A Window to My Soul

A Window to My Soul

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Mark 9:24 (NKJV)

I pray as I walk to work. I pray as I lie down at night. I pray when I am scared. I pray when I am lonely. I beg and plead to God as tears trickle down my cheeks.

Nothing.

I feel absolutely nothing.

My heart longs for an inkling–a touch from the Holy Spirit. Something. Anything.

But nothing is there. No spark. No flame. My soul feels cold, and I begin to doubt.

I have silently struggled because I do not want to find pride or honor in sharing my grievances. But Christians are called to live in community with one another, and I am only disadvantaging myself by not seeking that community.

So here I am. Letting myself be seen–weaknesses and all. Which is truly a weird and uncomfortable thing for me. But at the end of the day, this is not about me.

I was listening to a sermon from my home church the other day about the freedom we enjoy in Christ, and it was very convicting. My heart twinged as the pastor fervently spoke. “The Gospel doesn’t save you and I just so we can twiddle our thumbs and wait for eternity… Being formed into the image of Christ is absolutely a process. But it’s a process that should be evident in your life if you claim to be a follower of Jesus. This change is not an option, it’s not a preference. You and I cannot consistently follow Jesus and not consistently grow into his likeness.”

My mind blanked. Where is the fruit in my life? I struggled to find evidence of my growing love and relationship with Jesus. I was staring into the abyss of my own thoughts.

An Aside

Let me outline what I know to be true and the things of which I am sure, despite my doubting.

  1. There is a God.
  2. I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, that He died and rose again, and that He alone is savior of the world.
  3. There is a lot I do not know.

On Feeling

“Hear my cry for help, my king and my God, for to you I pray.”

Psalm 5:2 (NIV)

I feel very out of touch with God. And it is hard for me to even write this because I do not quite know how to put into words the hundreds of scattered thoughts going through my mind.

I think the thing that scares me the most is my lack of emotion. While some find comfort in it, feeling nothing is absolutely terrifying for me because I typically swing between extreme depths of emotion. And what makes it worse is that I don’t understand why it is happening. I don’t know if it’s some hidden sin or simply a test of faith at work in my life. However, I want to reach out to my community. I am not going to pretend I am unique in this struggle.

One request I’d like to make is this: Join me in prayer. Pray for those who are in a season of doubt, myself included.

Proverbs 11:14 talks about finding wisdom in the counsel of many.
“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

So consider this me seeking counsel. How do you deal with the chasm of nothingness in your life? My hope is to cultivate a little community that can share and grow together. Even if it is on this digital platform.

While I’m at it, I do want to ask how I can love and encourage all of you. Yes, within the community of believers, but also anyone reading–Christian or not. Comment below, if you’d like (anonymous is fine).

I am a listening ear for your struggles, just as you were for mine.

Thank you for reading.

Advertisements

Ras de Terre.

Ras de Terre.

My leftover soup was cold (and in a paper bowl nonetheless). I was sitting on the floor of my childhood bedroom, flipping through January’s issue of Vogue. As I gazed out at the cold winter sky, my heart longed to be in Paris.

All it took was one giant sneeze to plunge me back into reality. Until I remembered the postcard Pascal sent me. I picked it up.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre.

I smirked. He wrote of the rainy Parisian skyline. My smile dissolved as I recalled how much I missed the dreariness of the city in winter. My mind began to wander, and when I looked back at my own bleak horizon, it was as though a piece of Paris was peeking through.


The gentle breeze blew through my hair as I walked through the park. My eyes were fixed on the desert sand beneath my feet. It was nearly sunset, and I was astounded that it could get so cold so quickly. So much was on my mind. So much could be said. So little was.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre.

I knew it would all be okay. I knew that the inexplicable, inexpressible array of emotions I felt in that moment would disappear just like the dust that covered the ground.


I stood on the shore, letting the water barely touch my toes. I desperately stared at where the ocean meets the horizon, searching for something, anything. I thought of my new life. I was happy and sad and scared and content. The phrase shot into my mind again.

Le ciel commence à ras de terre. Ça veut dire qu’on n’est pas très loin, l’un à l’autre.

After all that time, I remembered the postcard. “We aren’t so far away from each other after all.”

Watching the same sky. Feeling the same emotions. Thinking many of the same questions. Living and breathing and loving and hoping. The sky begins at ground level, and we aren’t so far away from each other after all.

Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart. Or Do.

Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart. Or Do.

No one likes to hurt. Our mind flees any sort of pain, whether physical, mental, or emotional. But I’m here to make a case for heartbreak.


Hello, meet my friend Heartbreak.

He’s kind of quiet. But also sporadic and unexpected.

His presence is pretty versatile. One day you’re looking at old photos or videos and he snuggles up next to you to enjoy the trip down memory lane. The next day he’s as harsh and biting as a winter wind. He doesn’t care what he does or says and he definitely overstays his welcome. But I love him anyway.

