Peace > Clarity

A wise man once said, “It’s hard to get your gift from God when both your hands [are] full.” – Tobe Nwigwe

Recently, not only my hands but my mind have been full, overflowing really. In this season of unemployment, I have been plagued with worry. To be honest, when I first entered this season, I was fine. I still had faith that I was exactly where God wanted me to be. But it’s funny how the testing of your faith can reveal the truth.

This is not to say that I don’t have faith in God, but this season has shown me that I need my faith to be stronger. It’s not as strong as I thought it was and just like when you grow your muscles through lifting, you are in pain and quite sore, the growing of my faith has left me just the same, sore and in pain.

I think I entered this season with a vague timeline of when I would exit. It wasn’t like I said, “On September 15th, I will have a job,” but as days continue to pass and I still don’t have one, and there isn’t much progress being made, anxiety has set in.

So, what do you do when God is late? What do you do when you underestimated your season? Well, I recently watched a sermon by Transformation Church (TC) out of Tulsa, Oklahoma called “Planted and I Underestimated.” TC is in a series called Planted Not Buried (it’s incredible, and you should watch all of it when you get a chance) where they have explained that both planting and burying is the same processes, but the outcomes are different. If you’re not careful, you could be having a funeral when you should be celebrating growth.

But in this particular sermon, one of the points made was, you need to embrace the delay when you’re waiting for God or you feel like He is late. I know when I heard that the first time I was like, “Really? You want me to be happy while waiting? You know I’m a millennial right?” But honestly, that statement couldn’t be more accurate.

It’s no surprise I haven’t been great at embracing delay, but as I have been forced to wait, it’s been amazing to see how God has revealed parts of His plan and his goodness to me.

For example, I recently went on a mission trip to Haiti. The timing of the trip couldn’t have been better because I really needed a break from my normal life. I was losing my mind… I’m not kidding. But it’s funny, how this trip popped up at the right time. Only God!

I needed to serve, I needed to live with less, I needed to lead a simpler life, and more importantly, I needed to be disconnected from the things that were causing me stress. (There will be more on my trip to Haiti in upcoming blog posts, so if your interested subscribe.) But with all that aside, I needed Haiti because I needed clarity. My current situation was draining me and I was drowning in my own sorrows.

I didn’t have high expectations for the trip because I knew it could go a number of ways. Truthfully, I was hoping God would give me an aha moment. That I would be there and realize my purpose, or get a word from God, or something and to be honest none of that happened. At least not in the groundbreaking, earth-shaking, mind-blowing way I expected. But instead, it happened subtly.

I didn’t gain the clarity I was seeking, but I did gain peace.

On the flight back to the States, I reflected on this exact topic and realized that God didn’t tell me my purpose then or give me clarity on anything, but by allowing me to live a simpler life and understand what is important, He gave me the peace to know that everything will be just fine. So, for now, I am free from worry, free from anxiety, and choosing not to dwell on uncertainty.

The funny thing is, while I am fine now, these are demons I will have to fight again, and again, and that’s okay.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:19

Worry, anxiety, and discontentment were, and still are my temptation. But Haiti was the escape God provided for me, and that trip allowed me to rediscovered God’s goodness, how unworthy I am of His love, and how He loves me dearly anyway. For that I am thankful.

Until next time, get up, get moving and be salt & light!

The Erryday: Tests

Two weeks ago, I created a video about trials and in that video, I reviewed James 1:2-4.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

This week it’s all about tests. At first glance, I thought these were the same thing or at least synonymous. While they are synonymous, the difference is, trials can come from anything, friends, family, co-workers, the devil, etc., and are a way for you to refine your faith, leaving you purer than before and closer to the image of God. But tests, in my mind, are solely given to you by God. To me, it’s God’s way of checking to make sure that what He instilled in you during the trials is built to last. It’s His way of checking to see that what we’re learning in our quiet time, what we think we’ve mastered, what we boast in Him about when all things are well, still stand true to us even when everything seems to be falling apart.

To be honest, I’ve never met anyone who loves a good test or trial, but when you’re sitting in the midst of one like I am, you have to remember that God is still good and that without tests, there is no true movement towards sanctification.

Maybe for you, your test is in understanding God is your sole provider. It’s really easy to say that when you have a full-time job, benefits, a steady check, and life is good. But what happens when you’re laid off and your severance is running out? It’s a test. Will, you still say God is a provider, your sole provider, or will you doubt Him?

Or maybe it’s your health or the health of a loved one. It easy to say that God is a healer when no one is ill. But when your medial bills are racking up and you still can’t find out what’s wrong with you, things can get kind of scary. It’s a test.

Now, this by no means is meant to make light of tests or the tests you might be experiencing in your life. The goal of this blog post and video is to help you put things into perspective. Despite the tests, God is still SO good and we still don’t deserve Him, yet he chooses us daily. “I should be in Hell”, is my favorite phrase to use on days when I am particularly peeved with the Lord, because who am I really to be upset with Him?

But with that said, even through the tests, remember who He is, who you are in Him, and that He has already overcome the world, so there is no need to worry. Whether you’re on the mountaintop, or in the valley, understand that God has you in the palm of His hand, always.

Until next time, get up, get moving, and be salt and light!

Vulnerability

V for Vulnerability

When I hear the word vulnerability, it’s like someone said the word “moist.” It just makes me queasy and uncomfortable. It’s funny because I used to think I had no issues being vulnerable, but what I really found out is that I’m great at keeping people at an arms distance.

