Design 

A year ago I had no idea what I was doing. I was thrown into an opportunity that I had no formal training in and not getting trained in something for me was hard. I like guidelines, I like bullet points to what I need to achieve to do well in a role or project. But there was no bullet points, no checkboxes. I literally just had to be me. But it was hard because I see so many flaws in myself that the idea of being me was scary. So last year I did my job and interacted when I had to or if they they needed help. It was very hard for me to be me in front of them so I put on a facade and I tried not to let them see the broken me inside because I was afraid they’d find out how I really felt, fake. 
But this year, God moved mountains in my life. I’ve learned to embrace my flaws as who God designed me as. I’m not perfect, I never will be. I have a tendency to tell myself, “If I only talked more maybe people would like more. If I wasn’t so awkward maybe people would invite more to things and I’d have more friends. If I wasn’t so big maybe then I’d win a guy over. If I lost weight maybe then I’ll love myself.” I could go on, the criteria I put on myself to be able to accept myself is not God ordained, it’s pure evil. I could never obtain it. I’m seeking perfection when God says ‘no, you weren’t designed to be perfect. You weren’t designed not to have flaws, you weren’t designed to get everything right the first time. You were designed to love and to care for others. You were designed to teach others about my Son. You were designed to lead the way for young believers. You were designed to be you. But do you trust me enough to let me use the person I designed you to be? Or do you want to try to constantly aim for something you never hit and live a life we’re all you see are failures because the criteria of perfection is too high to be obtained?’

Don’t live a life of failure. Live of life full of grace and love. One of the hardest things for me is allowing myself to have grace, I’m the hardest person on myself, but there’s freedom found in it. Be who God designed you to be and allow him to mold you to be exactly who he made you to be. Trust in him. 

God’s Grace is Sufficient

Part of me doesn’t want to write this. Then another part tells me, I really need to and then I battle with why do I need to, no one needs to know…

I take this struggle and I mask it. I don’t want people to see because I’m ashamed of who it makes me or rather who I classify myself as with it.

Lately, I’ve been in, still am, in a deep depression. I have no motivation, ambition, willpower, love of my jobs or life, confidence, or anything. When I’m in this I tend to believe silence is better than talking. So I isolate.  

In isolation negative thoughts  over power any good. They dictate my value and my worth. I have sat in tears. I’ve laid in bed barely being able to move. Yet I refuse to let anyone close enough to know what’s going on. Then I convince myself no one cares. Yet I refuse to open my mouth. I refuse to let anyone inside. I refuse to show my weak side.

I think I can deal with it. I think I can make it on my own.  It’s like I’m in a pit but it’s too tall to get out without help, but yet I keep jumping attempting to reach the top to get out and I just exhaust myself. So with every failed attempt I just isolate into the corner of the pit more and more. I beat myself up calling myself a failure and worthless even though I will always fail by myself.

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 talks about Paul’s thorn in his side. After Paul begging the Lord to remove it, the Lord said “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (v. 9a) It goes on to Paul’s response of acceptance, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (v. 9b)

You see I can jump and jump and get nowhere. I can exude all my energy on my own effort. I can allow myself to accept my failures, my inabilities, my feelings. I can pretend this depression is not there. I can pretend that this thorn in my side by covering it up and masking it. But the Lord doesn’t want that. The Lord wants me to uncover it, to face it so that His grace can cover it.

Paul talks about boasting in weakness, why? Because like the Lord said, “my power is made perfect in weakness” meaning that I will never be cured of depression, regardless of medication, it will always be a battle, the thorn will always be there. But the question in the end is what is stronger? The Lord’s grace or my depression?  If I battle depression with the Lord, I am strong but if I battle with myself and isolate myself, I am weak. 

We are not meant to do life alone. We are not meant to battle things alone. We are not meant to isolate ourselves. Yet we all do it from time to time. 

The Lord is with us. God doesn’t abandon His children nor does He forsake them. We all have battles of different kinds. We all have thorns in the side. But we shouldn’t bask in it and just accept it. The enemy is sneaky and conniving. He will use your battles to keep you away from God. So don’t be silent. Don’t keep everyone out. Allow others in. Allow God in. Allow God to cover you with grace. Allow God to give you strength in your weakness.

Depression is real and it’s hard. If you battle it, seek help from others. Seek counseling. Seek medical help. You are not weak because you can’t battle it alone. You are strong because you admit where you are weak. 

Vulnerability: God Moments

So recently I’ve battled the question, “Where’s God?”. I didn’t feel him. I longed for a glimpse and connection but I didn’t have it. I read the Word of God but the words just felt like words in a book. Sermons were just someone talking. My bible study was just painful rectorial questions asked over and over again. Prayers just seemed empty.

So I pondered if God forsake me even though according to scripture I knew he wouldn’t. I pondered if I could hold on to the daily routine I had that felt worthless and useless. I pondered my faith, my devotion, my life to Christ. I pondered it all. God was so silent.

