Friday, October 16, 2009

would you change?


i used to blog incessantly. write incessantly. transfer my thoughts from one medium to another incessantly. the act of writing used to be necessary. i had so much running through my brain that i had to empty it out frequently.

i haven't been "blogging" (with or without an actual blog) much recently.
i really enjoy writing.

not really sure why i dropped the habit.
i guess people change.

but how much? how much can we really change?
physical change is easy; i can dye or cut my hair, put on new clothes, eat more or go on a diet, use Crest White Strips...yea, physical change is easy.
but i'm talking about true change. mental, inner, spiritual change. a change of attitude, outlook, and core values.

how much can one person really change? can we change our personality? level of morality? tastes, preferences, and desires?

as a culture, we hear the stories. the sappy romance movies where the bad boy changes his ways, all for the love of a girl. the inspirational novels where the originally shady hero undergoes a life-altering situation and is suddenly struck with the uncontrollable urge to do large amounts of good.
we hear the stories. we believe most of them.


it's a word that implies hope, fear, restlessness, happiness...but how much do we really know about it? how much do we really know about change? is there any way a person can change so drastically so that they're like a new human being?

would a boy change for love? would a shady hero change for the sake of others?
i can't promise an answer for those questions.

but there is one question i can answer:
would a wretch change by and for the love of a Savior?


any time i am asked how i know God exists, all i say is,
"i know what i used to be. then i encountered God, and i'm not the same."

did i change?
am i different person?
yes and no.

if you knew me during middle school, well, i'm very sorry. wasn't a pretty picture, was it? my values, priorities, and focus (not to mention my style...thank you LORD) have all changed drastically.

but my being. my core. my personality, traits, and habits...are they the same?
i'm still stubborn. still independent. still focused. still insecure. still proud. still...everything. some good, some bad.

so what's different?
i know i'm not the same.
but have i changed?

submission is key.
i'm still me. i'm still a fallen creature. but i have help.
when Jesus allowed Himself to be tried and found guilty; when He allowed Himself to have heavy metal nails rammed through his wrists; when He chose to say 'It is finished' and welcome death, He told humanity

I'm here to love. I'm here to forgive. and I'm here to help.

the devil knows exactly where my weak points are, and if i am not submitted, wholly under the authority of our Creator, then the devil will waste no time in riling up those old, fallen ways: habits and sins i never could have overcome on my own.
if i don't submit, then i reject this free help. this wonder that is the broken body of Christ.
this wonder that allows me to change through the power that overcame death.

i'm different.
i may not be a different person - if i stray from my Lord, it's only a matter of time before the anger, pride, and insecurities show their faces again - but i am different.

i can have peace when i'm upset.
i can feel loved with no one around.
i can be satisfied when i have nothing.
all because of the perfection that is the sacrifice of Christ.

i didn't earn it.
i didn't have to change first.
i just had to let it change me.

so, can people change?

can submission to the same Father Christ Himself submitted to, change people?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

worn out, in a good way i suppose.

