Today marks the one year anniversary of Everyday Abiding. One year ago today, God pushed me to begin an Instagram account, which I later began sharing on Facebook, which turned into a blog, and I can only dream of what is to come. He has led me every step of the way, even when my flesh got in the way. Writing is something I love to do, and I have always wanted to write a book. I wanted to start a blog for a while but felt completely intimidated by the process. Jesus, however, led me through the steps he wanted me to take. He aligned everything. And in the process I hope to encourage others, but I am the one who is forever changed. I am growing so much because I decided to abide in the true vine. And here are a few things that have grown me.
I took my faith for granted.
And without faith it is impossible to please God.
I was raised in church. My dad was called to his first church when I was two years old. I only know life with church on Sundays and Wednesdays. I am grateful for my upbringing. I believe it protected me in so many ways. I was saved at seven years old and I had always known who Jesus was. The problem was, I didn’t know Jesus. I went through the motions in many ways. It was the expectation. I played church and I played Christian, but I didn’t realize all that I was missing, even as I sat in the pew. I had a surface level relationship with Christ, not a “He is my bread of life” relationship with Him. Because Jesus had always been there in some capacity of my life, I took for granted that He would always be there. And He would. But that is not enough. He didn’t want to just be there in my life, He wanted to BE MY LIFE. Seeing where I am today, even though I have so far to go, I see how much I was missing.
I am enough.
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…
I have deep-seeded insecurities in my life. Skeletons I have dealt with since I was a little girl. I have always looked in the mirror and saw flaws. I compare myself to others and rarely measure up. But when I finally stopped criticizing myself and comparing myself and instead started asking “Why did you make me this way?” God began to show me the value in my weaknesses. He began to answer “why” in many ways. He is showing me that I don’t have to wait until I measure up to work for Him. Instead, I need to let Him use me as I am and He will fill in any gaps, He will cover any mistakes, He will take over when I am not measuring up. He will use me, just as I am, if I let Him. He is not looking for the perfect worker. He is just looking for someone who will work for Him.
It’s not about me.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
A couple years ago I fell into this deep rut. It wasn’t depression, but more like an over exaggerated pity party. I felt used. I felt like my life was wasting away serving others. My Students. My husband. My kids. My Church. Don’t get me wrong, I loved them all. But, I felt I no longer made decisions for myself. All my decisions were made based on the needs of others. I was not my own person. I kept waiting for things to slow down, for me to catch a breath, for me to have a moment, and those things never happened. So I kept on pouting and getting deeper into my rut. Finally some wise words from my husband snapped me out of it and from there, God showed me, It’s not about me. I am here to serve Him and through serving Him, I will serve others. Every time I try to put the focus back on me, I start to fall back into that rut. I start to hang the decorations at my pity party. Thankfully, I am a little more mature now in my walk and God can usually snap me out of it. He reminds me that it’s about Him – not about anyone else. As long as I keep my focus on Him, He will take care of me and He will help me take care of others. And the funny thing is, so many times, I have surrendered my desires in order to serve others, and God has shown faithful. He looks out for me and still gives me all I need and many times, what I just want.
Relationship is key.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
When I fell into “my poor me” rut, I was having a quiet time, but it was still very shallow. I am thankful for what I had because once I realized my pity party needed to end I was able to grow from that shallow quiet time. It was better than nothing. I was not starting from scratch. I was able to easily find God’s voice and listen to it. And I began to find other ways to hear his voice through podcasts, music, and books. And I began to silence the voices of the world, and man, there are a lot! I realized I had to start listening to God a whole lot more than I was listening to the world. I needed to build my relationship with Him. The closer I get to Him, the easier many decisions come. He can bring clarity and priority to many situations. He also brings direction to my life. But only because I chose to grow my relationship with Him. Every step I take, I take with His direction, with Him leading. Without that relationship, I am lost and falling back into the ruts of the world.
The answers are there if I know where to look.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
It’s funny how related many of these items are and once I get one thing figured out, it shines the light on many others. But God was waiting for me along in my shallow quiet time. Again I recognized my need, but hadn’t made it a want yet. I can only imagine Him up there shaking His head, probably thinking “Will this girl ever figure it out?!?” Thankfully, I figured out that He has it figured out for me if I will just be there to listen. When I began focusing on God, He began to show me so many things, many things I had been frustrated about or confused about. Again He revealed the light on the situation, when many times, I was looking at it through the darkness. I look back and I wonder what took me so long. I could have been so much more content in my life, if I had only been looking for the answers in the right place.
