I haven't blogged in the past few days...mostly because I was working on this.
Or should I say, God gave me this song and I've been trying to do it justice. It's fitting for the blog, I promise.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
I've always been a tough girl. I've taken pride in that for a long time. I can do things myself...you've heard my independence story. I grew up thinking that feelings, "mushy stuff," and gushing about love and like were ridiculous and for the softees of the world--the weak ones. Not me. I'm tough.
God is so awesome. I just want to say that.
Since I've left home as an 18 year old, God has been softening me. For awhile it was my incessant prayer that He would. That He would help me to feel compassion for others, to experience the depth of pain and the height of joy, that He would break me down to ask for help, and that He would help me to receive love. Romantic or otherwise, it's been difficult for me. He doesn't give up. He keeps pursuing hard hearts.
I met up with my friend, Mary, for appetizers last week. It was a gorgeous fall day. I spend a few hours at my favorite coffee shop that I had been neglecting. My play list was off the charts. I spent an hour or more just digging into Scripture that afternoon. By the time I met Mary that afternoon, I was glowing. I had been romanced for the afternoon by the God of the universe. I had only one word. Smitten.
Surprised? Me too. :-) I'm not really the smitten type. I've been too tough for that. But tonight, I sit in my low lit room, with a glass of wine, a scented candle and pretty music in the background as God speaks to me His love and promises through His Word. He's teaching me to be loved, to have butterflies, to be delighted in and it's awesome. So awesome.
He's teaching me what it looks like to be pursued and loved so I'll know when it comes. He pursues me with the colors of fall, quiet moments with sun on my face, serene drives with the windows down, warm coffee drinks, beautiful music, intoxicating breezes, beautiful nights, reality that's too good to be true, and the thoughtfulness of strangers. He chases me with the things that bring my soul to life--things He only knows I need to feel special. He's relentless in pursuing the hearts of His children. I know that the man who pursues me won't do it like God does. He can't. But I'm grateful that God is teaching my heart to be loved.
I pray He teaches yours and gives us both an opportunity to love in return both toward Him and the one we wait for. I pray that once our waiting is done, we will still have eyes open to how our God pursues us as His beloved and continue to be smitten by your Savior.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Who am I? Have you ever asked yourself this question?
When I talk to college students or chat with friends, the “who am I” question is one of the most common themes weaved throughout ongoing conversations. In a stage of life where people are trying to figure out “what should I do,” “what should I study,” “what am I good at,” it all points to the question identity. Who am I?
Can you relate? Fill in your own details, but the story is common. You show up to college as Jane Brown of Small Town, USA, where everyone in the county knows your name and what you’re about. While you were the best of the best at home, college is filled with many who are just as good or better. The classes you couldn’t wait to take are much harder than expected and you’re not sure you even like them. Nothing is what you thought it would be. You aren’t who you thought you’d be. And that’s when the big question surfaces…”who am I?”
If this is you, let me just start by saying “Congratulations—you’ve arrived!” I know it sounds scary, but let me welcome you to world of opportunities and options, questions and discovery, experience and growth. It is exciting! Asking the question, “who am I,” means you’re seeking to find the answer and that is a great place to be. You are not lost. Here are some pointers of where to begin.
1. 1. Start with what is true. Let me encourage you with a little help from CSP’s theme of the year. We are God’s People. You are God’s creation and He calls you His child. When you are uncertain of who you are, start there. You are loved by God in Christ and that won’t change.
2. 2. Learn about you. Take some time to get to know yourself. What do you enjoy doing? What brings you joy? What are the activities or who are the people who bring you to life or refresh you? What are the things or who are the people who drain you? How much sleep do you need? How many commitments can you handle? How do you know when you’re stressed and how do you cope? What are you tendencies in communicating or in relationships? How do you react to certain people or situations? It’s good to be self-aware and difficult to grow or improve without knowing where you are.
3. 3. Try new things! Young adulthood is filled with tons of opportunities to take a leap outside of your comfort zone and explore something new! Take an elective that you’ve been curious about. Go on a service trip. Try a new ethnic restaurant. Go to a campus event by yourself with the intention of meeting new people. Sit at a different dining hall table than normal. Pick up a random hobby like harmonica or geocaching. Find a place to volunteer in the Cities. Who knows what you might have a knack for or take an interest in? Who knows what sort of adventure you may have, who you may meet, or what you might learn about yourself along the way?
4. 4. Be in relationship. That’s pretty self-explanatory. Dating or otherwise, this is a huge part of life learning. Don’t go through life alone—you weren’t made that way.
5. 5. Do some reflecting. You are in a time of significant learning about the world, others, and yourself. There are a lot of valuable lessons going by! Make time to do some reflecting. Reflect on who you’ve been and where you’ve come from. It’s in reflecting that we are able to learn and make use of our experiences. When we reflect, our experiences become our teachers and we are changed.
6. 6. Get some help. As you go through this time of self-discovery and world discovery, you may run into some road blocks. Past wounds or issues may surface. You may not know what to do with what you’ve learned or you’ve learned something about yourself that you don’t like and can’t change. Counseling is never a bad idea and it’s free for college students. Use it! Seek out a mentor—someone who can walk alongside you and encourage you as you grow. When figuring out more about yourself, it’s good to have guidance and grounding from others.
7. 7. Relax. You don’t have to figure out everything about you and you won’t. You won’t have your whole future planned or know every step of your life. The more I’ve engaged in some of these six things above, the more I’ve realized something. Just as much as I am Shelly, I am becoming Shelly. Life is a process and process is beautiful. It is growth. Paul said himself, that he hadn’t achieved the goal, but presses on toward it. Romans 12 urges us to “be transformed by the renewing of [our minds].” We are free in Christ as God’s children right now and we continue to be more free in who we are all of the time. This is an amazing time of developing yourself both inside the classroom and out. Don’t miss out!
I hope that throughout your life, you keep asking “who am I,” digging into what your career should be, or what gives you have. In addition to finding your identity in Christ, I challenge you to keep asking yourself, “who am I becoming?” Ask God for help and guidance. What past steps you can celebrate and what are the things you can continue to work at? Challenge yourself. Expect to grow. Make plans to be different. Who are you becoming?