What is possible in a single human life utterly amazes me. I sit, staring off into the dark windows outside to the wings of the airplane, imagining, pondering, wondering, What will my life lead?
I feel the tension building. I find comfort in stories, especially those who had deep preparation. I find comfort in Jesus who didn’t start his ministry until after 30 years and only needed 3 years to see his purposes completed. I find comfort in stories of people who left everything at age 50 to live overseas, or those that changed jobs endless times.
I feel that I’m at a juncture. Part of it could be recognizing that my school years are quickly accelerating to an end. Another part of it is recognizing journeys in my heart that are now completed and traits that I have become.
I think back to a few weeks ago, God whispering in my head, “I have all your heart now.”
I hold back tears at this thought. Not that I have arrived, not that I have reached an end, but that I’ve just begun a life completely and utterly held in God’s arms with my heart fully his.
It’s been a journey that has been going on since I was 16. I remember sitting in my bed, thinking of the idea of what it looked like to have a heart completely fulfilled and in love with God. I recognized my deep desire to be known.
It was the hardest semester. It was so hard. Just so hard. I try to find words to explain, but they often only mirror pieces of stories and experiences that would take to long to write here.
I think about how in just a few minutes I will walk off this plane back to home, Minnesota. How will I just lay back in my bed, so utterly different than the sixteen year old girl that first slept there? How do I sit with my friends when I now feel like my life will be so utterly different? Dreams have shifted, perceptions peeled off, and life now has such a different taste.
It is the taste of joy. I think about my Sunday mornings, slipping away to Hollywood to step into my church that meets in a nightclub, walking down Hollywood boulevard, gathering friendships with those on the streets around me. Every Sunday I’d get my vegetables for the week, and my pluots from Miguel.
I think back to Wednesday mornings, watching the sunrise with my professor, Uncle Lloyd, whittling while praying or snacking on quesadillas. These rich times just can’t be explained.
I think to late nights with my roommates, processing prayers, listening to lives, growing in our hearts for God.
I always wondered why I was at Biola. I’ve never quite liked it.
It always seems that at the end we begin to see.
We see how every little detail is molding us into something. We see how it all works out, and how nothing was wasted.
I now see. I couldn’t live the life I was always meant for until I knew the love he always had for me.
I couldn’t begin to go to the places I was meant to until I knew who I was in places I didn’t want to be. Here I am, with now a heart that is so utterly different than the insecure girl that longed for a different story when she flew into California. I’m still learning each day how to let this heart go free. I’m still learning what radical forgiveness looks like in a world that loves revenge. I’m still learning the line of letting people go, but also never letting the love end.
Above all, I know that I’m being led. I see it when I look back, and I now see it in the future.
I am so convinced that I cannot plan this life, and equally excited to where it can go. I can really go anywhere, do anything.
I can do all things. It is so very different to actually see that as a possibility in the course of your life though. It is so different to see this as the very methodology to your entire substance. It is so different to see that in come true in the 3 AM nights, pulling enough words out of me to fill two 10-page papers before 83 hours of reading the Bible. It is so different to see it in the way I have left home and learned to love it when I didn't want to. It is so utterly different to believe my humble little suburb Minnesota life could possible lead to big things.
I was humbled, hurt, and extremely tried in my heart this semester. I was exhausted, close to failing a class, and fully aware that I am limited. I was tired, confused, conflicted, but I’ve come out of it believing I can do all things with grace.
I’ve never felt like life could be hard. I never faced real problems in my day to day life in America. Yet this semester was impossibly hard. So much I never knew I held onto was suddenly taken, turned around, and thrown. For so long I chased it, trying to hold tightly to life as it seemed it should be in my head, but I always knew there had to be more.
I thought “more” would look like moving overseas, living among the poor, or doing something radical. It just seemed what my life was meant for.
Now I see that the “more” I was searching for is knowing the love of God.
It is everything and more, and sometimes God may lead us to things not because they are strategic in our life goals, but because they are strategic in giving him more of our heart. That is the life worth living. And now, here I go, with that love as my everything.
