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so when i returned to cincinnati, i received word that i was invited back for a second interview. i ended up having to reschedule because the original date they wanted me to arrive for fell during the week i was going to be traveling to CIY with the youth group. fortunately they were flexible and were able to push the interview back another week.

i remained calm and at peace with the situation until the night before the interview. at that point i had what i’d probably compare to an anxiety attack although i have nothing to compare it to. my heart was racing, i was short of breath, i was hungry, i was thirsty…i was super anxious. and i tried to pray through it but nothing worked. i barely slept and the next morning, i was still anxious the whole drive up. even when i went into the interview, the anxiety was still right there, punching me in the face. looking back, i really feel like it was the devil’s one last-ditch effort to psych me out and pull me away from God’s plan. because at one point, i really just wanted to call them and tell them to cancel the interview. and what was i afraid of? of getting the job. how dumb is that?

it wasn’t until about halfway through the interview that i regained composure and the anxiety left me. by that point, the anxiety had already made me mess up a bit more than i normally would have so i figured that if i was able to get the job even after that–admittedly, not my greatest interview–then i knew God was in on it. i finally walked out of the interview at peace with whatever would happen. and i realized that if i did get the job, then i would have to accept it because God opened so many doors and if i didn’t, I’d be slamming the door in God’s face. plus, i would only stay in Cincinnati because it’s comfortable, but that’s not always what’s best. I would be letting the fear of the unknown stop me.

the next monday, i received an email offering me the position. just. like. that. i accepted it and then went to tell my coworkers, who were shocked and sad but very, very supportive. that was so important to me. i was more scared of leaving and uprooting them than anything else, really. so that was a blessing that that all went smoothly (or better than expected!)

so it’s cool looking back to see how God guided this whole process: how i’ve started learning to try to listen to God and how he’s met me in those places. i know it isn’t always easy but i also know there were places along the way where i could have doubted more, where i could have ignored God’s still small voice. but because of all the wide swinging doors and how everything’s fallen so perfectly into place, i don’t doubt that whatever comes from it, that it was where God is pointing me. i hope and pray that i can continue to heed those proddings.

in one of the chronicles of narnia (i think it’s the last book), they are making a trip and Aslan tells them to look for certain signs. well along the way they get distracted because they’re cold and hungry. the end up missing the first sign, so they have to back track. well, the journey back isn’t that easy. someone wonders whether Aslan intended for them to miss the sign the first time around. one of them pipes up and says, “No, I don’t think Aslan would do that. I think he’ll still help us get there, but if we would have listened and paid attention the first time, he would have made things easy for us. Things are hard now because we ignored his guiding the first time around.” (of course that’s my interpretation and paraphrase, but you get the idea.)

and it’s not that i want things to always be so easy, because i know that’s the opposite of what Jesus promised. but what i do hope is that this move is in fact one of those times where i heeded and obeyed, and so i hope that it makes it easier for me to continue to heed and obey in the future. the easy way or not, i don’t want to look back and say the only time i really knew i was listening to God and God was with me was when i was 25. that would be so disappointing and heartbreaking.

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now i had done this sort of informational interview seeking once before, right after i graduated college and thought i wanted to move to new york city. i couldn’t find a job and decided to visit the city and see what i could do. before going, i lined up as many interviews as i could, at places like teen people, ym, cosmogirl, and the knot magazine. (you see, i’ve always had a thing for teen girls!)

so my inclination with this grand rapids visit was originally to line up as many interviews as possible, but at this point i only had one. but Something told me to pursue this one avenue–to see it through and to trust. so i fought my urge to blanket the city with resumes and pitches and cover letters, i sat still. and waited.

when mal and i visited, it was great how people reached out to us. even before the visit, we seemed to be getting signs that there was a community already waiting for us up there–with people eager to open their homes to us and encouraging us to come. kevin had invited friends over and mallory made all sorts of new contacts up there for us. it was amazing to see that all weave together and get some sort of bricks laid for that. even moreso, when i told kevin where i was interviewing and remembered he had a friend who worked at Baker and i should call him to get a sense of the company. i did, and it ended up that the woman i was interviewing with was his boss! he would be a coworker in the same department! so i asked him my questions about the company and he assured me that it was a stand-up, practice-what-they-preach company. that’s what i wanted to hear. if i was going somewhere to grow closer to God, i wanted to be sure that’s what i could expect.

the last day we were in town (a monday) was the day of the interview. somehow through the whole process, God gave me an insane peace about everything. and you should know i’m, by nature, a worry wort. when i was in grade school i could never enjoy a snow day because i always thought that perhaps i’d misread the information and we actually weren’t off school. i’d freak myself out and not trust that it was truly a day off. but with grand rapids, i wasn’t worried or rushed or stressed or anxious. i just trusted: that God would provide a job if he was going to point me in that direction. that i’d figure everything out with my living situation in cincinnati. all the things that people asked me if i’d considered and what i was going to do. all i could do is shrug and say i don’t know, and be done with it. how glorious and releasing is that?!