so, i just finished crying.a lot.
i rarely cry. if i'm going to shed tears, it's because something is seriously bothering me. i only cry when something is seriously wrong.and ohhh man did i just cry.
i realized tonight, while i was talking through some conflicts i've been very much a part of, that i absolutely hate my personality. hate it, hate it, hate it.
i'm an internalizer, to an extreme degree. people who are emotional, the slightest bit dramatic, or love to talk about their feelings completely baffle me. to me, all of that seems like just the cheesiest stuff. i see it as the equivalent of sitting around a campfire, holding hands, and singing 'Kumbaya'. nope, not for me. i prefer to hold it all in. i process it all on my own. i hate feeling like a burden to people, and so my solution is to just not tell them.
but you know what?i really don't like that about myself. as melodramatic as sharing your feelings seems to me, there have been times where i wish i could, with ease, just sit and talk about what's going on in my head. every once in a while, there will be a window of opportunity, a small chunk of time where i actually want to open up. but if i wait more than five minutes, i've completely talked myself out of it. or, if i do share, i'm really quite over the idea of discussing the subject almost as soon as i've said it.
i've always thought that that meant i was just a bad, narcissistic, and horrible person. i've never seen it as a strength.i mean, i've always seen myself as someone with a strong personality, but i've never seen my tendency to internalize things as a positive asset. i've always assumed it was hurting more than it was helping, both to me and the people around me. in fact, especially the people around me, since i tend to bottle everything up, and then randomly explode and hurt everyone's feelings. and when i do finally explode, i start telling myself that i'm a horrible person who doesn't care about anyone else.i think i started to believe myself.i started to believe that because i internalize, i hurt people, and because i hurt people, i'm mean and i don't care about anyone except myself.
never ever ever until tonight did i think internalization could ever be a beneficial trait. i've been told it's a strength hundreds of times, but i could never see anything good about keeping all your thoughts to yourself.but tonight, my mom said something that i hope will always be an encouragement to me.she told me that she knows i care about others because i don't want to tell everyone what's going on.
my family's busy. all the time. i hate being a burden, and so a lot of times, i just don't really talk about what's going on with me. i figure my family has enough to worry about; my dad holds down two jobs while taking seminary classes, my mom teaches my brother as well as three geography classes, my sister is moving to the phillippines for three months, my brother's starting high school this year...anything that i might be dealing with, in my mind, pales in comparison with everything my family (admirably, if i do say so myself) juggles.
i've always hated the way i keep to myself. i feel like it makes me look conceited. but tonight, i'm ok with it. my mom pulled out the positive: i don't like to make things more complicated than they need to be. and so i keep my problems out of the mix. not just at home, but anywhere, really.
and she said that she knows i care about my family because i try to make things as easy as possible.
you have no idea what that meant. i had pretty much convinced myself that i was a flawed and defective person, because i don't like sharing my feelings. i saw no good in my own personality. my own, hand-crafted and God-given personality. i didn't realize what a burden i was being on myself. how many lies i had allowed myself to believe. how i was viewing myself affected how i believed God viewed me. i tend to be one of those people who focus possibly all too much on their wretchedness without Christ. sometimes i focus so much on how awful i used to be that i forget the goal: to become like Jesus. to learn what pleases the Father.
i forgot that God made me an internalizer for a purpose. someday i will be in a situation where i'm going to have to be strong. where i'm going to have to be able to work things out on my own.He wouldn't have given me such a dominant trait if i wasn't supposed to use it somehow.
likewise, He's going to grow me in my weak areas. there will always be times where, for my own sake and the sake of others, i'm going to have to be more vocal than i want to. i'm going to have to allow myself to be stretched beyond comfort.but that's ok. because if i'm in submission to my Father, He can use (use as in employ for good use) my personality in ANY situation.
i internalize. i work things through on my own, in my own head, without always vocalizing my feelings.there are both strengths and weaknesses in that.i saw the weaknesses mom sees both.and she reminded me of the strength.

of course, that didn't keep her from encouraging me to come and talk any time, no matter how much is going on in the house.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

conviction and commentary

somtimes I wonder how people perceive me.
geek? awkward? freaking awesome? stuck up? chill? mean? brown-noser? Jesus?

we live in a culture where, chances are, you are labeled as one of the above. we decide who is cool and who's not. we decide who we want to associate with by how we have labeled them. how many of the people around you would you label 'Christ-like'? would you label yourself in such a way?

followers of Christ are called to represent Him her eon earth, to actually be Jesus to the world around us. that's a big responsibility, and one i think we as believers take much too lightly. we treat Christ's standards like a joke, taking advantage of His immense love, grace, and patience. we flirt with sin, as if our hearts and minds are invincible and impenetrable just because we have labeled ourselves "christians". we negotiate and make compromises with ourselves, basically telling Jesus "well, thanks for the get-out-of-jail-free card." but the cross was and is so much more than an easy-out when you screw up. it was a sacrifice of love so that you could live life with joy, looking forward to eternity in the glorious presence of God, and that you could share that joy and anticipation with others.

now, don't get me wrong. every last person on this earth is going to sin eventually. in fact, you and i have probably both sinned in the last hour. and that's why God's grace is so incredible. i have messed up so many times. i let a rather unpleasant word or two slip. i get angry. i disrespect people behind their backs and to their faces. and those are just some of the more easily fixed and remedied things. but the Lord has washed me clean of those things and the things i've done that we would consider "worse than most."

but we are not to use that precious gift as a crutch. as an excuse. we are to try our best to represent Christ.
and how often do we portray Christ as someone He's not?
someone with a dirty mouth. perverted thoughts. deceitful. addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, and others' opinions of themselves. foul-tempered. negative. judgemental.
is this what Jesus has become?

those who don't know Christ are watching those who do. watching to find out who this 'Jesus' is.

honestly, we're doing a pretty crappy job being Jesus to the world.
and i say 'we' because i'm just as guilty.

now, i understand that some people are still struggling with past sins that affect how the represent Christ, such as addictions, and those things can take time. but they are continually handing their burdens over to the Lord. and that's just it. they're pleading with God, actively pursuing sanctification in a way that most of us "christians" don't. so many "christians" are not even trying, and that kills me, partly because i know that i often have that same attitude of apathy.
and that sucks.

but i pray, and please pray for me in this area, that i would overcome that, because there's nothing that breaks my heart more than seeing someone reject Christ because they saw christians as no different than the rest of the world. we are called to be in the world, that is true; but in the world, yet not of the world.

