Time flies when… your busy, depressed, overwhelmed, traveling… I MEAN… having fun? I honestly can’t say this semester has been one of my favorites, in fact, I struggled through most of it. The only thing that kept me going was my alone time in the mornings, but even those were dry and not fantastical. I overbooked myself way too much, not even the normal overbooking but I really did myself in this time. I have been taking 19 credit hours of classes, working 24 hours in the library, involved in 9 shows/exhibitions, and still trying to maintain volunteering with Missio, being an active participant in Mission Group, and make work that I wanted to be making. Oh and it would be nice to have friends, too. (PS this is why I don’t have time for Facebook…)
With all this being said, I think my busy schedule was a blessing in disguise. This semester I was overwhelmed with this terrible feeling of being unwanted and unneeded. It hit me really hard about two months ago and I just couldn’t shake the feeling. I would get really excited about something and then poof! gone! I felt helpless. I was working so hard at so many things all at once and in the process of doing that, I was becoming a slave to my work ethic, my business, my perseverance, my service, my talents and gifts… woahhh. I didn’t see that coming. How can I be a slave to good things? How can I feel locked up by having a strong work ethic or a serving heart? Well, I wasn’t spending intimate, passionate time with Jesus, I wasn’t running to my Father in prayer, worship, and guidance, I wasn’t caring about my heart and soul spiritually, and I wasn’t loving anyone with Christ’s love.
I was dead inside because I was focused more on finding a place where I was needed, wanted, and fit. I was working hard for scholarships, summer jobs, and traveling opportunities. I was filled with a busy schedule because I want to be that girl that can do it all: make bank and take more credit hours than recommended (and I can at the expense of my soul). I was pushing myself to show up to everything art related and missio related and persevere through it even though it was draining me. I was saying yes to every service opportunity because that’s what you’re supposed to do right? Oi. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
This semester was filled with these feelings of wanting to fit in with my Mission Group and the art world more. In striving to find a place I was wanted and needed, I stopped thinking I needed Jesus. I didn’t need more Jesus I just needed more community. Wrong. I needed Jesus so I could feel filled and alive again!!! I needed Jesus so I could remember that all those times I was feeling mocked or rejected for who I am and what I love, that Jesus was mocked and rejected for being THE SON OF GOD, the essence and purpose of himself! (Matthew 27:29-31). I needed Jesus so I could remember that when I am feeling forsaken and abandoned by everyone around me, that he felt forsaken by our Heavenly Father and he had to be abandoned in order to save… me. (Matthew 27:46) I needed Jesus to remind me that working hard won’t earn me anything because he already bought me, paid the price for me, in FULL. I don’t need to earn anything but rather I need to work for the Kingdom. My heart needs to be shaped into an employee of Christ.
So let me tell you what God did, because man, he wrecked/rocked my world this week. After feeling unwanted and unneeded all semester, I finally hit the wall and decided to talk to Him about all this… aka cry and yell at Him in frustration. My prayer time/ venting session went a little like this, “God, why would you put these feelings and opportunities in my heart and dangle them in front of my face if I’m not actually going to get them?! Why would you make me desire marriage and having children so much if it seems like I am never going to be able to have a healthy relationship because I don’t get what they are supposed to look like?!?! Why would you gift me with loving kids endlessly and having crazy energy just for them if you are going to take away all the job opportunities I had for kids this Summer and post-grad!?!?! Why would you put me in this mission group if I don’t connect with any of them and I feel like I am the only person who hasn’t lived a holy, christian life their whole life?!?!? Why would you make me passionate about art and put me in art school when art school tempts me to go back to my old ways?!?! Why is this all happening right now? ….. Ok God. I am feeling your presence and I feel your gentle hand. I think what you are saying by your gentleness is that I need to be content in all of this right now. I think you are telling me you love me and you are shaping me in the midst of this struggle. I think you are telling me that I need to be broken down a little, humbled a little, reminded of your power and control. Oh, God. You are in control. I submit all these feelings to you and I lift them up to you. You are in control and I know you will figure this mess out for me because you know I can’t do it myself. I know you know my heart better than I even do. God, I am going to be content in feeling unneeded and unwanted right now. I am going to be content in my failures right now. I am content because you are what I am standing on and despite how much I tend to forget to fall on my knees and get closer to the foundation I am standing on, I know you will never pull that foundation away from me. You are always right here.”
So, I sat in my hammock and lifted all my discontentedness up to my Father: a few art shows I wasn’t satisfied with my work in, my friendship-only relationship with Justin, my letter of regret for a scholarship I was really pumped about, my failed application for teach for america, a phone call that informed me all the positions were filled for wesley chapel this summer, the discomfort I have been feeling within my home, the rejection I was feeling within my Mission group, and the outcasted feelings I had in DAAP.
All of the sudden I felt a million times lighter. Sometimes, I put my worth in my work, in how many awesome relationships I have, in my gifting of how good I am with kids and pushing for vulnerable, close community, in my art work, and in my perseverance when everything seems to be falling apart. So God lovingly took all of the things away from me. Completely. And let me tell you, I felt unbelievably unwanted, unneeded, alone, and certainly above all else, a failure at everything. All the things I knew I was good at, all of the sudden I didn’t have it in me to work hard, be vulnerable, maintain friendships, make good artwork, nail down jobs revolving around kids, and I had zero perseverance.
Work is good. Community is good (and crucial). Kids are good (very good, and adorable). Art is good (well most of it… there’s some weird stuff out there now a days). Serving is good. Relationships are good. Perseverance is good.
But above all things, God is good. In fact, HE is what makes all of these things good for me.
God > good
all these things in my life can be good, too.
good > God
God will take away the false idols in my life that I am putting my hope and worth into and he will bring me back to his heart.
So to end this on another positive note, a few days after I was told that all the Summer positions were filled at WCMC and I lifted everything up to God and told him he can be in control of my life again (haha that’s a joke because who can give God permission… hee hee, He was always in control) I got a phone call… There is a position available at Wesley Chapel because one of the girls got a job elsewhere and they want to hire me! WHATTTT?! God DOES work everything out for our good but ONLY when we are following Him and relying on Him. I get to hang out with kids. I get to work with a Jesus-loving staff. I get to love on kids with Jesus’ love. I get to be a kid. I get to play, laugh, love, and enjoy! I get to let God work through me all Summer long… with kids. Did I mention I get to be with KIDS! Through this, God reassured in me that I am still meant to stay in Cincinnati. I have a reason, a purpose. I am wanted and needed. All those things need to be rooted in God, though. I am meant to stay here not because of art, work, or relationships, I am meant to stay here because God wants to move through me right here in Cincinnati. (PS. I am super geeked about this because I LOVE Cincinnati!)
Please be in prayer that God continues to shape my heart and prepare my heart for whatever is in store for me this Summer. I want to have a soft heart all Summer and love on these kids actively and consistently. Also, prayer for the kid’s hearts that they can get to a place where they want to seek Jesus, too. And safety is always a good thing to be praying about when you are working in urban environments like OTR 🙂
God is good, guys. So so good.