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Quiet Times

the last few weeks. they’ve been interesting. it’s been a process. here’s my rough idea of a timeline: semester started off well enough. good ski trip, semblances of friendships. honestly i can’t remember that far back to actually know any details. i think i was excited/determined to do class and do it right. the first big bump i can remember is the controversial stuff with the group i wrote about in these controversial days. and i think from there a wound was opened. deep irreconciliation. the weeks that followed … spring break, wisdom teeth, MR. physical pain, emotional pain, personal irreconcilation.

i’ve been in a funk. the funk grows and shrinks. the funk deceives me. because around people i can be totally having so much fun. and then i get caught in some weird heavy molasses of depression. and i can’t get out of my own head.

i’ve been actively telling God no. i’ve been rebelling mentally. forgive her. no. stop eating, you aren’t hungry. no. get up and do what you know you should. no. i don’t want to. i can’t do it. no no no.

today i was upset by my brother. because he puts me in situations where i have to help him in these last minute stressful situations. when deeply seeded within me is the desire to not help. but i have to. and i hope he understands that it’s because i’m in this funk.

so a bunch of negative emotion was boiling, bubbling out of me. my stomach was twisting itself. i wanted to writhe around on the floor or scream or just explain to someone why this was unfair. everything. life. everything. ridiculous and unfair.

i took my walk. it was my favorite kind. when it’s cold outside and it’s slightly raining and very windy. and i just started ranting. God, it’s unfair. why do i have to deal with all these shitty people and these stupid situations. God, i can’t. i can’t.

and on this one road as the wind was blowing me back and forth and the rain was softly falling on my face mixing with my tears. he said he wanted to speak to me. he said he would. he said (through deut 30):

“When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes[a] and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you. You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, 10 if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

and i realized. that God was asking me something very specific. something i’d been ignoring for weeks now. God was asking me to obey and not just obey myself. my own desires. the callings and beckonings of my own heart and my own stomach and my own mind. he wasn’t asking me to obey what i wanted. he was asking me to obey his commands. and not just the commands that i liked. not just the things he’s told me in the past. he was asking me to obey all of his commands. and incredibly, he’s not just asking me to obey all of his commands. he even cares about how i obey those commands. he wants me to obey all of his commands with all my heart and all my soul. God doesn’t just want me to mindlessly or forcefully obey his commands. he wants my heart and soul to be behind those decisions. to me, that meant that it matters to God that I am not just doing what he wants because “that’s what i should do.” he wants me to obey him because i want to. because that’s what will delight my heart. that’s what’s written in my heart and the whisper of my soul. and and and. if i do this, i will live and be prosperous. because he is in the work of restoring me.

and it gets better:

11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

do you see? do you see?? this ask is not difficult. it’s incredible. because every time i’m faced with not wanting to do what God wants me to do, there’s this feeling of deeeeeep tension. something insurmountable. something impossible. overwhelming. useless. why try. that’s why i conclude that i can’t. and i don’t want to. but no. this command is not difficult. in fact it’s very near. in fact, it’s already in my heart.

this idea was powerful for me. because i knew it. i could feel God’s commands in my heart. i knew i had been running from that for a while. and honestly, i just didn’t fear the consequences of running. because in the beginning i was afraid of being a Christian, i was afraid of trusting God because of these controversial days, i’d forgotten why i wanted to stand firm and obey.

but no today, today today. God is giving me a choice. either i can choose life and prosperity. or death and destruction. and he asks that i now choose life. for my sake, for the sake of my children. simply, i need to love him, listen to his voice, and hold fast. for,  the lord is your life. God=life. by choosing life, i am choosing God. I am choosing the source of life. i am choosing the one who already chose me. already loved me. already obeyed his father to die for me. because he is in the work of restoring me. of giving me life and prosperity.

Dear God,
thank you. thank you for speaking to me today. thank you for walking with me in the rain today. i remembered again today that my happiest days here at Harvard have always been the ones when i’ve been with you. and that my most precious moments have been with you. and i don’t know why i keep forgetting that.
thank you for challenging me again with the idea that the way i am living, the rebellion that i’m following is the reason for my funk. i am not choosing life. i am deliberately not obeying you. i’m almost subduing myself into a foggy state so that i forget what your commands are. because i don’t want to face things i don’t want to do.
God, i’m sorry. i want to obey all of your commands with all my heart and my soul. i am afraid though that i don’t know all of your commands. that i will be lacking in heart and soul. and that i will ultimately not obey. please show me again what all of these components mean and what they practically look like in my life.
please help me to forgive M. though i feel i already have or have begun to, please give me wisdom in this relationship. in all my relationships really. i have not been consulting you, obeying you in how i treat people. think about people. support people.
please give me wisdom in how i spend my money and my time. i think this is another area that i haven’t been obeying your commands.
God, i love you. i am everything i am because of you. i know you told me that i need to spend time with you every day, especially as college is ending. i pray that i will follow through on that.