so upon going in for my interview, i could not have been more at ease. mallory drove me to the interview and before i went in, prayed for me. my peace grew. i walked in and met with the interview lady, and it was like meeting with a friend. we got along great and talked shop but also talked about life and the way God works. she recommended books to read to me and gave me one to take with me and i made recommendations for her. i walked away feeling like this is a woman i could really look up to and respect, not just as far as a job goes but also as far as having as a sort of mentor in my life. to have that as a boss? that’s pretty phenomenal!

so i walked away from the interview with a good feeling brewing in my stomach–as if i already belonged to this place. we went to a cute french cafe and met more new friends before hitting the road for the 6-hour return trip to cincinnati. oh and i forgot to mention that the night before we were able to check out mars hill. and even though rob bell had taken a hiatus from speaking only weeks before we came to visit, i learned so much more in that one “gathering” than i had in a long time at a church service back home. things were looking good…

Last night I was at a friend’s house and she was asking me about Grand Rapids. I told her my story about why I feel compelled to move there, and she told me that she was impressed that I’d be willing to do something like that, that she didn’t think she could. But that’s the thing, I’m not doing anything. Really, it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God and what He’s doing.

And I told her that; that she oughtn’t be impressed because really I have no other choice but to follow God and go where he leads. Not because I’m doing anything brave but because he’s making it so easy for me to follow. How can I not? He’s given me so much peace about this decision and opened door after door. There’s no reason for me to turn the other way or to be scared or nervous.

That’s the thing I think I’ve learned so much from this adventure-at-large: The great, incomparable gift of Peace. I used to make my decisions by pros and cons lists and try to reason them out and sort them. But I’d often reach a stalemate where this path could be the right one but this one could be, too. I felt that way a lot when Paul and I were dating and I was trying to figure out if we were right for each other. It all depended on how I looked at it, and I could make a good case for each. Which left me right where I started.

But that’s the thing; I was the one making the case and was basing it solely on that. Now that I’ve seen how reigning the case for peace can be, I truly believe that’s part of God’s “still, small voice” that He uses to speak to us and to point us in the right direction. I’m just now learning to put stock in that feeling and trust in it and listen for it and try to follow it. And it’s so much easier this way, to just let the path of peace guide me through some of these big decisions and trust that it is from God. Of course, I know my own judgment and opinions can cloud, so I just make sure to tell God that that’s what I’m trusting is His will, and if it isn’t, to work to move me back to the right one.

See? Easy.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

“Submit to God and be at peace with him;
in this way prosperity will come to you.
Job 22:21

Philippians 4:6-9

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

 

Jeremiah 29:7
“…Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

 

life has been good lately. yes, there have been blips that have challenged that but more and more those dips and ebbs haven’t been nearly as lasting or as crippling as they once were. instead, there’s more peace and joy and fulfillment.

i can barely sit still long enough to type anything in here. which is why instead of droning on and on, i’m just going to leave you with this song that has been keeping me company the last few days. it could not be any happier and i totally want to hang out with these guys:


“the best in me” by sherwood

I walked into barnes and noble thinking about how fitting it is that the words “sour” and “dour” are so alike—in both meaning and in spelling, but how unfair, almost blasphemous, it is when words sound so much alike but are polar opposites like “happy” and “crappy.” that’s the way my mind was acting and why I decided I needed to break free.

So, doing something I usually reserve for all other seasons, I decided to take a real lunch break and get away from the office, hopping in my car and wandering over to the bookstore for some R&R (and some sugary starbucks).

There are a few places that are able to snap me back into place and wipe away any “sourness” and “dourness” I may be feeling (or otherwise self-pity): the always awe-inspiring Anthropologie, sometimes Forever21, a pretty park on a clear day, and a bookstore. Today was a bookstore kind of day. And it made the perfect prescription.

I’d gotten bent out of shape over this and that and spent last night in a complainy whiny mood that did nothing but pull me down further because I don’t like to complain and whine but you do it because you think it will make you feel better but it just makes it worse. See how that sentence just turned around and around in a circle? That’s the logic behind complaining. It leads nowhere, even if logic tells you it ought to.

I started listening to this podcast by Boundless.org, which is affiliated with Focus on the Family, but is aimed (I presume) at young adults/singles. The people who host it are down-to-earth and funny but insightful (which if you ask me, is the best kind). Anyway one of the hosts was talking about a friend she has who really likes this guy and he leads her on (by way of not saying “no”) in a limbo-sort-of-relationship that is not serious but is not “friends-only.” one of those her-heart-is-on-the-line but he-gets-to-eat-his-cake-too kind of situations that I believe we’re all too familiar with. The hosts battled it out and one of the ladies offered advice that I thought was quite fitting (and which, not un-tangentially, goes along with my statement above): That the woman in the situation—who feels heavily invested and has no desire to leave the “relationship” she’s spent months “building”–needs to do exactly what she doesn’t want to do: Instead of giving more, give less.

