Turning Forty

As I celebrated my fortieth birthday a few weeks ago, I got a bit reflective. Forty years went by quickly, I mean relatively speaking. Time is funny, it can sometimes go by quickly or slow or even both at the same time. I feel as if I’ve blinked and all of a sudden I’m here, in this moment. I’ll blink again and another forty years will have passed by (Lord Willing). My pop culture references instantly date me ( Seinfeld anyone?), and my bedtime for sure reflects my current stage of life. (Of which I have no regrets on that, sleep is my jam!)

I wouldn’t want to go back to my twenties or thirties because though there were good times, they also belong in the past. Romanticizing the past just puts a different filter on it.

I’m grateful for the the person I am today, right now at this moment. I’m grateful for the hard things and the joyful things I’ve experienced. I’m grateful to have the relationships I have loved ones. Most of all I am secure in my faith in the Lord.

I would not be the person I am today if I didn’t know Jesus. I used to be an angry person, unable to let go of hurts and slights. I used to believe that I was unloved though I was surrounded by it. Without Jesus, I would not have any sense of what peace and contentment could begin to look like.

The idea of being Forty used to look like something else to me. It used to look like I had checked all the right boxes. Boxes that I never truly strove to check off. I don’t know if I was ever meant to check off those boxes. It used to look like I was supposed to have all the pieces of the puzzle of life in place. The reality is in my life, the puzzle looks more like a mish mash of pieces from different puzzles. Some of which fit together well and others that don’t which I have learned to stop forcing to fit. I have this inkling that those puzzle pieces I’ve been searching for and even those I haven’t will start to fill in. Creating this beautiful but still incomplete picture.

I’ve learned it’s not so much the boxes I check off but what my heart is looking at. My heart today strives for the Lord. In my thirties my heart struggled to understand what this could look like or even mean for my life. In learning to let go of those ill fitting puzzle pieces, I’ve seen God all the more.

At forty , I’ve learned a few things but I still have so much more to learn. I look forward to this new decade of Life.

Being Single & Seeking Community

Living alone has great benefits. There is no one to fight for control over the remote, wearing  whatever you like and eating whatever you like. It can be the absolute dream of being an adult. But there are times when it can be hard too. Coming home after a long day of work to an empty home can either be a relief or hard. 

A relief when the day has been long and stressful. When all I crave is a nice shower or bath, a bit of food and quiet before bed. Hard when craving companionship and no one is available because well life. Then there are those days when it’s a mixed bag, when you desire a bit of both. 

Right now, I’m in a peaceful place with my life and therefore my state of singleness. I’m coming up on my first year of living in my own home, becoming more settled in my position at work and growing more in my faith in the Lord.

But I have been in a place when it wasn’t good. When I listened to the lies to start with, the ones that say I was not worthy of God’s love and care. When my defenses are down and exhaustion seeps into my life I’m more susceptible To seek out comfort or weakness and sin . I turned away from the truth of who I am in Christ. Choosing instead to believe the lies,that I am forgotten or unloved. 

Thankfully I’ve been connected to a healthy church for most of my Christian life. Writing those words I understand how privileged that is to write . Because without a healthy community to rely on a person can fall into becoming disconnected.

Falling away from community doesn’t happen overnight. It happens slowly, bit by bit until one day looking up and realizing that it’s just not there as it once had been. 

Finding a healthy church community is hard. Maintaining a connection to one is hard too. It means trusting strangers with all that we carry in our souls. People have been hurt because those they trusted disappointed them and so have withdrawn from pursuing community. 

A lot of factors can contribute to disconnection. Changes in work or school schedules, family obligations, personal health and mental health to name a few. Or perhaps there are difficulties with friendships or a feeling of a lack of care or finding understanding from your church. 

The thing to recognize first is do you believe that the Lord is your Savior ? I mean really believe that you are the beloved child of God? Without first believing this, then the rest doesn’t matter. Nothing else written here can help you. 

If you find yourself in a state of disbelief who can you reach out that you trust to discuss this? 

Pray for your belief in Him and in the community He desires you take part in. 

Peel back the layers of your struggle with connecting with others and seek the Lord’s wisdom in letting go of your defenses. Allow walls to tumble down in order to connect or reconnect.

Reach out to renew old relationships that help you to strive for the Lord. Some old connections do need to stay in the past. Be wise here.

Stay connected, living in community takes belief, trust and effort. It can be hard, but it is so worth it. Make the effort to join a group offered at church or volunteer.

