Friday, April 14, 2017

Craving for the Final Chapter

     She felt it in the glory of the mountains. She heard it in the complete melodic unison of a worshiping choir. She felt it in the deep prayers of devoted friends. She saw it in the sparkling stars in a vast, dark sky. She glimpsed it in the quiet peace of dwelling in the Lord's presence. 

Heaven.

     "What a glorious place that will be!" She thought that often throughout her seemingly repetitive life. While so many people imagine heaven like a silly cartoon with angels playing harps while floating on clouds, she saw it as something rich and colorful. Just as the earth is a dimmed reflection of God, so heaven would be a bright and glorious place where God resides! She deeply desired, craved and longed for the final moment when she could finally see the Lord at last. She could finally bow down before and yet also embrace her Lover, Savior, Redeemer, and Author. All would be completed and yet all would just be beginning. Death would be the final sentence of one chapter and also the transition into a new one. What a wonderful day that would be!

 "Is it wrong for a Christian to desire to die?" 

     She wondered this while she was slicing cucumbers at her job. "Is it wrong for a child of God to desire to see Him finally?" The Bible states that in the end our faith will be made manifest and real before us. That which we cannot see now will be brought into the light at last. She wanted that with all of her heart. 

     She admitted to herself that it was also a desire to escape. Some days she was so fed up with how sinful and cruel the world was. It annoyed her that she was drenched suffocated in sin and that she wouldn't be fully able to worship or obey the Lord without it on this earth. She could imagine what the finished product of Rebekah would be like once it was completed. She just wanted to skip the refining and assembling step and get to the final result. Why couldn't life just be like buying a new book and skipping to the end page to see if the conclusion was a happy one? After all, Revelation is the final chapter. Why couldn't God just fast-forward to that part?

     Then she remembered that if you skip to the end of the book you would never truly appreciate the journey of story. The best stories are always the ones that are filled with hardship but completed with triumph. The purpose of mankind is to glorify God and what better way to do that than for Him to orchestrate a remarkable story through each and every character? 

     Her tale wasn't over yet. 

     Although she liked to think that she had already impacted a lot of people for the Lord, she was selling herself short to the potential that could be in store. Although she craved the final chapter, she really didn't know what sort of character development needed to happen in order for that last part to be the richest it could possibly be. Although she assumed God could still impact people without her, she forgot to take into account that she was specifically designed to touch peoples' lives in ways that only she could do. 

     The desire for heaven and for the final product wasn't a bad thing. In fact, it gave her joy and hope throughout the day. However, she couldn't let it cloud her view of why she was on earth in the first place. God wasn't finished with her yet. He doesn't create extras, background characters, or minor roles. He is glorified through each and every person in extremely specific ways that only they can bring out. It is why we are all still here. We are not done yet! 

     If you have struggled with longing for an end, I implore you to remember that God isn't finished with you yet! He determines the length of our days and the number of the last heartbeat. Look forward to the final chapter, but don't let it overshadow where you are now! You might miss the whole point of what He is trying to teach you! Carry on and live out His story in whatever way He has given you! 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

I Don't Want to Be Famous

     I don't want to be famous. 
   
     That sounds kind of funny coming from a girl who is majoring in Musical Theater and who wants to perform for a career, doesn't it? That sounds kind of weird coming from a girl whose song has reached a few thousand people already, right? That sounds kind of comical coming from a girl who loves being on the stage, you know?

     However, it is true. I have thought about it a lot recently and I have come to the conclusion that I don't want to be famous, not that that will ever be a reality.

     Now don't get me wrong; it is quite nice being recognized and complemented on doing a job well done on stage. Performing requires a lot of background work that nobody ever sees or realizes, so it is rewarding to be complemented by audience members. It is one of the nice aspects of the job. However, soon the memory of the performance dissolves away and you eventually just fade into the background of life again. Although being the center of attention can be exciting, there is always a part of me who desires to just go back to being little me again.

I don't want to be famous because it is unrealistic. 

     No one stays famous for long. Peoples' likes and dislikes change so rapidly. One minute they can love you and the next they can despise every word you say. It is also unrealistic to be famous. Most of the time, people idolize the part of the performers that they can see, which is usually just on stage. That is not their real life. The person I am on stage is usually completely different from who I am as just me. It would be so heartbreaking to know that people only liked you because of the facade that they think is the real you.

