I haven’t written on here in over six months— partly because I was in a writing for the web class and had to be writing for that and partly because I needed to put my pen to paper when I had time to write. But these past two weeks I have been itching to just type out some of the overflow of my heart, as I usually tend to do when I write on here. This past week my best friend Morgan encouraged me to reflect on the school year and I had no idea how much I needed that time to debrief through writing. I thought I’d write a few points about what I learned this year but a few points turned into 8 pages of being reminded of His kindness, His faithfulness, and all He has taught me. I feel like every time I write these days I am either writing about what I have learned, been learning, or want to learn. Thank the Lord that this life really is full of continuous learning— we never fully get it and there is beauty in that. Each year there are new challenges, new graces, new moments that take our breath away, new people, new tears, and new joys. But each year there is the same God— that is our one constant who brings about everything else that is new. All year I have been stuck in Isaiah 43— clinging to the truth that we are His and clinging to the truth that He is always doing a new thing, making a way through the wilderness. Sometimes we don’t love the new thing He is doing because of our lack of understanding and sometimes the new thing becomes our favorite thing. Either way, we know that the new thing is for our good because as my good friend Jamie reminds me, He is only good.
In my debrief of the past year I recognized a lot of things I didn’t realize until writing. I realized that though first semester was 6 of the hardest months for me personally, it was a semester that transformed me. When writing about that semester I got to see that all the moments that stood out to me were actually my moments of great weakness. I learned that we have to be face to face with our weakness in order to be face to face with His strength. He met me in strength through the hand hold of a friend and words of prayer said over me. It is crazy because I can vividly see each moment in my mind where the Lord used a friend to sit with me and to pray with me. Whether it was sitting on a bed, in the car, in the AXO dining room, or on the floor of my room— those moments are engrained in my memory and those memories and prayers have ended up blessing my immensely. At the time, those moments were the ones I was so frustrated sitting in because I so desperately just wanted to be strong on me own, but the Lord had to break me of that and I am sure glad He did. Prayer. Prayer is everything. Prayer is the greatest way for us to love and to receive love. Prayer is our surrender of our self. Prayer is where we sit in a posture of dependency and a posture of praise. That is the greatest thing first semester could have taught me and probably something I will never stop relearning.
Along with prayer comes learning how to live in thanksgiving. My first week back in Athens I received a devotion called A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp sent by sweet Madison Zizmer. It centers around eucharisteo. Eucharisteo is the word used for Jesus giving thanks at the final supper. It entails chara and charis— joy and grace. Living in thanksgiving is to live in joy, to receive grace, and to give thanks for the two. I was challenged to fill 1000 different lines of the gifts in my life— and to do this I had to open my eyes to grace upon grace around me. The Lord taught me that living in thankfulness is the key to healing and growing closer to the Father. I began to see that everything could be counted as a gift. Just like Corrie Ten Boom wrote about in her book The Hiding Place, even flees can be used as protection from the Father— grace and a gift. When I filled out a thousand lines of the gifts in my day, I saw that gifts ranged from someone’s laugh, to a filling conversation with a friend, to a good night of sleep, to tears, to an Ike n Jane blueberry donut— to everything in between. Moments upon moments in my day could be counted as gifts and graces from the Lord— all little acts of love from the Father and for so long I was missing those gifts because I wasn’t looking to see them. We can always be thankful. A cheerful heart brings about a continual feast as Proverbs 15:15 reminds us.
Another major thing I got to finally learn was that being misunderstood is okay— actually it is more than okay, in my own opinion, I think it is the point. I believe when we are misunderstood due to walking in obedience to the Lord, than praise be to God. When I read through the Gospels I get to see that Jesus is the most misunderstood man. All throughout John the Pharisees are constantly questioning Him. All throughout Luke, along with the Pharisees, we see that His disciples question Him and never understand what He is doing. His family doesn’t understand Him. The kings don’t understand Him. No one gets why Jesus does what He does. So when we walk with the Lord and are led into places where others don’t understand us, He is shaping us to be more like Christ and to be closer to Christ too— because at the end of the day, in Him is where we are fully understood.
I could write all day a paragraph about all the different things I’ve learned but instead I wanted to bullet point some of the other ones. (when I say some, I mean a big ole list because reflection gets me all carried away in my thoughts)
Bullet point things I learned:
- Really, pray first. Pray first over your day. Pray first before you lead or before you walk into your home. Pray first before you give a friend advice. Pray first when you want to talk to a friend. Pray first when you are frustrated. Pray first when you are overjoyed
- Live in a place of constant thankfulness— this will transform you, heal you, and change your every day
- live in remembrance of Him and what He has done in your life— this will bring you right back to thankfulness
- “God is only good” — Jamie Faxon
- Dance all the freaking time, even if you look like a fool
- Don’t sit it your sadness, but also give yourself grace in healing
- Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Let people carry that mat of yours
- Showing up is salways of the most important things you can do — the sweetest moments of the year were either watching people show up for friends or actually being the recipient of it. My friends showing up to cedar soccer games was the best, or friends showing up for a benefit concert, or friends showing up on a bad day. Keep showing up
- Fried Fridays are not good for you at AXO but three different kinds of grilled cheeses are worth it anyways
- make sure you have some unscheduled days
- Jittery Joes on 5 points still is the best place for me to study, and the renovation was good
- Change is good
- Oatmeal is the best breakfast
- When you are proud of someone, tell them
- Being misunderstood is the point… Jesus was the most misunderstood man
- Big difference between fearing the what if and fearing the Lord… Learn to fear the Lord
- Grieving is a process, give it time
- If you try hard enough, you really can fall asleep when girls are screaming throughout the hallways
- road tripping with friends indeed is the greatest way to get to know them
- community is a GIFT—point blank
- Befriend your classmates— and be out of comfort from those who are different from you. Sit next to them and learn about them because you never know what friendship you can be missing out on
- College is still hard and coffee is still good
- Friendships are challenging, but communication is key— have the hard conversations, but also have the really encouraging ones too
- there is nothing the Lord cannot heal
- Serve unseen
- Do not miss a day of time with the Lord— it is the most important thing you can do with your time
- You will never regret more time praying or being with the Lord
- Be vulnerable with people— don’t hide your hurt or your weakness. We are all weak
- tattoos don’t hurt as badly as I thought they would
- Take Sabbath seriously— Erica told me this last summer and man was she was right, our weeks demand rest and our hearts need to revere Him in rest
- DO NOT GIVE UP ON PEOPLE— this is important; we need to fight for others
- If you are questioning whether or not to say hi to someone, say hi
- It is easy to idol people— don’t praise their greatness, praise His goodness in them
- Be aware of what is going on around you. Notice people. Don’t let the unseen stay unseen
- Skakespeare frustrates me , even though I greatly appreciate him
- Living with 62 girls indeed is like nothing else
- The hardest things always end up being what we are the most thankful for
- Grace upon grace
- keep reading books
- be quick to listen and slow to speak
A lot of these things I’ve learned, but need to keep learning to actually live them. That is why prayer, thankfulness, and remembrance are my first points— because each of them point us back to Him and what He has done and what He is doing, reminding us that we need that grace upon grace.
Again, He is doing a new thing in our lives constantly and through the newness, He remains our constant. What a joy that is!! This year I have gotten to experience His freedom more than ever. And there is so much more freedom in Christ for me to walk into. Surrender and freedom go hand in hand and that is where He has me right now. Continuously learning what it means to surrender and from there learning how to walk in the freedom from the surrender.
Here’s to the summer ahead of learning more, growing in new ways, and walking with the Lord in a new place in surrender.