Trying Not To Be Martha

The first couple weeks of this semester, my life felt calm. Even though there were things that were crazy for a couple days, they were unexpected and with guidance from the Lord, they were resolved on are on their way to be redeemed. But aside from those couple struggles and trials, I felt bored. I felt like I wasn’t meeting with people, but I was still very content with God. I was still learning stuff, there was just more time for naps and television. In the past 4 days, my life has done a 180 turn. My planner looks like it did last semester again – I’m meeting with girls again and feel overwhelmed most of the time with everything I always have to do. I feel like Martha from Luke 10:38 – I’m busy preparing for Jesus and doing, doing and doing. I haven’t been able to just sit in His presence and cherish my Savior’s perfection.

This is going to be a constant struggle in my life. I love people. Like the rest of my life I just want to talk with people. The problem is I have a tendency to want it all. Each freshman girl I meet, I want to get coffee with and talk about life. I’m a very relational person, but sometimes I put other relationships over the most important relationship in my life. I’m not good at being patient or trusting that God’s working when I’m still. When I take a step back from constantly being on the go, that’s when God says, “well done my good and faithful servant.” He wants me to be at peace in His presence. When I act like a Martha, there’s a temptation to think that my actions and deeds are what’s making a change, not God’s goodness. Yes, my actions and my deeds can grow my faith, but they can also trick me into thinking that this story is about me, when it’s so NOT about me. It’s about my Savior dying for my sins. It’s about my Heavenly Father using me in full knowledge that I’m a broken little sinner, who’s going to mess up.

So my prayer for the rest of this semester, the rest of my college career and the rest of my life is that I can seek first His kingdom, and know that the rest will fall into place. I acknowledge that my temptation will be to want to do it all, meet with everyone and be constantly on the go, but the Lord calls me to enjoy His presence. He doesn’t desire me to be anxious, but to seek Him in everything. Jesus had 12 disciples, not 12,000 – He, with His Godly discernment, choose 12 imperfect people to invest in. In following His model, I will focus on doing what I can and trusting that they Lord is working even when I’m resting. Yes, this is a difficult task, and the world wants me to feel pressure to do everything and to be in chains to all the times I fail to live up to my own expectations, but I’m going to focus on my Savior, acknowledging the grace He died for me to receive.

Blessings, Not Barriers

Like any girl, I love clothes, shoes and purses. Sometimes though, I worry that I place too much value on my possessions. When I’m not feeling like myself, I immediately think that shopping will make my life better. I think that buying a new outfit will actually change my life for the better. Over Christmas break, I started to realize what a hold materialism had on my life. I was in my car driving when out of nowhere I started panicking that my future might not be full of wealth. Needless to say, when I got home, I got out my bible, my journal and just tried to figure out where these feelings were coming from – why did I want more, more, more?

Why did I want more? That’s simple – I think that stuff is going to make my life better, I think that what I have can positively define me. I think that material possessions can fill voids in my heart that only Jesus can. However, time after time, I turn to the things that represent wealth in my life to satisfy me. When I do this, the blessings in my life actually prevent me from glorifying God with all that I am.

In his book, Radical, David Platt talks about what happens when material possessions stop being blessings and start being barriers. Jesus does not just want us to give my leftovers to Him; He wants all of me – my whole identity and everything He has blessed me with. I should be talking everything that He has given me and offering it back to Him with open hands and no reluctance. Jesus says that if I don’t love Him more than my mom and dad then I don’t deserve to be His disciple (Matthew 10:37-39). It should also say that if I love my Uggs, Coach clutch and Northface coats more than Him that I cannot be His disciple.

The world wants me to want more, more, more materialistic things. Jesus wants me to want more, more, more of Him. When I choose shopping over talking to Him, or value what my friends think above the Bible – His words—I CANNOT be His disciple, and my materialism becomes a barrier to my faith. This does not mean that I can’t enjoy nice things; I just cannot forget that my nice things do not and cannot define who I am. I am so much more than a Longchamp carrying, Northface and Ugg wearing sorority girls. I am a beloved daughter of God. I, even in my sinfulness, am worth dying for.  My prayer is that I stop looking at materialistic things as things that will make my life better, and that instead I view them as wonderful blessings, but not worth placing my value in. That I remember, like any other idol, they have ability to turn me away from God and consume me. So Jesus, please remind me that You ARE enough to satisfy me. You are more than enough.

What a Difference a Year Makes

What a difference a year makes. I want to go back to January 25th, 2010 and smack me in the face. I’m not going to say in this year I’ve gained a ton of maturity or learned lessons that I’ll never have to relearn, but in the past year of my life I’ve done a lot of growing and learning. Turning 19, I was very immature, completely focused on what everyone thought of me and trying to be the Christian that I thought I “had” to be. Last spring was full of a lot of striving. Striving to be the friend that included everyone; striving to be the sorority girl that didn’t fulfill the stereotype and striving to be the Christian that I was “supposed” to be. Sadly, I thought I could accomplish these things based on my own power, not relying on God’s power.

