Saturday, July 8, 2017

Dear College: Sophomore Edition

Dear College,

     This letter should have been written a long time ago, but I think it is fitting to write this now as the time to start our third year approaches soon. We have been together for two years now! This is absolutely crazy! They say that the college years go fast and they really have. Our relationship is so fast paced that I soon forget how much time has past. However, I have loved the speed of the last two years and all of the things that I have learned in such a short amount of time.
   
     Year Two has definitely not turned out the way I imagined, but life has never went along with my imagination anyway. We almost didn't meet again because of money in the Fall, but God brought it all together in His timing. Also, we almost didn't get to come together again in the Spring, but God provided $3,000 in four days to allow me to come back! His provision keeps astonishing me over and over again! It makes me confident that we are supposed to be together. The Lord also provided for me to go to a Europe Chorale Tour, which definitely exceeded anything I could have imagined! He has been so good to me.
   
     This past year has been a year of growth for me in theatre and music. I have gotten better at singing (through my own vocal training, teaching voice to my first student, and performing in so many concerts). My voice has matured and grown. Also, the opportunities for me to explore theatre has opened greatly. I was given so many fantastic roles that helped me to explore what I could do as an actor (from playing crazy mothers to stuttering lawyers to fancy girls to caring aunts). I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my moments on stage!
   
     However, some of the best moments were when I wasn't in the spotlight because of my abilities, but when I was glorifying the Lord through song. In February, I got to play a song I wrote about the struggles of life for one of the chapel services, which was way out of my comfort zone. The Lord did such great things through that song and even now I can't believe that it actually happened! I struggled so much with feeling inadequate or that I was too small to make a difference, but the Lord lovingly decided to change my mindset and use me to influence literally hundreds of people whom I have never met! I will never forget that period in my life! It was absolutely incredible!
   
     This second year of our relationship hasn't been the easiest. There were many struggles and rough patches. I lost some close friends through unhappy circumstances. The Lord shut doors in my face quite abruptly and crushed some of my plans and hopes in ways that I did not expect. I had to deal with the depressing thoughts and situations of myself and my friends. I had to go through a few trials of learning who I was despite the always-optimistic front I put on. I grew a lot in who I am as a person.

However, growing pains are never pain-free.



      I love to choose to see trials as times to learn lessons, and I have learned a lot this year. I have learned more about what it means to trust in the Lord and that His timing is usually different from mine. I have learned to be more confident in who I am as a person and to not put myself in a little box. I have learned to let go of some of the people I love and to not hold onto them too tightly. I have learned how to worship no matter if I'm in chapel, in a church in Florida, on a tour bus, across the ocean in Europe, or in a practice room with a group of friends. 

I am still learning how to be more open with people.
I am still learning how to not compare myself to others. 

     Sophomore year has been such a blast! I have explored new territories and conquered new fears. I am so thrilled to see where Junior year will take us when the Lord provides for me to return to the exciting journey of college!  

Love,
               Rebekah

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Meaning Behind Monotony

"Life is a great adventure." 

     I hear that every so often in encouraging quotes and as catch phrases in movies. As a child, I read books that were filled with exciting and interesting stories of daring adventures and crazy happenings that seemed like everyday occurrences. I watched movies that were woven around the intriguing lives of individuals who accomplished great things, whether it was becoming a renowned scientist against the ideas of the time or delivering an evil ring to the heart of Mordor. Culture had instilled the idea in me that life was guaranteed to be filled to the brim with adventures that I could never imagine!

      As a woman in her twenties, I have come to realize more and more that most adventures occur in stories. Perhaps that is why I enjoy acting so much; it gives me a chance to experience adventures in a seemingly monotonous world. My mother often used the phrase, "We're on an adventure!", but that mostly meant that we were lost in the car.

     Even college seemed more adventurous than the "real world". In college I was always working on something new: a new project for my classes, a new song to learn, a new show to memorize, or a new conflict in my relationships with friends. I loved the pace at college because it was always pushing forward at a rapid speed. There was also the thrill of being on your own and experiencing new things in what scientists say is the prime of your life, whether it was learning a new instrument, cliff-jumping, or traveling in Europe. College is an adventure that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

      To be quite honest, I have struggled at being home this summer. Life at home can seem dull and boring when it is compared to dazzling lifestyle of college and the unrealistic fantasies of stories. The daily task of going to work and coming home from work just to sleep and be ready again for work the next day can be very monotonous. It is slow compared to college and uneventful compared to the movies I watch and the novels I read.

If this is all that life will be like after college than I am not too excited about it.  

     Maybe you are thinking these same thoughts. I don't know if you are on summer break from school like myself, just graduated college and your now in the "real world", or if you have been an adult for a while and you feel like you are living the same routine on a never-ending loop. 

Do you ever just wonder if there is anything more to the life you living or is this just it? 