I’ve learned to open myself up more, to be vulnerable with people and honest with people in my life. Instead of holding things in and it allowing bitterness to seep in. I try to reach out to people in my life and to stop assuming things about them.

I tend to long to be invited to things and so I had to challenge myself to also invite people into my home. Doing these things has helped me in those hard times of be alone.

Working at relationships has helped me to understand the Gospel even more so. Having a strong community of women who love Jesus has helped me in learning to disbelieve those lies.

Embracing Waiting

Waiting. It feel like in my life that I’m constantly waiting for something, at times patiently and other times not as much. I know I’m not alone in this I’m sure.

Waiting is often seen as unfair. People hate to wait. If there is an unforeseen wait, people become uncomfortable and impatient. It can either be the day to day errands that end up taking longer. Or in the waiting for other things, dreams and hopes in life.

Waiting means inconvenience. It means that the thing I may want will take longer or even not at all. Waiting can mean disappointment. It can mean heartache. It can also mean gaining something far greater than originally hoped for.

What matters is how I wait. When I wait with an attitude of I deserve this or that, then I become selfish. I lose sight of the things I already have in my life. Instead becoming obsessed with this thing or hope.

When I wait with a sense of humbleness and prayerfully my focus becomes less on myself and more onJesus. Laying all my expectations at the feet of Jesus. This doesn’t mean I have ceased longing for these things but I give up on the idea that I have control over gaining them.

I confess this is hard for me to do. I’ve had to give up hopes & desires again and again. I’ve had to learn to let go of an expectation. I’ve had to learn that not getting something in the timeframe I wanted doesn’t mean I’m less than somehow. There are things I have longed for in the past that hurt so much when it didn’t happen. As I look back, I find myself grateful today for that journey. I understand that in some things I had desired was with the wrong heart and attitude.

It always comes back to that. It’s not so much the what I’m waiting on but where is my heart and attitude about it? Instead of seeing waiting as an inconvenience, I am choosing to see it as an opportunity.

An opportunity to learn, an opportunity to grow. This year I to choose to embrace waiting instead of fighting against it. Because I wonder how much I have missed when fighting against waiting. What lessons have I missed because my focus was so zoned in on what I was waiting on instead of leaning into where the Lord was leading me?

And just like that, I believe I have found my word for this year. Or in this case phrase Embracing Waiting.

Linda - Victory

I Forgot Hope

Just like that in a flash it’s no longer the start of the new year but it’s end.

As I sit here contemplating what this year has been I realized that I forgot my word for 2018! I had to look at my post from last year to remember what my the word I had chosen!

My word was Hope, and I forgot about it. I think that’s funny.

It’s funny because I didn’t have to think about it. I wasn’t in need of reminding to Hope because this year has been living it out. That is such a blessing! Throughout this year of change and transitions, hope in Christ carried me through.

Just as with all years, it has been good, sad, exhausting, joyous and at times boring. I’ve grown in ways I didn’t foresee, fell back into some old habits and can say this has been a rather productive year for me all in all.

As those social media year end round ups start up I won’t sit there comparing my year against others.

I know what I achieved, what I let slide and what I chose to do with my time.

As this year prepares to wrap up, I understand Hope a bit more. Perhaps at times when I’m hoping for something instead of putting Hope in Christ I’m missing the point. What I learned this year is that Hope was something I already had.

I’m not sure I will choose a word for 2019. At this moment I don’t have an inkling for one. I’m not even sure what I’d like to try to achieve next year. Guess what, I’m just fine with that! Dear reader if you don’t either, embrace it!

A Place to Call Home

Last May I moved into my own place. For the first time since my early twenties, I had my own door to close. I’ve shared homes with roommates and family but it still was not something I could call my own. I never believed it would be possible that I would have have my own home.

But God did.

So much of my growth have been the times that God forced the situation. Forcing me to look at Him in trust and provision. Because so often when I have looked at the situation from my perspective, it was impossible. From God’s perspective it was possible.

I have lived God’s provision in my life over and over again. Ten years ago I was in between jobs, with no savings and no idea what would come next. For months, as I looked for work somehow I managed to put gas in my car and eat. I gave my sister what I could for rent and took up cleaning and cooking for the household to try to make up for the deficit.

Eventually, I did find a job along with some side gigs and another part time job. It wasn’t perfect and I still struggled to get by most weeks. But I was getting by and God was working in me through that time. I needed to mature in some areas and learn how to trust more in others. Trust in Him that good would come from this season.