I became the friend so focused on her friends that she could never be alone. I can’t say I became the stereotypical sorority girl, but I was very materialistic (and still struggle with that). I became the kind of Christian who did things that I thought I had to do, not out of desire to serve the Lord. I wasn’t an epic failure, but I did very little that forced me to rely on God. I liked doing safe things and while I cared about my friends, I was not investing in anyone new. I looked at situations and how they directly affected me – if I could be glorified or benefited. Thankfully, God’s done some work in this heart of mine in the past year. It’s been painful and I’ve lived on the strugglebus for most of it, but I like to think I’m in a much better place as I turn 20.

This past year has easily been one of the hardest ones. I lost a wonderful grandmother – something that has rocked me to my core. I got the first C of my academic career – something that has forced to remember that I’m so much more than my grades. I moved into a house with 95 diverse and wonderful women – something that blessed me beyond belief, but also grown my patience. I stood on my feet for 36 hours for IUDM – ahh that’s pain. I also experienced growth in many friendships that has forced me to remember that Jesus is my best friend – He’s with me during everything and He will never disappoint. He’s my rock, He’s who I should be turning to in ALL situations.

In this past year, through seeing the terrible person I am, I’ve been able to be more and more captivated with Jesus Christ – the author and perfecter of my faith. I feel so loved by God that all the love I feel from others is just a bonus. Sunday night I was praying as I went to bed that my birthday would not be about me or bringing glory to me. I’ve felt God delighting in me, so I didn’t want people to. Today has been a blessed day. I want to tell everyone to stop being so nice. I’ve had a permanent smile on my face – it’s been a day of blown expectations because didn’t expect anything. That’s a wonderful feeling. Almost as good as being able to say that I’m in my twenties. And that’s almost as good as knowing that even as I was a selfish person in the past year, God still used me. He uses the lowly of the world to exalt Himself. How cool that He chooses to use me.

Thank you God for using me this past year. You didn’t have to, but it grew me so much. I’m truly blessed.

Trust

Trust. It’s a central part to every relationship. It’s necessary in telling people about yourself. It’s necessary in getting into a car with someone. It’s necessary in entering into new levels of intimacy. I like to say that when I meet someone I say, “Hi, my name is Caitlin, here are all my problems”. God has blessed me with an ability to trust pretty instantaneously and to be very open with things that have the ability to hurt me. In being open and vulnerable, I trust that people I tell things too are going to protect me and not hurt me. I trust that they are legitimately good people who will not use the power I give them for evil. The irony in all of this is how difficult it can be for me to trust that God is good.

It’s written every where in scripture, but two of my latest favorites are Romans 8:28 (And we know that in all things God for the good of those who love Him and who have been called to His purpose) and Deuteronomy 7:21 (Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God).  God works for my God and God is a good and awesome God. Yes, He is. He has freed me from sin, He sent His son to die for me, and He has redeemed things in my life for the better. I know that He is a good, faithful, omniscient, freeing, restoring, redeeming, awesome God… in my head, my heart sometimes struggles.  I am a type A personality. I like plans, I like finished products, I like my ideas and I like to be in charge. These can be good qualities in a project member, but can sometime cause me to live in sin. Because I like to plan things, I don’t always let God lead me. Because I like finished products, I don’t always trust that God going to carry it out until completion. Because I like my ideas, I struggle with humility and compromise. Because I like to be in charge, I don’t always trust God’s plan. The common threads is that in all these things, I struggle to see God as a good and awesome God. I have difficulty trusting that He will work everything for my good.

At a summer camp I did, the central theme was “knowledge without experience leaves room for doubt”. The more I experience God as a good God, the more I will know, in my heart, that He is a good God. This is such a paradox in my life. Before I get in a car with someone, I don’t ask for their driving record, or think that they want to do harm for me. My prayer is that I became more trusting of God than I am of people. That I don’t hesitate to believe that God is working all things for my good. That I don’t hesitate to believe that God is going to redeem yuckiness. That I don’t hesitate to believe that God will carry everything out until its completion. That I don’t hesitate to believe that God is a great and awesome God who longs for me to experience His love, compassion, forgiveness and faithfulness.

A Legacy That Lasts

I love being in a sorority; even more, I love Phi Mu. I genuinely enjoy the sisterhood, the living with 95 girls and the never being alone part. I love that my sisters are willing to do whatever they can to make yucky days better days. I love trying to brighten their days and being given the opportunity to be there for them. But, through recruitment, I’ve learned that I also really enjoy getting the opportunity of being part of something greater. Evaluating how my behavior as a sister affects the rest of my house, has allowed me to explore the fact that I represent more than just myself. I represent what it means to be Greek. I represent the Delta Alpha chapter of Phi Mu. I represent the tradition of love, honor and truth that Phi Mu represents. I’ve been entrusted to represent the legacy of Phi Mu.

