I’m Never Growing up

_MG_8346

My roommate has a friend back home who is taking 6 months off from regular life to hike the Appalachian Trail, his girlfriend however is not to trilled about this cell-service free adventure in which she won’t be able to communicate with her love.

Sometimes I get lost in what I think is the valley of sanctification but sanctification is never a valley. Sanctification is not the points of this guys adventure where he doesn’t have cell service, sunlight and ability to see up ahead and far behind. Sanctification is definitely part of those, but sanctification is also during the sunlight, during the adventure where you can see ahead, and where you can see how far you’ve come over the treetops.

Sanctification is a constant process, it comes and goes at different rates, speeds, weights and emotion. Sanctification is constant but never in the same degree or amount.

There was a night a couple of months ago that I posted on Facebook about never wanting to grow up. That night, I had this overwhelming sense of wanting to escape the weight of understanding how life works. The older I get, the more foolish I realize so many of my previous decisions have been, how fickle my heart is, and how heavy the seriousness of hurt is in this world. I see how painful death and war are, how much anxiety comes with not being able to provide for a family, or even yourself. I continually feel like I’m on this learning process that I can’t ever get right. As soon as I see progress, I see failure somewhere else.

This growing up is never an achieved state, I’ve been convinced. Growing up is most often associated with a dream job. Growing up can also be thought of as desired freedoms, marriage and with having ownership of new things, but when do you ever reach it? This… “grown up” age is only when you have someone who looks to you as it? My little sister is 10 years younger than I am… she has thought of me as grown up since she was in kindergarden; I was only 15. When you hit 18? 18 in America is classified as an adult but 18 in Lebanon is when you start practicing driving and can get a job.. I’d hardly call that grown up. How about when you’re married? I have friends who are married who still spend every weekend being babied by their parents. When you have kids? Maybe… but I’m not sure it makes a difference, some of my mommy friends call their moms in panick because their infant won’t stop screaming.. they still don’t know what to do in difficult situations. So is being grown up able to handle yourself ok? The people who say they “can handle their own” are the people everyone else snicker at behind their backs while rolling their eyes. Are grown ups those who don’t need advice? So… having the highest known knowledge about a given subject, without anyone older or wiser to look to? Is that what people would have said about Jonathan Edwards when he preached in churches as a teenager? The list could go on..

Teenagers, college students and adults have been caught with the Neverland fever of saying “I don’t want to grow up.” The model that the movie Peter Pan leaves people with initially is this desire for childlike carelessness despite the ending that gives a question of whether or not curious imagination is trapped in the minds of children.

I think we are all aware that imagination comes in new forms for adults, whether that be in the form of writing novels, state-of-the-art architecture, advancement of Nike textiles, or new teaching methods but is our desire for freedom and greater responsibility really what we want? What we are looking for when we “grow up”? When we are caught thinking: “when I grow up…” are we merely buying time to acquire the things we desire?

When I say ‘I swear I’ll never grow up’ I certainly don’t mean the rejection of those desired things or progress and moving into new seasons of life. I want to get married and have a family of my own someday, just as much as the next girl. I’m not trying to shy away from accepting my past mistakes, or this growth into a state of imagination block most adults claim only kids escape.

I recognize that we all want more time, another chance, and plenty of do-overs despite the so-called “holy” answer “I don’t regret anything, because everything that’s happened to me, or I’ve chosen makes me who I am today.” I’m not talking about this crave for more creativity or chances to start anything over, and I’m certainly not talking about a gain for wisdom but precisely attempting to run from it. I am talking about a need for shifted perspective, which comes from wisdom, not the lack of it. I wish I could convince myself of that.

When I was in my first two years of college I looked at those who were on staff with the campus ministry I was apart of as having reached this level of holiness. It seemed like no matter what sins they confessed publicly, they still had it all wrapped in a nice box that made it seem like it was hardly a dent in their pride to admit how selfish, foolish, angry, or jealous they were last week, yesterday or even this morning.

To me, it seemed like they always had their sin managed in lunch tupperware with everything in its own separate clean section. I wished so badly I could talk about my sin without being embarrassed, feeling guilty and even more than that, I wished I could share it in a way that made me feel as good as they looked.

How foolish am I to believe any of those things? Sin should never be taken lightly and should never be wrapped in a pretty box. I can’t speak to how any of those women felt in sharing about their sin but now that I’m in a place where I spend time counseling women in college I’ve found how silly it was that I thought those things about the women I held up so highly. I’m no holier than I was 5 & 6 years ago when I so badly wished I could look like those women sounded. My sin is just as much in my face now as it was then but the one thing I do have is a greater understanding of the grace in which we have through Jesus Christ.

God becoming man, walking on this earth perfectly and then dying in my place 2000 years ago is an absolutely unreal grace. Despite what the women felt, I’m sure their intent in sharing their brokenness was to insure that I saw Jesus as more beautiful. Their desire is for me to take my guilt, shame, embarrassment and brokenness to the cross in order to make me whole again, righteous and free from the slavery to opinions other than God Himself. This sanctification never stops, and neither does the acquirement of knowledge unless unless you lock yourself in a white walled room for the rest of your existence and even then I’m not so sure.

The process of God making you more like Jesus is painful, messy and hard but it is full of joy knowing you are being made like the greatest love of our lives.

