To Whom Shall I Go?

This week has been rough. Like super strugglebus, I just want to be off of it. There’s some sin that I want to see disappear, like have my brain not even see it as an option. As rough as it’s been, I’m feeling very much like Simon Peter in John 6. After Jesus makes numerous claims, many of his followers left him feeling like the expectations were too high. And let’s be honest, some days I feel the same way. Life is hard. But, Jesus turns to His twelve disciples and says “You do not want to leave too, do you?” and Simon Peter’s response is “Lord, to whom shall we go?”  (John 6:67-68). Right now I’m at my breaking point, I haven’t been able to stop crying, but despite the temptation, I’m not going to walk away because I have no where to go.

I have no idea what the next step in a lot of the crap I’m struggling through is, but I know that I am more loved that I can ever imagine. Despite the fact that I feel like I’m drowning, I know I serve a good God. I’ve seen His goodness, I see His goodness even on the days like yesterday and today when I can’t stop crying and because of that I can’t walk away. It’s only Tuesday and all I want to do is curl up in a ball and wish the week away, but that’s not what God wants of me right now. In all the crap, I’m having to depend on God in so many new ways, but as I told my discipler today, if this is part of God getting me to rely on Him for constant strength I take it. I’ll take the tears and the heartache if it makes God more famous and more exalted in my life. Even if I had the option of skipping the sanctification, I still choose it because as Simon Peter said, “To whom shall we go”?

My prayer is that I’m constantly reminded of my desperate need for a savior. I can’t do it on my own. Surrender is something that requires the Holy Spirit. Sanctification sucks. But that’s the only route I’m willing to take because Jesus said I’m worth in His brutal death on the cross. He chose me, so I’ll choose Him back. Even when it’s not easy. Even when praying and communion with Him means more tears. He said I’m worth it and I’m going to attempt to believe it, today and tomorrow … and hopefully the next day too.

I’m a Feeler

I’m a feeler. A lot of my walk with the Lord is very feelings based, when I’m having a bad day, everyone usually knows it. It’s both a blessing and a curse. Take today for instance, I had to leave campus because I was on the verge of an emotional breakdown. I got halfway back to my apartment when the tears I’m a feeler. A lot of my walk with the Lord is very feelings based, when I’m having a bad day, everyone usually knows it. It’s both a blessing and a curse. Take today for instance, I had to leave campus because I was on the verge of an emotional breakdown. I got halfway back to my apartment when the tears came… and I couldn’t stop them. Sunday is the one-year anniversary of my grandmother’s death, and quite frankly I can’t believe it’s been a whole year. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a fantasyland – she’s so vivid in my memories. I think that’s what’s hard, I’ve blocked out a lot of the bad memories, seeing her on her deathbed, and my brain has only chosen to remember the good things – the summers spent at her house, the beach walks and the Sunday night phone conversations. You might say, why would I want the bad memories? Well, I feel like I have no closure. I sometimes believe that this fantasyland is going to end with her alive again, ready to talk to me about People Magazine’s Oscar Issue. Yes, the rational side of my brain knows this isn’t real life, but the alternative is that she’s gone forever, and dealing with that is worse than living in fantasyland. Today, it became painfully clear that God didn’t want me to live in fantasyland any longer. It was like my heart broke on a million different levels today. I’m not angry and I don’t feel like I need answers, but I’m just plain old sad. Real life sucks. My date night with Jesus tonight looked pretty much like my day today – lots of tears. God is good. My identity lies in Christ. Those things haven’t changed, I know I’m loved, but I’m just a sad little broken mess. Amongst the tears I learned a couple things. 1) God is sovereign over my feelings 2) My feelings are part of the sanctification process. Yes, we have control over our lives. God gave us the gift of free choice, but He also has the ability to control how we feel. When we feel like crap, it’s usually so that we know what it feels like to not feel like crap. Feeling like crap doesn’t mean that we don’t experience joy, it just means that we’re sad, that we don’t have permanent smiles on our faces. God doesn’t like to see me in pain, but it’s part of the growing process. Jesus cried. Jesus suffered. If we want to be more like Him, which is our goal as Christians, to follow Jesus, we too must cry and suffer. This does not mean that I can cry when I don’t get my way, but I can cry when I’m sad; I can allow my sadness to lead me closer to God. In being made more into the image of Christ (sanctification), I must experience pain and suffering. Because I’m a feeler, these feelings cut right to my core. God is in control. He is good. Just because I feel like crap, those things don’t change. So as I deal with the sadness, I’m choosing to remember that God is in control, that He’s good and that He loves me… He even thinks I’m beautiful when I cry. came… and I couldn’t stop them. Sunday is the one-year anniversary of my grandmother’s death, and quite frankly I can’t believe it’s been a whole year. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a fantasyland – she’s so vivid in my memories. I think that’s what’s hard, I’ve blocked out a lot of the bad memories, seeing her on her deathbed, and my brain has only chosen to remember the good things – the summers spent at her house, the beach walks and the Sunday night phone conversations. You might say, why would I want the bad memories? Well, I feel like I have no closure. I sometimes believe that this fantasyland is going to end with her alive again, ready to talk to me about People Magazine’s Oscar Issue. Yes, the rational side of my brain knows this isn’t real life, but the alternative is that she’s gone forever, and dealing with that is worse than living in fantasyland.

