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Loneliness and Birthdays

I struggle a great deal with loneliness. There are some people in my life who know this, but it’s not common knowledge. I started struggling with this on a very deep level in high school. It has caused me so much pain throughout the years. There have been many sleepless nights/mornings like this one that I could not stop thinking… that I could not shake the loneliness and feelings of not belonging or being loved.

Loneliness makes us feel alone and abandoned in our endeavors and leaves us in a spiral of consuming thoughts. Loneliness tells us that we’re worth only so much — that even those that love us can only possibly love a certain amount. Loneliness can feel infinite, it can feel impossibly overwhelming, and in moments of desolation, it can feel like it’ll never leave us. – Andre Bohrer​

My birthday was five days ago (please don’t send me messages wishing me happy birthday). I hardly did anything to celebrate it. I didn’t make a big deal about it. I didn’t even respond to the “happy birthday!” posts on my Facebook wall – many of them superficial and random. I cringed inside anytime wished me a happy birthday. Why? It’s complicated to explain, but I will try.

I used to really enjoy celebrating my birthday. I used to enjoy people taking the time to plan some kind of event, receiving meaningful gifts, having a good time, and knowing (and feeling) that these people were celebrating my life because they loved me.

That changed at some point through the years.

I dread my birthday now. I can’t stand the superficial birthday wishes from people who could care less about what’s going on in my life and how I’m truly feeling. I don’t like the idea of having a whole day to celebrate my life. What is there to celebrate anyways?

This is where it gets even more personal. I read that post by Andre a long time ago where he was answering someone’s question about this same thing. I resonated so much with what he was feeling that I sent him a long message. He wrote something that day that helped me pinpoint one major reason why I don’t like celebrating my birthday.

I don’t show myself enough love, (which translates into), I don’t think I’m worth the love.

This one sentence wrecked me. The reality of this statement brought me to tears and self-reflection. Allow me to quickly expound on this. I enjoy celebrating my friends’ birthdays. I enjoy planning events for them, getting them gifts, and having a good time with them. I will go out of my way to make sure someone else knows they are loved and appreciated most of the time. I tell my close friends (probably too much) how much I truly appreciate them. I want people to know how amazing they are and that their life is truly worth celebrating!

But not mine. I don’t think people should waste their time and efforts into celebrating my life, because I don’t believe I’m worth celebrating. It’s extremely hard for me to love myself much of the time, so it is hard for me to accept other people’s love. And, most of the time, even when I do accept someone else’s love, it’s hard for me to believe it’s genuine (I’ll write on that soon enough) because of past experiences.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” – Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)

This is something that is a continual work in progress. Each year it seems to be harder, but each year I learn more about myself. It’s hard to admit these things, but I can’t truly deal with them without getting it out in the open. This is the real me.

Seasons of Change: Part 2

If you haven’t already, read Part 1.

God called me into ministry leadership. This terrified me. For a long time after I surrendered to ministry, I would be bound by fear – fear that I wasn’t good enough, that I couldn’t do the task at hand, that I didn’t know enough, that God could never use someone like me. O how true this is if it isn’t for God’s grace in my life! There is no way I could do this if not controlled by the Spirit.

I began getting involved in ministry. I figured youth ministry was what God wanted me to do since I had a passion for young people my age. I’ve recently learned that isn’t the right direction. Many people have told me that I should be a pastor – again, not the right direction. I believe God has definitely called me to ministry leadership, but I have no idea exactly how that looks, as of now, in my life. I do know one thing – he has given me a burden in two areas: missions and discipleship.

This brings me to last summer. I went to downtown Phoenix, Arizona as a summer missionary at Church on Fillmore through the Mississippi Baptist Convention and the North American Mission Board. While there, I was involved in inner-city ministry. I started to learn much more about ministry as we created relationships with kids, homeless, and other people from all walks of life. It is during this summer that the gospel fully clicked for me. Don’t get me wrong – I knew what the gospel was for the most part, but it fully clicked last summer. I was overwhelmed by the reality of the gospel of grace. There is much I could say about my summer there, but I’ll move on.

All throughout last year – my senior year – the gospel fueled me. Any of my friends would tell you that I talked about it all the time (and still do). As I mentioned yesterday, graduation was right around the corner, and I was terrified. I thought to myself – what’s next? People would ask me what I was doing after graduation. My answer? I have no idea. And then, through several situations, God reminded of Proverbs 16:9 and Proverbs 19:21. We plan, but God establishes our steps. It is His purpose that will stand. Again, this is something that I knew, but didn’t really grasp. God is sovereign. He knows what he’s doing, especially when I don’t. All the fear and worry – gone.

