“For we live by believing, not by seeing.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Sometimes I find myself jealous of people who seem to have it all figured out. They have the job, the car, the house, and the body. From the outside it appears as though they have everything a person needs to be happy. Where did I go so wrong? They did everything right; finished their education, found a job, got married, had kids, bought a house. Myself on the other hand, have taken so many detours, made so many mistakes that have stunted my progress in life. But by whose standards? Society?
As Christian’s we are encouraged not to mimic the behaviors and customs of this world (Romans 12:2). Easier said than done, right? In the Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest world we’re living in, its becoming increasingly difficult not to compare ourselves with our peers, or let’s face it, complete strangers. As a collective culture, we have become experts at placing filters on our lives. What I seem to forget is that these people I’m jealous of have their own set of problems, sorrows, and regrets. They aren’t perfect, they’re just really good at hiding their imperfections and masking the truth that lies behind the screen.
“Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.” (Psalm 34:5)
There is absolutely no shame in the fact that I need God. There is nothing wrong with depending on him. Successful people tend to go their own way and forget about God. But success and deep, fulfilling joy are not the same thing. Society measures success based on outside appearances. But what society can’t measure is internal happiness.
God doesn’t guarantee that I will be happy all the time. He doesn’t promise continual success. In fact, he promises the exact opposite. He promises multiple failures, persecution, and sorrow. But what he also promises is his unwavering commitment to seeing us through it all.
I can’t count how many times I’ve blocked my own path. How many times I’ve told myself that I’m not good enough, that I can never achieve anything worthwhile. I have dreams of being a writer, of perhaps one day writing a memoir about my life. But the thought of me, Kirsten, writing a book is somewhat laughable. My fear of failure prevents me from writing anything, let alone an entire book. But what would happen if I invited God to plant His desires within me? Would they match my own, or would they go far beyond anything I could possibly imagine?
I become so discouraged by my mistakes and failures that I often let them completely derail me. But what if I began seeing these bumps in the road as opportunities. Opportunities to learn, grow, and change. The black and white world I’ve been living in has hindered my ability to find balance. My brain has been wired to view my behaviors and actions as either right or wrong. If I do something wrong, well then everything is wrong with me, I’m just a lost cause. If I do something right, well then I’m cured and I don’t need God. I have a tendency to forget about God when life is running smoothly, then begging for his help when everything falls apart. What I need to find is consistency in my walk with God. Building the habit of trusting him and listening to his direction. Praising him in the good times as well as the bad—the peaks and the valleys.
“The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” (Psalm 34:17-18)
God is faithful. Regardless of how many times throughout my life I’ve turned my back on God, God has never turned his back on me. Time after time I crawl back to him, spirit and body broken, expecting to be alienated from his presence. And time and time again he proves me wrong, welcoming me back into his loving arms. Praise the Lord! I searched for peace and found it, but now I must work to maintain it.
Three years ago I fell from the top of the tallest mountain, but through my walk with God, my falls have become less and less severe. Each failure has been followed by a growth spurt. I find joy and thankfulness in the fact that I’m not who I once was. Yet still, I spend so much of my time, so many nights lying in bed, projecting myself into the future. Only to become frustrated by the blurriness of the vision, terrorized by the unknown. But just because the image isn’t clear doesn’t disprove its existence and certainly doesn’t justify my lack of faith in the mysterious works of the Lord.
If you told me three years ago that I would be a year and a half away from graduating college, maintaining a 4.0 grade point average, living in Germany with Tommi, and working as an English teacher, well, I probably would have laughed. Instead, I sit in wonderment of God’s power. I look out into the vast ocean of possibilities and I pray.
I pray that God continues to plant his desires within me and that I will have the sensibility to bring his will to fruition. I pray for my continued sobriety, for it is truly a gift from God, and for the ability to maintain the peace that I have found. To be consistent in my worship, not just in the bad times but in the good times as well.
God, please straighten the path before me. Reveal your purpose and guide me along the way. Strengthen my faith not by what I see, but by what I believe is possible through you. In Jesus name, Amen.