I have been meaning to update this blog for a month now, and I'm still not quite sure how I never got around to it.
I feel like my life has been a roller coaster ride this past month. Or this past six months. I've been growing up. Learning a lot. Life is good, it always is, always will be. Doesn't mean it doesn't hurt or isn't painful, but that ultimately it is good. Because God is good. Not only is He good, He cannot be anything but good.
I had this revelation on Monday night. The Holy Spirit just flooded me/floored me with it. First off, I too often gloss over the idea that I am in a relationship with God. I'm not quite sure how I manage to do this, but I do. I think of God up there and me down here, and I never consider the idea that we are together. Because if I was Him, I'd totally have already broken up with myself. But He's sticking with me, for better or worse, forever kind of thing. I realized I had been treating God like I was a bug and He was waiting to squash me if I stepped over the line, if I didn't measure up, if I messed up at all. Like God was a mean kid with a magnifying glass, waiting to burn me up. I treat God like a slave driver, like a miserable old man. How awful! What am I doing? That is not the God I worship. That is not the God I follow.
What got me thinking about all of this was considering money and my budget and City Year (more on this later). I was researching the size of the stipend corps members get from City Year and whether or not it would be enough to pay my rent. If not, I was going to ask my parents for the money, if they could fully support me during those ten months if there wasn't a stipend sufficient to do so. And I got to thinking, I'm not 100% sure if they would say yes, but I would never hesitate to ask them because I know they love me. I would have no qualms about asking. I know they would still love me and I would still love them if they did say no. So, if I am this confident in my relationship with my earthly parents, why do I not have the same confidence in my relationship with my perfect heavenly Father?
I got to thinking about Matthew 7:7-11, about the giving of good gifts:
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Of if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?"
Wow. I know I am incredibly selfish person. I realize it more and more every day. To think that I can ask God for something to me sounds both humble and selfish, if that's even possible. Like, why should I ask for something in the first place? Do I really need what I'm asking for? And humbling because I actually have to get on my face before God and proclaim that I am needy, that I am incomplete. I just think of growing up how my dad used to call my mother "needy" all of the time. How growing up I never asked for anything. Either I would get it myself, I would just take it or I would do without.
My dad grew up poor. Like, really, really poor. Dirt floor poor. He would tell me and my brother stories about growing up and we would always cry because they were so heartbreaking. And at the end he would always say "But we don't have to live like that anymore!" And D and I would never believe him. We would feel we had to do penance for having food on our table or something like that. We as children could not get past the heartbreak of the past to actually live a better life in the present. All we would see was the hurt, never the healing. Maybe that's because healing is hard. It's never perfect. Maybe because our dad was never healed. This is making me think of the movie Magnolia, how the movie is all about the beauty of being broken. But ultimately the movie is never satisfying because there is no healing at the end. There is just brokenness. When William H. Macy's character says "I really do have love to give! I just don't know where to put it!" part of me screams at him "Put it in Jesus!" and part of me screams "I know exactly what you mean!"
You know the phrase "'Tis better to give than receive?" Yeah, it's true. But it is so much harder to receive. At least for me it is. I remember being in third grade and my teacher, Ms. Bradley, complimenting me in front of the whole class. I remember hiding under the desk until she was done. Of course, I was just being a good, modest Southern girl. That's what everyone told me. But really I just had a boundaries problem. I couldn't let the good in. And when I was in second grade everyone used to tell me how much I looked like my mom. I used to get so angry, one because I didn't realize it was a compliment, and two because I didn't like my mom back then.
This is kind of an emo blog entry. Promise, I'm actually doing well. Except for a bit of a sore throat. And the realization that I am addicted to caffeine. Not a whole lot, not enough to make me a fiend, but just enough to miss my three in the afternoon cup of black tea. I have given up caffeinated beverages for Lent. No more coffee, Americanos, black tea or hot chocolate. It's been a week, and my brain is letting me know it's not entirely thrilled about this.
So City Year! This is exactly what I want to do! Since about August I have felt God strongly calling me to stay in New York, so I have decided to apply for City Year New York. It's a program with NYC public schools where I will be a mentor/tutor in an elementary school classroom. Basically America Reads but also including the afterschool program as well. I am incredibly, incredibly excited for it! I would most definitely appreciate any prayer for this. I truly feel led to this program by the Lord, and I definitely would like to dedicate a year of my life to service.
I actually am loved! What a concept! Thank You Lord Jesus for Your perfect, perfect love. I know I spend too much time looking inward at my own sin and not enough time considering the God I follow, the God who breaks me so He may heal, and not just me but the entire world, fallen as it may be, He has deemed it worthy of redemption. The phrase "it's not about me" takes on so many new levels here. Live like you're loved, because you are.
L's family is on a cruise this week, so I had Monday and Tuesday off from work. Did they pick a perfect week to get out of New York!
This entry may not actually make any sense. It may not be true. But it is the thoughts inside my head. I love my God, my family, my friends, my life, my job. I embrace the future God holds for me, and I long for nothing more than to glorify my Lord, my King, forever. I long for nothing more than to know Him and make Him known. I long to be His vessel here on earth, to pick fruit and shepherd sheep. I long for nothing more than Him Himself, for all else is empty and He alone satisfies. I know He is good, I know He is great. Thank You Jesus. Thank You Jesus.
Life is good. Today's quote comes from Magnolia as well:
"I lost my gun today when I left you and I'm the laughingstock of a lot of people. I wanted to tell you. I wanted you to know and it's on my mind. And it makes me look like a fool. And I feel like a fool. And you asked that we should say things - that we should say what we're thinking and not lie about things. Well, I can tell you that, this, that I lost my gun today - and I am not a good cop. And I'm looked down at. And I know that. And I'm scared that once you find that out you may not like me."