Tagged: time

When You’re in the In-Between

Many of us are in the in-between of life. What do I mean by this?

We are in a season where we are waiting for something to happen. We are in a place that is unlike where we were, yet it’s also not where we want to be or think we should be. I call this place the in-between, and being in it often causes a perception or sensation of floating or not moving. In the in-between, it’s not unusual for us to look at the world around us and wonder why nothing is changing.

I myself am in the in-between.

I am a little over halfway through with my college education, but I still have several semesters of papers, homework, midterms and finals ahead of me before I graduate.

I am in my twenties and becoming an independent adult, but still live at home and am provided for as a child. I am transitioning, but not yet on my own.

I am engaged to the man I want to marry, but we’re not yet married. We still have at least six months to go with a wedding to plan and a joint life to prepare for.

I am working in a ministry I love and am passionate about, but still feeling like there’s something more out there for me. I have yet to solidify my calling, and I keep wondering when I will find that place where I fully belong.

I am nowhere near where I was when I first began following Christ, but in many ways I feel like I have hardly moved at all. I’m still believing many of the same lies and fighting the same battles. I can see the other side on which healing and freedom lie, but sometimes I feel like I’m not moving any closer.

I am in the in-between in almost every area of my life. And I’m realizing that the reason these times and places of in-between feel like the most grueling and challenging is because the in-between is where I most often look more at myself and less at God. I have allowed the in-between to hinder my vision of all things Kingdom-related.

It’s not because God isn’t here with me; it’s because I’ve become so consumed with getting OUT of the in-between that I have been forgetting to look for or acknowledge him.

I have been blind to the divine work happening around me. I’ve been feeling alone, wondering if my prayers are getting anywhere past the ceiling. I’ve been missing the life-changing work the Holy Spirit is doing, and I’ve been unable to identify the favor of God in my life that has been sustaining me and providing for me all along.

I don’t want to miss these things anymore. I’m starting to change my perspective and put my eyes back on the prize, and I’m now realizing that God is not waiting for me to get married, graduate, finish my book, or find my calling to begin doing miraculous work in my life. He wants to do things here and now.

This in-between I am in isn’t just an in-between to God. It’s a place where prayers can be answered, doors can be opened, and true life-changing growth can happen.

This season of waiting in my early twenties is still just as important of a time as my thirties or forties or fifties will be. The things I am investing in now are still worth investing in, even though they’re not the things I imagine myself investing in forever. The woman I am becoming is worth the work, time, and effort that has to be put in, and it’s God who’s crafting me into that woman piece-by-piece, day-by-day.

This realization is freeing. I’m beginning to recognize the fruits of the Holy Spirit being developed in me and I’m seeing the blessings of God that are enabling me to move forward with my dreams.

The same can be true for you today. You might feel like you’re always waiting for something, like you’re constantly in-between, and you’re not getting any closer to where you want to be. But my friend, feelings can be wrong. Your perceptions can be wrong. At the end of the day, you are all-faulty human and God is still all-knowing God.

Your inability to see the movement of God does not negate the movement of God that is happening.

God does not operate on your time schedule or your list of priorities, and he’s not waiting for you to get your life together to begin molding you into the image of his Son, which is his desire for you (Romans 8:29). Your Father is present and active in your life, whether you see it or not. And he still wants to use you for his glory here and now, whether you realize it or not.

You have to choose to look up.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning (Psalm 130:5-6).

Do you know what watchmen do? Watchmen keep watch of a city or fortress throughout the night. They are on a mission to preserve and protect, and they do not let down their guard until morning comes.

How are you waiting for the Lord? Are you remaining faithful and alert, as a watchman is until morning? Or are you letting your guard down, letting distractions consume you until you forget the tasks at hand and what you’re even waiting for?

Now is not the time to stop waiting for the Lord. And waiting for the Lord doesn’t mean looking the other way and being caught by surprise when he comes.

Waiting haphazardly is not God’s desire for you in this place of in-between; you are called to wait expectantly. 

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress (Psalm 46:10-11).

While you’re in this season of stillness, do you know that God is God and what that means for your life? Do you know that his mission to bring himself glory through your life is true even today?

Look at Psalm 46:11: the God of Jacob is our fortress.

He’s the one we’re waiting for and the one we wait for.

Just as a watchman waits for morning because of the fortress they are charged with protecting, we wait for God because of God, because we know who he is and we desire his active presence in our lives. We are waiting for him to do the work only he can do.

I know the in-between is tough and you want a way out, but if you’re too busy looking for your dreams to come true, you will forget why you’re waiting. You will forget that God is still good and still working and one hundred percent worth waiting for.