I don't want to be famous because it would be annoying.

     It would honestly get annoying if people complemented you all the time. It would become meaningless and cliche, which I would never want. I want to take every kind word as a true expression of the heart, not as just another excited individual being annoying.

I don't want to be famous because it would be confining. 

     Our culture idolizes celebrities to an extent that is ridiculous. However, does anybody stop to wonder if the celebrities get any say in their lives? They are just everyday, normal human beings whose occupation happens to be in front of the world. They are on camera all of the time so they have to maintain an image that is probably not accurate to who they truly are! Living under the microscope of culture would be such a burdensome way to live.

I don't want to be famous for me.

     The whole purpose of living on this world is to glorify God and to share the amazing news of salvation with whoever we come in contact with! If I ever become famous (which again probably won't ever happen but just imagine with me) I would want to desire with all my heart to give glory where it is due. I don't have the gifts, talents, or personality I have just out of random chance. It is the Lord's gifts to me and it is my challenge to use them to give the credit to the One who gave them to me in the first place! Hopefully that means that I can use them in the performing world just out of the delight I get from being on stage!

I don't want to be famous, but I want the Lord to be through me!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Masking Pain

     Sometimes I think we forget that Christians are broken people. In the church, we have this idea that since we have believed in the Lord all of our problems and sin issues should magically not exist anymore. We have inhabited this impersonation of a group of people who do not struggle with anything because we go to church and pray.

     We walk into the church building with our heads held high. We smile and greet our fellow believers with a casual attitude although we didn't go to sleep last night til 3am because we were arguing with our spouse on the brink of divorce. We shake hands with our pastor with a well rehearsed confidence that masks the guilt we feel from looking at porn before getting dressed for the service. We sing the songs of praise to the Lord so loudly just so that we can get compliments from the surrounding congregation about how much musical talent we have because we have such low self-esteem. We eagerly implore to hear others prayer requests while failing to mention our own.

Christians have perfected the act of masking pain. 

     Until I moved to college, I didn't truly realize how broken Christians were. During my childhood, my "Christian bubble" was too well designed to disguise the realities of fallen humanity. I always associated pornography, sexual sins, depression, anxiety. bitterness, hatred and other issues to be problems that people outside the boundaries of the church faced. College has disrupted that perception. I am glad that it did, otherwise I would have still lived in that fictional reality.

Although the Lord is always working in you, there will still be sin and pain in your life.

     My fellow brothers and sisters, I implore you to be honest. First of all, be honest with the Lord. Sometimes we are afraid to speak to the Lord truthfully about how we feel about situations. It is natural to cry out to the Lord and ask Him why this is happening in your life! David did it all the time in the Psalms! The Lord already knows your heart so do not be reluctant to bring it before Him. Secondly, be honest with your brothers and sisters in Christ. As the body, it is our joy and duty to edify, encourage, and pray for you, not to condemn you! You and I are never alone in our struggles! Don't believe that lie for single second!

     I write all of this as an introduction. Last semester the Lord wrote a song through me. I don't say that as a pretense of humility. I literally sat down to write a blog post at my laptop and forty minutes later a song appeared on my screen! I don't ever write songs, but this one seemed to flow unconsciously from my fingertips. The Lord has already used it as a medium to present truth to people who are hurting around me at college. The truths that I have written I claim to hold to as best as I can.
This world is hard and it is filled with so much sorrow, but the Lord is good!
He is what we have to hold on to! 



Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Lost Friendships

     Her phone lit up with a Facebook notification. You have memories on this day. She tapped the shining notification and was immediately taken to the page which showed all of the things she had posted one year, two years, and three years ago on the same date. It was a neat little app which often made her smile or laugh in remembrance.

     Today, her smile quickly faded as the first picture that popped up was of a friend group picture from last year. Although it was a cheerful picture full of happy faces, it now gave her no joy.

     So much had changed. The group of friends had dispersed and no longer spent time together.

     They had gotten so close. They had laughed together, played together, sang together, acted together, had fun together, spoke honestly together, and wept together. Some of them had bonded so tightly that their friendship felt so secure that they were sure nothing could break it. Personally, she had waited a while before coming close to some of them, but when she did she was loyal.

She is loyal to a fault. 

