If I am being honest the last several weeks have been hard. They have been good and I am learning but they have been hard. I am learning to truly listen to what the Lord is saying. I have spent the vast majority of my life trying to listen to what everyone else is saying. As I have discovered more about my personality over the last year I am understanding how much of a people pleaser I am. This is true to the point that I replay situations and conversations over and over in my head and wonder how I should have handled them differently. If only I would have said this….then they would have respected me more or thought I was smarter. Although I do believe you should treat people with kindness and do your best to honor them, at the end of the day I will never please everyone or even most people. My goal here on earth is to love the Lord my God with all my heart and honor him. The second command is to love my neighbor as I love myself.
When we put so much stress on ourselves to be perfect in every situation it can drain the life out of you. I often think I should know a subject better or I should have known the answer to that question rather than giving myself grace. The life of a perfectionist can be a bit exhausting but I am learning to ask myself the hard questions. Questions like “do I want to do this specific thing for a certain title or so that others will look at me in a higher regard?” and “Who am I trying to impress?” At the end of the day I am trying to seek out what is stirring in my heart and what am I longing for more than anything. If the answer to that question is anything but Jesus then I have it wrong. If I am honest with myself many days I don’t answer with him. I want to but I feel like there are days when I yearn for other things. I strive for more knowledge. I seek perfection. I try to be the best medical provider I can. I search for wise counsel. I yearn for a significant other. No, these things aren’t inherently bad but when I elevate them over my creator everything gets flipped upside down.
Stepping into a whole new community can be very isolating. Community takes time and when you enter a new culture and new country as a single you are often totally by yourself. This can be something very exciting but there can also be days where you feel completely alone. There are days when you hear the whisper that you will never be enough as a missionary. You will never figure life out. You will never be a good provider in the developing world. And you know what, these things are all true if I am doing them on my own. What I constantly have to remember and pray into is that I am not alone, the God of the universe is ever present and walking with me through this journey. He sees my heart for loving his people and he wants to hold my hand through it. He even promises he won’t ever leave me.
The beautiful part of all of this is that I am forced to dive into scripture and seek the truth of the gospel. At my core I want to see the nations come and understand the grace that Jesus talks about. I want to witness his healing power over people’s physical and spiritual sicknesses. I want to see young people discipled and raised up in an understanding of what our Savior has called us to do. He’s given each of us the task to make disciples, to “mathetes” in the greek, and he imperatively commands us to do this.
I am taking this time to fully uncover the stirrings in the interior places of my soul. I am trying to discover what my unfulfilled longings are so I can better understand what this says about how I view God. I am also learning the importance of having scripture memorized to defend the sins I am bent toward.
I am currently reading The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman and this week I happened to read a section about self-talk where she writes 2 questions that hit me hard. “What if we stopped standing on our own front porch and bullying ourselves? What if we decided, instead, to be a gracious hostess to ourselves at the threshold of our own soul?”
So on the days when I feel inadequate and that if I only had more knowledge the Lord could use me more, I will sit with Paul’s word to Timothy in chapter 6 verse 20 “Oh Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.” When I trust in my knowledge or what I can attain on my own I can swerve from my faith but if I rest in what the Lord has given me (while still striving for some greatness ) I must have the faith that he will give me what I need.
“What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease”
…this is accomplished in Christ alone.