be used by Him. Forget the past and press on.¬†

Secondly, in Psalm 75, God is basically saying that He is the ultimate judge.

It is God who judges:
    He brings one down, he exalts another. РPsalm 75:7

If you read the whole Psalm, you’ll see that God is condemning boasting about oneself because He¬†decides who is worthy of uplifting and honoring. In the same way, self loathing does not honor God. Loathing¬†yourself suggests that you have personally taken on the role as judge and decider of character, which is clearly God’s job. A more useful approach would be to pray for God to show you your sin and ask for help in removing it and reshaping your heart. And then pressing¬†on to better yourself.

I can vouch that this approach creates more humility and intimacy with God than standing ashamed in the shadows of the past. You are too important to Jesus to spend time hating one of His most important creations: you!

Wine and Milk

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.

Isaiah 55:1

 

Agh this verse has got me so excited.

The Lord is telling us that LITERALLY ANYONE who is thirsty for truth; who wants Him, can come to him. FREE OF CHARGE.

Like what even. That should blow your mind.

I have sat on the bed in my room so many times and just questioned my worthiness. I have felt like I am WAY too hard to love-too messed up and too afraid.

But God kindly responds through His Word that even without ANY religious¬†“currency”, without any ritual or good deed, that He offers us fulfillment just because we seek it and ask for it.

I guess this blows my mind because it shows how big God is. He isn’t limited by the limitations we put on ourselves or our love. He doesn’t need us to be rich in theology or have a PhD in Greek and Hebrew Liturgical Text (not sure if that’s even a real degree, but you know what I mean). While pursuing spiritual awareness and knowledge are things He does want us to engage in¬†as we have a relationship with Him, He doesn’t base His love off of a price or hard work.

Also He’s offering both wine AND milk. While that doesn’t mean that God is going to start pouring down milk and wine from holy bottles in the sky, I think it does represent that God is also willing to give us an abundance. His goodness is so big that He offers way past the bare minimum.

In fact, our “bare minimum” is enough for Him to give us His finest¬†gifts–his fullness, abundance, and overflowing grace. Even my too-hard-to-love self can rest assured in this hope.

 

Comparison

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Comparison is the worst. It’s easy for me to wish I was,prettier, Godlier, nicer, more genuine, more talented, more confident, but less complicated, less sensitive, and closer to perfect overall. Sometimes it seems like another person has all the traits I lack and I am not enough. The only way I get through it is to remind myself of who God made me: clothed in robes of righteousness, free from guilt, a daughter of Zion, wonderfully formed, a princess of the King.

But there are times¬†I even want to blame God and ask God why He didn’t make me look a certain way or have the effortless beauty that some people have. Thankfully He knows just how to snap me out of it and give me a dose of humble pie. Honestly, why should I be so preoccupied by appearance and human approval when I could be using that energy to build up someone else? And why should I even assume other people even care about how I look? I really have no valid answers to those questions.

TBH I need that reminder and validation from Him about 5 million times a week, but praise bc Jesus somehow doesn’t get tired of me and my probs!!!

Idk thought I’d post in case anyone else needs a reminder that the God of the universe is madly in love with His creation (you n me)

Twenty

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

I finally turned twenty not too long ago. Pop culture gave me the impression that twenty is effortless, free, indie, not sober, and an enviable age to be at. Twenty is supposed to give liberation and solid platform to step into adulthood.

Twenty, to me, feels grateful. When I think of twenty, I am hopeful. But also: afraid, high-strung, directionless, and occasionally jealous and even regretful (oops).

As of late, God has shown me a lot about why these feelings, though maybe justified, are unnecessary. I know that I’m not the only twenty-something millennial that has shared these same feelings so I hope what God has revealed to me gives others some solace as well.

First of all, it always helps me to identify what thoughts are causing the feelings I listed above. Here’s a glimpse at my anxious thoughts:

  1. I feel inadequate, unskilled, and less emotionally and mentally well to handle life’s¬†events. What if I fall apart?
  2. I hate making decisions and question the steps that I’ve taken in the past; what if I mess up all my future choices? What if I take the wrong step after college? Marry the wrong person? Reject the right person? Move too quickly? Stay too stationary¬†with fear?
  3. Ultimately I obsess over creating the perfect life. I want to have the kind of life that I can write up and tape on to the refrigerator; the kind of life that I can post about on Facebook to show that I’m accomplished, successful, put-together, useful, and worthwhile. Will I be able to prove myself to my peers?¬†When will I get the A+ approval from the world?¬†

These thoughts clearly stem from insecurity. Insecurity can be a huge plague. Insecurity gives us low self esteem; then the low self esteem can make us feel bad about being so insecure…this is a pretty vicious cycle that our brains can make us go through. Thankfully, when looking through the lens of the Bible, we can see that insecurity stems from self sufficiency. And self sufficiency leaves no room for God. But when we do allow God in: suddenly there is no room for self sufficiency and no room for insecurity. Why? Because our inherent shortcomings are irrelevant when we realize that we need to only rely on the power of God and not ourselves.

Secondly, spending our lives waiting for the approval of others is shallow and meaningless. Creating a life that our peers approve of us does not mean that we are in line with God’s will. Jesus was not popular among His peers, nor was he following traditional religious life. He wasn’t a high official or royalty at all to many. But 2000s years later, His seemingly unpopular and difficult life has changed the lives of so many because He followed the will of His Father.

Right now, life may not seem glamorous or worthy of displaying to anyone. But God is capable of using our little moments, little victories, and little acts of kindness to slowly unveil His ultimate plan.

Lastly-sometimes we fail at following God’s plan. We might feel like we can’t be proud of ourselves because we haven’t lived right by God or like we’ve made too many wrong turns. This is very much possible; the good news is that God is much bigger than these failures or mishaps. I like to think of Him as being a GPS. His sole destination¬†for us is to love Him vibrantly and love others. Despite the fact that we may fall off course, He can always reroute us home. There really should be no room for worrying about wrong turns or failure to be enough; God is always capable of using us!

 

Everlasting Love

Jeremiah 31:3

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
¬†¬†¬†¬†I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

Version 2

As humans, our ultimate desire is to be loved. To have someone look at us and say, “Yes, you. YOU are worthy. Everything about is you is beautiful, worthwhile, and appreciated.” To be loved with an everlasting love.

I have craved this over and over. I have ached for this reassurance, for the emptiness to be filled. I saw it in the eyes of my children at camp over the summer; all they wanted was to be noticed and to be adored. All I wanted was to be noticed and adored.

Sometimes when the ache in your heart or the insecurity in your mind is so strong, it can be easy to define your self-worth by someone or a group of people around you. It can become easy to become dependent on their acceptance and opinion of you.

It is detrimental to let their words against you destroy you. But it is equally as detrimental to let their praise build you up. I have let the confidence someone else has in me to become my own confidence. I have relied on the compliments of others to know that I am beautiful, special, and loved. Maybe God has used people in my life to remind me of His love for me, but it is no excuse to forget that His ultimate love letter, the Bible, is where He truly outlines His dedication to me. He has loved me with an everlasting love. I have an everlasting love. YOU have an everlasting love.

I am not worthy to walk into God’s presence and to have confidence in myself because someone else says so; it is only because Christ sanctifies me and makes me holy that I can live with this liberty and assurance.

The best thing about this everlasting love is that it does not let you down. This love does not change; it is not fickle; it is not dependent on a few weeks or months of emotion. It existed as God formed you in your mother’s womb and will continue to exist even when you meet Him in heaven.

“If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
¬†¬†¬†¬†when I was woven together in the depths of the earth”

Psalm 139:7-10; 13-16