The title is a little tacky, but I’m keeping it. Because despite all my attempts to portray the opposite on social media, I am a little tacky in real life. #truth. #reallife. #whyamihashtagging?. #thisisstupid. #cantwealljustwriteinsentencesagain?.
Speaking of real life, my real life has changed significantly since I’ve last written. Quick update: As of June, I am no longer the music director at Westgate Church, although I will be continuing to live in Arlington, MA and work for Cru’s high school ministry. I chose to take some time off work to be with my family in Pennsylvania for the summer (really just for July) and have been enjoying the time away while at the same time despising the lack of purpose I feel. Both are necessary emotions and both were anticipated. I’m working through it…or at least attempting. I spent the last week traveling in New York with much-loved friends and feel genuinely refreshed from that time. The smiles in the following pictures are real.
The lead up to and actual execution of this month of decompression – as I affectionately like to call it – has been all kinds of crazy. A lot of processing is taking place, and not surprisingly, a fair amount of rediscovery about God and self. There’s been a lot of grace-giving on God’s end and a lot of grace-receiving on mine. There have been surprises too. The most life-altering surprise and gift is legitimate hope. I’ve known for a long time that hope exists wherever God is – hope of new life and eternity. Yet for too long I’ve rejected hope for the present. Hope in the now. God is restoring to me the hope to be found in dreaming big and removing the limits I put on Him based on how I expect He will move in my life.
[DISCLAIMER] Whenever I hear Christians use phrases like “dreaming big” and “removing limits,” alarms start going off in my mind and the words “Prosperity Gospel” flash before my eyes. This is important, so hear me on this. I am not saying that God wants to give me exactly what I want, when I want it, and how I want it. God is way bigger than that and cares much more about my love for Him, obedience to Him, and growth in Him than He does about my happiness (aka – getting what I want, which is usually the end goal of dreaming big and removing limits). I’m aware and I genuinely believe that my salvation and acceptance by a holy God frees me from needing to be happy all the time and get what I want all the time.
What I am saying is that I put limits on how I expect God to move in my life by not allowing myself to dream big things for how He could use me. I do this out of a misbelief that they couldn’t possibly be a part of His will. I presuppose what God does and doesn’t want to do and I subsequently dismiss and therefore miss ways He could move! The difference between the prosperity gospel and my “limiting God” mindset is this: God continues to have full control of my life and I willingly follow His lead no matter what the call or outcome. I don’t treat God like a genie at my beck and call. He is GOD, the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Treating Him like a supernatural wish-granter dethrones Him and makes Him small. But I think I also make Him small when I limit what I expect Him to do with my life.
The hope in how I’m learning to see full surrender to His will is that it doesn’t mean God will always call me into challenges or trials or things I am not passionate about. I’m learning to believe once again that God does indeed want good things for me.
“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
Does this mean that those good things will always be things that make me happy? HECK NO. Psalm 37:4 is one of the most misinterpreted verses I learned growing up, especially as a young woman. I had mentors and friends who, out of love and the best intentions, assured me that if I had a deep desire in my heart, God would give it to me in His timing. So many people cling to that false promise as assurance that they will get what they want in life – and I think many end up disappointed and questioning God because of it. The first part of the verse is integral to understanding the promise. When you delight in something it becomes your happiness; your desire. The verse tells us what to delight in and consequently what it is we will receive as the desire of our hearts. We are to delight in the Lord – to make Him the desire of our hearts. When we do, we will receive more and more and more of Him. This isn’t about asking for more of temporary things (ie – self, materials, people, wealth). This is about desiring more of God and receiving what we’ve desired.
That is the good that God has for me. More of Himself. I’m choosing now to believe that the package He arrives in isn’t always heavy and dark and hard to walk through. I’m choosing to believe that He can and may choose to come to me in gifts of passion and excitement and fun! In both circumstances, the receiving of Him is a grace I am overwhelmingly thankful for.
All that said, I have absolutely no idea what God has in store for this next season of life. I’m waiting on the edge of my seat to find out. Regardless of the outcome, I will cling to the knowledge that God doesn’t exist within limits. He can choose to work in me through days of happiness and days of trouble. And I will do my very best to replace all the limits I put on Him with true and unwavering faith.