For when it’s just been one of those days and you don’t know why.

IMG_1257

Have you ever had one of those days?

Where you’re just struggling.

And you have no idea why.

That was me the other day. Yes, I could go on and on about the abundant blessings of life. And there is so much joy in it all.

But for some reason I didn’t want to get out of bed. I just wanted to sleep away the daily grind. There are dreams unrealized. Hope deferred. Long tiring days. Expectations and demands. Guilt from being too tired to do it all.

And sometimes it’s just so so much. And all I want to do is pull a blanket over my head, shut out the world, and cry. And I’m so not a crier.

And then I had lunch with my mom and had a complete and total meltdown.

And I didn’t even know what was wrong (for all the girls out there:)). There was just this monstrosity of slashed hopes and hurtful words and expectations and pressure and relationships and pain and failure and…well there was just life.

And through the tears I tried to talk myself out of it all. 

I…I…I…am (sniff)..so…(hihu)…(hihu)…tha…nk…ful…for… it…all. He’s…ddone…so…(hihu)…much. I’m…so…bl…essed…(hihu). I…don’t…kn…ow…wh (sniff)..at’s…wrong…with…me….

(Got that?;))

And amidst my snorting and coughing and wiping my eyes and making myself into a hot mess, my mom said, “Lauren, you’re human.” 

“You’re allowed to have a good cry. You’re allowed to feel a little sad. It’s ok to have a day where your heart aches a little. It’s ok to have a day you don’t get out of bed to go to the gym. It’s ok to be tired and want a vacation. You’re human.”

And for some reason, that was just what I needed to hear.

And then my sweet friend text me this: “I think people sometimes think that believing in the sovereignty of God means that we are never confused, or feel sad, or question, or wonder, and it’s simply not true.”

So often I wonder if we put expectations on ourselves that He never places on us. So often I wonder if Christian lingo pushes us into false pretenses.

And suddenly the cultural expectations crash head-on into that Christian lingo and that collision tells us we need to just be ok. To hold your head high and smile through the pain and don’t cry over the same thing twice and pull yourself up by your bootstraps and keep going and it will all work out ok.

But. I don’t find that anywhere. Have you noticed He doesn’t ask us to be happy all of the time, or bottle our emotions up, or never hurt, or never feel sad, or never cry, or never have a day where the ache seems heavier than normal?

No. But He does say something else.

Trust me. Lean on me. 

Hard. And the worse it hurts, the harder we lean.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

And that might sound cliché, but it’s true. But do you really do it?

Because the reality of life…of Christian life is hard. It’s not a shortcut, it’s not the easy way out.

It’s a sacrifice. And it’s sanctifying work. And it’s refining work, and that refining comes through heat. And sometimes my prayer is just this: “give me grace to do your will.” 

And so, here’s to the days where you need rest, both emotional and physical. Here’s to the days that it’s ok to mourn the dreams unfulfilled–not in an angry, wallowing way, but in an I’m-sad-but-still-trust-you kind of way.

Here’s to the days it’s ok to not do it all. 

Because He never asks that.

Because yes, He does tell us to rejoice in all circumstances. But perhaps one of life’s greatest clarifications came when I understood that doesn’t mean be happy all of the time, or be happy that I’m hurting. 

But rather, I am to rejoice because of what God is doing through the ache. Because of how He is working. Because of what He is up to. Because, despite the confusion and pain and ache and this-doesn’t-make-any-sense, I can trust that, through me, He will be glorified, and there is wonderful good coming from all of this.

And I can trust that, because that promise is rooted in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

And then there’s this.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

What beautiful words in the midst of this life.

How can I pray for you today?

Advertisements

That post on singleness.

Image

It was that question. Again.

“So….any new guys yet?”

The “yet” always gets me.

As if I’m doing something wrong because it’s taking so long.

It comes in various forms: “Dating anyone?” or “Why hasn’t any guy snatched you up yet?” (as if I’ve asked guys to not snatch me up–ya, I turned down Mr. Right because I JUST WASN’T FEELING LIKE MARRIAGE. Whhaaaa??)