And this is where my current season comes into play. I had no idea that I would return to Church on Fillmore for a second summer until the application process began. I knew God was leading me back to Phoenix. This summer in Phoenix was extremely difficult at times, but very rewarding. It was great to see some of the kids start asking questions about the gospel and why Jesus did what He did. The summer began to come to an end and God led me to begin the process of returning to Phoenix for a year as a missionary. After discussions with my missions coordinators in Mississippi and Arizona, I began the process. The church accepted my request and an application was filled out and sent into NAMB. I left Phoenix on August 2nd with an estimated date of re-arrival around the beginning of September.

It’s almost a month later and I’m still in Alabama. A friend sent me a text one day recently and asked if I had heard any news on the Phoenix front. I answered that I had not. And I was asked this – “Real talk. How are you doing with that?” No one had asked me that. I hadn’t thought about it. Obviously I’m eager to return. When you know where you’re supposed to be in the next season of your life, you want to be there. As I began to think about it, though, I saw that I was not anxious (despite the eagerness).

I know God will bring this to pass in his timing, not mine. It had actually surprised me to know that I’m not upset or worried about it. Even if it’s another month from now, I am trusting Him because His purpose will stand. I’m thankful that my friend asked me that hard question. After this year in Phoenix, I have no idea what will be next. I do know one thing – God is sovereign. I have learned to trust Him regardless of the circumstances at hand. And I have experienced such great growth in these seasons of change.

Thanks for reading. I hope that you are encouraged by the peek into my life during these recent seasons of change.

INTERACT: 

  • Have you had a season of change in your life recently that God used to teach you? If so, I would love for you to share.

Seasons of Change: Part 1


Almost half a year ago I wrote a post titled “Seasons of Waiting” in which I reflected upon what God was teaching me during that current season. I learned how to trust God in the unknown, in the waiting, in the doubt. Just as the weather changes during seasons – Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter – so our lives change during similar seasons – loss, doubt, shame, growth, etc. I haven’t really talked to anyone about where I am currently in this season of change, so I’d thought I’d blog about it. Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy.

Let me start at the beginning.

When I wrote the previously mentioned post on waiting, I was in my final semester of my senior year in college. All throughout college, things had changed – career paths, friends, jobs, interests, beliefs, etc. Graduation was now right around the corner. I was very excited that I would soon be moving forward in my life.

Yet, at the same time, I was terrified.

We are asked one question over and over again since our childhood – what do you want to be when you grow up? That question carries over into our adulthood as well. In college, our teachers and classmates ask questions such as: What do you want to do with your life? Where do see yourself in five years?

As a child, I would have quickly informed people that I wanted to be a police officer. Don’t ask me why, because I couldn’t tell you. I was just so enthralled by men and women who captured “the bad guys.” Yet, as time progressed and I got older, that interest grew dimmer. I was still very fascinated with fighting crime and catching the bad guys, but I no longer wanted to do that as a career.

Then, as I proceeded into college, my focus soon changed to teaching. I wanted to invest into teenagers’ lives as I taught them and gave them hope for the future, regardless of their past or present circumstances. That changed as well. I still have the desire to invest into teenagers’ lives, but not in that field.

Now, God has called me into ministry leadership. This terrified me in the beginning. For a long time after I surrendered to ministry, I was bound by fear.

Check back tomorrow to read the second half of the post that describes my current season of change.

INTERACT:

  • How have your career paths changed over the course of time?
  • Are you currently in a season of waiting or change? If so, what is God teaching you?

Read Part 2.

Hoarded Treasures

With less than a week away from my travels to the other side of the country, I’ve been going through my life (literally everything I own) and deciding to dispose of most of it. I’ve actually eliminated more things than I have salvaged. Found amongst these belongings have been items from my childhood, holiday cards, books, class notes, cds, books, magazines, old electronics, games, books, cords, college material, letters, and even more books. It has certainly been a time of recollection as I sort through these possessions.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

– Matthew 6:19-21

Treasure. A treasure is something that is highly valued. For years, it has been “things” for me. Obviously, the reason I have kept all this junk over time is because it has held some sort of value to me. Yet, as time has progressed, some of these valued items have quit working, been damaged, been stolen, or have literally been destroyed by rust.

Georg Simmel, a German sociologist (1858-1918), pointed out in his studies that possessions are the medium by which a person’s character gains visible reality. To put that in plain English, possessions show a person’s true nature – what is valued, what is enjoyed, what provides comfort, and what must never be forgotten.

These possessions are no longer valued by me. As I have been away to college, my treasure has began to be rooted in something… someone else – Christ. None of these other things will ever bring the satisfaction that my soul so desperately longs for each day. That satisfaction only comes from Christ. The more I have found my soul to be satisfied in Him, the more joy I have seen develop in my life. The happiness that is birthed from earthly possessions lasts only for a brief period of time, but the joy from being satisfied in Christ lasts forever.

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
– John Piper

May it be evident that we truly treasure Christ above everything else.