Despite telling myself I am not going to cry, my emotions always seem to express themselves through big fat tears rolling down my cheeks. I swear, I have cried more in the last few weeks then my whole life. So what is it this time? I lean back against the plain white wall and close my eyes. I might as well just embrace it, because trying to run away from my feelings usually doesn’t end well.
I thought I was fine, but as I sit here with worship floating through the air and good friends by my side while tears find their way to the cold cement floor, I know I am anything but fine. I know that despite feeling calm, I am about to be overcome with a flood of emotions as I honestly let God see my heart and allow Him to speak to me. If I am honest, I think it is an accumulation of leaving for Australia in two weeks exactly, the fact that goodbyes always bring me to tears and oh yeah, I hate change almost as much as I hate moths. (And if you know me at all, you will know that I detest moths with a passion). I can barely even quiet myself enough to let God speak to me, because I am afraid of so many things. And you know what, I don’t know how to open the next chapter in this book known as life when my hand is shaking, overwhelmed by the mere thought of what it all means. I like this chapter in life; it is probably one of my favorites.
It is filled to the brim with new friendships and I have grown to know Jesus personally as He has completely changed my life. Jesus has been so loving, so faithful and so gentle with my stubborn little heart. This chapter has been filled with bolded sections, italicized for emphasis. Getting baptized and my rose vision, along with watching my best friend come to know God are just a couple of the highlights. There is parts where it has been a lot of cursive and everything begins to flow together so eloquently forming the life I have now. Friends I barely knew at the beginning of the chapter are now a huge part of who I am and the person I have become. I am going to a new church and it actually feels like home. Some of the sections are a little smudged from tears, my sister leaving for college, saying goodbye to friends and being broken down, crying out to God for help because He has truly shown me just how much I need Him. Yet overall, it has been good, I have been filled with Gods joy and I have been so on fire for Him with a whole newfound passion for life and people. So how do I go about saying goodbye to this chapter, acknowledging that the new chapter could completely change my life direction?
As the tears continue flowing, I realize that the problem is I am trying so hard to write my own story, fighting God for control of the pen. I think I know how to write it, and I definitely don’t know how to surrender this ink pen to God. That is when God tells me that I don’t have to try so hard, that He has got my back. I hear the pastor talking and listen as He asks for those who need prayer to simply raise their hand. He doesn’t even finish the sentence and my hand is up and by now I have given up any hope of not crying and decide to embrace it.
And sitting, surrounded by my dearest friends and some strangers, I am completely undone. As they pray over me and my trip I feel Gods presence, I feel Him lifting my burdens and He tells me three things that will impact me for a long time to come.
#1. The associate pastor spoke Gods words on my trip, “ Don’t let ease or difficulty define your trip. God is constant and He is with you. In hard times, praise Him, in easy times seek Him just as passionately. It is going to be hard, your heart will break for the people you see, but God is still good”
#2. A new friend told me this, “ God has called you to be hope to be a light. He wants you to love passionately. He wants you to go into dark hopeless situations and see a hope and light because He is still good.”
#3. God spoke to me in the stillness of that night. He told me His beautiful plans for this new year and new chapter in life. He showed me that I simply need to let him write this next chapter, because it is going to be greater then what I could write.
He gave me these two words “ love always”. He told me He loved me and this year is one to be marked by love as He transforms me into His beloved rose. That I am going to learn to love fully, unconditionally and without strings attached.
Love Him above all.
Love the broken.
Love the journey.
Love the unlovable.
And when God speaks to me, I am learning not to take it lightly.
So as I celebrated turning 21 I wanted to do something to mark the beginning of year of loving always. I decided to do 21 random acts of kindness. My goal was to make people smile, and show people that God loves them and that they aren’t alone. From writing random letters, taking friends lunch, buying coffee for people to buying a couples meal and tipping the waitress really well my friends and I set out to make other peoples day.
And let me tell you, seeing the reactions from people, and knowing my friends and I made their day better was the highlight of my day. It made me realize how desperately this world is aching for more love and kindness.
So as I sit here, reflecting on all these things, I have come to one big conclusion. That change is scary, but Jesus is worth it. As I willingly hand this pen to God, I trust He will take it and write the next chapter in my story. And it is going to be filled with love, change, growth and so much more.
This year the theme of my life is love always, and I want to challenge you to join me. It is so simple and yet I believe we can all impact those around us. So go. Love. And live life intentionally. Who’s with me?
#lovealwayslovefirst ( if you decide to spread the love, do random acts of kindness or are the recipient of one, you should use this hashtag )