What do you do after an experience has left you completely speechless, yet with so much to say? What do you do when you come home to comfort everywhere you turn after living without electricity, showers, a toilet, or the typical freedom you find within American society? What do you say when you are asked how it feels to be back home, two seconds after stepping foot onto American soil, when your heart is still with those you met along the way? Left with those who quickly became family, your brothers and sisters who pushed past cultural and language barriers with their captivating laughter, compassionate glances, and warm smiles? What do you do when you feel completely numb, yet you have almost every emotion known to the human mind running through you all at once? What do you do when you're surrounded by mass amounts of technology which connects you to everyone, everywhere, at all times when everything within you just wants to curl up into a ball and fall off the grid? Unplugged, untouchable, and undetectable.
Before I go further, I would like to state a few things:
I often use writing as a tool for self-reflection and that's why I want to be clear. I do not claim everything I have stated to be ultimate truth. That can only come from the Lord, and I trust what He desires to teach you through these words will become apparent while everything not from Him fades away. I genuinely feel like the things discussed in the blog are things God has been teaching me. I encourage you to talk to me over any disagreements or questions you may have. I love feedback!! Especially if I have missed or stated something unclearly. I know there are a lot more things that could be discussed, however, I don't feel I have authority to discuss those topics. Also, some of these things may seem to be "old news" or common sense to you, but recently God has been shedding new light on these topics for me, personally.
#1. Don't Drift Away:
I've recently been reading through Hebrews and in the second chapter, a particular verse stood out to me: "Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it." (Now, I know this verse is talking about neglecting your salvation, but I took the opportunity to apply it to my short time away.) In a commentary I read on this particular chapter an old story about a deceased, ungodly farmer was mentioned. In his will, the farmer left his property to the Devil. The court struggled with knowing how to properly fulfill the farmer's demand, but finally the judge came to a conclusion: "The best way to carry out the wishes of the deceased is to allow the farm to grow weeds, the soil to erode, the house and barn to rot. In my opinion, the best way to leave something to the Devil is to do nothing." Drifting is a direct consequence of being idle. We don't have to do anything to drift away, it just simply happens through the lack of action when action is asked of us. Take the time to reflect back on your experience. Don't allow different experiences, newly gained knowledge or curiosity to go untouched. Whether your experiences were substandard or exceptional, we always have something to learn, gain, or discover.
#2. Don't Isolate or Be Silent:
Back in October I told a friend, out of everything, I was most nervous for returning home. He gently responded with clarity and wisdom, "When you get back, jump into community. Surround yourself with people who love you and you love back." Immerse yourself in community. Isolation, only makes things worse. How do I know? Because I wasn't smart enough to listen to his advice. I was so overwhelmed that I hid away. Isolation allowed my unrighteous emotions to cultivate bitterness in my life. That bitterness encouraged me to become unproductive and silent. Don't let the Devil have that power over you. When the Devil rebukes you and tells you to be quiet, "Cry out all the more!" (Mark 10:48). Don't let the Devil tell you those truths spoken to you were invalid or invaluable. God speaks to His people and often times that's not meant to be kept to yourself.
#3. Don't Create False Expectations:
I'm not going to lie, when I thought of coming home and talking to various people about my time away, it caused me a great deal of anxiety. Let's be honest, it's mostly my fault. I'm infamous for placing inaccurate expectations on myself. I worried about having the right thing to say or the right stories to share. Thankfully, we have a Heavenly Father who told me, "I am enough." He showed me I don't have to embellish a story to make it memorable. I don't have to hold back details of a story to make it relatable. As long as He's in the story, it will be remarkable. God doesn't need me to defend Him. He doesn't need me to talk Him up. He just wants me to reflect and be true to the work He's done in my life. To allow Him to feely move through those encounters. Whether those encounters meet others expectations (even my own) or not, that doesn't matter. It's all about being true to the encountered movement of the Spirit in my life and in those I met along the way.
#4. Don't Stop At Emotions or Forget:
Often times I hear, and have said it myself, how different experiences were so impactful that they led to tears. Tears of sorrow, joy, laughter or all of the above. For some reason, our society has created this false perception that if you are moved by deep emotion it proves you have authentically been affected and changed. Going through the emotions has become enough to show adequate effort. I'm sorry, but I think that's ignorant. When we fail to push past emotions it encourages us to miss out on all of what God has to offer. God is more than our emotions. I think it's more important to look at what happens when those overwhelming emotions and tears are gone. To look at what one does when those experiences turn into past memories and the distractions of life are beckoning. As Christians, we need to be tenacious. We can't let those tears fall and allow that to be the last action taken. I'm learning to allow everything I have personally experienced to create greater intimacy with the Lord and change me. Use what once moved me to tears to eternally impact my life and the lives of those around me for the glory of our Heavenly Father. I'm learning what it practically looks like to partner with the Spirit in the ordinary of everyday. To create an invasion of the Holy Spirit in a world full of individuals who are constantly seeking an escape from all their worries and pain. "On Earth as it is in Heaven." We should desire to make this a reality in whatever season we find ourselves. Look back on the faithfulness of God in our lives for motivation, because it is everywhere.
#5. Don't Rush:
Don't be so quick to have your mess fixed. We need to be cautious of opportunities to obtain immediate satisfaction. I've learned I should never feel ashamed of where I am at in my journey, as well as being humbly authentic about my frustrations and questions. We aren't called to have it all figured out, but to seek the One who brings indescribable understanding and peace. Life is messy. There's honestly no getting around that, but there's something to be said for how we react to the mess in which we find ourselves. How we get through the muck and filth. Don't diminish your discontentment simply because we live in a world that tells us we need to either have our act together or pretend like we do. Diligently seek Him while being brave enough to ask the hard questions. Come as you are, lay your mess at His feet and ask, "What would you have me do next?". Walk by His pace. His pace that's set in love.
I'm still learning. I'm still reflecting. I'm still pondering. I'm still dreaming.
But I'm okay with that, because I'm not doing it alone.
These photos may not mean much to you, but for the past several years I have taken this photo in various places I've been blessed to visit and explore. These photos represent God's faithfulness, His ability to cultivate awe and wonder in my life, and to give me a deeper passion for His vision for all of mankind. I often sit there in reflection, gratitude and prayer. I will always look back at these photos and remember the faithful promises God has spoken over my life.