Friday, September 9, 2016

September: UNstuck

a few years ago i felt stuck.
i felt like i had reached the first peak in my life, but when i looked up to the next hill top i didn't feel excited, i didn't feel like what i was aiming for mattered; everything i was striving for felt meaningless. as i sat in a valley, i began to search for meaning. whatever that actually means..

i had graduated college the previous year and immediately started in a job that seemed like it was handed to me straight from God. i had moved into my own little apartment filled with hand-me-downs. i was in a pretty good relationship. i had a cat... life was moving appropriately along this preexisting imaginary dream scale i had in my head. but when i got stuck, i started asking myself questions like, "who came up with this 'American Dream' concept anyway", and "why do i feel so unhappy being right on target at 23", and "is this really it?"

i've always been a dreamer. i've always been the type to look ahead and plan my days and months, organize my year to "maximize my time", and create a 5-year plan in order to get after it, but what i didn't realize was i was forming a bad habit. i'm not saying dreaming and planning are bad because they are absolutely necessary to an extent, but what i am saying is this routine put ME in control, leaving me with a fluctuating self-esteem and an overly idealistic approach to life.

this is about the time when God starting nudging me into a real relationship with him. i'd always "believed" in God. i knew he was "out there somewhere". i'd heard bible stories, and knew who Noah, and Jonah, and Adam and Eve were, but i never understood their significance. i didn't know what "hearing from God" sounded like, or what "seeing God" looked like. but he pursued me in my sin, and in questioning my purpose, he answered me.



...
i continued chasing my professional goals while God was preparing my heart, i rescued another cat, the relationship i was in got rocky to the point of severance, and the friends i had left from college started dwindling as i dug deeper into this mystery of Jesus Christ. at the time, the reality of all of this was devastating. i remember sobbing on the phone with my sister who, living 9 hours away, patiently listened as i sought her comfort; i remember coming home from work and going straight to sleep just to escape the reality of my heartache; i remember feeling left out by former friends and trying to desperately hang on to them; and i remember feeling helpless until i discovered that "the heart of all my problems was the problem of my heart." (Matt Chandler, Recovering Redemption) this is when God began to move me from the mountaintop where i felt stuck.

God was wooing me.
i knew what i needed most was a community of believers to encourage me, hold me accountable to what i said i wanted, and to just simply hang out with me. i prayed for this every single day until God delivered. and, side note, i still pray this prayer because we aren't meant to travel through life sulking in our weaknesses, or pressing on in our own strength. we need people. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

meeting people came easily to me; i could meet anyone anywhere at anytime, but becoming friends with people in an area i was unfamiliar with was a challenge that i wasn't sure i was ready to accept, even as i was praying for the opportunity to come face-to-face with my potential besties. when i did meet people, i never felt like i had connected with them and always left socials feeling like a flat out horrible person (ashamed of something i had done, regretting the word-vomit that spewed from my mouth, or just being in a completely different season of life that didn't look so "good"). this was partially due to the condition of my heart and partially due to my approach, but because God knew that i would rather explore the depths of a person's soul (their passions, their strengths, their hopes, and their dreams) than their superficial interests, he planted a few seeds that would eventually blossom into beautiful friendships where i could do just that.

but i was having a hard time getting there... you see, i was a come-and-go kind of bible study attendee. i went when it was convenient for me, when i felt like a good person, and when i wanted fed spiritually. i missed a lot of weeks and didn't communicate with the other girls when i would be around (or not around)... i'd justify my absences claiming i didn't want to be "religious" and eventually i fell away from the group and found myself desiring my old lifestyle more than the truth about Jesus. his plans seemed impossible and unrealistic, and honestly i didn't want to put in the work to make it happen. but when the summer months began to ware me out, i had an unusual draw towards reconnecting with the community i felt so estranged from. i went back totally committed. i met my best friend that night, and remember the group's leader, who is now one of my closest girlfriends, asking me sarcastically, "are you serious?" as i shared my interest in becoming more involved just a few months later. i don't blame her; i had been a hot mess of a group member and friend. but i was serious. God had radically changed my heart. i was over trying to affirm what i thought i already knew; i had been creating my own truth out of God's truth and i was getting it really wrong; i had nailed cultural Christianity, but i wanted more of a relationship with God.  i knew there was more than the cycle i was stuck in.

