Restless

Restlessness, wanderlust, ambition, dreams. This is what I tell myself I have. You point to the sky, I’m going to find myself a way to fly. But the reality of it is a lot less certain. I have dreams, but they’re pretty foggy and unclear. I want to be something–don’t we all–but I don’t quite know what.

Lately, though, I’ve been seeing the other side of this coin. When you’re a dreamer without a dream, it’s not a goal, it’s only discontent. Dissatisfaction with where you are without really knowing where you want to be, or at the very least without a way to get there.

I am the sea on a moonless night, calling, falling, slipping tides;
I am the raindrop falling down, always longing for the deeper ground;
I am the leaky, dripping pipes, the endless aching drops of light.

“Restless” (Switchfoot, 2011)

Paul writes in Philippians 4, “Whatever circumstance I am in, I have learned the secret of being content.” For years, I’ve been furious with him for not telling me what it is. Are you kidding me, Paul? You can’t just leave me hanging here! “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” He’s just bragging at this point, seriously.

It’s only recently that I realized that even though he calls it his “secret,” he gives us the answer right there:

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13).

I don’t know why, but for some reason I’ve always read that last sentence as a separate idea from all the others. Maybe because that’s the one that’s always on signs and posters and pillows. But once my eyes were opened to it, I realized he didn’t just give it to us here; he’s been telling us through the whole book.

“It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:20-21).

“I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).

So based on the revelation of this famous “secret,” combined with my feelings of discontent, it has begged the question: where am I finding my satisfaction?

Evidently, not the same place Paul is. His struggles are no dissatisfaction, because his victories are not his source of satisfaction. 

Maybe my discontent really just reveals where it is that I am looking to find my fulfillment. Paul says he knows how to be brought low, and how to abound. May the same someday be said of me.

Blessings,

Bre

For my daughter: love well

Love well, little girl.
Life is hard
but it is also sweet.
Learn to turn the other cheek.
Patience makes you ocean-strong
so shake the earth
climb a mountain
break a wall
write a song
cross a sea
tell a story
for words
are
powerful.
Little girl, listen to mine.
Be kind.
I daresay you’ll find that by taking the time,
you’ll stick in their minds.
Love well,
and put others before yourself.
But I know
it takes bravery and brings pain.
You never know quite what to say
and it takes you way beyond what’s safe.
All you want is a break,
an escape.
You’re tired of the chase
and you’re craving a haven.
Little sparrow, keep praying!
Love well,
for he won’t let you go.
He’ll see you through till the end.
Darling, there is no treasure so dear as a friend.
That love is a gift
So take time and enjoy each other
Laugh and cry with each other
Stand by each other
Beside each other
Like iron on iron you’ll set sparks alight
and as they rise in the sky
the night will turn bright
as together you fight the good fight
and fix your eyes on the light.
Little girl, love well.
And someday
when there comes a man who will blow you away,
who’s your anchor in the eye of a hurricane,
not afraid of a little rain–
a man who will stand by you,
laugh and cry with you,
live, love, and die for you
come dark times or bright, who will strive toward what’s right
who takes time and lightens your life,
faith-filled and faithful,
for richer or poorer,
better or worse,
will traverse the adverse, unswerving,
and take honor in serving–
who makes you better than yourself
and then makes you something more:
let no power in hell or on earth,
the hospital or the hearse,
the heights or the depths,
when you’ve got nothing left
when you’re blessed or you’re hurt–
none of these can separate
what God has put together
Remember
Two become one, and it cannot be undone
You have a soul like the sun
So love well
And together you’ll tell
the world
what the Lord has done
In your own little way
you’re a witness of faith
You know the Name
of the one who came:
the mountain-maker
heart-shaper
ground-shaker
stone-breaker
earth-creator.
So take heart,
be brave,
be wise and be kind.
Love well.

WHEREVER you go

j19

I was praying last night about the horribleness of the college search and future decisions and this verse just popped into my head. It’s a familiar old passage, but this time I really heard it anew.

I had just read a devotional about strength in and even gratitude for the hard times, but I didn’t really apply it to my life. After all, things are going great for now — it’s the future I’m worried about.

Ah, the future. The cold black abyss of uncertainty. However many times my dad tells me that oh, you still have plenty of time and we’ll just keep praying about it and maybe a lightning bolt will magically fall from the sky — however many times my wise mom offers me her advice and makes me feel better about it — however many times my teachers express certainty that things will come together or my friends sympathize over the decisions they too are facing or I just try to avoid thinking about it altogether — while all of these people mean well, and often their words do help, it doesn’t change the fact that time is winding down in the next few months and that there are actions that do need to be taken and decisions that do need to be made and I have no clue where to even start.

Another word for “dismayed” is discouraged. That’s really how it feels. Discouraging and overwhelming. There are so many options and how the heck am I supposed to know what’s best? Have I been praying about it? Heck yeah. But I haven’t seen any lightning bolts yet.

But you know what? This verse says that’s okay. And it doesn’t say it’s okay in the way that one person assured me that at least one college in the world received applications from seniors just the other week, in May (because seriously, how do you think those seniors whose applications didn’t come in until the last possible day have been feeling all year, huh?), or okay in the way that people toss over their shoulders that it’ll work out eventually, or okay in the way of well, it’s okay to not know so I should just sit back on it and not care about my future. This verse is God’s voice saying “Do not be discouraged, for the I, the Lord your God, am with you wherever you go.” And suddenly he means wherever not in a metaphorical sense like wherever is a state of mind or emotion or stage of life, but in a very real and practical and physical way. And that’s why it stood out to me. Because I do not walk alone; I have a travelling companion. And that’s regardless of how I act or feel — God’s faithfulness is not a conditional promise.

And for that reason, I do not have to be discouraged. I do not have to fold my arms or tighten my grip; I do not have to block off my heart or fear the uncertainty of what is to become of me. While it is true that the decisions still have to be made and I am still in the waiting, I am reminded that not all who wander are lost, and those sneaky voices in my head are drowned out by a different one. So maybe if I search less for my future and more for his faithfulness, I will be able to find contentment in the shadow of his wings and step forward, undiscouraged.

Goodbye 2014

It’s strange to think we’re at the end of another year. 2014 is nearly over.

It seems to have passed without a thought, without a pause, without a blink or a halt or any pivotal moment. Last year at this time was an emotional ordeal, because 2013–well, 2013 was the changing year. The testing year. The stretching year. The making, breaking, shaping year.

This year–this year just went. It went. It happened. But it didn’t leave the kind of drastic imprint on my life that last year did. It was a safe year, a settling year.

I guess that means going into 2015 that much more hopeful. Hopeful for the remaking of myself and the formation of my future.

Signing off in prayer,
Bre