The act of being vulnerable is uncomfortable, and I’m really bad at sharing personal details about my life.

I know what you’re thinking. “Sydney, you have a blog… about yourself. What are you talking about?”

I know, track with me for a minute. I do have a blog about myself, but much of what I share isn’t what I would call vulnerable information. I am willingly sharing it because it doesn’t take much out of me to share it. I share it because I love writing. I share it because maybe it can help someone else. But rarely do I share it with the intention for people to know the real me.

So about this vulnerability thing… For years, I’ve been praying for quality people and friendships to come into my life. I’ve wanted support groups, accountability partners, people who can look at me and say, “You’re not acting like yourself, what’s up?” even when I put on the facade that everything is good. I’ve wanted people who could call me out where I fall short, help me as I move towards sanctification, and much more.  Now, I’m finally in a position where I have those people, or I could have those people, but again, I keep them away.

I want you close, but not too close. I want you to know me, but only what I want you to know. Really I just want to be the introvert that goes to a coffee shop to be around people but doesn’t actually want to make conversation. That is me in a nutshell.

But as I learn more about what it means to live in community, I’ve learned those behaviors are actually the furthest thing from community. Community is allowing people to know you, all of you.

Not the Sunday morning you. Not the Beyonce version of “I woke up like this” you. But the you that nobody really wants to be around because you have problems, you.

Vulnerability is allowing people to get so close they could hurt you, but choosing the right community so that you can mitigate the unnecessary pain. You will get hurt being vulnerable, you will get hurt in community because people are imperfect, but as you exercise vulnerability in community, you begin to see what love actually looks like.

Vulnerability, community, and love. It’s hard to have one without the others, right?

It’s hard to be vulnerable, but it’s a prerequisite to community and love which are both things that we were built for because we were made in the image of God. So as I strive to become more vulnerable, no matter how hard and uncomfortable it is, I hope you strive to do the same.

Is vulnerability a hard thing for you too? Let me know in the comments below.

As always, until next time, get up, get moving and be salt and light!

By This Age I’ll…

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve given up the idea of doing things by a certain age in my life. When I was younger, doing that was fun because I just couldn’t wait to grow up. But now that I’m older, and I’ve begun to miss deadlines I’ve set for myself, the exercise of planning my life has become far less joyous and more like a reminder of dreams deferred.

But to be honest, that’s not the main reason I’ve stopped planning my life based on age and milestones. I’ve stopped due to a realization that some things just take time, certain things can’t be rushed.

This realization was two-fold, first coming from the amazing late 20 and early 30-year-olds that I look up to, and the other part coming from people in the Bible that “hit their stride” in their 30s.

Before I go any further, I have to say that I, like many other people, am a sucker for instant gratification. I want what I want and I wanted it yesterday! But whether you call it climbing the ladder, paying your dues, or the process, you can’t land at the “finish line” without embarking on the journey.

Many of the people I look up to are in their early 30s and are doing some amazing things. They’ve started businesses, they’re living the life there 20-year-old self would have never imagined, and what I find most remarkable is that they’re quite content.

Now, I can’t speak for them, but they genuinely seem to be content with where they are in life. Let me explain… I say content because that doesn’t mean that everything in their life is grand, they never struggle, and the embody Hakuna Matata vibe only. But it’s as if they’ve finally hit their stride.

Stride – to walk with long, decisive steps in a specified direction.

Though I’m only a young 20-something, I feel like much of what I’ve experienced in this season of my life is running, sprinting if I’m honest. If it’s not running to the next big thing, I’m racing to keep up with others, or to stay relevant, or to achieve something to impress people who I don’t care too much about.

While that has slowed down significantly for me since I quit social media, I often find myself still fighting aspects of that battle every once in a while. But it seems like as you reach 30 and beyond, you stop running, and start striding. Maybe it’s because you run out of gas and get winded, maybe it’s because you realize always running isn’t sustainable, or maybe it’s just because you know there is more to life, and working within your purpose as it’s been revealed to you is far more satisfying than striving for the approval of people.

Whatever it is, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching this change from afar in some of the people I admire. They’re truly striding, not breaking a sweat, not breathing hard, but living and loving life no matter what test or trials, celebrations or accomplishments come their way.

And as I thought about this, I couldn’t help but consider how this plays out in the Bible. Joseph was 30 when you became second in command to Pharaoh. David became king around the age of 30 as well. John the Baptist was 30 when he came out of the wilderness, Ezekiel was called by God to be a prophet at the age of 30, and of course, Jesus officially started his ministry at 30.

Why were they all 30? Why couldn’t they have been 20-something? While I don’t have the answers, I feel that each of them coming into their purpose around the age of 30 had little to do with them being actually being 30, and more to do with the journies (i.e., personal, spiritual, and physical) they all had to take to become the people they were at that time. They couldn’t just arrive in their purpose, they had to walk into it, and that takes time.

With that said, if even sovereign and all-powerful Jesus had to wait until 30, also He had to wait on the Lord’s timing to step into His purpose, I think I can humble myself to do the same.

I write all this to say that some things, no matter how much you want them, require a process of growth, maturity, and ultimately time. In this world, we can fake a lot of things, but you can’t fake true growth and the process.

If you’re like me and you find yourself wondering why you haven’t accomplished certain things by now, just remember that some things require you to wait, and all things are in God’s timing. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey He’s taking you on.

Until next time, get up, get moving, and be salt & light!