The in-between is not an abyss. The in-between is a place like any other place — one in which God is sovereign and on your side. He is still for you. Even if you’re not for the current life you’re living.

I am praying over you and I the very prayer Paul spoke over the church in Ephesus once upon a time.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come (Ephesians 1:17-21).

In other words:

God, give us your wisdom through the Holy Spirit so we can know you and see you better. We need enlightenment, Lord. We need heart knowledge of who you are and what you’re doing. This hope you’ve called us to is sometimes forgotten. Jesus, I’m asking you to help us remember. In these times of longing and confusion, give us the ability to not only recognize your great power, but to wield that great power in our own lives. The power of your love, grace, and sovereignty is far greater than any circumstances we find ourselves in or any scheme that is set up against us. You are with us now and you will be with us always. Thank you. We love you. Amen.

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Suicide Headaches and Heartaches

Let me tell you something about my headaches.

I get these things called cluster headaches every now and again, and they’re called cluster headaches because they only come once a year and they often come in a large (and largely painful) quantity.

I wake up with them usually. And it takes me a minute to realize what they are, but once I do, I sprint out of bed for pills and a bottle of cold water. And then I have to run to the bathroom before the pills I just took and the water I just drank are puked up all over the floor. When I am able enough to get up from the bathroom floor, I put a Bed Buddy cold pack on my forehead and drag myself to bed. I usually writhe for a little bit, stop to cry and pray and scream and vomit and whimper. Light kills me. Standing kills me. Even sitting up kills me.

All I can do is just wait it out. Fortunately, cluster headaches don’t last longer than two hours. Sometimes they’re only fifteen minutes long. But the pain is still the same and I have that voice in my head that tells me this is never going to end.

Did I mention that cluster headaches have another name? Suicide headaches. Cluster headaches are considered one of the worst pains known to mankind and having them increases a person’s risk for suicide. Pleasant, right?

I’m explaining all of this to you because I had one this morning. The first one like this in a year. I probably could’ve expected it, but you always hope you never have to have one of those dreadful headaches again. This is my third year and it’s the exact same thing with the exact same thoughts running through my head.

Thoughts like I HATE YOU SATAN AND ALL YOUR STUPID DEMONS AND I WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS BECAUSE I AM A DAUGHTER OF GOD AND I HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO SEND ALL OF YOU BACK TO THE PITS OF HELL IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST.

And then thoughts like JESUS, PLEASE HEAL ME. HEAL ME. PLEASE…PLEASE… PLEASE… PLEASE (and so on and so forth).

And then thoughts like LET ME DIE. JUST KILL ME. I CAN’T DO THIS.

And then thoughts like MY VOMIT TASTES LIKE GINGER ALE.

But you know what I think upsets me the most about these headaches? It’s not that they’re the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. It’s not that I can’t stand or sit up or keep my food down. It’s not that I’m wanting to die. It’s not that my boyfriend is seeing this happen to me and has to hold my tangled hair back from my contorted, puffy-eyed face.

What upsets me the most is that I KNOW I have been given authority to command my body to be better and I KNOW God is good and delights in healing His children, but I can’t seem to get either of those things to happen.

My prayers felt powerless coming out of my mouth as the pain remained and nothing changed.

I had absolutely no control.

And that’s a scary thing to me because I almost always am in control (or at least I think I am). I don’t have much of a say in what the world does, but I can manage my own life and my own body and my own health and what I say or do. If I’m sick, I can go to the doctor and get medicine to make me better. If I don’t like a person, I can tell them to leave me alone and walk away. If I’m feeling something too strongly, I can write it out in a blog post or in my journal or in a song.

But today was a day in which I just couldn’t control things. I couldn’t control these bastardly headaches and I couldn’t control these ghastly thoughts and I couldn’t control the demons afflicting me or the God I expected to save me.

THAT is what upset me the most.

And that’s when the thoughts turned into WHAT KIND OF GOD WATCHES HIS CHILD SUFFER THIS TYPE OF PAIN AND NOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT? WHAT KIND OF GOD HEARS HIS HURTING DAUGHTER’S PRAYERS AND REQUESTS AND DECIDES TO NOT GRANT THEM? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO BE LEARNING? ARE MY PRAYERS NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU?

And I wish I could say that He gave me this awesome revelation or I was healed right then and there. But I cried and vomited and rolled around for some time after these things transpired. I am feeling better now, but the healing wasn’t instantaneous and I didn’t walk away feeling as good as new.

But is God still good? Yes.

Do I still have faith? Always.

Do these headaches still suck? You bet.

But do I get through them alive? Every time.

This is not a post about God being cruel. This isn’t a post about how He chose to not heal me when I asked Him to and how that was so utterly wrong of Him. This isn’t a post about how there’s suffering in the world and nothing’s happening about it.

