Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How struggles relate to childbirth

I was on the phone with someone last night, talking about the subject I had recently blogged about and my struggles, when he advised me something along the lines of the following: You just gotta pray about it, give it all to God, and push through the tough times.

I replied scathingly, "Sounds like childbirth, at least from what I know: Extremely painful."

He then wisely replied, "Yes, but don't you bring the most beautiful thing into the world after?"

This struck me as so true... Through the pain of childbirth, women bring new life into the world. Is this not the same as our struggles? Through the pain of struggles and pushing through them with God's strength and blessing instead of trying to escape from them or hide in fear, we bring new life into the world, too: new life within ourselves. We grow from these experiences like how a grassy savanna quickly and successfully grows after a fire. New opportunities present themselves as we align ourselves with God's will through the struggles. New beauty awakens in our souls as we experience hardships and carry them with grace given to us by God.

Of course, this never means it's an easy thing, does it. I see all of this and I still think to myself, "I'm hurting right now. I want out. It's not a good feeling." But sometimes God's way out of a situation is not to go around it, but to go through it, trusting Him faithfully and relinquishing our grasp of everything we have been holding on to, giving it to God instead. After all, nothing we have is our own; it's all His, down to our very lives, once we have accepted Christ and chosen to follow Him the rest of eternity.

Again, it's never easy. It's not painless. But it's freeing, and it allows God to have His way with our lives. I can't think of anyone more trustworthy and all-knowing than the King of the universe. When we're in His hands, we're in the safest place we could possibly be, even while chaos reigns around us.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Spirit and struggles

Last week, I learned and discussed things about the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, with a few people. How He provides us with a direct line of communication to God once we accept Christ into our lives and choose to follow Him, and how He directs us in the way we should go. How God is inside us, not just all around us and in Heaven, because of the Spirit. How we carry a certain influential environment with us when we walk in step with the Spirit and allow Jesus to live through us rather than try to control our own lives, an environment that is influential in a good way (not a bad way like at certain frat parties, haha).

It really isn't anything new to me. I've heard and discussed these things quite a few times before last week, and I understand it about as well as I'm capable of (when you start discussing the Trinity, most logic goes out the window...). And I know that my feeling of being spiritually thirsty as of late partially stems from me not being in step with the Spirit. I know this, and I of course long to be like, "Okay, so I'm going to try harder, and it'll work."

But we gotta remember that we CANNOT do this out of our own strength. There are records of mothers who are capable of lifting cars off their children who become trapped underneath. If they tried to do that at any other time when their children aren't in danger, it wouldn't happen. Obviously, trying to live by the Spirit is different from trying to lift a car off a trapped child, but here's the analogy I'm trying to make: Simply trying harder to live the Christian life is like trying to lift a car up all by yourself. It's impossible. But here's the great part: Christ can live that Christian life for us. If we would just give it all to Him without holding even a little back, He would lift the burden, the car that represents the Christian life.

Now, that's fine, and I understand that, but here's my problem. I don't know about all of you, but it's WAY harder than it sounds to do that, to keep relinquishing daily your worries and struggles to Jesus. And it's not that I don't want to, even. I know there have been times where I have struggled and whined about not wanting to give up my love life or not wanting to give up my future, etc. But right now, my problem is that I am unable to keep focusing on it.

I just found out yesterday that I am both too old and too young to go on the Costa Rica mission trip, even as a translator. I'm too old to be a student, a participant, and too young to be a leader. I was numb from hearing that until I finally lowered my head to my pillow last night. Then I broke down. God, I know my plans are nothing compared to Yours, but I thought this was what you wanted! I thought you wanted me to return! And I feel such a need to reunite with the friends I made there last year. I was planning on going. This, along with the fact that I knew there would be a ton going on this summer at home and in my community, are the reasons why I didn't sign up for the Ocean City project through Cru. Even now I still know I shouldn't sign up this year and that I should wait, but now I find myself wondering, "God, what am I supposed to do this summer!? How am I supposed to serve You!?"

My thoughts are plagued with wondering whether I'm supposed to seek out loopholes in the system or wait on God to provide that loophole to the people running the mission trip or wait for God to provide me with an alternative to going at all. And because of this, because of the feeling that the situation is futile and that I probably won't be going back for a whole 'nother year, it has been extremely difficult between yesterday and today to hear God, to fall into spiritual breathing and walking and living. I just can't seem to concentrate on it.

Why am I telling you this, reader? Why do I bother, when there's a good chance nobody's actually going to read this anyway? Because if you do happen to be reading this, you deserve to know that it doesn't matter how long you've been walking with Christ. Not a bit. No matter how many years you've known Him, you're still going to struggle. I struggle. I'm not perfect. I'm not even close. And you deserve to know that. Because you're not perfect, or even close, either. And isn't it an exhilarating feeling, a freeing sensation, knowing that even people who seem like they have it all together actually don't? That nobody has it all together? Because we have a Creator who does and who provides a way out from under everything that tempts and is not from Himself. Somehow, He will help me through this time that I'm in, I know that. But it's definitely not easy. Reader, know that no problem is too big for God, and no problem is too small for Him either. He wants you to come to Him with everything, at every point of your life.