Obedience is freedom.
Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.
There are a few times in my life I can remember being directly disobedient to God’s direction, and I remember feeling miserable. But obedience is not just the opposite of miserable. For so long I was just passive. I was not actively disobeying God, but I wasn’t actively obeying him either. So, I guess you could say I was a notch above miserable (lukewarm comes to mind, and that just hurts my feelings). But now that I know I am obeying God and actively following his direction in my life, I have a new sense of freedom. Because I am learning (still ongoing) to trust Him, I am released of so many worries and burdens that I used to carry. I have freed myself from my previous expectations. I have freed myself from many of the world’s standards. I have freed myself from guilt and regret that try to hold me back. Finally, obeying God has truly been the most freeing decision I could make.
He is joy.
The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
Like I have found freedom through obedience, I also found my joy in Him. Even when I find myself on the treadmill of life and I feel like the dirty laundry left on the floor, He is there. He reminds me this is temporary. He shows me the way out – if there is one. He gives me rest when I need it. But because I have realized that He is the source of joy, I have a lot fewer “dirty laundry left on the floor” feelings. It’s not that a whole lot about my life has changed, but my perspective has changed. He has allowed me to look at things in a whole new light – His light. My situations and circumstances are no longer clouded by worldly darkness, and because of that, I have found my source of joy.
It is a journey.
‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:8-9
So all those wonderful things I have learned are true, but I still need constant reminders. I forget sometimes that it is not about me and I take a few steps back. I stumble on my own doubt and disobedience. I have to push my pride down and keep it in check. As thankful as I am for this “new” me that is building a relationship with Christ, I am still me. The old me, that talks too much, can be judgemental at times, and often forgets where her source of life comes from. But even when I fall a few steps backwards on this journey, I let grace push me forward. I remind myself that Jesus chose this purpose for my life, knowing full well my faults, and he loves me just the same. And when I do take a few steps back, I am so thankful that it is only a few steps and that I am not trying any longer to dig myself out of that old rut I was in before. It is a journey with potholes and detours and distractions and I am the crazy driver behind the wheel. But I am do thankful God allowed me to be on this trip.
People are all the same.
For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
1 Corinthians 12:13
Yes, there are some crazy people in this world. Don’t get me wrong. But at the surface, at the beginning, people are all the same. We were all created by God, designed to love him. It’s just when they try to love other things and people in God’s place that everything gets all messed up. But as I write this blog and interact with more people because of it, I learn we are all the same. I find I get the most feedback when I am the most honest, and I think that is because more people relate. But we are just so used to trying to cover our faults and trying to ignore that they are there. Its nice to know someone else is dealing with the same things. And that is just it. Our circumstances and situations may be different, but we are all dealing with the same feelings of regret, guilt, unworthiness, loneliness, weariness, and the list could go on. We are all a broken people in need of God’s love.
It’s never too late.
Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
I am 35 years old. I have only been doing this a year. But now, I couldn’t imagine life any other way. I have found my niche. Sometimes I wonder why I wasted so much time with other things and then I wonder if God designed this plan and I needed all those experiences to bring me here, to this point where I could write. But, it really doesn’t matter. I am here and I am living out my purpose. I am reminded of the saying “God’s never late. He is always right on time.” He has my plan all laid out if I will trust him with it, and He has your plan too. If you are struggling with something, scared to take the step, remember it is never too late. You are never too old – or too young for that matter. God doesn’t think in those terms. He just sees a willing, loving heart. If you feel like God is seeing that in you, then be willing to take that first step. Pray, pray, pray. And trust Him to lead you. The path might be a little foggy to begin with, but trust that He will lead you. I promise, when you follow God and trust Him with your purpose and life you will not regret it.
These are just ten things I learned in a short year. I pray this is just the beginning. I am excited – and a little scared – about the possibilities of the future. But whatever God has in store, I am going to do by best to be open, ready, and willing to grow.