Posted in Devotion

Falling In Love Part Two

It is so easy for me to spend time with my boyfriend and look forward to that time. I want to talk with him each day. Sometimes life is busy and our conversations are limited to text messages, but that’s not enough. I desire that focused conversation time whether in-person or over the phone. I want our friends and family to know us and to like us together, so we’ve spent time hanging out with other people. We do fun things like play games, mini-golf, or shoot pool, but I also relish the time we get to talk and do nothing else. Just like I started discussing in a previous post, our relationships with humans should reflect our relationship with God.

A married woman in my Bible study group compared her relationship with her husband to how she should treat her time with God. She talked about how sometimes her husband wants to be lovey-dovey, but she just wants to watch the TV show or do the dishes. She spoke of how sometimes it’s okay to talk with him while doing other things, but she recognizes that they need time in their marriage where it’s just the two of them being together. Likewise, it’s so easy to multitask while we pray and claim we are “praying without ceasing”. That’s fine, and God wants that constant communication, but He also wants the intentional time as well. Just as a spouse, or boyfriend in my case, wants and needs the focused alone time, God wants us to set aside everything and spend time with him.

These thoughts leave me with a few reflection questions for myself that maybe we should all be asking. Do I crave the time with God like I desire the time with my boyfriend? Do I long for opportunities to introduce God to my loved ones? Can I just sit and talk with God for hours? Do I set aside everything to have that daily time with God?

I’m thankful that God is loving and merciful because I can’t honestly answer yes to all of those questions every single day. I thank God for this metaphor, and pray that God would stir my passion for him every day. I pray that each of us would clear our minds and hearts for focused God time each day. I hope we all start falling in love with God just a little bit more.

Posted in Devotion

Falling in Love

I remember the moment I accepted Christ’s gift of salvation, but I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I really fell in love with God. When I accepted Christ and his gift of salvation from my sins, I said yes that I wanted to start this relationship with him. I acknowledged his pursuit of me, recognized that he wanted to show me love, and desired to learn more about him. That was a decision, but after that it has been a journey of first learning how to be in that relationship and eventually falling in love. It really has been a sweet, sweet time, but it’s also had its rocky moments when I started to stray.

God designed relationships between men and women to reflect his relationship with us. There is a pursuit, similar to how God draws us close to him, and then a period of mutual attraction and interest, much like the time when we are learning about God before complete acceptance. Eventually a decision is made to establish a relationship (the DTR as it might be called), which resembles the moment of acceptance of salvation. After that, though, the couple has to figure out how to be in a relationship, and the relationship grows to love. Through watching movies and people in my life, I know that part is sweet and can also be rocky. Falling in love and maintaining love in a relationship is an ongoing choice to forgive mistakes and see the good in the other person.

Just like in earthly relationships, figuring out the relationship and falling in love with God can take time and work depending on the individual’s background and experiences. Take heart in your relationship with God if you feel like you are messing up on your end or don’t love him enough: God is better than any earthly partner. He’ll never give up on you no matter how long it takes for that falling in love stage to come to completion or how many times you allow something else to become more important than your love for him. God is faithful to forgive, and his love is deeper than any earthly relationship will ever offer.

**By no means am I trying to trivialize a relationship with God to fully resemble human relationships, which are easily flawed. Know that my experience with relationships is limited to the little I’ve experienced and what I’ve watched in other’s lives, but I pray some of this gives you hope and encourages you to fall more in love with God each day until we reach heaven and can love fully like He does.

Posted in Life, Remembering

This Year Will Be Different

I asked my students to complete this prompt, so I thought I would as well.

This year will be different. That’s an intimidating statement to make because who am I to say what this year will hold? Only God knows that. As I look back on the last year, though, I realize I was discontent with many of the relationships in my life. I wanted people to be different, and I sought acceptance from people around me. I was unhappy and insecure when I felt left out, whether I was truly left out or just imagining it. The root of my discontentment was that I was looking in the wrong place for my security. People, myself included, always disappoint, and I will never feel satisfied with a human relationship. Only God can satisfy and define me. This year will be different if I’ll keep that focus and perspective. 

Secondly, this year will be different if I am thankful for the deep friendships I’ve already formed rather than attempting to force those in a new place. There’s no need to strive to be accepted by all. Instead I’ll strive to be a better friend to those around simply because that’s what God put me here to do. I’ll focus on demonstrating God’s love and being vulnerable as God leads rather than being concerned about how someone responds to my friendly gestures.