The point remains: heartbreak can be one of the most beautiful gifts life offers us. And I know that sounds odd, but hear me out. It is absolutely necessary for any sort of personal growth, realization, or clarity. It’s only after the heart shatters that you begin to truly view your situation for what it was. I found a great quote recently.

[With heartbreak] the only thing you’re mourning right now was the idea you had about what your future could be.

That’s it. That’s what it is. You might also be hurt by the words, the actions, the whatever. But the heartbreak is rooted in the realization that what could have been will never be. It’s a wildly uncontrollable concoction of disappointment, confusion, and hurt.

But ultimately, it’s the best thing we could have had happen to us. It frees us from illusions and fantasies.

A Melancholy Summer.

A Melancholy Summer.

I recently found a note in my phone. All it said was the following.

Weary travelers

Light rain

A melancholy summer

I don’t know what prompted this little note, but I do know that it seems to describe much of my summer. After finishing a very daunting school year, I was excited to kick back and relax. My summer would be spent lounging by the pool, reading lots of books, and maybe even doing some roadtripping. This summer was not what I expected. I had hoped for it to be brimming with adventure, fun, and great memories. And while I’ve definitely had a few wonderful adventures, it’s been overall kind of… *whispers* boring.

Gasp.

Boring seems like such a horrid word in our culture. “You’re … bored?” People stare at me blank faced when I say it. Some roll their eyes as if I shouldn’t be wasting my time. But boring isn’t bad.

In an age of fast-paced interaction and instant gratification, it’s so so easy to get caught up in the midst of this mindset. I find myself constantly thinking why isn’t my life as exciting as theirs? Why has my summer been so lame? Am I not cool enough?

Listen, no one is a winner in the comparison game. You can look at other people’s lives through little pieces of glass (which is all humanity has ever done anyway) and see how much smarter, funnier, prettier they are. But you will always be left feeling unsatisfied. Until you take a step back to realize that your life is your own to live, you won’t be happy with the seemingly boring moments.

5 Things I Learned About Waiting That Are Probably Common Knowledge But I Feel Smart For Realizing Them

5 Things I Learned About Waiting That Are Probably Common Knowledge But I Feel Smart For Realizing Them

“All human wisdom is contained in these words: Wait and Hope!”

Alexandre Dumas, Le Comte de Monte Cristo

I’m an indecisive person. Which, in theory, makes waiting seem not all that bad. No decisions to make, right?

The worst part comes when I finally decide something.

That’s it.

Game over.

When I set my heart on something, I want it. And I want it right then.

Recently I’ve set my heart on too many plans, life paths, and fantasies that have yet to become realities, and I have been very humbled in the past few months.

I cognitively knew there would be stretches of my life in which I was forced to sit and wait. But I expected it in the form of waiting in line at the grocery store while a lady pulls out a bag of 274 coupons she cut out of the newspaper. Not waiting for months as I glide into the unknown of my future. Which is still unknown, by the way.

However, if we don’t recognize the expansiveness of the unknown, we cannot recognize the boundlessness of the opportunities before us. So here are five things I’ve had the privilege of learning in my time of waiting. 

The Beauty of Unpredictability

As much as my heart loves spontaneity, my mind yearns for structure. My fun, sporadic side always comes home at the end of the day, exhausted and ready to cuddle up next to the somewhat bland personality of my evening routine. It’s kind of cute actually. They sit and watch Jeopardy together and then are in bed by 10pm.

Not knowing what’s coming next has seriously threatened my boring side (she’s very offended), but it has also calmed my control freak mind and allowed her to understand that the beauty of life lies in its unpredictability.

The “Grand Narrative”

I like to think of my life as a story that is still being written each day upon waking. And though things haven’t gone exactly the way I want them, I know there is a grand narrative that will allow me to look back on my life with a series of ooohs and aaahs as I realize why I couldn’t have exactly what I wanted in the moment I wanted it. And I continue to see that all the previous experiences I’ve had–both good and bad–made me who I am today. I am so immensely thankful for every single person who has been in my life, even those who have deeply wounded me, because they have afforded me the opportunity to grow. To love deeper. To analyze more thoroughly. To pursue knowledge and wisdom more wholeheartedly.

The Things I Can Control

Pretty much all I can control right now is me, my thoughts, and my actions. Which I guess is true of most humans for the majority of their lives. But in my panic (and realization that my life was so often out of my control), I took my hair and stripped it of the rich, deep brown hues it once had. I not-so-patiently waited for graduation, as I had promised myself, and then I chopped it all off. And when people asked what caused this sudden external change, I tell them the truth. I just did it because it was one of the only things I could actually control in my life, and I wanted to remind myself of that. And though it sounds silly, finding control in the little things is actually a big thing.

The Work

Waiting is work. Lots of work.

And there is always something new to work on. Which is both exciting and exhausting. But while seemingly stuck in my waiting, I’ve learned that God is working way more than I am. He is working with me, “guiding me in his truth” (Psalm 25:5). He draws near to my heart, comforts me, and reassures me that “I need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14).