how can we, in good conscience, show people Christ, a bible in one hand and a joint in the other? words of love for some and gossip for others? a holy kiss for our brothers and sisters in Christ and a seductive one for the world? our consciences are seared by compromise.
we figure that as long as we don't get caught, we're ok. or that we'll deal with that sin when we're older and wiser. or we just want to show everyone that christians can party with the best of them.

but are these things worth men's souls? is your addiction, loose tongue, or cool reputation worth the same as a soul that could potentially be eternally separated from our loving Father?

it sounds harsh.
but hell is nothing to mess around with.

so many people waste a lot of time just waiting for some huge experience that will radically change them and force them to give up those nagging sinful habits. some wait for that experience right up until the time where they are placed, dead, in their grave, having been perfectly content to wallow in sin until then, waiting for God to do all their work for them, to instantly sanctify them, to change them without their having to put forth any effort.
we put off doing the hard, yet right, thing until it's too late.

so all of this to ask, 'how are we representing Christ?'
do people want to know Him by looking at us?
what we do?
our attitudes?
do people see us and think 'they have what i need. what i'm looking for. what my soul was made for.' ?

and so i challenge you, convicted and humbled myself, to look at yourself. your life. your words. your thoughts. and ask 'do i look like Jesus? how am i representing Christ? do people see me and know i have what they're missing?'

i pray that every believers answer would some day be 'yes.'

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Confession #39208

ok, so confession:
this week I ignored God.

I'm disgusted with myself, really.
I basically blew Him off all week. I got so wrapped up in me.
what I needed.
what I wanted.
what about me?

This time last week, I was trying to turn everything over to Him. and here I am, 7 days later, thinking "wow, I definitely took a wrong turn somewhere back there."

I'm not even going to lie. this past week has been rough.
a lot of people I really care about are kind of leaving. which sucks.
my cat died. yea, that really sucked. no joke.
my sister and I clashed a few times this week, which is (thank you JESUS) pretty rare for us these days. but we temporarily lost our harmony. no fun.
and all of a sudden it hit me: crap, I didn't study for the SATs.

of course, I decided that studying at that point was fruitless, so I just went and took them without studying.

we'll see how that went when I get my scores back. eep.

so, basically, rough week.
but back to my former point.

that was no excuse to push God aside. if nothing else, it was more of a reason to call out and say "I need You."
but I didn't this time.
I'm not really sure why.
I guess I was afraid to let God have some of my crap. I was afraid what He would do with it. I was afraid that maybe He would try and take something else away from me. I thought that maybe if I held on to everything I had real tightly, He wouldn't be able to touch it. He wouldn't be able to "mess it up." or take it away.
I felt like I'd had enough loss for awhile.

darn that fdsklfjdklsbdwidsjf independence.
God, You can look, but please do not touch.
ha. wow.

I'm a frigging loser.

I seriously thought that I could keep God out of my personal business. that if I didn't talk to Him about it, He would never know. and therefore would never change anything. 'cause, you know, it was just so much better if I organized, labeled, and moved everything around myself. not.

I've been thinking a lot about grace lately. and you know what's awesome?
I ignored God all week.
I tried to control and hold on to everything.
I basically let myself believe that His power was finite. (sounds wayy dumb when you boil it down to the heart of the issue)

but I can, with complete confidence, come before His throne of grace.

I am forgiven.

God doesn't hold that junk over my head. nothing is stopping me from having fellowship with Him again except for the lies that tell me otherwise.
and what a liberating feeling it is.

"Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh will abide in hope; because Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Thy holy one to undergo decay." Acts 2:26-28 (quoted from the OT)

If grace flows free when sin abounds,
then Lord, I need your grace right now.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

a sort of death and rebirth

and so another year comes to a close.

wow, and what a year it has been.
and here we are at the end of it.

this year has been crazy. I'm not even sure that I'm aware of everything that went on with me, and I am me.

I started out the year as a person insanely self-concious. critical. afraid. uncomfortable.

and as much as I'd love to say I'm no longer any of those things, I will admit; I'm still overly critical.
sorry, guys.

I feel like after a summer and really most of a year of finding self-worth in appearance, I finally let go. Really since about half-way through April, I've just stopped. I could no longer balance everything. I couldn't find self-worth in how I appeared anymore. and I have never felt so sure of myself before.

how I looked physically.
how I looked on a report card.
how I looked in church.
how I looked in my actions.
how I looked to those close to me.

these things stopped looming over me. haunting me. telling me I wasn't good enough.

