Wait.

Waiting is definitely something I have struggled with. Just when I feel sure of myself in my wait, BAM! Impatience, doubt, worry, fear and sometimes even frustration set in. I’ve even told myself that this season is just a “waiting period” and that it will be over soon. I console myself by thinking of possible outcomes, all of them colored with my desires rather than God’s.

It appears to me that I have more of an issue with placing my faith in a favorable outcome rather than a God whose favor I am undeserving of yet have anyway.

Honestly, take a moment to evaluate the season you’re in right now. Are you content with where you are, trying your best to make things work? Or are you chomping at the bit to move forward and get this part of your life “over with”?

Regardless of where you are, not only do I understand completely, I have experienced both of these scenarios recently.

Six months ago, I was trying desperately to hold on to what I knew God wanted me to completely let go of. I wanted so badly for Him to do what I wanted… not the other way around. I was stubbornly hoping that in the end, things would resolve the way I intended them to…. boy was I sorely misguided.

God began working on me… and slowly I began to realize that all He wanted was me. Not who I could be or who I once was. Just me. And in order for that to happen, I needed to focus on Him. I was so distracted by my selfish desires that I was hindering the blessings He had in store for me.

Did you catch that? At times, we are the ones who stand in the way of the blessings God wants to bestow upon us. 

How terribly unfortunate!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

When I finally let go? He blessed me in more ways than I ever expected. Different doors began to open and since then, I have learned quite a few lessons:

He taught me that His plans truly are better. We may have our own agendas, but in the end, He has something far better in store for you and I. Twice now I have thought that I found my future husband, and twice now I have been wrong. God chose to close those doors for me… to protect me. Then it hit me: I thought that I found. I didn’t trust in Him or even truly dig deep to see if I was following His will or my own selfish desires… it was definitely the latter. I didn’t wait for His “green light”, so to speak. He keeps surprising me after each hard time and heartbreak, though… always bringing me through to something much better than I could have imagined.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21

He showed me that right now, I need to be single. I was so excited about the thought of commitment and a future, I let myself get too vulnerable too soon. Instead of guarding my heart and keeping my boundaries up, I let the idea of love fuel my actions. You see, I met someone through the young adults group I attend regularly and now serve at. Instead of staying grounded in the Truth, I followed my emotions and what I thought were clearly “signs” from God. As a result, it ended rather quickly. I am actually thankful that it all happened the way it did… because what I thought I wanted was not what God desires for me. He wants me to focus my attention to His plans for my life right now, rather than worrying over who I will marry someday. The truth is I’m not as ready as I thought for forever.

“I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him.” – 1 Corinthians 7:32

“Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” – Song of Solomon 3:5

He is teaching me what true forgiveness is. I thought I had things under control. I told myself that I had forgiven people from my past as well as recently. I underestimated the power of unforgiveness! It can fester under the surface, much like a sink hole. Eventually it catches up to you and collapses, taking you down along with debris and whoever might be near. Bottled up feelings always do. In reality, I hadn’t completely dealt with my bitterness and it came back to bite me. It reared its ugly head amongst other situations that had nothing to do with my past, and now I’m learning how to properly deal with it. Forgiveness is liberating! It frees you from the damage you’ve been putting yourself through all that time whilst harboring a grudge. Unforgiveness hurts you much more than it does the other party. Sometimes, most times, they are unaware. Silently suffering, you watch them move on while you can’t understand why you’re stuck in the muck. Forgiveness is freely given to us by God even though we don’t deserve it. Others may not “deserve” forgiveness in our opinions, but God loves them just as much as He loves you and I. He forgave them, and He has more than enough reason not to… we can forgive them, too. We all desperately need forgiveness.

“But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” – Mark 11:25

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” – Micah 7:18-19

Again and again, He helps me realize that He’s in control. I am one of the biggest worry worms out there. I definitely have gotten better, but I tend to take up worrying any chance I get. It’s not good. Still, every single time I worry… God is right there gently nudging me to give Him my anxieties, fears, doubts and struggles. He patiently waits until I figure out, once again, that I can’t do this on my own. Praise God, I am NOT ALONE! He has surrounded me with such wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ who are here to pick me up when I fall. They even keep me in check when something isn’t quite right. They edify and observe me and vice versa. He has provided me with ample resources- He equips others with specific gifts to help one another, so it’s foolish to not reach out and tap into that blessing! I look back and see His hand in everything that has happened, and I’m learning to see it even now. He is with me. He is for me. I have no reason to worry about anything.

“…Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of opposition, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, Your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.” – Isaiah 43:1-3

“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?… And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” – Matthew 6:27;30

He’s showing me how to let go. I hold on to things so thightly that sometimes it hinders the blessings God is wanting to bestow upon me. For example, I did not want to let go of my first love. Despite the issues we were having, I did not want to see what God was trying to tell me. So He spoke to me via friends in my community who were worried about me being unequally yoked. They saw the issues clearly; I wanted to ignore the issues for the sake of my selfish desires. I loved him. I wanted that to be enough. But it wasn’t, and God had other plans. He needed me to let go on my own so that Joey and I could breathe… and grow. Here I am, nearly six months later, having grown so much… I have experienced my first mission trip, delved deeper into God’s unconditional love and His word, I’ve made new friends and connections, and I am healing. God wanted me to let go completely so that He could stretch me, teach me, protect me, train me and ultimately so I would learn to lean on Him instead of others.

