I love journaling.
In the past, journaling has served as an epic coping mechanism and it is something that I highly recommend and even push people in my life to practice. The benefits of it are incredible and it can become something beautiful. This summer I have taken this need to process my thoughts really seriously. At school, I find it hard to consistently journal because I so easily can talk it out with someone near me. However, I have accepted the challenge of being still and being silent, and I am trying to push myself into this lifestyle of dependence on God before dependence on man. I have been keeping several written journals, compartmentalizing my thoughts onto paper and allowing myself to fully dive into the Word to combat and support them. I recently went back over one of my entries from about three weeks ago and was stopped by the last sentence.
“That’s all I want really, I just want to be able to be who I need.”
A very conceited sentence if I must say. It is sobering to read now. But allow me to explain. In the midst of writing this sentence I was discussing the lie of loneliness and isolation and how that has been impacting me this summer. So, when I wrote this sentence I was talking about wanting to be able to love and serve other people in the way that I need to be loved and served. I had this thought that if I could just reach this ideal of how to treat people that I have set for myself that maybe then it would be returned. And BOY was I stopped in my tracks when I read this a few weeks later. It is so crazy how Satan can slip in lies and arrogance so easily when our guard is down and when our hearts are vulnerable. Recently, because I have been keeping track of so many of my thoughts this has become painfully clear to me and I have been learning to depend on the Lord solely for stabilizing my thoughts in every moment of my day.
This past week I was able to drive down to Lynchburg for a few days. Sara and I went and saw our new apartment and were able to spend some much-needed time together. Sara, of all people, very clearly sees my fear of loneliness and often jokes about it. I’m a pack person and not having community really scares me so, when I brought up this challenge of feeling alone that I have been facing, it was kind of ironic.
I have been reading Hinds Feet on High Places (an amazing book if anyone is looking for something) and in the story the main character often has to build altars and offer up parts of herself before she is able to continue on the path towards the “high places”. Reading this has been challenging for me because it has prompted me to look closer at myself and I have been realizing how bad I am at making offerings and A) keeping them at the altar for more than .5 seconds and B) truly wanting to lay myself down in the first place. I have been humbled by this and have been really pondering the root of this “fear”. My first answer for really any issue I have ever faced is always “control”. This answer is usually either completely correct, or one of the leading factors.
:) working on it!!!
So, firstly, I looked at control and how this most definitely impacted my ability and my likeliness to submit something fully to the Lord. This then lead me to trust. After writing and praying about all of this I realized a few truths. And this is where my conversation with Sara and Chrissie (her mom) began.
1) God is a good God and He gives good gifts.
2) God doesn’t make mistakes in things that he gives however, he also has good motives when he takes things away.
3) My fear of fully laying something down in front of him is based in fear that He might not be trustworthy to “take care” of that one thing in the way that I WANT him too. (so ridiculous I know, but relevant and true to what I was feeling)
These three things were almost immediately met with “Yes Nat, God is a good God. He is also a jealous God, and He will remove things that take you away from Him.”
Pretty much stopped me in my tracks. Our God is faithful and good and constant. But He is in fact jealous and He demands that there is nothing put above Him. Who am I to not trust that laying something or someone down at His feet won’t be greeted with grace and gratitude? Who am I to not trust that His prompting to lay something down isn’t done out of love and a desire for me to lean on Him? Though challenging, this thought really struck home with me and all of the reason and lies behind this season of “loneliness” has become abundantly clear to me. God has me here to be with Him. To love and to serve Him and Him only and if a season of loneliness is needed to make that clear in my life then so be it. It’s an honor to be sought after by Him.
I have found immense comfort in seeing His process right now. This summer has thrown me a lot of curve balls and a lot of changes that usually really stress me out. But in these changes and these feelings I have seen His goodness so clearly. I didn’t expect to travel as much as I have. I didn’t expect to see my friends from school as much as I have been able to and as much as I am going to still. I didn’t expect to love being home with my family as much as I am. I didn’t expect to be this happy. Honestly, as humbling as this sentence is, I didn’t expect God to show up in the way that He has and in the way that I know He is going to continue to do. Faithfully and consistently He shows up in our darkest and most unlikely moments and though I have seen Him do this before, I fell short and wasn’t able to see his consistency as a certainty in this season.
As I was writing this I had to pause and drive a little while away for a shoot. As I was driving I was praying about what else I was supposed to write and about if I should even post something today. I was driving down these windy back roads when something in a field next to me caught my eye. About 15 feet from the road was a coyote. Notoriously coyotes are kind of grimy animals, usually really skinny and matted. But this one was gorgeous. She looked healthy and strong and her coat was thick and beautiful. She was sitting in the field, in the middle of the evening just soaking in the sun. I stopped my car and just watched her for a second and she turned, looked at me, and then leapt up and ran forward across the road. I smiled and continued driving when I remembered writing “pack” in the beginning of this post.
Coyotes are pack animals. They don’t travel alone. They don’t hunt on their own. They don’t raise their children alone. They do everything with their “people”. Yet this one was completely isolated in this field, and she was BEAUTIFUL AND HEALTHY AND STRONG AND SHE LEAPT FORWARD continuing on her way towards her purpose.
She was supposed to be alone in that moment, she was supposed to be still and soak in the son.
He shows up guys, in the crushing and the pressing, in the waiting, in the joy and in the suffering, He shows up time and time again. He will not fail us in that. He promises to be there in every season and if one of the seasons is harder than the other find it honorable that He sees you are strong enough to survive it and fight for joy in every moment. Lean on Him and see that He is good.