When we just want to know what to do.
Design Jamboree: Guest-Writing for us today is Niki Spector, whom I had the pleasure of living down the hall from in college (shoutout 4South Ladies!). Niki hails from Boulder, Colorado and is one of those crazy awesome lifelong Young Lifer's (shoutout Young Lifers and try saying that five times fast). She's a soothing soul and life-giving sister who doesn't want to miss a beat. She's mature beyond her years, knows how to use hashtags, and has some MAJOR truth bombs for us today. Y'all, I was A MESS OF TEARS after I read this. As we declare in Texas, "This gal done collaborated with the Holy Ghost on this here post! Listen up yee Jesus needers." For real, I pray this reaches your heart today.
Listening to: Hidden by United Pursuit
(not-so-subtle hint that you should take a minute, turn on this song and soak it in cause it’ll paint your soul gold)
Let me set the scene:
It’s a stupid hot day in April in Azusa, California. There’s an overwhelmed, lonely (probably hormonal) nineteen-year-old girl hiding in a curtained-off corner inside a tiny prayer chapel. She’s curled up in a puddle of her own tears. Sitting in her questions. Her loneliness. Her fear.
And she’s refusing to move.
Refusing to get up and lift her eyes up and choose to believe the Truth.
She’s circling round and round and round, trying to make a decision about the trajectory of her life. But she is frozen, afraid to even move one toe for fear of landing in the wrong place.
She can’t hear the God who adores her whispering His love over her. She can’t hear Him say that He longs to tell her who she is to Him. That He doesn’t care about her being perfect. She can’t hear that. Because all the questions are just too loud.
This was me a handful of years ago. I was a freshman at a tiny college a thousand miles from home, and I was having a major meltdown. I wasn’t happy with where I was at, and I felt nudged to consider transferring back home to Boulder, CO. So I did what I always do when I’m overwhelmed and confused and can’t make out left from right inside of my brain:
I made a list.
(shout out to all the “list girls” out there #solidarity)
I wrote down the pros and cons and goods and bads and truths and lies and PLEASE GOD TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!?!?!??!?!?!?!?
Or so I thought. I thought He forgot about me. I thought that God had some super specific mystery plan for me that I had to dial into and execute perfectly or else I’d miss it. I’d miss whatever goodness He was planning to give me. Or that He would be mad that I did it wrong. I let my identity get wrapped up in my ability to listen to God’s prompting and then follow Him. Friends, let me tell you, this is a dangerous lie to believe.
I spent the next few months toiling over what to do. Back and forth and back and forth and uggghhhhhhh. Have you played this game with yourself over a decision in your life? It’s pretty exhausting. I don’t recommend it. I sat with friends and mentors and my favorite authors (who I also call friends) and they all gave me advice about what situation would be better for me, and what I should do, and lalalalala. And still, I had no peace.
I left it up to the weekend before the fall semester was going to start. Literally. Not figuratively. side note: if we were chatting over a cup of coffee, I’d be leaning across the table, wide-eyed. You know, for emphasis. Four words: LIT-ER-A-LLY.
My patient mother (bless her) came into my room on Friday to say goodnight and softly told me it was truly time to make a decision. That night, while tossing and turning, I heard God. YAAAASSSS finally!!!!!!!! He was going to tell me exactly what to do! He was going to lay it all out for me and tell me step by step exactly where I should go and FINALLY I could please Him!!!
“Beloved one, wherever you go, I am with you. Always.”
That’s it?!?!? Are you freaking kidding me?!?! To say I was #pissed would be an understatement.
And then, I wasn’t. Then there was peace.
Because I realized that it wasn't about what I did. It wasn’t about where I went. It wasn’t about any of that. It was about being with my Father, and loving Him right where I’m at.
This morning, four years later, I was reading the love story God wrote to us.
“The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what He does for us, not by what we are and what we do for Him.” | Romans 12 MSG
My dude Paul hit the nail on the head with this one. These simple words he spoke to the Romans continue to speak so sweetly to my tired heart. Like honey dripping from God’s lips, I soaked this truth in deeeeeeeep today while sitting cross-legged in my bed with a cup of strong coffee and a messy bun.
What God is.
What He does for us.
Remember that? Remember that He is your friend? He adores you. He is for you, not against you.
He’s not interested in backing you into a corner, shining an interrogation light in your terrified eyes and testing you to see if you know the right answer.
No. He holds the answers. So the pressure’s off.
I’m reading this sweet book about Corrie Ten Boom, who is the definition of a hero in my book. It’s called The Hiding Place, and you should stick your nose in it ASAP #shamelessplug.
But there’s one part that straight up wrecked me, y’all. Curious little Corrie is asking her daddy some seriously hard questions, and he gets down at eye level with her, and explains through a metaphor that he will tell her the answers when she is ready to receive them. That if she will just keep her hand in his, he will be sure to keep her safe and to get her where she needs to be.
Corrie says: “And I was satisfied. More than satisfied—wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions—but for now I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.”
I think this is what God does with me every single day. What a patient guy. When I beg and plead with Him to tell me answers (NOW!!!!!), to tell me what to do and how and when, so that I can be obedient…He just bends down. He grabs my face between His hands and tells me that He will carry the answers to those questions until I am ready to receive them.
All that really matters is that I cling to Him.
That I trust His intentions.
That my heart is set & my eyes are trained on Jesus, and that I delight in His love for me.
That we laugh together and play and adventure
and that I let Him decide when I need to know things.
And there, in that place, I am wonderfully at peace.
Because I am content to leave the answers in my Father’s safe keeping.
PS: I won’t leave you without closure. That would be mean. But I was strategic about not telling you the ending of that story, because I wanted to make my point: it’s not about where you land.
But just FYI, I ended up transferring home to the University of Colorado-Boulder. I also got to go on an “epic- escape-and-go-find-yourself-and-hash-out-all-of-your-problems” month long backpacking trip with a bestie of mine. It turned out to just be a treat-yo’self-trip where God was just nice to us and we played. I just graduated from college, and now there’s a whole new slurry of questions chasing their tails in my head. But my posture is different now. God’s got ‘em.