The Chat on a Plaid Couch.

Late last night, or some would say early this morning,  I cuddled in a blanket, put on a stolen hoodie, and cozied up on a plaid couch and discussed idols with a few friends. No I’m not talking about American Idols, or our teen idols. I’m talking about the things we worship, those things that hold us back from being the best version of ourselves. The stuff that takes up so much of our time that it puts God at arms length.

Thinking on this subject I didn’t know what mine was. Everyone has one. But when asked by my best friend I immediately said fear. fear? How can fear be an idol? No one is particularly fond of fear, I don’t want to live in fear. But often times I do. It’s what holds me back, even if it isn’t something I enjoy, I still worship it.

scared

Exactly Zooey Deschanel, I think everyone can say they have lived in fear at some point in their life and fear makes you do stupid things.  Whether it’s fear of the unknown, fear of what others will think, fear of being an outcast, fear of failing, or fear of not being enough. Fear can be paralyzing.

Fear is the only power Satan has over us. He whispers in our ear our insecurities showering us in our doubts till we believe that thinking negative thoughts about ourselves is the norm. Satan tells us that the negative events in our past are not only what define us but somehow the bad things that happen to us are all our fault. In Satan’s grasp we are afraid to change because our insecurities have become our security blankets.  We lock ourselves in our cages every night, just to be let out by grace in the morning.  When did prison become so comfortable?

It’s in those cages of fear where I look to God and realize I have put him an arms length.  We have to decided if we want to live in fear or in faith, it’s almost impossible to live with both.

Deuteronomy 31:6 says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Romans 8:15 says “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “”Abba,” Father.”

1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

When your eyes are on God, there can be no fear because his love is perfect, and perfect love drives out fear. With the forces of God on your side Satan has no power over you, your insecurities are gone with the wind. Be strong knowing that God will not forsake you. He gave you the holy spirit that will act as the armor towards your enemies.

Even if that enemy is yourself.

I know what it’s like to live in paralyzing fear, and I am no way a master at getting rid of it but if there is one thing I learned from the chat on the plaid couch its that fear doesn’t define me. I am not a list of my insecurities, and I am much much more than my doubts. Jesus has defined me by my talents. The opinions of others are empty words when my eyes are fixed on God. Fear is a cage, but I have the key.

How do we live a fearless life?

Prayer. When  you feel locked in by fear pray, pray, pray, the words of God always drown out the whispers of Satan.

Talk to someone. Someone you trust, even professional help if you need to. Keeping to yourself only gives you one opinion. Yours. People see you from the outside, and sometimes all we need is to step outside ourselves in order to perceive a solution.

Fear. It cannot hold you. Insecurities cannot define you. Satan, has no power over you.

Remember that next time you find yourself reach for prison which God has already freed you from your punishment.

You can go tell the devil:

scared 2

God will be right there to back you up.

 

Advertisements

What I Learned this Summer.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

I just moved into a new apartment far from home and with the lack of a roomie (for now) I have had a lot of time to reflect on the summer I just had. Not going to lie but I thought this summer was going to be the summer from hell. In fact, as I left the city three months ago I was trudging to the car. Sure, I was happy to see my family but I knew that my little town wasn’t where I belonged and I had no idea how this summer could be good.

For the first few weeks, I was correct. It was hell. I couldn’t find a job, I had few friends around, I caught myself several times just staring at the wall. I was falling into a downward spiral that left me uninspired. Then I got a farm job that required early mornings and a boss that was less than sweet (though the raspberries were).  I was miserable, even worse, I was choosing to be miserable.

But, then I looked at my life and decided the best way to handle hell is to climb out of it.  As soon as I did I saw the blessings all around me. I met two hilarious boys running a summer camp , and a lovely gal who spends her life serving those in need; they made this summer one of the best I’ve had. I taught myself new skills, stopped using shampoo in my hair, led worship again, painted and even started this blog.

I learned a lot of things this summer included but not limited to:

1. Look for the best in all circumstances. sure, I had to work at on a “ghetto farm” as my sister called it every morning. But so did my sister, and it gave me time with her that I wouldn’t take back for the world.

2. You don’t need money to be happy. This summer I didn’t spend much money. I didn’t buy clothes, or go to a million concerts, and I was content. There are so many free things to do in this world that can make you happy.

3. Pray. Pray. Pray. I watched a friend of mine pray one night at the camp after program. He prayed and prayed for a camper silently by himself. He came over to me after they had left excited and told me that he was praying for her to be moved and as soon as he looked up she went over to talk to her youth pastor.  God knows the desires of our hearts and he can fill those desires all on his own but wants to use us. My pastor once said “before God does something, you have to do something” That moment got me back on the prayer wagon, I want to be used.

4.  STOP WORRYING my pastor said in one of his sermons “Why are you lying awake worrying about something God can literally speak away?” That makes so much sense.  I have that quote taped by my bed. Let’s just say I sleep a lot more at night now.

5. Get a little dirty. Now I know this sounds gross but showering less isn’t a bad thing. Live a little. The natural oils your body produces is really good for your skin, hair, and well-being. If you wash it away everyday it cannot work its magic. My skin is clearer and my hair is softer now that I don’t scrub it every night.  (Thought I still recommend showering regularly.)

6. Take Risks. If you don’t take the risks God has put on your heart, all you’re left with is regret.

7. Say NO. Martha taught me this. You aren’t meant to do it all. You don’t have to. Do what you can. Do what you want. No is a full sentence. It doesn’t need an excuse.

8. Take a look at yourself from time to time. Look in the mirror and see the person you are becoming. If you don’t see a perfect person then God’s not done transforming you yet. A friend taught me that.

9. Stay up late. Now sleep is important, but hey, you won’t remember the nights you went to bed on time. My late nights included the princess bride, thigh clapping (don’t ask), bedtime stories told by a Russian, duct-taping people to chairs (and watching them struggle out), late night walks, bonfires, late night drives, and midnight Walmart runs. Those are the moments I’ll remember. Not to mention, I saw Sara Bareilles. Now that was a late night.

10.Be in Passionate Pursuit.  God isn’t a relationship you foster when it’s convenient. You must be in constant pursuit of him, or you won’t have a relationship at all. At the beginning of the summer I was on my fourth month without church, without reading my bible, without living my faith. I thought I was fine, I still believed it all didn’t I? Then I met people who were passionately following his call in their life. I witnessed their joy, and their freedom.  That was missing in my life. Passionately run to him. He so worth it. I’ve seen such a change in my life when I turned my focus back to him.

And Lastly,

11. Love people deeply. I volunteered with children who lived in rough home lives this summer and I watched them love on each other. I watched them create their own little families, saw how they supported eachother. I witnessed my friend treat them as her own children. It made me fall in love.   I fell in love with a little baby called President and spent time with people who needed love. Love doesn’t expect anything in return. Give love to people you’ll never see again. Give all  the love that you have. Tell people you love them, even if they already know it. You can’t run out of love, you can only give more.

Some summer huh? I’m so glad that I had this time in my little town or I would still be stuck where I was. God sure knows what he’s doing.

Many thanks to my family and my new friends Trent, Chris and Martha. Thanks for the summer of my life.

DSC09899