This process is life long journey and adventure that allows you to keep going through the dark times, through pain and through moments of utter despair. When we don’t understand we can still look to the God of life to carry us through. He promises never to leave us nor forsake us and to be with us all of our days.

Sometimes I still get caught with this desire to run away from the life I’m living, the pain I’m feeling or the darkness I see all around me but I know that with the knowledge of hurt, pain and suffering all around the world, I also can grow in understanding the majesty of the King of Kings. He is always our comforter, our provision, and our sustenance. Today, as I continue to grow up, I chose Jesus. I chose to move toward the author of life as the world swirls around me, I chose to ask the God of the universe to give me grace in time of need and to continue to reveal Himself to me. I’m never growing up, but I am growing in understanding of the God who IS good, IS near and is always able despite my understanding, fear and doubt.

Healing at Home

state fair

I’ve been home for 2 months now and have days that are up and down. My most standard response to “are you glad to be home?” is most certainly, “I’m learning to take one day at a time” while smiling softly and nodding my head.

I’ve heard countless times from my step dad the bible verse in Matthew that says “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself.” I’ve been told not to get ahead of myself being a dreamer of the future, an easily excitable event planner and one who almost always has a 10-year plan. That 10-year plan was to be in the Middle East. I thought that I loved it there after an 8 week visit in 2011 but little did I know how much my heart could grow for such a place in as little as 10 more months this last school year.

In my future being changed, I have learned more than ever to hold my hands open to the Lord’s ways of sanctification and change. I’ve never had a more unclear future. I do have the next 2 years or so mapped out for me, but still so much is unknown and there is a lot to learn and grow from.

When I lived in Lebanon I didn’t realize how the unwritten cultural standard for marriage being so much greater, both in financial stability, age, wisdom, and provision was as big of a difference from my private Christian school culture of young marriages, that is, until I arrived back home. I had forgotten what it was like to be around married couples my age. In Lebanon I spent a year with singles who didn’t talk about marriage like it was anything to be grasped in the near future. It was like being in High school again, marriage wasn’t even a question until “after college”. When I arrived home and came back to small group, a group that 3 years ago was all singles, and when I left, was 80% singles had turned into mostly marrieds, engaged couples and serious dating couples. Where had my free friends gone?

It has made me feel so much more lonely than I expected to feel in the community I had loved and missed so much while abroad. It was tempting to pull away while wallowing in this difference; a group that I no longer felt apart of in the same way. I have to fight the urge to believe the lie that this is not God’s best for me.

I’m learning this summer that its okay to need people, its okay to be an extreme extrovert and be energized by being around others. Its okay to not want to be alone and for the need to schedule time around people or go to coffee shops, target or the library just to avoid being alone. I fall into thinking that God should be enough. King David cried out in the Psalms, “whom have I in heaven but you God?” I have clung to that verse in despair, convincing myself that I don’t need anyone else, that God alone should be enough. God created Adam out of an overflow of Love and Adam lived in a garden of perfection, without sin and without pain of longing. God said it was not good for him to be alone. Its okay to need people.

I stopped watching TV regularly when I was a sophomore in high school because my schedule and homework was too much to be consistent for one show. Ever since then, I wasn’t really a TV watcher but I started watching a show online in Lebanon that was really addicting. I downloaded the second and third seasons alongside the first season of a sister show for my time back here in America. When I came home I started filling my nights with these shows. I realized this week that I had been believing the lie that I could be alone for countless hours and still be “energized”. I tried to convince myself that I was becoming more introverted because “introverts don’t need people” and thats what I thought I wanted. I wanted not to need people, that I could be self sufficient. I wanted to believe that I didn’t have to hurt anymore from missing certain people. If I don’t need people, then I don’t have to get close enough to miss anyone. The emotional draw to the characters in this show, watching their stories unfold gave me a false sense of being with people. I was investing energy and emotions into this plot that isn’t real. Sure, I processed some things about the way people think, the way they hurt, how they deal with conflict and see the world but the nights I didn’t immediately pass out from exhaustion after turning it off, I would lay awake and feel completely empty.

TV can give you a very false sense of love, acceptance, and belonging. I’m finding myself stuck in a rut of trying to be satisfied in fiction. Reading can do the same thing, you can invest yourself in a story, feel alongside the main character and get wrapped into a fake world that distracts you from the hurt, and pain of real life.

You E/i N/S T’s out there are reading this shaking your heads at my ability to be emotionally attached to something so illogical but being a feeler is not a weakness. Being able to empathize and sympathize in ways that thinkers typically don’t is a gift despite my best efforts to wish away my feelings when I want them to disappear. I am not ashamed of my ability to feel, but I do wish things were a little more black and white. I wish I could find the best possible solution to the problems at hand and step by step work towards a solution but my brain and heart do not always work that way. I am becoming something greater, a vessel of God’s love in ways that need to be controlled. I struggle with controlling the things around me and one way I am learning to channel that desire is over my mind and over my feelings. Sometimes it is sheer chaos inside me but God is faithful and I am learning that I need him every hour. He is teaching me to take one baby step at a time.

**introverts do need people, please do not mistake the monologue of my faulty thought process for misinformation.

for more information on personality profiling here is a page on feeling vs thinking. Here is a page on Introverts vs extroverts.