I always vacillate between the most ridiculous range of emotions. From wanting to throw a fist to wanting to cry to wanting to scream to gathering every last ounce of self-control to calmly smile and say “nope, not yet:)” and then I usually proceed to say something about God’s timing and His sovereignty and how good He’s been to teach me what He’s taught me and I’d do all the heartbreak over in a second if it meant learning what I’ve learned.

And then they usually look disappointed with my answer.

So I keep smiling. Oh. The. Self. Control. That. Takes.

And while those words are true.

On the inside it looks more like this: A MAN DOES NOT DEFINE ME AND STOP ASKING ME THIS QUESTION AND IT’S CALLED WAITING ON THE LORD, AND WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S OK TO ASK ME THIS, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT IT DOES TO MY HEART AND STOP MAKING ME FEEL LIKE SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH ME OR MISSING FROM MY LIFE.

Yup.

That’s more the truth.

Let me tell you, if I had been planning my life, I would have probably done things differently. Scratch that. I would have.

But God, in His infinite wisdom, chose the most opposite course for my life than I chose. Thank goodness.

Key words: He chose.

Not me.

Has it been easy when everyone else is getting married and having babies? No.

Have I often felt left out and confused about God’s plan? Absolutely.

Have I suffered incredible heartbreak and loss? Ohmygoodnessyes.

But.

I have learned.

Boy have I ever learned.

Real, true, raw surrender of my life, my hopes, and my dreams. The kind where you lay down a huge dream, recognizing it may never happen, not for a week or two, but day after day for years and years. I’ve learned grace. Patience. What His sovereignty really means. What His goodness really means. Hope. Joy in trials. What the whole his glory and my good thing really means. Prayer. Trust. Listening to His voice. Major attitude adjustment.

Lessons with value beyond compare.

God has done some tremendous things in my life while single.

It has been real, raw, rare, precious time with just Him and I.

And then there’s this.

Because of my singleness I have had time to invest in things I never would have invested in. And by that I mean the good stuff–kingdom stuff.

I have had time to develop passions and relationships like I never would have been able to married, or probably even dating for that matter.

The time and freedom to discover the person my Savior created me to be has been a wild and beautiful adventure.

It’s taken me awhile, and it’s often been painful, but I see all of this as a privilege, as nothing more than sheer, abundant, unrelenting grace to learn what I’ve learned, most of which has come through the avenue of singleness.

But.

Because of all this wonderful, what frustrates me most when I’m asked that question is this: do you see what God is doing in my life NOW? Or do you only see what He hasn’t done?

Here’s the thing: my story is God’s story. And He chose to write it this way. And that’s ok. What He’s written thus far is far better than anything I could have ever written on my own. So I have complete confidence in whatever chapters He has yet to write.

I have made a concerted effort to focus on the now. To invest in the kingdom now. To love people now. To pursue passions now.

 

My life is wonderfully full.

So to ask if there is a guy in my life yet is a virtual slap in the face to all God is doing NOW. To all He is using me for NOW. To HIS plan.

I am complete in Jesus Christ now, and I am not waiting for any man to complete me.

So, instead of asking me what’s next, instead of focusing on what has not happened, ask me what God is doing now.

Ask me what He’s taught me.

Ask me what I’ve learned.

Ask me how He’s using me.

I’d love to share all He’s up to with this single heart. Because it’s tremendous.

And I’m honored to be walking HIS story.

 

Soaking up the blessings and the grace of now.

 

I count it all as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

When the darkness is just so dark.

(**I wrote this awhile ago and never posted it, but I imagine almost everyone can relate to a dark night or two, so I decided to post it. So if you can relate, relish God’s goodness with me.)

I layed in bed, staring at the ceiling in the darkness.

The darkness seemed especially dark tonight. The pain ached. Deep deep down. And just wouldn’t quit.

God’s promises are real and true–I believe that with all my heart–and, believe me, I was clinging to each one as hard as I could.

But the very real and raw emotions that come right along with loss, rejection, and betrayal were unveiling their ugly presence. Part of being human I guess.

But then, in a way only He can, in the middle of that piercing darkness, He reminded me of one simple, yet very profound truth.

He’s been there.

He experienced excruciating loss, rejection, and betrayal. 

Sound cheesy? Hear me out. There is a certain unexplainable comfort that comes when someone just knows.

