I’m Never Growing up


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.

A Humble Move to Huntington

Eight months ago I posted this picture on Instagram:


I posted about turning twenty five and how I had fulfilled my biggest dream; I lived in an area of the world where people didn’t know who Jesus was and why he came to die. I also wrote this to encourage those reading who had not yet fulfilled their dreams:

I’ve come to see that wherever you are is where God most wants to sanctify you. Life is not about chasing your ideals or finding them but being open to what is set before you and committing to pursuing Godly character over perfection of your dreams.

Little did I know that this post would be a foreshadow of changing those big dreams of mine in the coming months. I am not heading back to The Middle East early 2016 anymore but I am not done chasing my dreams, in fact, dreams can be chased in a lot of places. My dreams will be chased by college students I hope to mobilize to care about the world, like I have learned to.

When I sent in my application to move to Lebanon long term, it was with every intention (and the only for that matter) to be placed Internationally in the Middle East, since I had loved my study abroad year so much. I had my interview towards the end of May and found out 3 weeks before leaving the country that I was being recommended without other option to be placed on a stateside campus for development. As you can imagine, I was heartbroken and not very thrilled about having to leave in 20 days without a return date to the life and community I had spent the last 10 months building.

After about a week of coming to terms with my placement at some university in the Mid-South region of the US (NC,SC, KY, TN, WV) I was given a job opportunity from Pastor Charlie to stay in Lebanon instead of solely spending time with university students. Pastor Charlie is very convincing, and incredible at casting vision. I was almost set for the next week and a half to take his offer to work for RBBC (Ras Beirut Baptist church) as one of his assistants; running all the social media for church and being sort of a blogger/reporter on the different ministries that are apart of RBBC and its sister churches in Spain, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and South Sudan while still getting to spend about 1/2 my time on campus and working with Athletes In Action (AIA, the soccer ministry).

I had multiple conversations with different people and all of them pointed me to taking this new job because its everything I’ve ever dreamed of doing; soccer ministry, working with the orphanage, discipleship on campus, writing, traveling, taking pictures, and living among the unreached. I was so excited to be apart of a new way to testify to God’s faithfulness to His kingdom in multiple parts of the Middle East. I don’t have a deep sense of loyalty to this university program and don’t love all of its attics for fruitfulness and thus, this job at RBBC seemed to be much more up my alley.

I still wasn’t sure about it and feeling anxious about trying to pack with a decision not yet made but after church on Sunday, (the day before I was leaving) I went to talk with Nicolas and his wife Jen (the Life Agape National Director) which helped make my decision. He asked me earlier in the Spring when I told him I wanted to stay long term if I had a confirmation from God’s word about this decision. I sheepishly quoted “make disciples of all nations?” and he chuckled and encouraged me to spend time in God’s word until I was sure.

When I went over to their apartment for lunch he asked permission to give his opinion already seeing the tears running down my cheeks at the stress I was internally battling. I had told him I was afraid of being judged for not taking counsel to be developed and afraid for not being healthy overseas in the future. He said,

“Samm, if you don’t pursue your holiness, no matter where you are, you aren’t going to be fruitful.”

We talked more about what it looks like to put God first.

I went to be alone after that and thought “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” like it says in John 14:15 and if thats true in God’s word and the greatest commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30) then it’s more important for me to pursue holiness right now than my dream job. If this job Pastor Charlie is offering is meant for me, it will still be there after the 2016-17′ school year. I know that he won’t run out of vision, money or ideas so it can wait. I get the opportunity to be poured into for a whole year and still get to mobilize American college students to care about the world.

I intended to write sooner, anxious about what to do next but as you know, moving is busy and I never got around to it. I decided to accept my placement at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia (they are the Mid-South Lebanese partnership) and when I am done raising support (hopefully by New Year’s Eve) I will go to New Staff Training in January and then move to WV after.

Like I said, I was heartbroken to leave Lebanon but hope to return as soon as the Lord provides a way. I am not the same person I was when I left for Lebanon and I’m not even the same as I was 2 months ago when my plans were my own. The Lord has shown me so much, humbling me and giving me new wisdom about what its like to hold my hands open and for that I am thankful for each day I get to see my life is not my own.

This is not the first time my heart has been shaken by my plans being taken from me but thus, I have learned that when life starts to feel comfortable, I shall expect something to change. Life really isn’t about chasing your dreams but about being sanctified; being made like that of Christ.

“The Lord gives and the lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”     –Job 1:21