     Don't worry. I'm not about to try and sell you something or tell you the one secret to the meaning of life! I'm not that wise. However, the Lord has been convicting me and showing me some things recently. First of all, it is all about the comparing. While I was staying in a hotel in South Dakota last week, I saw a quote on the wall from Theodore Roosevelt. He said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." That hit me hard! My current life situation for the summer is not the same as college or the stories that I'm exposed to. It is different and has its own problems and pleasures. 

The moment you start comparing your life to someone 
else's you lose a bit of the wonder in your own story.

 I've also realized this from reading the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that "He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time." There is a time for everything. Right now it may be slow and uneventful but there is something special about this time that one day you will wish that you appreciated more. Secondly, life is never empty if you are being used by God to influence other people's lives for the better. Your mission in life should not be about entertaining yourself or striving to make yourself happy because that is incredible selfish and it won't happen. There is absolutely nothing in this world that can totally satisfy you except God. That's how you were created. The meaning behind the monotony is to take joy in wherever you are and to inspire others to do the same in the Lord! So my encouragement for both us today is to find joy in the little things and to pursue the meaning through the everyday repetitiveness. Relish where you are at right now. Life is never a mistake no matter how you feel about it. Enjoy the monotony!  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Cycle of Singleness

     My fellow singles, this post is for you and me. Today I felt led to write about something that we all struggle with in one fashion or another. It is the Cycle of Singleness. What is it? It is a revolving thought-process that we have in our heads in order to cope with the fact that we do not currently have a significant other. This might sounds silly or nonsensical, but I believe that most of us have gone through or are still going through this seemingly endless cycle.

     You have probably started off in the "I am Content" phase of this circle. You firmly trust what the Bible says about God having a plan for everything, including a soulmate. You have read and reread Paul's encouragement for believers to stay single in order to impact people in ways that married couples would have a hard time in. You can breathe freely, control your thoughts, and smile at the couples around you. This is the best time in the cycle because contentment is where we should be. It is trusting in the Lord, and it is filled with joy and peace.

But let's be honest. We have a hard time staying there.

     After watching your coupled friends love on each other and watching entertainment that glorifies relationships to such an extreme (try naming fifteen movies that don't have a romantic interest), you rapidly and without realizing slip into the the pit of the "Woe is Me" stage. This stage is where a lot of us linger and sadly it is long lasting. We all have that inherent desire to be chosen because of our uniqueness and to be loved by an individual for it.

The desire to be loved is one of the strongest desires in human nature.   

     Soon all you can think of is why you don't have a significant other. Maybe something is wrong with you. Are you too weird or awkward? Are you not attractive enough? Maybe everyone out there is trying to keep you from being in a romantic relationship. Maybe God doesn't care enough about you to fulfill your needs. Maybe you will never find "the one" and you will be alone forever.  

     This is a very dark time in the Cycle of Singleness and it is filled with darkness and lies, which if you don't try to fight will turn into the next phase; "I Despise Love". This is the extreme stage of bitterness against all relationships and any outward display of affection. Since you are apparently not good enough to have a boyfriend/girlfriend, nobody else should be. You are so tangled up in your own pity-party that you cannot see the beauty of others relationships. This is a dangerous zone to be in as it could easily manifest itself in not only your thoughts but your actions. If you find yourself slipping into this stage, pray that the Lord will reveal His love to you!

     Thankfully, many times we climb out of this dark stage into one of stubborn independence called the "I'm Fine" phase. You are not bitter about being without a partner. Instead you look down on those pathetic pairs in a conceited arrogance because you don't need another person to complete your life. You are perfectly fine just how you are. In fact, a lover would just slow you down and make your life filled with unnecessary complications. Although this may seem like a healthy alternative to being bitter, it is really just disguised longing. But from here there is the hope of returning to the "I am Content" phase and to begin the process all over again.

     This may seem like a hopeless loop but it is actually the ideal training ground for two important virtues: patience and trust. God uses every season of life to constantly teach us and bring us closer to Him. Singleness is an ideal time to learn more about yourself as an individual without having to worry about another person. It is a time for Him to educate us in patience because we don't know how long we will remain on our own and everyday we must give up our desires for His. It is a time for Him to instruct us in trust because we always must come to the conclusion that He knows best and we must rest in Him alone. God's plan always trumps our own. If it is His desire for you to be married one day than He will make it happen! Also, if it is His plan for you to remain single than He will give you the strength and joy to be able to live life to the fullest!

     I am praying for you, my fellow singles! I pray that you are able to see how God is working in you during this precious time!



P.S. I've never done this before, but I love hearing God stories! If you have seen God working through your singleness or just have stories of His love for you, I would love to hear them! My email is rrrmoviegirl@gmail.com and I would love to converse with you and swap stories of how He is working in all of us!

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 and 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!