Ultimately this year will only be different if I’ll keep my focus on God and how he defines me rather than how people define me.

What will make your 2018 different?

Posted in Gratefulness, Life

Celebrating the Connections

“Woah oh we need each other.” (Sanctus Real) How true that statement is. Even as an introvert, I still need to get out and socialize. As I’ve been overwhelmed by classwork and other responsibilities this week, I’ve realized this even more.

This past week in class we read a story by Ray Bradbury called “The Pedestrian”. In this science fiction short story, a lone man walks the streets in a futuristic city. He’s stopped by a police car, questioned, and eventually taken to the Psychiatric Center for Regressive Tendencies. His “regressive tendencies”? He writes; he walks; he doesn’t own a tv; he isn’t married. These may not seem very “regressive” to our society, but in a society where people go to work and then come home to watch their viewing screens in darkened silence, this behavior is abnormal. In fact, the main character has not seen another person walking in the ten years he’s been walking the streets. The message of this story is clear: we can very easily allow technology to deaden and isolate us to the point that what was once viewed as normal begins to be viewed as regressive. The fact stands that people need each other.

I’m grateful for all of the people in my life, whether I met them 25 years ago, a few weeks ago, or somewhere in between. I appreciate the relationships God has give me whether I speak to certain people daily or only occasionally. This weekend I was especially grateful for the friends I made in college and maintained relationships with. Here are some highlights of our time together.

*The bottom two photos are borrowed from friends (Clare and Amanda). Kudos to these ladies for helping to document the trip.

Now get out and appreciate the people God has put into your life.

Posted in Book Review, Life

Comparing Myself to C.S. Lewis

 

As I read the short commentary on C.S. Lewis’s life by Perry Bramlett, I found myself making vows and plans to be a better Christian. I saw myself as a Christian failure in comparison to C.S. Lewis.

I read that C.S. Lewis rose early to pray and didn’t like to pray at night because he felt he was too sleepy to do it justice. He also like to pray scripture, adding his own “festoons” to make the text more personal to his own heart. For example, he would pray “hallowed be thy name” and add “with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.” This chapter about C.S. Lewis’s prayer life made me want to be more fastidious about my own prayer life, and I vowed to try his methods of prayer.

Then I read how C.S. Lewis read a bit of his Bible every day, and I looked guiltily at my unopened Bible. I made a vow to get back on track with reading something every day.

The next part of his life that I read was how C.S. Lewis was a great friend. Dagger to my heart. He spent nearly all of his free time with friends, and he scheduled regular times to meet with each of his friends. He even answered every letter that anyone sent him, friend or stranger.

As I concluded the book feeling beaten and worthless, Perry Bramlett, the author, began commenting on his own journey to the land of C.S. Lewis and what he had learned studying Lewis’s life. He said, “In retrospect, I know now that I was a very poor student of C.S. Lewis (and probably of the Scriptures)” That’s exactly how I was feeling after only reading a mere 72 pages about C.S. Lewis’s spiritual life. He followed that statement by immediately saying:

“Lewis’s ‘life at the center’ was a gift from God, a gift of grace. God gave Jack the vehicles of prayer, the Bible, and good friendships to help him become a little more like God’s son, who is the Christ. Lewis came to know that this takes time, constant obedience, and perseverance; for him, it took a whole lifetime. He also knew that ‘being spiritual’ is not a ‘happening’ or an ‘event.’ He knew from long experience that he could never be so presumptuous as to try to ‘plan’ spirituality. (C.S. Lewis: Life at the Center by Perry Bramlett)

I let out all of the air and tension I was holding in. How true and freeing were those words. I will never have C.S. Lewis’s relationship with God nor will my spiritual life look similar because I am not C.S. Lewis. Both of those are personal between me and God. God will reveal to me the inconsistencies of my heart and help me to grow in him. Bramlett also points out that this journey took Lewis an entire life. The parts of the book that I ignored were the parts where Lewis struggled with his faith and almost abandoned it. That last statement is particularly poignant; I can’t plan my spirituality. I have to let God lead my growth.

Posted in Bible Study

Seeking Acceptance

Do you ever feel ostracized, wondering if anyone cares about you? Do you wonder if anyone could ever love you for who you are? Do you seek that love from multiple sources only to be disappointed?