Today, it became painfully clear that God didn’t want me to live in fantasyland any longer. It was like my heart broke on a million different levels today. I’m not angry and I don’t feel like I need answers, but I’m just plain old sad. Real life sucks. My date night with Jesus tonight looked pretty much like my day today – lots of tears. God is good. My identity lies in Christ. Those things haven’t changed, I know I’m loved, but I’m just a sad little broken mess.  Amongst the tears I learned a couple things.

1) God is sovereign over my feelings

2) My feelings are part of the sanctification process.

Yes, we have control over our lives. God gave us the gift of free choice, but He also has the ability to control how we feel. When we feel like crap, it’s usually so that we know what it feels like to not feel like crap. Feeling like crap doesn’t mean that we don’t experience joy, it just means that we’re sad, that we don’t have permanent smiles on our faces. God doesn’t like to see me in pain, but it’s part of the growing process. Jesus cried. Jesus suffered. If we want to be more like Him, which is our goal as Christians, to follow Jesus, we too must cry and suffer. This does not mean that I can cry when I don’t get my way, but I can cry when I’m sad; I can allow my sadness to lead me closer to God. In being made more into the image of Christ (sanctification), I must experience pain and suffering. Because I’m a feeler, these feelings cut right to my core. God is in control. He is good. Just because I feel like crap, those things don’t change. So as I deal with the sadness, I’m choosing to remember that God is in control, that He’s good and that He loves me… He even thinks I’m beautiful when I cry.

A Day With Tears

Some days just aren’t good days. I love so many things about being a girl – I love that boys hold doors open for me, I love that feminine beauty is welcoming and I love that I have a heart that is easily broken – I’m very in tune with my emotions. However, some days I have trouble not being a slave to my emotions. Monday was one of those days. Last 4th of July was so rough. It was the defining moment of the summer that sucked. As I sat on my bed on Monday, I couldn’t get the image of my ailing grandmother in her hospital bed out of my head. I couldn’t stop thinking about the good-bye I said to her that weekend. I also couldn’t forget the comfort God brought me through all the pain. I spent most of last summer crying and mourning, and Monday morning reminded me of all that suffering. I realized there’s healing still to be done. There’s more hurt to welcome God into.

