rivers in the wasteland

rivers in the wasteland

It’s been a long and hard few months.

This whole winter felt like I was paddling against the current, and also didn’t know which river I wanted to be paddling down, or if I even wanted to fight the current or just let it take me.

So that’s what I did. I let the current take me. This way, then that way. Further from who I know I am. Further from the kind of person I want to be.

Meanwhile, Jesus was rowing beside me in a little canoe, offering me a hand up.

But I decided I’d rather let the current take me.

I have my life laid out in milestones. When I get to this place, I won’t have more problems. Then I get to that place, and I realize no person or relationship or job or level of responsibility will ever make everything okay or bring me to some level of completion. Stretching myself to my breaking point isn’t somehow going to turn me into a better or stronger person. Taking care of myself is going to turn me into a stronger and healthier person. Giving myself the same level of care I give the people around me, is going to turn me into a whole person.

I woke up on Monday morning in my friend Ruth’s bed, with this overwhelming feeling that I couldn’t do it anymore. The first thought I had, even before I opened my eyes, was, “I can’t let the current take me anymore because if I don’t stop now I’m going to drown.” So I got out of bed, took a shower with boy shampoo (thanks, Paul), and did the dishes from the night before. And I talked to Jesus and told Him I’m sorry and I’m going to try harder. But rather than telling Him I’m going to be better, like I have been telling Him for awhile, I told Him “Jesus, I can’t do better. I need you to come in and purify me again.” I said, “Jesus, I’m ready to get back into the canoe with You.”

And He said to me, “Carrie, you don’t have to climb back in; let me pull you into the boat. I want you here. I’m already doing a work in you. Just because you can’t see or understand what I’m doing, doesn’t mean I’m not working.”

This scripture from Isaiah popped into my head as I was doing the dishes. And then I came to work and opened Pinterest (as you do) and it was literally the first thing at the top of the page:

“I am about to do something new. See? I have already begun. Do you not see it? I will make a pathway in the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

That’s me. I’ve been that wasteland for too long. God’s created a river, a pathway out, and I honestly think what He wants to do for me is simply show me how to find Joy in Him again.

The thing is, I haven’t been. I’ve been trying to find joy in other things for the past few months, and that’s what’s bugging me, in the back of my mind. Carrie, you were just doing this last weekend, and you think you can just leave that behind and make Jesus your focus again? Pretty sure it’s going to take a little longer than that.

I’ve always been my own worst critic. Disappointment in myself is the hardest to overcome. I’m upset with myself. Not because I did anything “that bad,” but because I know Jesus. I’ve known Him for years. I know He is the only way. Yet, I still choose to walk away. Some days I still choose to ignore Him. That’s why I’m disappointed in myself. I’m disappointed not because I did anything “that bad” but because I’ve been putting other things over Him. Satan would love to catch me up in that. In the shame. He would love to catch me up in guilt. He would love to convince me I’ve used up Jesus’s grace. He’d love to convince me I’ve used up all my chances. Satan would love if I believed him.

You know what? No. (#nottodaySatan) I’m done believing the lie that shame always takes a long time to overcome. I believe my God is active. I believe He runs on His own timeline. And when I turn to Him and tell Him I’m ready to let Him do a new thing in me, I believe He will do it.

He’s always done it before, and I believe He’ll do it again.

If you’re in the wasteland today, keep believing for Him to bring you through it. Keep asking for Him to bring you through it. And please don’t believe the lie that you are the only one struggling. If you are struggling and think you’re worse than anyone around you, reach out to someone you trust. Reach out to me if you need to, even if we don’t know each other well. You’re not the only one with “real struggles,” although sometimes when you’re surrounded by “church people” and “church talk” it can feel that way. But guess what? We all struggle. Every single one of us.

That’s why we need Jesus.

xoxo,

Carrie

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His Love for You is Constant.

His Love for You is Constant.

The last couple weeks have been a struggle.

There’s a lot of things in my life that don’t make sense right now… things I need to give up, things I’m stressing out over (may have gone on 3 or more runs yesterday, hahaha hi, ‘sup anxiety), things that are keeping me from peace and happiness and contentment. But there’s also so much GOOD in my life right now that I can’t complain.

Recently I’ve been struggling to find peace even though it’s been spoken over my life repeatedly over the past few weeks, and I think this is going to be a year of peace, for me. I’m beginning to see it’s because I’m looking for peace in the wrong places.

Yesterday I had a revelation. Well, really, a reminder. Because I ALREADY KNOW THIS. Somehow I let myself forget, but I already know this.

I don’t have to search for peace.

I don’t have to worry about making the “right decision.”

Because no matter what, no matter if I’m heartbroken or on cloud 9 tomorrow, HE WILL STILL BE THE SAME GOD. He will still be constant. Consistent. No matter what happens today, I’ll still be able to have the same mini worship sets in my car, United Pursuit pouring from my speakers, my steering wheel a mini drum kit. No matter what happens tomorrow, His words will still ring true. His promises to me will. Still. Ring. True!