This is a post on time. That one thing NO ONE can control.

God authored time. A clockmaker gets a clock to tick, but whether or not that clock is working, time is still moving forward as we continue to orbit. And God lets this happen because time is HIS and His alone.

Why did I get this headache on a Tuesday morning versus any other day of the week? I don’t know. Why does this happen year after year? I don’t know. Why didn’t my headache go away the moment I called out his name? I don’t know.

And I don’t think I ever will know.

Just like I don’t know why death has to come early for some people and why he waits so many years before giving us the things we’ve been earnestly praying for.

All I know is that God is good and He has been faithful to me even in my wondering and questioning and faithlessness.

His decision to not heal me of my headache instantly is not an indicator of a lack of power or goodness or love. It is rather an expression of his power and goodness and love. 

Why would I want to serve and follow a God who does everything I ask of Him the minute I ask it? If He did, I’d be engaged to a man I now know I didn’t have a chance of having a good relationship with. If He did, I would be knee-deep in a career I now know I wouldn’t enjoy. If He did, I would be the most impatient and faithLESS girl in the world.

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for (Hebrews 11:1-2).

The ancients– Noah, Abraham, Joseph, the marchers of Jericho, and many others– were not commended for how quickly their prayers were answered. They were commended for how faithful they remained when there appeared to be no answers. And what joy they must have received when their prayers were not only answered, but God was given the glory! He IS a God of power and goodness and love, they must have exclaimed.

If everything was done their way and in their timing, things wouldn’t have been the same. We would not know such ancients, such faithful warriors and servants of Christ. We would only know quick-fix prayers, which may do good for the body but not for the soul.

My soul has been healed this morning because I am reminded that God is the Master of time and He is a good one.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God has power to do what he promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:18-22).

I want to be like Abraham. I don’t want to stare at unanswered prayers and questions with skepticism and halfhearted hope. I want to stare at God, my good and faithful God, and I want to not waver in my belief.

I am persuaded that God has power to do what he promised. And He could’ve given me supernatural physical strength to send that blasted headache away forever, but He chose to gave me supernatural spiritual strength for my soul. That strength is faith. And I don’t see Him as a bad Father for that. No, He’s a very good one indeed.

I am healed.

It Takes Time

The writing has slowed down.

You may or may not have noticed.

My summer in Clarkston is coming to a close and I feel like my heart has somehow decided to close itself, too.

No more, God. I’m done thinking. I’m done praying. Let me just stop and breathe for a minute.

I know life is meant to be filled with growth and change and learning. When any of those stop happening, we might as well be dead. Or so I’ve heard.

But growing and changing and learning sometimes hurts. And even though we’re told that we need to press on because it’ll be so worth it, that you can’t have gain without pain… well, I just don’t want to do that right now.

I don’t WANT to press forward with all I’ve got because it’s just super, super hard.

Doesn’t that sound so pathetic? But it’s the truth.

Right now I just want to sit. Forget carpe diem. Forget Paul’s running the race with endurance. Forget YOLO.

I want to curl up in my bed and sleep. Or stare at the wall and not even think about anything in particular. And then when I get up from my bed, I want to drink coffee, sit on the couch to stare at the wall some more, and ignore everyone who tries to talk to me. And maybe I’ll write some. But maybe I won’t.

Of course, my life right now doesn’t offer that “luxury”. I have a week left in Clarkston, and with being in Clarkston comes priorities and people relying on you. I can’t afford to just lie on the floor for hours on end (although I have been giving myself at least an hour of exactly that for the past few days). I can’t just “check out” and silence the world.

Life still happens, whether I want it to or not.

But what I have a say in is (and no, I’m not going to say any of that cheesy “you can choose your attitude” Pollyanna-esque stuff) whether or not I receive what is offered to me.

I know God wants me to grow. And change. And learn. He’s offering me things, I can tell. The doors are there. And stepping through one of those doors could mean the difference between wallowing in my self-pity and finding true freedom and joy.

But if I’m going to step through that door, I’m going to need to take my time. And I think He understands that. God is patient, you know.

He knows I’m not ignoring Him. He knows I’m not giving up. He sees my heart, how much it truly longs for Him and all the gifts He’s offering to me after all this time. It may be difficult to pray, but I still say hello. It may be tough to communicate with the world, but I still let myself be a friend to others. And it’s hard to call myself “happy”, but I know how to find joy in the little moments He brings.

It takes time for babies to learn to walk.

And I’m just a baby. I’ve been carefully putting one foot in front of the other for some time, but I haven’t let go of the ottoman just yet.

It’s okay, Jessie. You can do it. I won’t let you fall.

I know, Daddy. I’m getting there. I just need a minute.