Last May I signed the lease to my place and handed over my deposit. I held those keys with a sense of awe and disbelief. I finally had my own place! A place to be filled with people and laughter. I didn’t bother to change out of my pajamas or make my bed the first time I had someone over for breakfast. I’ve discovered I enjoy having friends over!

I still have my moments where I still can’t believe that I actually live in my own place. I understand what a privilege it is to have a place. God provided it and I recognize that just as He provided it, it can be gone. Having a safe place to live is such a blessing. A blessing I don’t take lightly. I’m just so grateful.

Grief

Wrestling with Patience

Patience. The very word can send me into annoyed levels upon hearing the word.

The last thing I have wanted to hear throughout my life while in the midst of a struggle is be PATIENT.

Patience with others, situations or things to come has not been easy for me. To say the least.

Hearing to be patient when not in a place to be patient has been the least motivating thing for me. In fact it only made me more upset.

I didn’t want to be patient! I wanted what I wanted right now and in the very way I envisioned it. So of course I would shut down, turning inwardly and into the spiral of wallowing.

So many times I brought my frustrations to God and still found myself in the same place. It wasn’t until I began to attempt to align my heart with His that things began to change. The more I prayed for His desire over my own ( seriously not easy!) and learning to be thankful for people, experiences and things in my life.

It’s not that my life changed overnight, I just learned how to (ahem) be patient in my circumstances. At times this can be called contentment or even steadfastness as we like to say in Christianese.

Essentially, staying put when what I long to do is run away or solve the situation myself. Which wouldn’t be good. I tend to panic react and end up in a worse situation than I would of been if I simply been (you know what I’m going to say right?) PATIENT .

Slowly and with a lot of bumps in the road, changes in my day to day began to emerge. From how I dealt with people, my circumstances and who God is in all of it. The more my heart aligns with Him, the more I see less of my own desires.

Examining the heart behind my desires had been so humbling. Why do I really want this or that? What do I believe I will get from it that I’m not getting right now?

Believe me when I say that those examinations are tough. I have to go into some deep parts of me to get a small grain of understanding. Even still I’ve come out fighting for my desires over that of God’s.

I’ve had a hard time of being patient with people. Many times I’ve been harsh or short with others because they were the ones bothering me. Often too , my impatience can be a cover for my embarrassment. When being caught off guard, my comfort zone is a place of defense. If I have enough bluster then maybe my lack of knowledge won’t be noticed.

Yeah, right.

I read through James 5:7-12, where James encourages patience. Not only patience for the things I desire in this life but to have patience for the coming of Jesus. I must give credit for this insight to the ladies in the young adults group I help lead at church.

In the midst of a current hardship and even joy, Jesus is the greatest promise. Beyond anything else, patience waiting upon the Lord. Because the promises of God are far greater than anything I can desire.

It’s ok to wrestle with patience. It’s ok to say you are frustrated but not to stay there. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned about patience.

The Social Media Lies

There is a world outside of the internet. Beyond the stream of uncensored information. An endless stream I’ve become addicted to checking in on.

Before I’m out of bed I’m checking my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I’ve allowed it to dictate my emotions, causing me to believe in the lie I’m not cared for.

I’ve allowed twitter feeds to play on my emotions, causing me to be blinded with anger at the state of the world.

Most of all it has distracted me from the truth of Jesus.

It’s not that these things are bad. It’s good to be informed and aware of the world around me. But what isn’t good is my getting caught up in other people’s reactions. Yep, I’m a comment section ghost. Reading what other ppl write in order to judge them. It sounds like a harsh assessment but it’s the truth.

I forget I am just as fallible and am too judged

These platforms are great for engaging with people. But we must not allow for it to become a substitute for creating and caring for relationships. I know I’ve allowed it , my perception through the social media lens to affect my relationships. I have even compared the number of likes a friend’s post had against my own. Seeing that as some kind of yard stick of how cared for I am.

I forgot in those times that I am loved by God.

Developing this awareness is a first step. I’ve made sure to fill my time with other pursuits. Reading more books, calling or texting people. There are still days where I’ll realize most of my day had been spent scrolling through my various social media feeds.

I have been sold the idea that for me to matter I must have a voice on the internet. But that’s a lie. Because I am more than my social media imprint. It’s good to have a voice, good to engage with the world.

And it’s also good to understand the reality of social media. I am a commodity on those platforms.

But greater than that I am loved and cared for by God.