But the more I dug into what was wrong I realized it was me. I was the problem. I wasn’t vulnerable, I wasn’t letting people in anymore. I closed the doors on myself. I put my walls backup and I checked out mentally and spiritually. I didn’t let people see me struggle, depressed, anxious, or stressed. I showed up and got the job done and left.

The other day I sat down and I wrote out how I was feeling…and then I began a part of where I began to make excuses to just leave Baltimore and start my life over, at that very moment someone walked through the door. And then later as I continued to write, the youth program weighed on my heart.  

Over this past week, I got to witness this teen girl accept Christ into her heart and life. Then on youth night that same girl pull me aside and tell me her life story and her struggles. Where I  opened up abour my story. Then it was lunch with this girl and more in depth conversation about what’s she’s going through and talk about Jesus. 

All this time I see myself in this girl. I see my struggles I went through at her age. I see the struggles I still face today through this girl. 

Late tonight she reached out to me again. She asked if hiding her feelings was okay. I began to tell her the truths of what Jesus says and I told her my testimony in that area. God is present. God is listening. As I wrote out my response to her, God was reminding me of his truths, of His love, of His plans and purpose for my life. He was pouring this on to me so I could pour it out to her.

My purpose in my life is to be a vessel. To show people the love of Jesus, the love of God , to show them a redeemer, a savior. To show them that they are not alone in this life. 

God gave me a story to share. I didn’t go through my life for just my sake. I went through it for moments like I’ve had this past week and for future moments I have yet to see.

Suffocation of the Fire That Burns Inside

5 years ago I was a lost soul. I had no hope. I had no ambition. I was inward. I was severely depressed. I felt that I could never contribute to society because I was useless. I felt like I didn’t fit in, or even blend in.  I stayed inside and kept my mouth shut. I was hurt and broken.

I remember praying to a God I didn’t believe in at the time and I cried out, “God if you really do exist, why did you create me? Why am I here? If you really do exist please save me” God was listening that day because a few months later, I found Jesus and a church home I wasn’t even looking for.  God sent me on a whirlwind of a ride discovering who He was while I was discovering who I was throughout the first few months.

But after a little over a month, someone approached me and asked me to join a ministry team. They said and I quote, “We could use your smiling face on the VIP team” I replied, “Are you sure you want me to greet people? I’ve been told have a good smile, but…” they replied, “Yes of course we do!”.

I took that uncomfortable opportunity for me, of standing and talking to people and I signed up to be on the VIP team anyway. Regardless of how I felt, I knew this is what God wanted me to do.  The first few months were rough.

I only showed up on a Sunday when it was my week to serve. But then it got worst and I stopped showing up when it was my weeks and I blamed on the fact, “I forgot my password”  to the program we use so I didn’t know it was my week. Either way, I faced a battle of putting my wants, desires, and ways first before I even consulted or even considers Gods wants and desires.

One night I remember being in my room and just on my knees praying whole heartily because I felt lost again. I was crying, I was reading scripture, I was praying that same prayer but this time I knew God. This time I knew who I was praying to and through. I wouldn’t say it was overnight but God became my priority again shortly after. I started showing up the church every Sunday and not just for church, I showed up early to serve even when it wasn’t my week to serve.  Serving became my passion.

However, passion withers if it’s not properly kept. It’s like a fire that slowly fades away. But do you know what reignite the fire? For me it’s not God’s word, it’s not doing a bible study, where they may help keep the fire going, what really reignites the fire is moving the embers around. Taking in my testimony and sharing it with others. It’s lifting my hand out to others and letting them know they are not alone. That God loves them and care for them. It’s walking beside teenagers and helping them grow and seeing excitement in their eyes when they start understanding and believing in the Word. It’s loving others the way God does.

But it can quickly die if I put myself first. If I put my wants and desires in front of Gods, even without realizing it I can suffocate the passion that burns inside of me that God placed in there.

 

Communication at our Finger Tips

Lately,  I’ve been convicted on this self centered world. This social media filled world that is so focus on ourselves that we forget who God called us to.

We’re not perfect by an stretch of imagination, but I see more videos on food then I do any post about Jesus or what God is doing, praises, bible verses, or quotes from pastors. If social media is a inward look to who we are at the core since we don’t have to keep face, I’m scared. We see food, self indulgence, or something fluffy tends to occupy peoples mind more then Jesus. And this idea of Jesus occurs only on Sundays. 

Maybe you don’t want to be considered a Jesus freak. Or maybe you say your religion has no basis on Facebook. But this is where I’m going to tell you, you’re doing it all wrong.

We have this communication at our finger tips. People scroll and scroll to see what someone posted. What video is shared, what picture is shared or what someone is debating. If we as Christians allow people to see our lives on social media without one ounce of Jesus, are we really Christ followers? We are to be witnesses. We are to live a life that represents Jesus. Yet we fill it up with nonsense.