Naturally, God has used this reflection to teach me about what it means to be a Christ-follower. I call myself a Christian, and in doing so, I represent Christ. Yikes, if that doesn’t scare me crapless, nothing else does. I will never ever in this lifetime be able to even halfway live up to the legacy of Jesus. I will fail immensely at showing God’s love to people and to following Him, but I still get to call myself a Christ-follower and be part of the legacy that was started over 2000 years ago. In fact, as it is stated in Ephesians, I am a co-heir with Christ. I will unfailingly bring shame to His name, but He will share His inheritance with me in heaven. Crazy.

Just as I have to think of my sisters and rely on them for strength when I have nothing left, so I also have to look to Christ and do my best to continue on His legacy for love, forgiveness and sacrifice. As Beth Moore puts it, I have to “die daily to the the part of [myself] that [can] deny, destroy, or distract form the great work of God in [me]. The great work of God through [me].”

Seeking His Comfort

My grandma would have been 70 years old today. I say would have been because almost a year ago today she died after a 5.5 year battle with pancreatic cancer… wow I haven’t said that out loud, or even typed that in words in a while. The truth is, because she left such an impact on me, I’m still grieving almost 6 months later. Every Sunday night at 8pm feels lonely because I don’t to talk to her on the phone and when something exciting happens, she’s one of the first people I wish I could tell. True confession, I still haven’t had the heart to delete her from my phone… every time I type in Na, her name pops up and I have to remind myself that calling Nana isn’t an option anymore. The past six months have brought healing in my heart, but the truth is, there’s still a lot of brokenness that I still feel frequently.

God keeps teaching me that trust is a key part in any relationships. Trust and true emotions. There are few times in my life when I’ve felt legitimately angry with God – after the earthquake in Haiti and the night after I said good-bye to my grandmother for the last time. While I was sad that she was being taken from me, it was so hard to try to understand why she was still here – I felt like she had suffered enough. One of my best friends told me something that night that has comforted me so much – it’s okay to be mad at God. It’s okay to ask for explanations, as long as through it, I trust that in His time He will reveal His goodness to me. Yes, today I feel angry that she died so young, that she’ll miss my college graduation, my wedding and other significant things in the next 10 years. Then I remind myself that I got 19 love filled years with her. She watched me graduate from high school — that’s a blessing. There’s less anger than 6 months ago and hopefully the next year bring more healing — I’m trusting that God will continue to heal my heart and lead me into less bitterness and sadness.

I came across a verse in Isaiah a couple days ago that I came back today, as I’m a hot mess walking around campus and crying in my room. “I, the Lord have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.” (Isaiah42:6) The second part of that is so comforting to me. The intimate act of hand-holding is something the God of the universe desires to do for me. When I think of someone holding my hand, they guide me, they stabilize me when I stumble, and they are there to motivate me when I want to give up. God is not absent in my struggles and my heartache, He is there, right alongside me hold my hand. There’s still healing in my heart to be done, January 11th and July 24th will always be two of the most difficult days of the year for me, but on these days, I find comfort in the fact that God knows and God is there right beside me; all I have to do is squeeze my hand and seek His comfort.

Choosing Jesus

So for anyone who knows me, I get stressed really easily. Over things that don’t often turn out to be anything at all. So, it’s only natural that at the beginning at a new semester, or as I finish packing my clothes to head back to Bloomington, I get a little anxious. Tonight, as I brought my big suitcase down the stairs and said good night and good bye to my little brother, that feeling of anxiety started in the pit of my stomach and the back of my head. This past semester and the past year have not been easy and there’s a lot of stuff that I’m still processing through, so the thought of jumping right back into the things that have thrown me around in the past, scares the crap out of me. I don’t want to make the same mistakes that I made first semester, I don’t want to miss out on the same opportunities that I did last semester and I don’t want to feel as exhausted, drained and incapable as I did last semester. However, as my final episode of online Grey’s Anatomy ended, I felt the Lord speaking to my heart.

He was saying, “Caitlin, you are my workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which I prepared in advance for you to do. (Ephesians 2:9) Go, do the work this semester that I have perfectly designed for you. For you are not perfect, but you are my workmanship, you are constantly being refined.”

Now, I have felt the Lord answering my prayers, I’ve felt Him literally carry me through some pretty rough times, but this was the first time, I wasn’t deep in prayer or journaling that God spoke to me. After Indy CC, I was feeling very broken and crippled; I asked God for comfort, for clarity and for guidance. And He gave it to me. It is for this reason, that in this next 15 hours of change and possible anxiety, I will choose Jesus. I will choose to believe that the same God that brought me way into freedom this past semester will bring me into this semester. I will choose to believe that His plan will prevail as much as I unconsciously try to screw it up. I will choose to believe that trust and hope are more powerful than anxiety and fear. I will wake up tomorrow, finish packing, and with God’s strength and my human mind, choose to follow Jesus – even when that means into trials and suffering – because He prepared good works in advance for ME… not because He needs me, but because He loves me.