     This school year everything was different. The bonds that were once as strong as steel somehow disintegrated into scraps. The secrets that they had once shared were no longer remembered or discussed. The hardships they had encountered were no more than a distant memory. It was as if their close friendship had never happened in the first place.

     Some people have said that the group was way too close in the first place, which is possibly true. Some people have said that separation is a normal part of sophomore year, which is also accurate. Some people have said that the distance is a good thing, which may turn out to be certain.

     Although she agreed with the logic behind the remarks, she still felt the emotional repercussions of the breaking. As each friend started to slip away, ending with a friend who was very dear to her heart, she began to grieve. Just as with the death or the separation of a loved one, so also she learned that it is possible to grieve over the loss of friendship. All of the stages are exhibited. At first, she denied it for such a long time. She would actively try to bring the group together again as if nothing had ever gotten in the way. She would naively believe that one day it would all be returned to how it once was. An honest friend soon spoke words of harsh truth to help her see how things really were. She has also briefly and sporadically visited the stages of anger against the people for giving up, mild depression for wondering how life could go on, and bargaining to find solutions in the middle. At last she is starting to accept things as they are, but it is not easy or fun.

     If you are going through or have gone through the loss of a friend or a relationship, do not beat yourself up for being emotionally compromised for a long time. Grief, the emotional instability after the loss of a close individual, is normal. Why do you feel this way? Because the Lord has given you the great gift of love and it hurts when it is torn away from you. However, do not be afraid to love people again. God gives us individuals for us to love and pour our lives in for only incremental seasons of time. Relish the chance to love with all your heart, even when it hurts! It is part of our purpose in this world!

So grieve for the people you lost, but always love the people you have! 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Enough

Sometimes words aren’t enough.
The pain and suffering go too deep for any mesh of syllables to pierce through.
The words you think might be helpful somehow float on the air once they are spoken.
They linger for a moment and then leave without entering the heart.
Words don’t always figure out the problem.

Sometimes being a friend isn’t enough.
The joy of friendship loses its flavor when it is tested by the fires of life.
The bond once shared isn’t strong enough to fulfill the emptiness of the soul.
The well-meaning friend might handle the situation in just the wrong way.
Friendship can’t always go deep enough.

Sometimes being an ear to listen isn’t enough.
The silence can’t solve the issue.
The patience to listen runs aground once the speaker has finished.
The listener doesn’t have the words to complete the unanswered questions.
Listening doesn’t always finish the equation.

Sometimes being the shoulder to cry on isn’t enough.
The weeping may soften the ache but it doesn’t provide the answers.
The tears may release some tension but it returns after a night’s rest.
The shoulder can only bear the burden for so long.
Crying only brings the problem to light.

Pain of the mind tears at the soul.
Depression is a sinking hole that never seems to have a bottom.
How do good friends help a dear friend who is in need?

Sometimes singing is enough.
When all else fails,
            when the words linger in the air,
                        when being a good friend is only a title,
                                    when the time for listening has ended,
                                                and when your shoulder aches from carrying the heavy burden,
Sing.

Sing every song of worship that enters your mind.
Sing even though your melody cracks with emotion.
Sing no matter who walks by and listens.
Sing with a passion that no simple words can describe.

Lift your eyes to the heavens.
Stare at the glittering stars in the vast blackness of the night sky.
Your problems always seem so much smaller when you glance at the bigger picture.
The One who made the vast galaxies created your little self.
Why do you doubt His power in your own life?

Life is so full of difficulties.
It can be a dark rain cloud that makes truth seem like a figment of the imagination.
It can be a dark, deep pool that seems to swallow every shred of hope.
It can be a battle of the mind that seems like it can never be won.
But that’s simply not true.

God never lets anything come our way that we cannot overcome.
He is enough.
Fight the hard fight!


And sing while you’re at it. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Romanticizing

     Do you know that feeling of thinking that reality was a dream? Have you ever been on a vacation that was so fantastic that you kind of forgot what home was like? When you returned to the daily routine of home, did the memories of your vacation slowly melt away until all you could remember was a happy feeling? When a loved one died, have you ever caught yourself afterwards thinking of them in a fictional way? All you can remember were feelings, but not the normal drudgery of life?