I know I’ll get there. I know it because I have within me a spirit that is yearning for far too much to stand still for very long. It looks like I’m not doing anything right now (and you may be right), but what you don’t see is that every hour I spend in solace and silence makes my soul a very restless one indeed. And when the conditions looks a bit more favorable and I am able to get out of this bed, I will charge through that very same door I’ve been staring at for years. I know this because God loves me too much and I love God too much to stand still forever.

I’m not going to feel bad for not pursuing Jesus as hard as everyone else right now. I AM pursuing him, and HE is making up for the rest (and then some). This is not hide-and-seek or tag. This doesn’t even feel like a race.

No, this is a long and challenging stroll on the beach.

And as we’re walking hand-in-hand, looking out at the horizon, I sometimes get so overwhelmed that I just stop and have to take a minute to look down at the sand. It’s too much. But after a little bit of time, he lifts up my chin, gives me that understanding smile, and helps me take that next step. In some cases, he even carries me. And when I pass by people who are also struggling to take that next step, I’d like to take their hand and walk with them, too.

Before I know it, we’ll be at that boardwalk. That little speck in the distance that I thought (and still sometimes think) I could never reach.

And in that moment, I’ll know that it didn’t matter how long it took me or how many times I had to stop to catch my breath.

All that’ll matter is that I arrived and I didn’t let go of his hand.

Expectation vs. Reality

How I Wish My Day Would Go:

Wake up without an alarm, feeling completely refreshed and ready to face the day.

Have a heavenly breakfast: sunny-side-up eggs and buttered toast.

Sit down to have my alone time with God–  a fresh cup of coffee in one hand and my journal in the other.

Blog about all the cool things God is teaching me.

Look up at the clock… time for lunch.

Eat leftover Chinese food in bed while watching Gilmore Girls.

Clean my room to a pristine condition.

Go to the mall to buy myself a new outfit to be worn later.

Talk to best friend on the phone for two hours.

Meet up with a friend at Starbucks– or better yet, one of those off-brand coffeehouses.

Have lively conversation about life, philosophy, and God.

Go home to get ready for a hot date. Get to take a bubble bath with plenty of time to shave.

Have my hot date (A.K.A. my boyfriend) pick me up and take me out for sushi.

Coldstone Creamery afterwards. Duh.

Beautiful walk around the neighborhood, holding hands.

Say goodnight and part ways.

I climb into my familiar bed with my dog snuggled beside me.

Fall fast asleep.

Rinse and repeat.

How My Day Really Goes:

Wake up by an alarm, feeling like I could sleep for another twelve hours.

Break my sunny-side-up eggs in the pan.

Sit down to have my alone time with God and realize that I actually only have fifteen minutes.

Get so stressed out by the time constraint that I can’t even focus on what He and I need to be talking about.

Have an awesome blog idea come to me that I forget about later.

Look up at the clock… class awaits me.

Leave class wondering what on earth I just sat through.

Have lunch in isolation. No Gilmore Girls.

Come home to dishes in the sink, laundry to be folded, and an unmade bed.

Try to schedule a phone call with my best friend, but it doesn’t work out.

Ask friends out for coffee. No one can go.

Realize I’m broke anyway.

Get ready to go out on a hot date. Hair not cooperating. Break out into a sweat just trying to pick out what to wear.

Have my hot date (A.K.A. my boyfriend) come to pick me up.

I’m inexplicably moody. Total buzz-kill.

Eat and feel bloated.

Date interrupted by reminders of having to wake up early for work and mother wondering when we’ll be home.

Say goodnight and part ways, not really wanting to leave.

I climb into my familiar bed, dog nowhere to be found.

Have trouble sleeping.

Regretfully rinse and repeat.

What I Gather From This Information:

Life does not go the way I want it. Eggs crack, schoolwork gets burdensome, and moods shift quicker than I have time to adjust to.

I don’t feel like I have enough time for myself or the people who matter to me. I certainly don’t feel like I have enough time for God.

Everything is rushed. Stressful. Unnecessarily difficult.

But every day is different. And that means there are new opportunities to find beauty and joy. New opportunities to make the most of hardships. New opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. New opportunities to seek God and His will.

It’s okay that life doesn’t go the way I want it. It’s normal, expected.

And every once in a blue moon, I do get that ideal day. It comes and it goes, but I enjoy it nonetheless.

I’m waiting for the next one, but trying not to ignore the good stuff in my other days, too. Which is easier said than done.

But hey, time goes by a lot faster than we realize. And the hard day today could become a beautiful one tomorrow. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

God’s showing me more and more of what it means to be content and fruitful even in what looks to be the crappiest of days.

So here’s to trying again in the morning.