For the longest time, I felt like a little child wrestling in the arms of my loving Father as He tried to hold me tight and show me His unending love. But after trying time and time again to force my way into a situation with a stubborn heart and mind, after being disappointed countless times, after feeling hopeless and lost, I finally just gave up. I stopped pushing away and kicking. I sat and cried and allowed God to hold me and love me. And I’m still learning to embrace and hold tight.

The Reason

The anxious nights filled with praying and crying will be worth it. I know without a doubt in my mind that I will look back and realize the beauty of this period of my life. My future self will not be able to exist without first experiencing these formative moments.

Everything is meaningless.

Everything is meaningless.

Mankind speaks the language of change. We are always seeking the next, the better, the unknown. Even if we prefer to hold change at an arm’s length, it is inevitable. The seasons shift, the stars fall, our numbered hairs fall out, and our hearts undergo the only constant we know—change.

She Reads Truth

My favorite book of the Bible is the one that many people deem the most depressing.

I’ve always been drawn to the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon’s philosophical analysis at the end of his life brings me so much comfort and joy (perhaps because I’m in the midst of my own philosophical journey).

This past week, however, has opened my eyes to the truth of Ecclesiastes in new and refreshing ways.

Photo Courtesy of SheReadsTruth.com

While my daily reading is usually spent in Genesis, Job and/or Galatians, it seems as though almost every conversation I’ve had this week left me echoing the words of Ecclesiastes.

The spark that really set my mind in motion this week was a She Reads Truth devotion I read called “God is Immutable.” It highlighted the ever-changing aspects of our lives and how God is solid in the midst of them. Solomon affirms this in Ecclesiastes 3: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”

In learning to be okay with change, I am learning to trust God more and more in the everyday. Realizing that God is the only constant in my life is simultaneously the most terrifying and comforting realization I’ve ever had.

God is so unbelievably good when we are so unbelievably not. His grace extends to the deepest wounds, the hardest to reach places and the worst of sinners. And for that, I am overwhelmed and in awe every single day.

I was wrong about God.

I was wrong about God.

Much of 2018 was spent unlearning everything I thought I knew about myself. I viciously analyzed my thought processes, habits, and relationships–most importantly my relationship with God.

For a very long time in my life, I saw God as a sort of genie in the sky–a being who saw everything I did and punished me accordingly. I had a paralyzing, all-consuming fear in my heart thinking of the ways He might be disappointed in me.

I tried and tried to be good enough.

To do more.

To be more.

But I always ended up more fearful of and ultimately more distant from my Creator.

The extreme efforts of essentially trying to earn my salvation only muddied the waters of any sort of relationship I had with God. They ruined my vigor, my confidence, and ultimately my faith.

Going to a university with vastly different views than my own only worsened my anxiety regarding my spiritual state. I ended up spiraling into a constant cycle of guilt, silent questioning, and doubt.

At the beginning of 2018, there were really only a couple things I knew for a fact:

  1. I am a born-again Christian.
  2. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.

These two realities kept me focused and determined. I took the advice of Proverbs to heart and sought much counsel. From people I admire. From those I cherish. And my notions of God were shattered as a result of it.

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

Proverbs 19:20

In my discipleship group, we have been studying the book of Galatians. We’re also reading Galatians for You by Timothy Keller to supplement our Bible reading (I highly recommend).

Disclaimer: I haven’t finished Keller’s book yet, but I really recommend it if you’re looking to study a book of the Bible more in-depth.

Keller breaks down each chapter of Galatians verse by verse, allowing the reader to dive deeper into the book. The book (along with a personal study of Galatians, obviously) has radically changed my view of God. It has shaped my view of the Gospel. It’s allowed me to step back and breathe.

For the first time in my life, I’ve been able to rest in the fullness and freedom of Christ.

Here are a few points I’ve come to realize, thanks to my discipleship group’s study so far. Maybe if you’re in the same boat I was, you can garner some insight from this.

  1. There is one true gospel, and (surprise!) it’s not about us.
  2. The gospel provides cultural and emotional freedom in the lives of Christians.
  3.  As followers of Christ, we are compelled to live in accordance with Scripture.
  4. You cannot combine merit and grace to reach salvation.

“I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin.”

Galatians 1:11

I’ve tried to use my merits as a means for salvation. I’ve tried finding fulfillment in the things this world has to offer. I’ve gone from one thing to the next, looking for acceptance and validation. No amount of compliments, people-pleasing, or new clothes/makeup/whatever can give me complete joy. Only Jesus.

Just the other day I began listening to a sermon series by John MacArthur for my morning devotions. At one point in the message, MacArthur talks about the times Paul tells us to call God our Abba, or Father (Romans 8, Galatians 4). This term isn’t merely poetic or cute. It has deep and powerful implications for our relationship with God. 

Abba is personal. It is endearing. It is loving. With a single word, Paul paints the image of a perfect Father, full of infinite love, longing to have a relationship with His child.

And I now feel fully free to run to Him, despite my past mistakes or my fear of future ones.


P.S. If you have any questions about Keller’s book (or about anything really), I’d love to chat. Feel free to leave a comment or hit the contact button to talk!