It’s an amazing feeling to have that realization hit you again. It’s an amazing thing to lean on. The God I love today will still be there tomorrow, will still be so deserving of every ounce of love I can muster.

Walking in a lack of peace and an overabundance of fear and uncertainty is like a slap in the face to the God who knows my steps and who I say I allow to lead those steps. If I’m truly walking hand in hand with Him, every step I take should be in total faith. Every step I take should be without trepidation or fear of the future. I mean, the Bible says He won’t even let my foot slip. He’s watching over me and protecting me that closely.

In the last couple days, a shift has occurred in my thinking. It’s been the most beautiful shift, and one I hope continues. I’ve been leaning on his faithfulness and consistency, and it’s the most beautiful and soothing place to rest.

When I rest in the fact that He loves me and wants good things – the best things – for me, it’s not so hard to let go of the things I want for myself.

 

Thanks for reading,

Carrie

My Identity

(Note: Most of this was written in early summer, back around the time of my graduation, but I never published it.)

Recently, I’ve been thinking about my identity. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a true identity crisis. Because I’m  rooted in my faith, “follower of Jesus” is my biggest identifier and something I can cling to even when I have no idea what or who else I am. I hope that’s the way other people see me, too.

For most of my life, I’ve been an adventurer-an explorer. I have always been a reader. I’ve been a cook and a baker. I’ve been an ice cream scooper and a barista. A student. A daughter. A friend. A nerd. An artist. A wanderer. I was a film buff. A coffee drinker. I tried my hand at being a hipster. Then I was hip for awhile. I even took a brief foray into being a hippy. Sometimes I think I’m becoming more of a hippy every day without even trying.

These are all identifiers. Jobs I’ve had, ways I see myself, ways other people see me…

I’ve been a student since I was 5 years old, when I entered 1st grade. Over the past 16-17 years, I’ve gone back to school every single autumn, and rejoiced every May.

For the past 4 years, I’ve had another identifier: English Major.

Since May 7, I’m no longer an English Major.

THAT IS CRAZY.

And it scares me.

For a long time, that’s been my go-to identifier. I use “I’m an English major” as an excuse, at times.

As an English major, people assume I will correct their grammar errors. (I won’t. On the inside? Yes. On the outside, no. Rest easy.) Another fun part of being an English major is everyone automatically assuming I’m going to be a teacher.

I tell them, no, I want to write. I want to publish novels. And they give me what I call the “English-major-pity-smile.” Most of you have probably given me that smile at one time or another, but that’s okay. To me, it became a joke. Every time I explained my desire to be a writer, I was being serious. I know it’s a big dream, but after four years, I’m still serious. After four years, I still believe we’re called to big dreams!

In Mere Christianity, my man C.S. Lewis wrote one of my all time favorite passages. It begins,

“Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him.”

When I give up all the terms and identifiers to Him, I have the freedom to pursue Him fully. When I stop pursuing other things and focus on Him, the rest of my life seems to fall into place. If I stop worrying about how other people see me, or whether I am successful in the world’s eyes, I can shift my focus to Him.

A few months ago, I was meeting with a couple friends at Panera Bread, and someone asked the question, “How do you think God sees you?” That’s a hard question to answer at a moment’s notice, but it is also the identifier I care about most.

He loves me. He loved me before I loved Him.

He sees the good things about me. He sees that I am merciful. He sees that I am discerning. He sees that I am good at teaching and leading. He sees that I am a communicator. He sees that I work hard to maintain my relationships.

He loves me, not because of what I’m becoming, but because of who I am.

Even if you try to hide things from God, He knows. To me, that gives me license to be completely open and authentic with Him! He sees that I sometimes don’t allow myself to be real because I am afraid of being hurt. He sees that sometimes I tell people I’m so busy, but I’m really wasting valuable time. He sees that I sometimes go past boundaries I’ve set for myself.

And He loves me.

Because I know I’m loved by Him, I don’t have to become depressed over not being a student anymore. Because I have a beautiful community surrounding me, where I am given opportunities to use the gifts God’s given me… losing a part of my identity isn’t so bad. I don’t have to be afraid about the future, about stepping out into the real world, like so many of my classmates are.

I may not be a student or an English Major anymore, but I am still loved by God. That’s a constant, no matter what else I choose to be… no matter what other labels people give to me. Moving on from college after just four years is a reason to be joyful, because I’m moving toward something.

C.S. Lewis goes on to say,

“Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day, and death of your whole body. In the end, submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

I admit that passage is confusing. It’s paradoxical. It doesn’t make sense. Looking for someone else shouldn’t bring you to the center of yourself.

But hey, Jesus doesn’t always make sense. It doesn’t make sense that we have more freedom when we submit to Him. It doesn’t make sense that I find myself when I seek Him with everything in me. Grace doesn’t make sense. Self-sacrifice doesn’t make sense.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ, for in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

Colossians 2:9-10

There is no place I want to find my identity other than the heart of Jesus.

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Thanks for reading,

Carrie

More Peace

More Peace

Last year was a lesson in grace for me.