Monday was one of those days that my feelings seemed more powerful than God. I felt like I couldn’t hold back the tears. I cried while leaving my mom a voicemail, I cried on my way to the grocery store and I cried during worship at our Monday night meeting. I kept asking God to just make it a good day, to be bigger than my emotions and pull me out of the rut. However, it wasn’t until that afternoon, after lots of tears, while running on the treadmill and listening to worship music that I realized that some days God wants us to cry. Some days God wants me to mourn, and not just my losses, but also the depravity of the world. Michael W. Smith wrote a worship song called “You Are Holy”, and the song has had huge significance in my life. The girls’ part of the song is –

He is Lord of Lords

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He is King of Kings

He is mighty God

Lord of everything

He’s Emmanuel

He’s the great “I AM”

He’s my Prince of Peace

Who is the Lamb

He’s the living God

He’s my saving grace

He will reign forever

He is ancient of days

He’s the Alpha, Omega, Beginning and End

He’s my Savior, Messiah, Redeemer, and friend

These lyrics spoke to my heart on Monday. Some days I might not feel like the perky, bubbly version of myself. I might be sad and spend more time crying than smiling, but God’s character does not change. He is still the Almighty God who is in control. Ultimately, my Monday was a good day, not because I smiled a lot, but because I have a Heavenly Father who knows me intimately, and wants me to move forward, even if it requires some tears.

Authority Issues

I have authority issues. I don’t like rules and I absolutely hate people telling me what to do. I don’t like rules and restrictions, ask my roommates, I do everything in my power to break rules that I think are stupid. I am not a rebel or a wild child, I just fail to see how rules or authority keep me safe or teach me anything. I don’t know when this started. I’d like to say around the time I was sixteen when my parents started to treat me like their friend and not their daughter. To this day, my mom calls me for advice, which is great; I love my relationship with my parents. However, I have taken that same friendship and transferred it over to almost every other authority figure in my life. When I was in high school, I saw my teachers as my friends; Cru staff at IU, I consider to be friends. I respect these people, I respect my parents, but I tend to think that my judgment for myself is better than the judgment of people who are older and wiser than me.

Not only does my distaste for authority transfer to people in my life, but as I’ve recently realized, I also transfer it to God. God will gently lead me towards one door and instead of opening it, I try all the wrong things first. I usually feel like the three year old throwing a temper tantrum, yelling, “I want to do it MY way”. Trusting God is hard, it’s especially hard because it means surrendering my control in a given situation. It means that He knows more than me; He sees the whole picture. I don’t. That’s humbling for this know-it-all to admit. I like to pretend that I know everything, I have a better answer than everyone else and that my opinion is the most important. Perhaps my authority issues are more pride issues, thinking that at all times I know what’s best for me. How silly does that sound, that I know what’s better for me than my Creator, who knows absolutely everything about me.

This summer I’ve been memorizing Philippians 2:1-11, and I’ve memorized through 2:6, verses 2:5 & 6 are “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped”. That’s humility. Jesus was God, but made Himself a servant and “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped”. He knew that He could learn from serving others; As I grow in my walk with God, He wants me to remember that I don’t know everything. That people are in my life to teach me and grow me – I have to trust them, and trust what He is doing in their hearts and lives. So in full awareness of my authority issues, I pray that while keeping my eyes on Jesus, I can trust those who are older and wiser than me; that I can submit to the rules set for my protection, even if I think they are stupid, and know that God knows best. He wants me to grow, learn and prosper; this is not a painless journey, it is one of surrendering control, but it’s the next step towards Jesus. And as I sing in my favorite worship song, “I’ll stand my soul Lord, to You, surrendered – all I am is Yours”. In order for that to be true, I need to let go of my authority issues and trust that God is who He says He is and He works through the people in my life.

Pain

I associate pain as a negative thing. I also think that every time I’m told no, it’s because I did something wrong or there is something wrong with me. I think that if God closes a door on something in my life – a relationships, a leadership opportunity or a job—it’s because I’m not good enough or I did something wrong. False. Lie. God does everything for our good. He closes doors to open other ones, and often it’s not because we did something wrong, it’s because He has something better for us. I was reading through my journal from first semester and I came across something that struck me as odd. I said to God, “You’re saying no so You can say an even better yes in the future.” I almost always want a yes in the present; I lack the patience and the trust to wait for the better yes. The immediate satisfaction of eating a candy bar in my head is better than losing weight or better health in the future. I am so impatient that I often don’t want the growth. I want the immediate results.

