Thank you for all your support and encouragement. When I’ve been weak, so many of you have led me to the source of strength.
It’s been 17 days since I touched down in Kona and 16 days since I wanted to turn around and go back home. True story.
Social media welcomes the blue waters and white sand beaches; well, this is a post about the personal journey I’ve walked these past two weeks that seems to have lasted months 🙂
I’ll start with my main challenges first.
- Self-entitlement. After making money in the business world and being accustomed to living on my own, on my time, for ~10 years, sharing 1 bathroom with 7 strangers and being a student from 630 am to 830, even 10 pm, did not sound appealing to me. My weaknesses are being put on blast and I can’t hide from them: quick to anger; dependency on “love” relationships; and more to unearth here quickly. But you know what? I’ve learned not just to cope, but to embrace community. When I cry at night because I miss the comforts of my old life I have girls right at my bedside ready to talk through and pray truth over me. These amazing girls celebrate with one another over everything from finding good ice cream to releasing a lie we’ve held onto for so long. And as I’m forced to see my “flaws” under the light, I’m encouraged with no judgment that this is not who God sees me to be.
- Conflict. I have a secret for you: when you gather several people together whether in school, a business place, or even a party, you will almost always have conflict. Our worst selves come out when we feel that entitlement, as if it’s our way or the highway. Already here I’ve recognized the need to ask for forgiveness for icing out a fellow teammate; for letting my anger arise. But she prayed over me, a release from a lifetime that made me think I had been born into anger. Today I even received an extended prayer that dove into the pains of my past to release all anger, confusion, insecurity, trauma, unforgiveness, and more. Why? Our weaknesses are like razor blades, and the more we clutch onto them, the deeper we get cut. But when we expose these things and allow God to work in the crevices of our heart where we’ve hid this pain, transformation happens; freedom comes.
- Studies. I love being a student but let me tell you, hours upon hours a day of reading the Bible; praying; praise and worship did not sound fun to me. My average day looks like this: 630 am for breakfast; class activity; 9-12 pm speaker; lunch; outreach or small group or one-on-one meeting, sometimes prayer or praise and worship; dinner; ministry night or special speaker or all campus meet. We have “homework”, journaling and reading. We also serve in the kitchen every other weekend and are gearing up to fundraise and throw an event to bless a local low-income neighborhood, too. I was never able to completely focus in university or even at work; my mind would always wander. But let me tell you, getting to know the true heart of Jesus through these false ideas that cause distrust of the church and of self-righteous religion has been SO refreshing. My mind rarely, if ever, wanders. I find myself hungry to learn and experience more firsthand.
Which brings me to the celebrations!
- Personal revelations of who Jesus really is. I used to strive for his affections, assuming the more we do, the better people we are. These past few weeks I’ve really learned the heart of God, that He wants to pour out His pleasure on us all. He wants to grant us the desires of our hearts which align with His perfect, much-better-than-my-own, plan. I’ve seen him as a friend, not a faraway deity. He’s been my comfort and he’s shown me just how much he loves me in the quiet, and in the storms, with the love I’ve always sought in relationships; my career, and more. My goal is to forever walk in this unmoveable faith that will only positively impact my relationships with others and how I view myself.
- Love for others. As I understand more who my God really is, I can’t look at people who’ve hurt me or whom I’ve hurt with the same eyes. This week alone I’ve been able to free someone I really love through forgiveness and asking for forgiveness. I’ve asked for forgiveness and received prayer over this spirit of anger I assumed as part of my identity. When I serve in the kitchen, I realize my gift of exhortation and making people feel known lights them up, which compels me to make every person—stranger or friend—know just how loved they are, despite any brokenness or pain they’ve received or inflicted. We are all human, we are all broken, but we all also have a chance at redemption through it all. Don’t receive the lie that you are this or you are that and let it ruin the beautiful, amazing person you were created to be.
- Blessings! As we seek to choose God it seems the more we are blessed. And this has nothing to do with earning goodness, but in aligning with His heart and plans we start to better recognize the good in all things big and small. And you know what? He likes to pour goodness out on His children. The beauty of Hawaii; new friendships with people from all over the world and lots of laughter; sunset in a secret place; the opportunity to travel to help others—these are all ways He’s poured out His love on me. How has He showed His heart to you? Sometimes we feel like we’re not being blessed; oftentimes it could be because we’re not making the time to seek Him. I encourage you to pause and be still; to reflect on all He’s doing.
There is so much more I could speak on but we’re just now approaching Week 3. My heart is that all of you understand and believe the heart of God; that you realize you were created for a purpose and for His pleasure out of the greatest love this world needs, one that cannot be found in a person or in any achievement.
We are the most powerful generation in history because never before have people had so many options and STILL chose to pursue God. If you believe God is great and He lives in you, you can’t deny that you were made to do great things. -Shannon Casteel, Week 2 speaker
Love you all. Thanks for reading this far. Feel free to contact me with any thoughts, comments, questions, or prayer requests :)) Go forth and conquer!!