Yesterday at church, at the end of the sermon, pastor Kyle gave a few "actions" we can take this week to live out what we've heard. One of those actions was to post on our social media page the reasons why you are grateful for being a follower of Jesus. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to write a little post about it.
I grew up as a follower, but really took it on my own shoulders to grow in my faith and trust in God in college when I joined a community on campus. It's crazy to look back and see how much surrounding yourself with uplifting, encouraging people can change your life completely. Since then, I've surrendered all of my heart into putting my faith in Christ and letting Him do His work in me. Half of the time I don't know my next steps, but I know the One who does, and because of that, I feel at peace.
I could provide you with a long list and make you read all night, but I'll just stick to two of my favorites.
1. His love. We live in a world of competition, comparison, liars, cheaters, failing relationships, high divorce rates, and a world that strays from commitment at any chance possible, it's scary. It's scary to put your trust in another individual and hope and pray that they too don't prove to be someone that takes advantage of who you are and makes you feel less than sufficient, that makes you feel as if you're not good enough. Guys. His love NEVER fails. It blows my mind to think about how in one single moment. RIGHT NOW. tick tock. He loves you more right now than anyone else ever could in their LIFETIME. (cue the explosion). He loves you for who you are, what you do, the things you regret, the things you wish you could change, He loves your freckles, your laugh, the way you kept giggly when you're overtired, and your thighs and everything that you think is "unattractive" and "unlovable," I've got news for you... He loves you so darn much, you can't even comprehend it. It's not a love that ends based on circumstance or how "good" you are. No. It's constant. It's forever, and whenever the world has you down, just think about how much you are loved. As you are, as you were, as you will be.
2. His grace. We all fail. We all make mistakes. We stumble and fall and we walk down the path that we think is right but that we know is wrong. We tell little white lies, we hurt someone's feelings, we mess up. It's going to happen, no matter how bad we don't want it to. Today, I've probably failed Him more than a few times. We're not perfect, and there's never been a moment that we have been, nor will there ever be a time that we will. For awhile back in college, I felt unworthy of such a love, of such freedom. However, the more I got to know Him, the more I realized that I was crazy for thinking such things. Jesus died on the cross for me. He died for you. He did this, and now, we don't have to live in regret, constantly beating ourselves up. He knew we were going to sin. He knew we were going to fail Him. He knew this, yet He STILL died for us. He was nailed to a cross for us. He covered our sins, and He covers us in His grace. It amazes me how much He can use our past "failures" to better us, to show others the grace that He has showed us. I have absolutely no room to judge anyone, nor do you. We're all going to fail, we're all going to go through things that challenge us. With every sunset though, His mercies are new. Everyday is a new chance, and if you've been struggling with some sort of sin in your life and you feel like you can't turn back because you feel unworthy, don't listen to your inner self. Don't feel like you aren't good enough, because I promise you, you are more than good enough. You deserve it, and He loves you. He wants you to turn from that sin and He wants to help you through it. Turn to Him and accept His grace, accept that you don't have to be who you were, entangled in whatever things were preventing you from feeling His love. It might not be easy, but He's there with open arms, waiting for you.
There are so many things that I could continue to say, but for now, we will keep it at this. His love and His grace amaze me everyday. With each sunrise (and yes, I looveeee being awake to see the sunrise everyday) comes a new day full of grace and love. There's so much more and so many emotions I could continue to build on because He's just so darn amazing.
It's Monday, it's the beginning of a new week, and I hope and pray that this week you'll remember whose you are, and who you are in Him. <3
Yesterday I was driving my nieces to school and one had said something about the big band aid that she had on her arm the day before. I'd asked her what happened that day but she said it was a long story and didn't dive into the details then.
I asked again what happened and she let out a big exhale, partly annoyed with me, partly not wanting to talk about it, but her sister was in the car too so she started telling me what happened.
There'd been an incident with another boy at school, and she'd ended up on the ground and a nice sized scrape down her forearm. She then said how she had to walk all over to go find a band aid because the teacher outside didn't have one, with her cute little over-exagerating tone, how far she had to walk to get it.
I asked her if she had told the teacher what happened because people shouldn't be mean like that. She said she did. I asked her what she said to the little boy that did it, and she said she didn't do anything or say anything mean back to him when it happened. Proud aunt moment.
But then, she said something that struck a chord in me. She said "nope, because you're not supposed to dance with the bully." I asked her what that meant, and she went into how they're taught that when someone is mean to you or something happens, that you're not supposed to give in and be mean in return. If you do, then you're dancing with them, and it'll go around and round. Did that really just come out of the mouth of a seven year old? Pat on the back for her!
That of course got me thinking later in the day and relating that to our own lives. How hard is it for us to not dance with the bully in our daily lives? In my devotional this morning one of the verses it referenced was 1 Peter 4:8 and it was like God's trying to make sure I really take this point to heart. Love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.
When someone is selfish, lies to us, hurts us, or does something that we don't agree with. When someone's only actions are those that push your buttons and seemingly destroy any sense of peace within you, how do you continue to love them? How about when negativity and hate are the only sorts of words that come out of ones mouth? How do we love through it?
That's a good question and one that is not easy to carry out. Regardless of how we about whatever the situation, we're called to love. Love no matter how much we can't stand something.
What about when there's so much backstory and tension and other factors that prevent you from even wanting to maintain, pursue, or build a relationship with that person? Even then. Aren't we dancing with the bully when we don't love? We go around and round with whoever because we're holding on to the negativity of the situation. It doesn't improve, it remains static because we can't forget, we can't let go, we can't move forward.
What I've learned and is still a daily task for me, is that we can't change who someone is. We can't change their heart of stone and make it soft, we can't change how they act or who they are, but what we can do is be kind, lend an ear, and pray hard and long for them.
It doesn't have to be a huge effort, it doesn't have to require all of your time and your attention. There are little things that we can do that can go a long way.
It's not going to happen over night and it might not even happen in a few months or a few years, but God hears your prayers and He knows your heart. He created the mountains and the oceans and He knows the number of hairs on your head, and if He can do that, then surely He can wrap His arms around the one who needs true love, who needs to learn to forgive, around the one who has never looked at life optimistically.
God didn't create us to bully one another, He created us to love. To love others and to shine His light to those around us until it goes from a dimly lit, selfish, lost world, to one in which we're all united in love and kindness, seeking out the best in others and in ourselves.