We think that by giving more (of our hearts), we’re drawing someone closer. But in situations like this, it seems that you just end up giving away more of yourself—to someone who doesn’t appreciate it. The better way to salvage the situation is to give less, because if it jolts him into waking up, then great! But if he just lets it be, at least you didn’t keep trudging down that path.

So it often is, that the way we think we’re making progress and getting what we want, takes us the exact opposite, tangled way.

Regardless, after 45 minutes trolling around Barnes and Noble and sipping my way and paging my way through various book jackets and magazine covers, I came back uplifted and encouraged, with the self pity and poor mood from yesterday having melted away with last drops of a white chocolate mocha.

sometimes i just don’t get emotions. like how you can careen from one end of the spectrum to the other within a single moment. or, in some cases (such as the current case at hand): without even noticing it.

but right now, that’s a good thing. because i’m very much in a happy place. maybe it’s the fact that last night i walked around with sparkly deer antlers on my head for hours on end and got to wear fake eyelashes. or maybe because i was also spending the evening with some of my (ahem) deer-est of friends, decked out in peacock, feline, giraffe, kangaroo, skunk and rabbit regalia, which is enough to make even the scroogiest in spirit crack a smile. or maybe it’s because today i bought new slippers that are soft and comfy and super bright green. or maybe it’s because after that, the Lovelies met and ate at Frisch’s and then paged through some pretty bridesmaid dress options for the big bad July event. maybe it’s because i just spent the last hour doing nothing but listening to the soundtrack i made for last night’s party and dancing along at all appropriate parts (which, for the record, is almost the entire thing). maybe? maybe.

but does it matter where it comes from? because i have to wonder if we’re even meant to understand emotions in the first place. think about it: emotions are the quality that set us apart from all other animals. yes, i imagine some emotions are instinctual (for example, a dog’s ability to show sadness or excitedness). in the chronicles of narnia, it’s this ability (to talk and show emotion) that set the narnian animals apart from the other beasts–aslan handpicks them. what i’m saying is, aren’t emotions the quality in us that best reflect our God, who in fact is Love? so if we already can admit how BIG God is–too big for us to comprehend how he created life or his timing or his whole plan or how he does anything–then why wouldn’t it make sense that this thing called emotion wouldn’t elude us as well?

i take comfort in that, that sometimes it’s not for me to try to grapple. sometimes it just is. and right now, it’s good and glad and all things in that wonderful, beautiful vein.

this past sunday kicked off a new series at church called, “peace.” (you can subscribe to eastside’s podcast and get the sermons for free; just go to iTunes Store > then search for Eastside Christian Cincinnati, and it’ll be the only one that comes up.) so, back to peace.

the one time when hitting the FWD button is a good thing
the one absolutely lovely idea that Jonathan spoke during that hour that I’ve really tried to latch onto is the idea of forwarding our worries to God. he was talking about how we get emails and there are some people who forward them on to all their friends. well he was saying that we need to be like that with the things that are stressing us out–don’t even bother opening them (the “emails”/worries) but just forward them along to God, who will open them up and deal with them appropriately. if we can just learn to forward them on to Him, then that peace that He offers will be so much more lasting and profound.

so i’ve been trying to abide by that, ever since. just when i start feeling that anxious feeling rise up, i just press the “forward email” button in my head, and just release it. interesting, because that’s something i’ve always struggled with: how to release things to God and not hold on to them. but this image of “forwarding” really strikes a chord with me.

trying is good enough
another realization of late that’s been bouncing around in my head is the idea that, you know what? i’m trying. and that’s all that matters. i’m trying when it comes to this whole snafu with paul and doing the best that i know how to do. i’m trying when it comes to reaching out to the girls at church. i’m trying when it comes to doing enough. i’m doing the best that i know how to do; i’m by no means “stubbornly resisting.” but at the same time, i’m human: so, try as i might, i’m going to mess things up. i’m destined to never get it “right” all the time. but that’s not for lack of me trying and so that doesn’t make me any less of a person.

i’ve struggled with that a lot and have finally come to terms with it, that what i’m endeavoring is enough. i have to do one thing at a time and then move on to the next–not expect to do it all here and now and be done with life at the ripe age of 25.

we watched a video on Bono once, and he talked a little bit about how his first trip to Africa was more than a decade ago, when he and his wife were still really young (maybe when they were first married?). anyway, he talked about how that one trip was merely a seed; they didn’t come back and jump right into starting charities and raising awareness–that trip percolated in their minds and then, when the time was right years later, they were able to take that seed and watch it blossom. so i just have to trust that those things will happen in my life–there’s no rush, right now. i just keep planting, and waiting.

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