I like to think that we’ve all been there at some point. Whether it’s a significant other, money, a job, or family, we seek that acceptance and love from something or someone, because we don’t feel like we’re getting it from the source we think it should be coming from. We take matters into our own hands.

Maybe that’s what the Woman at the Well was doing. She’d been rejected by the majority simply because she was a Samaritan. To top that off, she’d been rejected because of her life choices. She’d had five husbands and was living with a man who wasn’t her husband. She felt ostracized and wondered how it could be possible that someone could care about her. She sought love from all of these other men and I imagine she’d found disappointment.

Then she came to the well on that special day. Jesus was there, but she didn’t know who he was. She only knew he was a Jew who should not be talking to her, much less wanting water from her. Still he persisted and then he told her some far-fetched metaphor about not being thirsty again. Yet something made her stick around and listen a bit longer. I like to think it was that desire that maybe someone would give her the time of day. Then Jesus did something crazy: he told her about her life. How could a stranger know this?

After discovering who Jesus was, she was filled with joy. Not only did someone finally accept her despite her flaws, Jesus the Messiah did that. Coming to the fountain, she felt abandoned and wondered if she’d ever experience real love, the kind of love that accepts faults. Leaving the fountain, she knew that Someone gave her that love and that He would never disappoint.

Can we reach that point of joy? I believe so. While Jesus may not meet us at a fountain at noon and tell us about our past, he does come to each of us in our hearts. For me in this past season of my life, it’s been through the Psalms. Jesus met me there and taught me how to worship and who to worship. He taught me to stop pursuing other relationships and to pursue him with more fervor than ever before. Now, I may not have listened immediately or consistently and still sometimes I don’t, but I know that Jesus is the only one who will ever love me without disappointing me. For that I am thankful.

 

Posted in Class, Writing

Conclusions

I wish that I had kept a count of how many words/pages I have written since I began college.  It would be an astounding number I am sure, probably long enough for a book.  No matter how many essays I write, I still find the ending the hardest to write.  Typically I can write a decent beginning and a decent thesis, and support, but the conclusion always keeps me stressing.  The problem is that the conclusion is important, because it is the last thing the reader sees.  I always run into the problem of repeating myself during the conclusion….

To be continued later…I don’t know how to conclude this.

*Continued Later*

I had to quit earlier so that I could go to class and learn about more essays I will have to write.  Well I guess it’s good that I love to write, right (ha! homophones!)?  Anyway, as often happens when I look back at unfinished blogs, I realize that I have lost my enthusiasm for what I was writing earlier, but I will try anyway.

I was talking about how I dislike writing conclusions.  Let me start with the reason I decided to write this blog.  I was attempting to write a paper for my English class, which is about novels.  I wrote about 500 words and scrapped it because it was junk.  In some jumbled mess I wrote several pages until my head hurt.  Then mysteriously I woke up the next morning and polished it until it made sense (I always think better in the morning anyway).  The only problem was I ran out of steam by the time I reached the last paragraph.  I was right at the minimum word count, and I just wanted to stop.  So I did.  Unfortunately, I knew I had to come back to it.  Right now, the document is sitting in a folder on my computer with two sentences of conclusion.  It lacks an ending.  There’s my problem.  I don’t like conclusions because I don’t know how to finish something without being repetitive.

Now that I re-read what I put as the title of this blog, I think maybe I should address conclusions to relationships.  I don’t really like those either.  Typically, I say “see ya later” instead of good-bye, because it feels less conclusive.  The truth is: the relationship (and this can be friendship) doesn’t end in my head.  I can only think of a few times when I have completely ended a friendship in my head.  I usually carry on with the relationship in my head and analyze it to find out what went wrong (I’m not crazy).  So even when I am not talking to someone on a regular basis, I still think about them.  The relationship doesn’t really end for me.  Hence, I don’t like conclusions/endings.  They always feel awkward and repetitive.  Usually when you say good-bye to someone there is that awkward moment when the both of you say good-bye several times and you hug, but it still doesn’t feel right to just walk away.  Personally, I wait for the other person to begin edging away.

Even now as I am writing this I am trying to decide what a good ending line(s) for this post would be.  Since I can’t think of something that doesn’t just repeat what I’ve already said…THE END (now if only I could just write that on papers).