We fill it up to glorify ourselves. We fill it up to boast about ourselves. We fill it up with things that make us “happy” yet that happiness ends in a minute and a half. We fill it up with food we will never make. We fill it up with lies we want people to believe. We fill it up with self doubt so that we get that “encouragement” we long for. We use social media to glorify our strengths and minimize our weaknesses. We use social media to rant. We use social media to debate. I could keep going. But I will stop there.

But what if we use it to glorify God. What if use it for Jesus first. What if we before we post about ourselves, see if this showcases who Jesus called us to be. Let’s use the biggest form of communication to glorify God, not ourselves.

True Love

This idea called Love. We all crave it. We all want it. We all search for it. But many will never know it in it’s true form.

We might sleep around, like I did in past, looking for love in all the wrong places. Ultimately feeling heart broken and alone, wondering why you let it go that far and wondering if you will ever find the right one. But what you thought was love was merely just a temporary feeling.  

Being single isn’t fun. It’s full of a roller coaster ride of feeling lonely. It’s full of possibilities and hopeful relationships that tend to flicker out.

A few months ago, I was battling the issue with loneliness. Everyone goes through it. But this time I got to a point where I sat at church and wondered what in the world I was doing there. I told myself that life would be so much easier if I just left church and got married to the next guy. “At least I wouldn’t feel alone”, “At least I’d have someone who maybe cared for me”, … I could continue what went on my head but I won’t torture you. But you get the picture. I was telling myself Jesus wasn’t enough, that life wasn’t fair, that the love God has for me  isn’t enough.

God’s love is enough, because God is love. God is made known through love. Love is sacrificial, it’s putting the other in front of your own wants, desires, needs, anything. Love is getting up on a cross and suffering a long painful death so we didn’t have to bare it ourselves. That is true love. Jesus is love.

Do you see it? We sit here and we crave love, but the love we crave is not of this world. It is so much bigger. We all made in the image of God, therefore we all have a God sized hole that we try to to fill. Some of us fill it with “religion”, some fill it with drugs and alcohol, some fill it with another man or woman. But the hole, can only be filled by God. The love we see in this world will never fill it, regardless of how hard we try. 

It’s the puzzle piece that we search for. It’s the bonding between the vine and the branch. It’s the reason we breathe in and the reason we breathe out. 

Don’t let the enemy try to tell you can fill it with a temporary solution. The solution will always be Jesus because without him there is no true love. 

Alignment 

We’re all running our own race of life. We all put one foot in front of the other, what are you aiming towards? Is it the next promotion? Your next move? What does God say about it? 
We all can aspire to do great things, but how many of them are God divine, driven, and his will?

I’m not expert at this, trust me I’m still learning, but God puts a calling on every one of our lives. When I was in college I aspired to be a professor, I took over the chemistry group at college and started tutoring. Where there were people in the group; I was the one who decided I was going to help the freshmen get through this difficult  class called chemistry. I wanted to approach it and allow them to learn it from a different perspective and maybe teach them a few tricks I caught on to. Before every test I would have about 20-30 freshmen/sophomores in a classroom that I got to help. That’s 20-30 kids that got to see me stand confindently and be able to spill out my knowledge to them. It was awesome.  But quickly that fire I had in me went out. After that year I quit chemistry all together, so the aspiration quickly died with it.

Why is this revelant? It’s revelant because we all aspire to be something or  do something. Mine in that moment was to be a college professor, but after long hours to finish my degree I burnt out. It wasn’t a calling God placed on my life. The experience in the moment taught me a lot but the aspiration and purpose I thought I had was fickle because it was my own and not God’s. God didn’t have that path set out for me, where it hurt when I realized it, ultimately I wouldn’t change a thing. 

I’m still trying to figure out my purpose and calling. But everyday it gets a little more clearer, ever day God places opportunities in front of me for me to either follow him or follow my own flesh. The more I say yes to God, the more opportunities he places in front of me. The more my heart aligns with his the more confindently I walk with him. 

God has a purpose and a calling on your life. You just have to follow him. You have to lay down your life because he gave up his life for you. If we surrender our life to be authentic Christ followers imagine the difference our lives would be, image the difference our nation and world would be. But so many of us puts an I before God in everything .

God doesn’t call us to put ourselves first. God doesn’t call us to live in sin. God calls us out of sin and out of the darkness. God calls to walk boldly, and confindently with Him. He is our Father, our King, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end and without him we are nothing. I Am sent us to live out his name and glory and to be able to spread the goodnews of His son, who defeated death itself for us to be here today. Let’s not take for granted all the pain and suffering Jesus went through just so we can have a fun time in life. Let’s do His will and our purpose and calling will align with His and we all can accomplish great things, because we have an almighty God on our side.