What is possible with a heart that is in love with God?
I guess I will soon find out.
Sitting in the middle of a mess is a skill.
Resting in the middle of it is even harder, but it’s one I have learned. In fact, I’m doing it right now.
As I write this, all my clothes are on my bed, my suitcase still in the corner, and boxes of things are in the garage that I still need to sell.
I used to have to finish everything before I could rest. As you can imagine, I never did.
I remember days coming back to the kitchen at my job after serving meals and looking at all that needed to be done. For a minute, I would just sit. I would sit in the mess, and I would breathe. I would eat a granola bar and take a few sips of iced coffee, and after a few minutes, I would work.
I’ve learned that life begins with rest, not ends with it. I used to wait to rest until I had seen everybody I needed to see.
I used to wait to rest until I did everything on my to do list. Little did I realize, I was rhythming myself into exhaustion.
If you cannot let your soul sit satisfied when things are left undone, you never will. We have to learn to rest before everything is in its place, because things will never quite be “in their place.” Taking a whole day, or a part of it at least, for a Sabbath makes us come to face ourselves. It makes us remember we are not in control and it reminds us that God is enough in all aspects.
So simple, I know, but it’s so important. Why do we take every other commandment in the Bible so seriously, but skip having a Sabbath day of rest?
I was reading a book and the author brought up an amazing point.
If we are to follow Jesus, we are to follow not just everything he said, but everything he did too.
Jesus may never had specifically commanded us to rest or be alone, but he did it ever so often that we must do the same too. I think we’ve spun it the wrong way when we tell people that they will get more done if they rest first. Do not worry, somehow all your work will get done when you rest, but rest is not about being productive. In fact, I believe that's the point.
It is when there is nothing in front of you, that you come to glimpse everything inside of you.
Rest is about finding your value apart from the work of your hands.
So, I encourage you, when you have a project or process in front of you where your heart would be tempted to run rampant, sit down.
Take a deep breath, and rest in the mess.
You’ll find yourself trusting God more.
It wasn’t yours to worry about anyway.
I tend to look back, not forward, in and not out, not up, just down. But things are starting to finally flip.
Have you ever heard this quote?
“If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, its yours forever. If it doesn't, then it was never meant to be.”
Despite all the things I disagree with about this quote, I’m beginning to see that it carries some weight.
I think we need to let people go, hold relationships loosely, and enjoy them fully.
There is something about certain friendships that will never go away. You still have the same spark, even if you only saw them once a year. I used to be saddened by this, wishing that I could spend more time with the people that I love so well, and love me all the same.
Now, I just enjoy it. I realize that God is writing a really big story, lives weaving in and out, and I just get excited when their lives touch mine.
I’ve seen friends go out and come back. I have done that to people. I think that’s why we have a constant God, so that friendships are just the icing on top to our friendship with God. I remember I used to think it was okay to have expectations when I was in a relationship with someone, but I realize now that you can’t, at least with the normal definition of the term.
Expecting them to love you is selfish. Appreciating love given is beautiful.
I love the Lord. He hears my cry and answers me.
He always has grace for seasons where community is lacking and where people let you down. He always brings the right people at the right time.
Oh, the amount of times I have tried to push or manipulate something into working, when I just needed to wait on God with patience.
So yes, let people go. Trust God. Memories don’t promise anything, they are simply meant to be enjoyed.
He always has a way to give you the pure desires of your heart in every moment.
It just may not be how you desired them to be fulfilled.
So many times I have wanted to talk to a certain person, but a random stranger ends up being the one that comforts me. Advice in my life has come from unexpected places. Love has come from even more unexpected moments, and the challenge I’ve desired has come in all the ways I never thought it could.
Moral of the story?
Enjoy it all.
We must be able to believe that we’ve been given a life to live and it’s a good thing.
We live in a society where life seems inherently bad, but we must learn to believe that breath in our lungs and people in our paths is a very good thing.
And it is.