He gets it, on a much greater scale than mine, He just gets it.

He was rejected and betrayed by His very own, the very ones he was dying for. And He was separated from His Father–the most agonizing loss of all.

And on top of all that, He walked each step of His darkness, loss, rejection, and betrayal, with His focus on the glory of His father and the good of us, not once on himself.

I squeezed my eyes shut. Convicted. Ashamed.

I don’t know about you, but that is not how I typically deal with pain. It’s always all about me.

What would happen if we focused on His glory and His plan through our aching darkness? Knowing that His glory is divinely intertwined with our good?

I bet our darkness would be utterly transformed.

The story could stop here, and it would still be amazing.

But here’s the most incredible part, because of that very suffering, through our pain, we never have to experience separation from our Father. So we never have to walk through our darkness alone.

 He walks each step of that darkness with us.

Words that have eased darkness for me time and time again filled my mind.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night, even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You….” Psalm 139 11:12

That’s incredible. The profound darkness I sensed, wasn’t even dark to Him. He knows just where my story is going. He can see the end, the purpose, in the blinding light of day.

Actually, He planned it.

Just like the darkness that overcame the earth at the death of His Son, wasn’t darkness to Him. He knew exactly what the end was going to look like, even in the darkness.

Actually, He planned it.

But His beloved Son had to walk through that darkness in order to get to where He needed to go. Not because God didn’t love His Son. Not because He didn’t have a plan.

But because it was the plan. For our good and His glory.

And so often, He asks His children to do the same. Not because He doesn’t love you and has lost control.

Because He does love you and does have a plan and is in control. For your good and His glory.

So trust.

That when everything seems out of control, nothing is out of control.

And when you’re tempted to doubt, remember the story of your Savior.

And the unfathomable good that came from deep, painful darkness.

And the unfathomable good He has in store for you.

That He’s been there. And is here now.

And let THAT ease the ache of darkness. Like nothing else does or ever will.

And you’ll find beauty even in the darkest nights.

 

 

After All We’ve Been Through…

I was watching a silly little TV show the other day, killing some time.

As with everything by Hollywood, there is some sort of struggle between good and evil, and that was certainly the case in this show.

In this particular scene, the “queen” and one of her “subjects” encountered a potentially disastrous situation. The queen apparently had it under control, though it certainly didn’t appear that way.

When she could see her “subject” was terrified and doubtful of her direction, she calmly and matter-of-factly stated:

“After all we’ve been through, why do you doubt?”

My heart lurched a little.

As silly as this example is, it made me think.

Isn’t that how God so often responds to us?

In the middle of those confusing, dark, and often terribly long trials, God so calmly reminds us of His sovereignty, His control, His unmatched love for us. That He has it all under control, even when it looks disastrous. When it sure doesn’t look like He does.

After all we’ve been through, why do you doubt?

I thought about my own life. All the times I’ve struggled to keep walking in the dark, wondering where on earth I was going. And, in the end, the path He lead me down was so much better than what I thought I wanted, or where I was originally.

Part of learning to trust your Father is remembering all you’ve been through together, how He never left your side–and then when you neared the end, how you realized His plan far exceeded yours.

And that you should have just trusted Him all along.

To trust in past grace is to draw from it confidence in future grace.

This morning I was reading in Genesis about Abraham and Sarah, a story that reminded me of this concept. God graciously told Abraham that Sarah would have a child. And what did Sarah do?

She laughed. At God.

Ya, probably not the best decision. But, I can relate– so often that’s how I react. Not trusting my Father. Not trusting His plan. Laughing at His promises. Placing confidence in my flesh. Not trusting Him to bring me His best.

Doubtful and terrified of His direction.

Like a disobedient child.

But God simply responded to Sarah, just as He responds to us, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?”  

No, it’s not.

Why don’t I remember that?

Sometimes I wish I’d just trust. Trust the impossible. Trust in the dark. Trust in the confusion. Trust the God of the impossible.

That He has it all under control, even when it looks disastrous.

After all I’ve been through with My Father, why do I doubt?

I have no right, no grounds whatsoever to doubt, because nothing is too difficult for Him.

And He’s been nothing but faithful. 

What an amazing God we serve.