later that year, through a tough friendship, God revealed my lack of passion. i was a passionate person with no meaningful passions. how does that even happen? this thought frustrated me. i begged God to give me something worth fighting for. begged like a cat at your bathroom door. not because i needed it, or God required it, but because i wanted to serve like Jesus served, know the different characteristics of God, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide me like i hadn't permitted before. in the midst of these petitions though, God had already planted the desire to serve in my church's youth ministry and i pursued it like an Olympian charges after a gold medal (because maybe this was the answer to my pleas). i entered into a season leading a group of HS girls alongside my friend that fall and when spring break approached i was given the opportunity to go on the SB trip as a leader. initially, i couldn't comprehend the depth of this privilege, but as i persisted to pray for passion, God allowed me to see a glimpse of his action plan through a little busted up window. it was while i was traveling with a group of high school students and other leaders that the floodgates opened, truth came rushing in and i heard God calmly whisper, "this is it."

but i didn't know what "this" was... and i didn't need to know right then. God was totally testing me.

i am fortunate to have been given a job opportunity immediately after college doing something i love in an industry directly linked to my degree. i am blessed to be the person someone decided to take a chance on. i've been molded into a professional in my position, i've learned a lot about myself through the trials i've faced, and i have been able to travel and grow more in love with people than i ever thought possible, but when God let me peak through the windows of what he was preparing for me on that trip, i learned that what i had prayed for was coming to me at a cost. his love was a gift, but following him meant changes in my daily routines, less sleep, more time spent educating myself in this new field, and so much heartbreak. i searched out opportunities at home and quickly got involved with a local non-profit that educates the community on what human trafficking is and how we can equip ourselves to be a part of "ending it". i fell in love with fighting this cause and made myself available to as many opportunities that i could as the injustice continually crushed me.

eventually this led me to Cambodia.
but in the months leading up to this overseas trip my heart was racing, my head was spinning, and my soul longed for more action. i had been reacting to my feelings, but God was calling me to obedience.

i had no idea what radical obedience would look like, and it stressed me out. the timing seemed off. i was already 3 years into my 5 year plan. yeah, i had new passions and the desire to act on them, but i was making progress, too.
i felt conflicted and paralyzed by this. everything appeared to make perfect sense from the window. i wanted to...no i did, question God's motives because it just didn't feel so perfect anymore.
i really was waiting on God to just simply move me, for me (that's part of what i prayed for), but he was waiting on me to make the move. He didn't leave me totally freaked out though; i prayed for clarity throughout the day. i prayed for answers as i went to bed. i prayed for a vision persistently and expectantly, and God showed me my options.

i found myself hearing God's promises, knowing he was going to lead me and be with me, but he asked me to ditch the binders and follow him completely.
in other words, God wanted me to let go of my predefined idea of success, and just simply trust him. which meant letting go of the control i thought i held.

so as i looked back over the last three years of my life, i could see God's faithfulness radiate throughout. i can't say that i always recognized it in the individual moments, but i know that He has been there. it's wildly clear.

and with that realization i decided to finally choose. 

God has shown me that he is sovereign, but he has shown me that it doesn't matter WHAT i am doing as long as i am giving him the glory... i could stay & climb the corporate ladder to give him glory, or i could leave & step into the unknown.... God would use me anywhere.
but i chose to leave my job that day (although with a 7 week notice), and walk out on the water with my eyes directed at Jesus.
this wasn't MY plan; in fact, i wanted to reject my decision to follow Jesus so passionately, but i knew what it felt like to be stuck and this was my opportunity to free-fall from the mountain.

that's kind of what i feel like right now...like i'm free falling. but there is something about that feeling that brings comfort, and peace, and joy, and excitement. i'm not entirely sure where God is taking me, but it's an adventure i've already packed my bags for. 

i may have just entered into a season of the unknown-- but i am totally unstuck.
i may not have all the answers to the questions i initially started to ask-- but i am totally unstuck.
i may not always make the right choices and people may not understand why-- but i am unstuck.
i am unstuck and available to God.
i want to be available to God.
God, move me-- God, take me-- God, use me.
i am unstuck.

please pray with me,
Audrey
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About Me

About Me
i'm drey. i'm 25. i have two cats; i love to travel, take pictures, walk around antique shops, and eat donuts... and i'm trembling at the feet of my Savior.

Psalm 111:10

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise."

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