A sunset with family, laughter with a friend, ice cream with a brother, it all deserves to be appreciated just as much as heartbreak from a lover, friendships gone down different paths, or jobs that stress.
When you are free from needing people, you just get to enjoy each one as the gift that they are.
For me, there is nothing more loving you could do for someone than writing them a letter and buying them dark chocolate almonds from target (I’ve scouted out all of the brands and target is the winner, trust me).
Chocolate covered macadamia nuts have a special place in my heart though.
I didn’t realize it while I was in it, but for the longest time, I didn’t believe I was loved, and just until recently, I realized I didn’t believe I was valuable. No one on earth can actually make you believe you are loved, no matter how well they love you. It took me 20 years to learn it, but the truth is even if you feel loved, appreciated, or accepted by others, believing you are loved is a whole different animal.
The feeling of being loved is quite different than the identity that you are.
Your husband will die one day, your friendships could be separated by different life paths, and people sometimes just leave just because they want to. Peoples’ love is the cherry on top, but the sundae is God. I have tried to put it the other way around, and trust me, it just does not work.
For the first time in my life, I am so excited to go back to California. I realized that if I had not gone, I would be a desperate, depressed, dependent girl who would be so incredibly attached to her friends and community that she would never be able to truly follow God above all.
God is really jealous for my heart.
In California I came face to face with myself. I had to sit down with no friends, no family, and no one. I had to realize who I was when no one was there.
Did I have value if people didn’t need me? Apart from everyone else, who was I?
Everyone has a different question that they have to come face to face with.
Your question might be something like this:
Do you have value if you aren’t doing anything?
Do you have value if you don’t contribute anything?
Do you have value if you aren’t making people happier?
Do you have value if you don’t do it perfectly?
Do you have value if you aren’t enough for everyone else?
Do you have value if you aren’t successful?
I remember sitting on a plane on the way back from Kona to LAX, finally finding the answer to these questions.
I remember the thought popping into my head ever so softly, realizing it was God ushering it in,
“Lisa, I will love you in all the ways you’ve always desired from people, even the physical things.”
In that moment, the flight attendant taps me on the shoulder, “Would you like a dozen more chocolate covered Macadamia nuts?”
I almost started to cry.
God got me chocolate.
I often hear friends say something along the lines of, “Yea, I know God loves me, but I just want someone who can hold my hand, buy me flowers, and I can’t put my head on God’s shoulder.” And I get it. God is not here in the physical, but I think that is part of it.
We’re always going to long for God to come back.
We’re always meant to realize that a part of our hearts will always be unfulfilled because we will want him here, now. Within that, however, I think we will find that when our hearts are truly filled with his love, his love will invade the physical.
We will start to experience it, when we start looking for his love more than others.
We will start to see his steadfast love in it all, the good and bad, and everything in between.
Yes, get to know him, but also don’t forget to enjoy him. Talk to him, go on adventures.
Life is thrilling with God.
I once asked God what that season in my life would look like and I remember the thought popping in my head, “free coffee and healing.” I didn’t pay for single coffee for three months and within that time I saw two sprained ankles healed in moments, cancer disappear, and a dozen other healings that to this day I could never explain. I look back on that season and realize that God doesn't want his love to just be abstract, he is constantly showing it.
Back in May, I had my flight home from California. I was reflecting on my year, realizing that this was the year that I learned to truly believe I was loved, and learned to truly love. All of a sudden, the guy I had chatted with in the seat next to me hands me a box.
It was full of chocolate covered macadamia nuts.
God loves me, and I know it. I see it when I jump wake in a jet boat down the St. Croix river, when I hop on a plane to South America with a ticket I didn’t pay for, or even when I cry over rejection on the couch in my dorm. I feel it to the fullest. God’s love is real. Don’t get me wrong, this year was a year of rejection, heartbreak, letting go, and many tears, but at the end of it all is freedom. I still fight some days to believe it, but at the core of who I am, I know it’s true.
It just is.
Because he said so.
And if we let him in, God shows his love with actions that speak just as loud as his word.
"the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord." - Psalm 33:5