So many times my patience was tested in ways it rarely had been before. Honestly, I think I actually learned how to show grace in a way I’d never had to push myself to do. In that way, I became more like Jesus. I learned that even if I am right, I don’t always have to make sure other people know that. I learned that I am called to treat people with kindness even when they don’t deserve it, and I learned that often the people I’m meant to show grace to are the people I’d most like to push off a cliff.

Yes, I’m sure the next time I need to be the bigger person, it’ll still be hard. I might need to learn about grace all over again. But, I am proud of the way I acted in 2016. I am proud of the way I was able to learn to love others in the same way Jesus loves them-an unearned, undeserved love.

What has God been showing me this year?

Well, we’re one month in, so of course He’s been teaching me something new.

One: peace.

Peace in a world that is anything but peaceful. I’m learning to trust in Him and find Peace, even when I don’t feel it. Even when I’d never feel it on my own.

The other day, during a time of worship, (the Holy Spirit nudged) a friend, and he spoke the words “peace and trust” over me. It was very much one of those words that could relate to many situations or anyone, but I had to laugh because peace was exactly what I was crying out to the Lord for in that moment. Tears streamed down my face (and I felt ridiculous, but I let them fall).

As we finished the song, I felt the Lord speaking to me: As your TRUST grows, peace will come. In that moment, I realized I hadn’t been asking for enough. I was asking for peace, but peace and trust go hand in hand.

The more I trust Him, the more I am filled with His peace. The more I trust Him, the more I refuse to give up.

Two: more.

This word has been floating around in my head the past few days. The other night I was free-writing in my journal and it seemed like it was all I could think of. More. More peace more trust more peace more trust more grace more love more understanding more wisdom more forgiveness more of You, God. That’s what I want this year to hold.

That’s what I know this year will hold.

No matter where I am by January 1, 2018, even if it’s somewhere I never thought I’d be (and it usually is), I want to look back and say that I gained more of Him. I want to look back and say my trust has grown in leaps and bounds. I want to be walking in a deeper and more perfect peace than I thought possible.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. (Colossians 3:15)

 

xoxo,

Carrie

disappointment vs. grace

It’s an age old battle. Life brings disappointment, and we decide how we react… with grace, or with anger and hurt.

For me, reacting to disappointment with grace feels like giving up. To me, it often looks like letting people hurt you… like letting them hurt me, and then… letting them off the hook?

NO NO NO, my inner self screams. You need to protect yourself. You need to show them who is boss here. You need to show them how much you matter. 

Or… the Spirit whispers. Maybe they’ve been hurt many, many times, and they’re reacting out of that hurt. Maybe what they need from you right now is forgiveness and love and the knowledge that you’re not going to give up on them and shut them out.

 

Today I’m struggling to show grace. Today I’m torn because part of me wants to cry and yell and be a baby and make the person who hurt me SEE THAT I AM RIGHT.

But that’s not the part I choose to act on.

That’s not the place I choose to dwell.

Today, I choose grace. I choose grace. I choose grace. 

Even when the memory of words spoken out of deep hurt pops up, I choose to think about it for a second, let myself feel it, let myself know that words spoken over me in anger and hurt are NOT a reflection of who I am. Then, I choose to put it away.

Here’s the thing about grace. It’s been given to me so freely, so generously. It’s been given to me by the Lord of the Universe, my Father, my Lover, my Friend, my Redeemer, my Healer, my God, my King. I didn’t deserve it. I didn’t even know I was going to need it.

But He gave it anyway.

I didn’t accept it immediately. Sometimes I still don’t accept it. And He is always there, ready to give it anyway. He gives it continually in a way I can only hope to replicate. Every time I mess up, He is still there, arms open.

Recently, I asked God to give me grace. I asked Him to help me speak out of love, not haste. And he did.

Today I asked God again, give me grace, Father, give me grace. And he reminded me gently that there’s still anger in my heart. He reminded me that grace doesn’t just mean plastering on a fake smile and saying, “everything’s fine.” Grace does not mean evading the issue. It means getting out the tools and doing surgery on my own heart, sans anesthesia. It means learning to be okay, even when my heart and mind are whispering that showing grace looks an awful lot like losing an argument.

 

Today, I’m reminded what grace is, at it’s core.

Grace is forgiveness when forgiveness is not earned.

Grace is love when love is not deserved.

Grace is moving on, even when the other person hasn’t cared enough to receive forgiveness… hasn’t even asked for it.

 

When you struggle to show grace, when you spend weeks drowning in hurt and bitterness and resentment and “what am I going to do about this?”

Ask yourself this question:

Have you prayed about it as much as you’ve talked about it?

God isn’t trying to hide revelation from us. More often than not, when I’m stuck in a problem and I am struggling to find my way out, if I ask myself this question, I realize the answer is no.

Ask the Father for grace today, tomorrow, in every situation. Sometimes you’ll give in to the disappointment. Sometimes you’ll be graceless. But guess what.

He’ll still be there, arms stretched wide, ready to extend His grace to you, ready to help you up and guide you as you try again. He’s already told us His grace is all we need.

Grace upon grace upon grace.

 

xoxo,

Carrie