I’m sure you’ve noticed how blazing hot it’s been outside. I know I’m not the only one anticipating autumn and cool breezes with cloudy skies. When I took my dogs out earlier today, I finally saw the first signs of change in my backyard–the colors of the leaves (pictured below). I got so excited. Then I remembered all the grueling heat we’ve gone through to get to this point of change, and God spoke to me.
Materials, money, people, etc. come and go rather quickly. Any of it can enter your life suddenly and become a constant, or any of it can show up gradually and disappear in an instant. Honestly, there isn’t much of a formula to determine timelines for stuff anymore. The world is such a fast-paced mechanism which focuses on immediate self-gratification and the “next big thing.” It’s hard to keep up with the flow of it.
You can’t even buy an iPhone without the next one rapidly coming around the corner with upgraded specs, gadgets, and gizmos. The world moves on from something before even having the time to enjoy or appreciate it, causing us to short-change what’s in front of us. Eventually, if you’re like me, you get lost in the noise and the hype, feeling more left behind, distracted, or confused than ever.
For the past few months, I’ve felt like my voice has been thrown to the wind. I’ve stated my needs, concerns, opinions, questions, desires, or whatever else, and every bit has gotten lost in the sea of chaos we call society and culture. Does anyone really care what I write about or what I post on my Facebook wall? Has anyone actually detected that I haven’t been on social media? Probably not because everyone is focused on themselves or their own circumstances.
I used to feel short-changed myself, but now, it doesn’t hurt my feelings that the answer is probably no. So what if you haven’t detected my hiatus? Why would that be more important than what God is doing through and for me right now? I’m not living for people’s attention or opinions. I’m not living for likes or reactions on my posts. I’m doing what I think is right and fulfilling my destiny regardless if you notice or care.
My life is not going to stay the same forever, and neither is anyone’s or anything’s role of importance in it.
Friends, where I live, cars, careers, my last name, even who I am in general are all going to shift with the various seasons I face. And guess what? Just like the leaves turning colors when it’s time, there is nothing I can do to stop the transitions of life. I could fight them or try to put them off, but fighting and procrastinating are disobedient and extremely detrimental in the long run.
God is going to have His way in my life because He knows that I can’t escape the truth: that He possesses perfect plans for me, ones that are better than what I could ever design for myself, and He will take me forward whether I’m kicking and screaming or not. As long as He gets my attention, He will move me or move other things around me despite my reaction to the shift.
During my sophomore year of college, God began phase one of a new transition. It was set into motion through an awful breakup. Most of you know that this breakup left me with tremendous heartache, and a lot of you probably know all the drama that came with it. I’m sure that my ex can vouch for the fact that I refused to give up on us. I refused to let the Lord have my four-year-and-seven-month relationship, and I did everything in my power to keep it standing. Note that I said my own power.
The length of the relationship was relevant to me; he and I poured so much of ourselves, our time, hearts, efforts, secrets, money, and more into something that I thought was going to last a lifetime but was, in all actuality, deteriorating right before my eyes. The Lord was pulling us apart, and I did go out kicking and screaming during this particular phase. It was a mess. People got separate versions of the story, and it was awkward and weird. I was a mess because I didn’t understand how what I wanted could be so wrong. It was a roller coaster I never saw approaching.
My senior year, I was continuing to heal from that pain when I recognized phase two in the transition. I was losing friends and losing my place at Emmanuel. In the blink of an eye, college had come and was now going, throwing me into the jaws of adulthood. I had instantaneously outgrown the soil in which I had dwelled for three-and-a-half years; it was an unsettling experience.
It meant having to uproot from another comfort zone, and it meant fully relinquishing any residual grasp I still had on my ex or friends I wouldn’t be seeing consistently anymore. This time, I didn’t go out in a tantrum, but I did go out with a pang of emptiness. I had no plans, I had no job lined up, and I had no place of my own outside of Mom and Dad. How was I supposed to feel sufficient? On the contrary, I was feeling purposeless.
Three months into post-graduation, after my family’s week of vacation, counseling at camp for two weeks, and road-tripping to Virginia for a week to attend a wedding, I was running low on energy and attention for the outside world. I found myself getting antisocial. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I barely answered texts and certainly not phone calls, and I seldom left the house.
On the flip-side, I thoroughly enjoyed time to myself now. I had never been content with hanging out with me, myself, and I before. I’m normally an on-the-go kind of person who makes plans every day with everyone she knows. I picked up books, writing, listening to music, Netflix shows, and worship again–all favorite things of mine I had left in the dust for quite a while. In this solitary state, I found solace. God, in this self-discovery process, brought me to phase three of the transition.
Social media started grating on my nerves. People were whining, arguing, bashing people they should be praying for, making petty or meaningless posts—the list of issues could go on for miles. I was sick of it. I am sick of it. Therefore, I cut it all out of my day-to-day routine. Making that choice uncovered truths to me, weeded out more people who can’t run with me, showed me more of my worth, and showed me that what and who I thought I wanted for myself are nowhere near as great as what lies ahead of me.
I sowed more into my relationship, my friendships, and social media than I did into Jesus, and it landed me in a pit.
I was giving Him my leftovers. It pushed me into a trying season where God began stripping everything away until all I had left was Him. Believe me, it can get excruciating. It opened old wounds, inflicted new ones, and brought me to absolute loneliness. But God had to get me somehow. He had to get my attention by drowning out all other lovers and allowing me to get totally sick of anything that wasn’t Him, and despite my struggles or pain, it was worth it.
All this time that I thought He was letting me sink to rock bottom, when I thought I was being forgotten, He was preparing to launch me into the promises He has in store. Even recently, He’s revealed more of His character to me, how faithful He is, how trustworthy He is, how much of a strong Friend He is, how gentle and caring of a Father He is, and how peaceful He is. He’s shed light on reasons behind some of the hardships I have faced, and He’s surely been prepping me for the amazing people and future experiences that He has so graciously brought together and placed directly in front of me.
We go through life with our own selfish wishes and motives, flying from one fad to the next or becoming so self-absorbed, not once stopping to think about what God might have to say concerning our choices or what He might want instead. Most of the time, we get prideful and ignorant, thinking we know best or acting like we have it all together. In a sense, we short-change Him after we’ve spent ourselves to the max and gotten our fleshly/worldly pleasures as swiftly as we can manage.
It’s crazy that we want God to show up in our lives or speak, but when He tries, we tell Him, “Oh, I want You to have Your way and make changes in my life, but don’t make that change. Don’t make me give up that.” Why are we so unwilling to let God work if we are supposedly so willing to let Him lead us? We give Him our spare change but expect Him to spare us from change when He’s fed up with us faking and pretending to put Him first.
If you’re serious about His will and heart, then you have to be serious about putting Him at the top—above your boyfriend or girlfriend, above your partying, above your addictions, above your clique, above your materialistic possessions, above everything. You have to remember that the inconvenience or hardships from being pruned of your current life are temporary, but the plans and promises of your future are eternal and worth every bit of what you have to give to Him. So give it—every breath, every song, every effort, every relationship, every minute, every penny, every tear, every smile, everything. If you don’t short-change Him, I guarantee He will never short-change you.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on lifeofthebeautifullybroken.wordpress.com
Featured Image by Josh Appel