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(apologies in advance for this long gospel post. i don’t normally post such things on my blog. but this was a significant experience for me just now. i needed to publish it. in fact i just made a new category for this post called Quiet Times. if this is not the content you are looking for, please look elsewhere on my page. as always, thank you for following <3)

it’s only been five hours since uglies was published. and in that time i was numbing myself with netflix on my bed, i accidentally insulted one of my close friends, i had a phone call with my brother that absolutely frustrated me. so i threw my coat on and ran outside on the brink of a panic attack.
i sat in my chair that faces the river with my breath fogging the air. and i screamed and i cried and i complained and i asked to die. i asked for it all to be taken from me. because i couldn’t make it. i was sick of hearing everyone’s pain. while being full of my own.
and this whole time inside me i felt Him calling me to read His word. and i kept shouting no. and i kept telling him that i was done with his brain washing and “comfort.” and as much as i felt His being in my body i almost wanted to reject it and kick it out entirely. and i couldn’t even sob. tears just shot out of my eyes and the only thing that felt satisfying was to bang my fists against my thighs and beg for an end.

silence came for a bit.
and then i put this song on repeat.
and i started reading this book.

it begins with something greater than myself:
“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands.
11 They will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment.
12 You will roll them up like a robe;
    like a garment they will be changed.
But you remain the same,
    and your years will never end.”
And it began to stir in me. that God remains. that God you are not just Lord over my life. you are Lord over the world. over history. you have been here for so much longer than I thought and you have remained the same. something whispered that “these soon shall pass.”

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts
    as you did in the rebellion.”

Again, He was poking at me. asking me. are you hearing me? are you hardening your heart? remember those times when you were in “rebellion” and remember where that got you? Remember your “original conviction” and how firmly you wanted to hold that to the very end. Open your ears. and let me come soften your heart.

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

I felt my heart opening. I felt something reminding me. that i am a person of weakness, but i follow a savior who embodied weakness and who was in agony to the point of death, but he did not sin. i can approach Him with confidence in this time of need.

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

Jesus, you did this prayer before me. you sat in front of your Father and cried and asked to have the cup taken from you. yet you stayed. you obeyed. you suffered.

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For,

“In just a little while,
    he who is coming will come
    and will not delay.”[f]

38 And,

“But my righteous[g] one will live by faith.
    And I take no pleasure
    in the one who shrinks back.”[h]

39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

And then I remembered how important it was to me that I have been saved by grace through faith. And how life threatening it is for me to continue pretending like Jesus’ blood that lives in me and covers me doesn’t mean anything to me. everything I wrote in uglies. everything i had shouted at him. I’m sorry God.

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

with this i’ll end.
God. you have re awakened me. You are so faithful. You are not a formula. You are not my comfort toy. You are not my genie that comes out of the lamp I rub when I need help or emotional “novacaine.” You are the creator of this world. You are the God of history. You have laid the foundations of all things and have remained the same, faithful to your promises, through it all. Thank you. I realize now that your mercy towards me is not just meeting me where I am in my sin, but is also your ability to even count me as something worth being mindful of. Because I am such a small speck in the reality of who you are. and my little worries and emotional anxieties and frustrations, depression, sexual sins, laziness, lack of passion and motivation. all of it. it’s just nothing in the actual mural of you’re awesomeness that spans time. that is painted in nature and documented through the history books we read, the technology we advance, even the very genetic material we carry in our bodies. All these things reflect you.
And yet you allow me to confidently approach you. You intercede on my behalf. You have gone before me. You have experienced my struggles and meet me with a personal understanding of weakness. You ask me to remember. you ask me to hear your voice.
i’m sorry God for disregarding the price of your blood. I’m sorry for deliberately turning away from you. I am not sure how that is forgivable. but I ask for your forgiveness. for not understanding the weight of what you have done for me. for not remaining. for being someone who forgets what they look like. forgets what makes them truly happy and what truly gives them life. for being afraid of trusting you because i feared people’s judgement.
Please help me as I struggle in my pains. Please help me as I want to give up. Please help me as I forget why I am here at this school. Please keep reminding me that you have called me to faith and to be faithful. that you have called me to believe that You are able and that even if I don’t receive what I believe I’ve been promised, I will have faith that You are preparing something that is meant to make me perfect. I need you to struggle against the things that want to take me away from you. I know my anxieties take me away from you. I want to keep throwing off this stuff that entangles me and paralyzes me. I want to be someone who perseveres by fixing my eyes on you. and I want to be someone who has joy even as she endures her cross as I scorn the shame that such a cross might associate.
thank you Jesus for tonight. I have been asking for the end. but You keep reminding me this is just the beginning. And for all the times I’ve asked you to take these days away from me. You remind me that it’s these very days I will miss. These days when I could just sit outside and spend time with you. These hours that I can just be with you. Yes, I will miss these days.