As I sit here, my coffee mug casting shadows over the book Blue Like Jazz, I subconsciously run my hand through my hair as I try and make sense of the thoughts dancing around in my head. Sometimes the amount of words and thoughts entangled in my mind make it difficult to focus, and so I get restless and talk to people at 100 miles per hour-usually it doesn’t really matter if they want to listen or not. I often can’t wrap my mind around the fact that not everybody has as much energy and excitement about life as I do. I feel like a little child in a candy store sometimes, overwhelmed by tantalizing sunsets, freaking out over raindrops on beautiful flowers, ecstatic to meet new people who love Jesus and thrilled to be awake when the sun is rising. I feel like I simply want to share this joy for Jesus with every person I meet which is also why I have to be very intentional to sometimes appreciate the silence and sit and reflect on life. That’s why today I took time from my busy schedule to come sit here at starry night (the cutest little coffee shop ever which I recently discovered) to be still and reflect on life. Today isn’t just a normal day though, I mean it might be for you but for me it marks one year from the day I gave my life to Jesus. So here is my attempt at trying to somehow put into words all that Jesus has done in my life in the span of one year. I hope you enjoy it, and that you are able to see Jesus through it all.
Even though it’s been one year, it still in a sense feels like it was yesterday. I can feel the emotions and in an instant revisit exactly how I felt and what happened that day. Praying with my mom while the tears fell in perfect timing with the beautiful snowflakes, because we had both came to such a place of brokenness, desperately in need of Jesus. My dear friend, Maci, seeing right through my mask which resulted in a much needed coffee date where I finally opened up and spoke into existence my struggles and heartache. I think most importantly though, I remember feeling all these burdens, insecurities and doubts being lifted as Jesus lovingly and gently broke down the final fragile barrier I had tried to keep up, truly setting my soul free. For the first time I truly believed the words Jesus loves me. The words were no longer a wisp of wind, but instead a physical, tangible truth. That night in Starbucks, my face tear stained was when I realized for the first time that Jesus made me who I am for a reason. My identity began to shift from awkward middle child identified by her siblings to daughter of the one true king. From the invisible one trying so hard to be a peacemaker to loved and adored by Jesus. All of this was simply the beginning of a long beautiful story of how Gods grace love and compassion have seeped into my heart causing my life to explode into a chaotic mess of surrender and change.
The last year has had its ups and downs; fear intermingled with freedom and taking two steps forward only to lunge backwards. It has been a year marked by surrender, pursuit and patience. I can remember times when the presence of God was as real as the rays of sun beating down and warming up from the core. Times when I could hear Gods voice as clearly as I hear the birds chirping every morning. I can also remember times when fear crept in and the enemies voice was so potent and degrading that I would question my faith. Times when I so clearly could see Gods plan for my life unfolding that I would feel as if I was untouchable and could conquer anything life threw at me. Yet there were times of complete silence, when I was surrounded by thunderstorms and rain clouds, my impatient cries to Jesus blowing away in the wind, seemingly forgotten. I’ve seen many prayers answered and lives transformed. I watched as Jesus broke down one of my best friends, Cierra, taking her broken hurting past and transforming her into a young women so in love with Jesus. I also spent a fair share of time crying in my room because the longing for those I love the most in life to know Jesus made my heart physically ache. I experienced heart ache when the door to my missions trip in Africa slammed shut unexpectedly leaving me teetering on the edge of brokenness, unsure of what to do from there. Ink spilled over my journal pages, frustration laced with discontentment and tears because this longing to love people and serve was overflowing from my heart.
Through this though I started learning to listen to Jesus’s voice instead of my fears. In November I stood up in front of a church filled with people to proclaim my love for Jesus as I got baptized, truly letting Jesus take my sins and replace them with his love. If somebody had told me a year ago that I was going to do that, I never would have believed them. I probably would have laughed at the mere thought of me filming a video for everybody to watch and on top of that actually getting up on stage in front of them. Man, Jesus is truly amazing.
I’ve grown into the person Jesus is calling me to be, acknowledging He has made me unique for a reason. A year ago I think most of my friends would agree that I was a lot more shy, awkward and afraid of life. Reflecting back on my life before I surrendered to Jesus is like looking into a mirror and seeing a stranger wave back at me. Now I am much less afraid of what people will think of me and I have a heart and passion for loving people. I’ve become friends with people who have changed me for the better and who I know without a doubt would do anything for me. I’ve also discovered a newfound joy an appreciation for life, which consequently fills me with the need to talk nonstop (just ask my friends-its definitely not an exaggeration). I also feel like I need to smile at everybody I meet because this world is filled with so much negativity. Most days I am bubbling over with energy and can’t seem to keep track of my thoughts because Jesus is just so good and there is so much in life to be excited about. A side effect of this though is that I can be scatter brained, leaving all the kitchen cabinets open or asking a plethora of questions because I can never have too much information.
Over the past year Jesus has shown me that He wants me to love people where they are at not where I want them to be. God wasn’t kidding when He said in Luke 10:27 “ love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your strength and with ALL your mind and love your neighbor as yourself”. This is my goal and passion for the next year, to keep loving people as I passionately pursue Jesus falling more in love with Him. Now who is with me?