This is a long one... but here goes. I love what I am doing. I love serving my sponsor. I love getting my hands dirty and ending each day so exhausted that I fall asleep on the 20 minute van ride home. I love my team and I even love the mandatory pt I wake up for three days a week at 5am. I say at least once a week, "How did I ever get here? Living my dream job".
But just like to every person, there is a whole other world beneath the surface, I would be lying to you to say that this is easy. So, I figured it was about time for some sincerity and to share what is going on under the surface. This is one of the most challenging experiences I have ever had. Everyday is a challenge physically, mentally and emotionally. But you have heard me say all of that before. The main area of challenge for me is spiritually. There is no one on my team I can talk to about God without them feeling like I am condemning them. So I suffer silently, reaching out to God and knowing that "His grace is sufficient for me".I came from a season in life where I was so immersed in Christian fellowship, that living out here feels like waking to constant darkness each day. I have not had cell phone service in three weeks (waa I know I am such a diva) and no access to local churches. But this fact really made me realized how blessed I am to have certain people in my life and how much just being in a relationship with them naturally encourages me. Without the constant love and encouragement of my family and friends I can feel myself growing weak and falling into old habits. I know that God is good and does all things for a good purpose, so through this I know it has made me rely on Him more, but also taught me how much Christian fellowships acts as the wind in my sails.
There is a member of my team that for some reason strongly dislikes me, although to my face I would never know. He often tries to turn people against me saying that I am fake. Although I am far from perfect, I have always tried my best to love and encourage him. When I first heard about all of the things he was saying about me I was hurt and my pride was seriously offended. But after about a day of brooding, it hit me that Jesus warned me about this. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." Matt. 5:11 The most recent thing I heard him say was, "No one can be that happy all the time. She's so fake". To that I literally laugh! Because it is confirmation that I have light living in me that no one or no situation can take away.
The pastor talked this morning (yay for church now that I am back on campus!) about the teaching where Jesus says, "I am the light of the world." He later goes on to say, "You are the light of the world, live as children of the Light." Sometimes, I forget who I am or I lose track of why I am here. I am called to be salt and light. Walking with Jesus promises peace and joy that is beyond this world, but it also promises persecution. Yet, why do I always find myself surprised to find that it is happing and whining to God like, "Whyyyyyy is this happening to me?!?! I thought you loved me!" Haha, when God brings you to a desert it is an honor. He is testing you not so that you can be ashamed at how your strength fails every time, but to show you how His strength in you is always enough.
A friend recently shared this verse with me and it definitely stuck with what my life looks like right now. May I walk you through it and my thoughts?
Love must be sincere. Sincere being the opposite of fake lol. For me this means that when I reach out to someone hurting and I say that I care, I have to really care. People can tell. My team can tell. I know that my love is broken and selfish but God's love is the strongest power ever to exist.
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. This is a hard one for me. I want to fit in. I want to laugh with my team and dance to the beats that come out of our radio. But I catch myself laughing at things that are definitely not good or singing lyrics and saying, "eww I cannot believe that just came out of my mouth." It takes courage to stand up for what you believe, knowing that you will most likely be standing alone.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. I stumbled upon a verse this week that went with this. Proverbs 17:17 "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." What struck me was the last part. That brothers are born out of trails. We have a joke here that the main thing that strengthens a team is "forced community hardship". To have brotherly love does not mean that I am smiling and huggin on people. It means that when I see my friend suffering, that there is something within me that rises up and is born in helping him. I am changed from a friend to a brother (sister).
Honor one another above yourselves. Jesus is the ultimate example of this and I found a verse a couple months ago that has served to smack me in the face and force me to check myself. "This is how we know we are in him: whoever claims to live him must walk as Jesus did." 1John 2:6.
Never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Seeking God is a choice. I have to align my feet on the right path to get to the destination I desire. I heard it said once, "You wouldn't get on I-75 North to get the the Florida Keys would you?"
In closing I share the last verse, verse 12. This is my daily prayer for my life and also yours:
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.