     That's kind of what it feels like to go to college. In a sense, you are are living in two separate worlds. You live at home during breaks and in the summer. Home is familiar and has a comfortable routine with your family that you have lived for all of your life. However, you also live at college throughout most of the year. Soon this too becomes like home, but in an entirely different way. Friends become your family, and the days of non-stop commitment soon become a tiring but familiar routine. They are both vastly different, but they are both a part of who you are.

     Have you ever been in the summer and wished for the coolness of winter? However, when winter arrives you soon begin to complain about how cold it is and how much you want the warmth of summer?

We romanticize about everything we don't have. 

     When I was living at home for the summer, I longingly ached to be back at college. Now that I'm here, I have remembered how draining this life can be sometimes.

     Don't get me wrong. I love life here. There have been so many times when I have stopped and just thanked the Lord for miraculously bringing me back. I am so glad to be with my friends, to be living in the glorious mountains, and being involved in my passions of music and theater again! There are so many aspects about college that I enjoy dearly. It has been so wonderful coming back and knowing people. There is not this super awkwardness of knowing absolutely nobody and having to start relationships from scratch like last year.

     In my romanticizing of college over the summer, though, I had forgotten the hardships that were a part of this way of living. I'm not even talking about homework or classes. It is hard living in an environment where everyone is constantly comparing themselves to others. It is hard living in an atmosphere where one of the top priorities is to find a soulmate. It is hard living in a place where you are relied on and expected to know the answers for the difficult questions of life that you have never experienced before.

     Just as different workout exercises test different muscles, so the different areas and seasons of our lives challenge various aspects of our character. I had just forgotten what parts of my being had gotten weak while living at home. At home, I was challenged in patience and endurance. Here I'm being challenged in self-esteem and wisdom.

     I don't want to romanticize anymore. I don't want to focus on the "what ifs" because they take away my focus on the "what now". I need to enjoy the present, with both its hardships and its joys!

Monday, August 1, 2016

When God Says...

     "Alright, Lord. Today is the day. I need to know today if I can go to college again or not."

     This was her prayer as she drove to her first job. Everyday it was the same old routine. Go to work at a daycare with crazy kids from 8 til 5 and then scrub bathroom floors at Chickfila from 7 til 11 at night. There was also the same old prayer that she had been desperately praying every day for the whole summer.

     "Lord, please provide. I know you can; I've seen you provide in crazy ways before. Just please provide now. I want to go back to college so bad that I have a horrible feeling in my gut when I think about being prevented from returning." She would then usually dwindle off in silence, thinking about how awful it would be telling her closest friends that she would not be able to live another year with them.

     That was her usual routine, sometimes broken by moments of absolute trust in the Lord and His ultimate plan for her life. Some days she could bear the thought of not returning because deep down inside she knew that wherever the Lord placed her was where she was supposed to be. But she really just hoped that His plan and her plan were parallel.

     On this day, though, it was the hardest test of faith in this specific circumstance that she had faced all summer. She needed to know today if she would receive enough money to pay for her first semester. $2,000. That number rang in her head all day, along with the tightness in her throat. As she taught the class of four and five-year-old children, she kept catching herself on the verge of tears.

     Nothing came. She plodded through the day, crying while trying to sing praises on her commutes home and numbly accomplishing the tasks in front of her.

God hadn't answered. 

     She was waiting for a sign. A text saying she won another scholarship. An email from a mysterious family friend who wanted to help her out. A hundred dollar bill lying in a gutter. Anything to tell her that the door was still open. She needed it that day.

     Late that night, her parents gently reminded her of something that she had quite forgotten. God doesn't run on human time. Perfect timing is a gift that only He possesses, and we don't know how it works. The door wasn't closed until the day the bill was due.

     Two days later, God said yes. She got three texts from her mother at work, each time confirming another piece of the monetary puzzle. What a relief! She about cried again, while changing diapers, but this time with joy!

     Yes, God gave her the desire that she longed for. In all honesty, an answer was all that she really wanted. If God had said no, than she would have just found the road that He wanted instead. It was the three months of waiting that she despised the most. It was a test of patience. She didn't pass with flying colors, but she had learned that difficult lesson a little more.

God doesn't always say yes, 
but His answer is always the right one. 

I am just really glad that He did!


(Stay tuned! Another year of college adventures is sure to follow!)