I just need to process and document some thoughts.
So much of my life looks different now than it did four years ago. Some of the differences are obvious, such as having a husband and becoming a mother. But other differences are deeper–part of growing up, I suppose.
My freshman year of college was awesome. School was easy, the Lifegroup I jumped into was spectacular, and I was growing closer to God daily. (I also took epic daily naps.) I felt like my whole perspective on life changed. I read books like Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper and Radical by David Platt that shook me to the core. I went on a spring break mission trip where I saw people saved and healed, and I myself experienced God in powerful ways. I remember often thinking, I’m never going back to living a “normal” life.
Much of the inner struggle in my heart since getting married almost three years ago and having a child has been trying to reconcile those experiences and how life has actually happened. I struggled hard–and looking back, I burnt myself out making my life appear “radical” and making sure I was always serving and leading and doing something that someone would want to put into one of those books.
Having a baby really shook things up. Slowly but surely I realized that the pace I was trying to keep up, the image I was trying to keep up, was hurting my family. And it hurt my marriage. For the first two years of marriage I thought I was more spiritual than Joey, though I would have never said it out loud. It honestly is painful even thinking that there was that much pride in my heart for so long. Pride that slowly chipped away at our connection, affected the way I looked at him and it all came out like an eruption at the most random times.
Until earlier this year when all kinds of breaking and humbling and softening and releasing went on in my heart and the tears fell and I found myself repenting to the man that I was sure was the one who needed to change for so long.
And just like that, he forgave me. And that forgiveness washed over me. And the blood of Jesus reminded me: You don’t have to be enough. Stop the striving. You are forgiven and free.
And then I really lived and experienced the joy and peace promised in Isaiah 55. Peace that comes from knowing that I am where God has me. That He is here and because of that, my life will never be mundane or meaningless–no matter whether I live in the suburbs or in India.
This shift that has happened in my heart this year has really changed everything. It’s the reason why we got off staff and stepped back from nearly all ministry we were involved in. For us, at this time, it was the right thing to do. And so much freedom has flowed from that letting go and relinquishing my titles. The permission to be a mom. The permission to have more than just one free night a week. The freedom to not have to do or not do things just because other families in our community are.
I have been humbled and have let go of some of my notions of what I thought living radically for Jesus was supposed to look like. I had this fear for a while that my life would never look the way I thought it was supposed to. I was always trying to distinguish what I do as a Christian as opposed to what “normal” Christians do. (Again, prideful.) But there was always that deep fear–fear that led me to ask God, What if my life does just look normal? What if we live in Texas close to family forever? What if we never do those things I dreamed of doing my freshman year of college when I would have done anything for you? And a stillness, a peace in my heart that knew His response: Even if. I love you. And you will be joyfully welcomed into eternity.
Jesus makes my life meaningful. Not what I do or don’t do. This is the greatest gift I received in my 23nd year. I look forward to going out in even more joy and peace this year as I live it in year 24. As I delight in my family, bear another child, and as we seek to make progress on our home and meet financial goals. Normal stuff. Yet what I know now is that God is in it. And I experience His joy and peace in Arden’s laughter and in our lovely Lifegroup of six other young families. And I live out the gospel as I faithfully do the dishes and make meals and pray with a friend in my living room. And my life is far from normal. Because what I know is that my life is hidden with Christ, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. He is here with us and everything is sacred. Hallelujah.
Wow I really hope that all made sense. There is so much more that I could say. I am just so thankful for what God has taught me about his faithfulness, about contentment in this season, and how he truly has led me forth in joy and peace.