Thankfully, God doesn’t think like me. God knows what’s best for us – even if it’s painful. Our society has decided that pain is a bad thing. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not comfortable, however, a lot of us will go out of our way to avoid pain, even if that means avoiding God. I am in no way saying that loving God equal pain, it is joyful and satisfying, however, there will be times when God needs to get you to the next level of maturity and that can be painful. I know in my life, I avoid the pain, I avoid the growth and in turn, I avoid God because I don’t view Him as good when I’m hurting. In my human brain, pain is a bad thing and therefore nothing good can come from it and it should be avoided at all costs. Jesus Himself suffered and endured pain. He knew coming to earth and dying on the cross wasn’t going to be a vacation, but He saw the reward as outweighing the pain. Perhaps I can start to see my growth the same way. The pain I experience as part of the maturing process is nothing compared to the eternal glory I will receive and the privilege it is to be made more and more into the image of Christ. In growing, I am being stripped of myself and Christ is greater reflected in my life.

As I start to process through my sophomore year of college, there’s been pain and struggle, but most of all there has been growth. God closed some doors in my life and said some no’s, but it is because of it that I’m the woman I am today. I’m stronger now that I was in September. I’m stronger now that I was in January. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” I don’t always see the ways that God is working, but I can know that He is indeed working. In saying no, God has asked me to have faith that I will see the yes’s He has in store for me. I have some growing to do before I’m ready, and that’s okay; I’m a work in progress. So thank You God for loving me enough to let me experience pain; for caring so much about my growth You allow me to struggle. Give me the faith to know that You are good, even when I can’t seem to see it.

Hurt

My feelings usually rock me to my core. I feel sadness, betrayal, hurt, happiness, job and peace very strongly. My heart is a very big, sensitive one and it breaks over the littlest things. I so easily give it away to people and to causes, often times bringing myself pain along the way. I find pleasure in the small things – ice cream, shenanigans between friends, mixed berry skittles, having random dance parties, but I also tend to take things very personally and I experience pain very deeply; I cry at least once a week. However, God gave me the big, huge heart that I have. My sin has put me through some crap in the past year, so that I could grow and so I could trust God to comfort me. God gave me my heart and has allowed me to feel and experience what I have, not only to draw me closer to Him, but to be able to love on people around me even better.

This weekend, I had some time to feel hurt. Because I get so frustrated with my emotions and my sensitive heart, my first inclination when I start feeling something is to get frustrated with myself. It’s as though I believe that God is not present in my pain. However, God is as present in my pain as He is in my joy. In Genesis 48, God says to Joseph “I know, my son, I know”. And at the end of Matthew 28, Jesus says, “Surely I am with you always.” When times get yucky, God doesn’t run from us; instead, He’s there to wipe away our tears when we cry. As I started to get angry at myself for feeling things, God in a way slapped me in the face and said, pause, you’re forgetting what’s true. He said, “it breaks my heart to see you hurting. I want you to know that you are truly loved. You are never second best, you, Caitlin, are my daughter.” It’s realizing those truths that comfort me. When we are in pain, God is in pain, but He’s willing to allow us to feel that pain to grow and heal us.

A very dear friend said me last night, “God allows us to feel things. It’s not bad to feel.” Amen. God allows me to feel hurt and pain so I can remember where I’ve come from and where I’m headed. It’s easy to trust God when everything is going well, but to trust Him when time are yucky and when our hearts are hurting is more difficult… but it makes us stronger. God allows me heart to break and for me to experience pain so that I can grow closer to Him. He wants to be the center of my life and redeem every area & sometimes that means that He needs me to hurt in order to make this happen.