I often find myself frustrated when people use more words than necessary to say what is necessary. I think this is because I do the same. I’ve noticed that it stems from a desire to communicate understanding… and a fear that you are I am not doing so.
I know people who can use paragraphs to thoroughly explain their ideas. And I know people am someone who feels like they need pages to do the same.
So, let me let you in on what I see the Lord doing in my life of late- and I’ll try to use words wisely to do so.
Living without reservation: no longer living in fear of burning out. I was walking and talking to the Lord one of these past weeks and just saying, “I am almost to the end of myself…” And the response I received was, “you’re not there yet.” This has become a recent pattern that I am thankful for- the idea that I have not done all I can do- I have not exhausted the resources the Lord has given me. When I do, when I am at the end of myself, He is there. Oh he is there as I go as well, but I think there is an expectation to use what I have and not only rely on him to do it for me. Such as: I need five people to come with me to Austria in October. Five. That’s it. I cannot just expect people to hear about the trip or come across it. No! I need to pray over those people who will be coming. I need to seek people out- open my mouth and tell people. This is just like my relationship with the Lord. I have noticed a significant increase in my word usage regarding the Lord. I sound like one of those southern women with the, “The Lord’s done this,” and “I’m blessed…” and as much as it grated my nerves, I love it. I love that I no longer (usually) live with the fear of what others may feel or think. I am not submerged in the, “what’s driving that behavior/thought/action/feeling/etc?” I have a new freedom to follow my God the way I think I ought with no reservation. If I fail, then I rest in knowing that I’ll meet the Lord in that failure. Rather, he will meet me.
Stepping into the unknown towards the One who does know- no plans, no rules, no schedule. Just one step at a time.
For the first time in my life, I have a long-term goal. A clear long-term goal. I feel like I’ve been floundering for the last… well, I guess since high school. As soon as people started asking what college I wanted to go to, I retreated from any decision. When I finally picked a college, then it was what major; then what job; etc. I just hopped onto the next thing- which is not a bad thing, but I had no real direction. I think that’s why I struggled so much with friendships and relationships as well- I look back now and see how I looked to others to find a goal. I wanted someone to tell me where to go, when to go, what to do. I’m so glad that is not my story! I see the Lord directing me to ministry with women. He has cultivated within me a passion- passion like I have not previously experienced- for women, for the church, for teaching, for learning, for fellowship. Inviting women into my life. Being invited into women’s lives. It is a beautiful and unique place to be. I don’t know all that will happen, but I’m walking through open doors- and knocking on others! I’m meeting with women in the ministry, I’m in the middle of the application process for seminary, I’m digging into my women’s small groups and my relationships with women. As much as I lived in fear of burning out in the past, that’s how much I’m moving forward now- the Lord is good about giving me time and space- never as much as I would like, but just as much as I need. Each time I feel stressed, he invites me to trust him- to allow him to build my character in that frustration.
But I thought I was going to be a missionary? What happened to that bold declaration from a year ago?
I love to watch the Lord work. About a week and a half ago, I sat and listened to a thesis defense while the student explained the project: go to a rural community in a third world country to design/build/bring hot water to farm workers. What ended up happening was the discovery that change would only really happen through the women of the community who did not have community with one another. The result was a tangible workbook to build community through women to enact change. And I was holding it in my hands.
Again- I love to watch the Lord work.
I have another name.
Three times this has come up over the last month or so. The idea that God gives us a new name. I heard it from a dear woman I get to share my life with who explained this; and while explaining it, a name popped into my head. Not a name I would ever choose. Next, I heard a sermon about Esther, the woman with two names (also called Hadassah); showing her two natures. Then, this last weekend, it came up again. This weekend was the first time I told anyone about my new name: Grace. If you know me, I have never been what you may consider graceful. Clumsy, awkward, resistant, stubborn- oh the list could go on. But when I heard this new name, I was sure I heard wrong. But I didn’t hear wrong. The Lord has used this name over and over again- I see and hear it everywhere (partly because it is a well used word, partly because he keeps calling me Grace). Each time I want to act in a way that is not who he has called me to be, I hear this name; I am being invited to be a new person with each decision I make. Never have I understood how a person can choose so freely to move away from bad habits and into a new personhood.
Meeting people- using my time. Prioritizing what is important. Letting go of selfish, temporary insecurities.
I used to protect myself and my time- only parceling out what was necessary. I have started to allow my time to be used. I have begun to invite others into my time, my space, my life. My room is a mess, my nails need to be clipped, at times I am shocked when I see the condition of my eyebrows, and I get antsy when I haven’t run in a few days. But it is all worth it. I am experiencing a fullness like nothing else. An ease that I never would have imagined possible with a giving up of my scheduled life.
More work to do.
As exciting as all the newness is- the call, the preparation, the building and changings- I have so much to keep me humble. I lack so much. I met with an author, speak, and women’s minister this past weekend and in our brief time, she share two things with me:
1. there is no set way to get to a place like where she is- no one she has talked to has a similar experience
2. give it about ten years (which is funny because that is about the length of time I keep coming to with seminary, paying off debt, etc)
There is so much for me to learn in my current place. I have friendships that need attention- that need forgiveness, that need Grace. I forget that just because I don’t realize it, doesn’t mean I don’t influence or impact others. I see this in my roommates- what I do or don’t do has an impact on them as women. Even when I don’t feel connected with my friends, what I do is felt.
There is much more to explain. This is about as much as I can sum up for now. I feel like the Lord is doing so much it is hard to keep up with! Or maybe I need to share faster what all is going on 🙂