I learned you don't have to be perfectly beautiful by the world's standards. 'cause its standards are a load of crap, always subject to change. nothing subject to that much change should define you.
I learned that best effort doesn't always mean an A. and honestly, my parents don't care as much as I thought they did about my grades. they just want me to try.
I learned that appearing holy in church sunday morning isn't enough. just because my dad became a pastor doesn't mean I'm expected to be perfect. you can go, go, go. do, do, do. but you'll never be any more perfect. any more holy than the bum sitting next to you. I can play guitar on worship team and sing praises until I'm blue in the face, but without the heart behind that, I am a clanging symbol.
I learned that people are more comfortable around you when you are comfortable with yourself. KEYS' MOST trip...At first I wasn't quite sure how that would go down. One of my best friends (yea, Rachel Paul, you guessed it) wasn't coming, and I'd pretty much just hung out with her most of the year. After all, we're tight. But I decided to let go and let my personality come right on out, right in front of people that either didn't know me, or knew me very little, which is something I never do easily. and I became so much closer with so many on the trip. some of them I didn't even know at all.

I feel like I finally get what Bono was talking about. Sometimes you can't make it on your own.
This year I finally let myself be raw and unedited. in front of people. not just in a notebook that I quickly close and store on a shelf, out of sight by anyone but me. I suppose you could say I let myself feel things, yet didn't feel the need to bottle it all up. It wasn't until I loosened the cap, so to speak, that I realized just how much keeping myself to myself was screwing me up.

so I've been typing for like...half an hour.
and I don't really know where I'm going with all this.
but it felt good to write it. just to get it all out.

I think that's why God made music; to comfort in mourning, to celebrate in joy, to release the deeper parts of the heart.

thank you Jesus for that one.

I have hated, and been forgiven.
I have loved, and found love in return.

Friday, May 23, 2008

and you see the beauty inside of me


what interesting things they are.
some people find certain personalities to be absolutely fascinating. enamoring. beautiful.and others can't stand to be around that same exact personality.
they're incredibly complex. they're incredibly mysterious. they are the reason for your actions, thoughts, and words. they're creative. they're strong. they're unique.

they're the inner beauty of a person, you might say.

I've come to realize quite a bit about my personality lately.
and let me tell you;I never fully realized how timid I am.
I come across so confidently, I suppose I just decided that I was as confident as I appeared.

I prefer to be the pursued. I tend to internalize things and keep it real shallow. it takes a lot of strength and effort for me to be the one who asks the question that will deepen the relatioship. to be the pursuer. it's like this in almost all areas of my life, really. from relationships right down to daily conversations. most of my friends are people who were willing to start the conversation. willing to ask a question. I have thousands of questions, and I don't ask most of them.

well, I did ask my mom today if you can get arrested for flicking off the police. you can, by the way.

but anyways. I don't like to be the one to start a potentially awkward conversation. so I just won't ask certain questions.

now, you must know. I'm about 839034888x better at this then I used to be. ask Julie (friggin) Gassaway. I don't think I spoke a word all through middle school (unless of course I was yelling at someone)
God has given me so much more confidence in who He made me. I'm comfortable with me. I'm learning to open up. I'm learning that sometimes you have to be the more forward person, or even just a little more forward of a person, in order to reach out and establish great relationships that otherwise wouldn't have happened.

but I've been struggling with this all day. This relational it a good thing or a bad thing?
truth is, I'm not sure.
I'm thinking that when it comes to personality, there is no right or wrong. you just are the way you are. and there's a purpose for that.

I'm still trying to figure out why I am the way I am.
maybe it's to force me to be cautious (to balance out my impulsive side)
maybe it's something for me to overcome.

I don't know anything for sure.
but I do know that I don't want it to dictate me.
I don't want to let it be a hindrance for what God has for me.

looking over my shoulder with lust

Lord, let me turn around. Here and now, life's too hard. Let me give up and return to where You had me before. Because going back is far easier than moving forward.

how many times have I prayed this without really praying it. you know, kind of subconciously? way too many times.

Fact is, I'm not who I was two years ago. last year. last month. yesterday. I am in a constant state of change. and thank our dear God for that.Last year I handled things differently. I lashed out. I fell apart. I became consumed. I let nothing penetrate. because that's how I thought I would stay safe.

eventually I came to the point where I had to reach out. I had to let down the walls. I had to be vulnerable. I had to allow myself to be comforted, strengthened, upheld. and that's not something I do easily. Some of it backfired. I exposed myself, and got burned in return. But I would have rather taken that chance and learned something than to have not done it at all.

There's no way I could list everything I've learned in the last year. Relationships, boundaries, my own personal strengths and weaknesses...just a few of the things that I've tested and tried since last spring.
Right now it feels like it would be easier just to stop and return to where I was before. I didn't reach out for help. I was self-sufficient. I was in a dangerous state of mind.
but that state is so appealing to an individual as independent as myself.
I lust after that state.

lust - an intense longing; any natural desire fulfilled unrighteously.

I've come so far.
I want to go back.
But then what is all this testing for if I don't move forward?