I am finding my worth in Him. For most of my life, I sought completion and value from other people. I thrived on their opinions of me. If they didn’t like me, I was crushed. I looked for my worth in boys, thinking that the only way to gain their approval or affection was to give them what they craved. I lived on the next “like” on social media, brainwashed into thinking that the number on the notifications screen determined how beautiful I was. God was always there, trying to erase the mean things I’d write about myself in journals, holding me when I cried myself to sleep, replacing all the bullies’ harsh language with His thoughts of me… Now, at 22, I finally hear Him. I see what He thinks of me, I know that I am worth so much more than the world told me. Beautiful. Beloved. Cherished. Valued. Wanted. Delightful. Mended. His. I was bought at a price and Jesus thought of me on that cross. I am worthy of love. He loves me with an everlasting love. To Him, I am priceless. No man will ever complete me, and only One man died for me. I am a daughter of the One True King and that makes me worthwhile. Not because of anything I’ve done but because of everything He has done!

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

– Luke 12:6-7

Right now, the season I am in isn’t glamorous or where I imagined I would be by August of 2016. I thought I’d be a senior in college by now, finishing up my BME at Northwest Missouri State University. I figured I’d be pretty darn close to marrying my first love. I never dreamed that I would be living with my parents and searching for a job that could end in a career. I never imagined that I would be afraid to go back to school. I definitely didn’t plan on being single.

There are a lot of uncertainties in my life presently. And you know what?

That’s okay.

God is preparing me for something far better than the things I planned for myself. He has me right where I am supposed to be, home to heal and serving at my church. He is on the move, closing various doors and setting things in motion for specific doors to open. I won’t try to predict His next move… but I will continue to trust in Him and live for Him while I wait.

Unexpected things have happened, and while some have been painful, I will not be shaken. There is a purpose for my wait, a meaning behind this season. I’m not just sitting around waiting for God to move, oh no. That’s not how it works. We have to be proactive in the wait. So right now, I’m proactively searching for jobs. I’m getting out of the house and joining the living. This weeked I’ll be enjoying a much-needed retreat with fellow ParadigmKC leaders. In a month I’ll be going on a Brave retreat with many other women from Abundant Life. I’m plugging in and serving God and others, as well as digging in to community and study groups. I will be finishing Discipleship 1 soon, and I will start D2 as soon as I can afterwards. I’ll be continuing counseling and begin training at a gym once I have the means to do so.

Life goes on, even during a time of waiting. Regardless of our relationship status, job situation or whether or not we’re going back to school, we have to keep going.

Keep fighting to discover your purpose. Don’t quit and give in to laziness and heartache just because life isn’t going the way you planned for it to. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, good or bad. It’s up to us to decide whether we’ll stay defeated by our circumstances or rise above it.

Have hope in your wait. Something is coming- God has not abandoned you. Don’t let the enemy talk you in to doubting God or yourself. Satan loves to keep us down and defeated! Take refuge in God’s sweet love. Let Him pour His comfort over you. Take the time to tell Him your fears and worries, looking to His Word for reassurance that He’s got this, and He’s got YOU. 

“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place od undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know thay they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” – Romans 5:2-4

“We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)… And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good od those who love God and are calles according to his purpose for them.” – Romans 8:24-25; 28

 ♡

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When “I love you” Isn’t Enough

To those whose hearts are hurting,

My sweet friend, you are worthy of love. I see the bittersweet tears cascading down your cheeks and I have cried them, too. I know that ache in your chest all too well and I promise you this isn’t the end of you.

I know what it is like to open your heart and let someone in. You allow the walls surrounding such a tender thing to crumble, entrusting it to this person who is just as scared as you are. You notice his smile, you fall deeper in like with his character and the simple, mundane activities you do together, like washing dishes. You crave time with him, and feel as though there is never enough of it.

Before you know it, you have fallen. Hard.

It doesn’t matter how long it took- whether it was a few months or a year. The fact of the matter is, you can see yourself with this other human being for the rest of your life. You allow yourself to daydream, thinking of what an adventure it would be to endure life’s hardships together. Let’s face it, this life is messy! There would be arguments and misunderstanding, hurt feelings and confusion. There would be stress and frustration, but amidst the not-so good moments… there would be moments of bliss. Moments where you sit in a candlelit room together listening to instrumental music while reading. Moments where you poke fun at one another and laugh until you cry, then laugh some more. Moments where you find yourself staring at them as they light up about something they enjoy, and you can’t help thinking how much you adore them.

You have already thought about the “L” word, and when would be an appropriate time to finally say it aloud. Those darn butterflies flutter around in your stomach at the thought of being so vulnerable. You blush when you think of their reaction to the words…. and you absolutely do not want such a tender phrase to lose all meaning.

So you wait.

You continue getting to know this person, and as they slowly open themselves up to you, you feel the “L” word at the tip of your tongue even more often than before. You start to over think, wondering if they feel the same as you or if you’re the only one falling faster and faster as the hours tick by. You start to feel those doubts and nagging insecurities creep in… You try your hardest to ignore them, but it’s as if they’re screaming, “You’re not good enough! How could they ever love you!?”

So you wait.

And wait…

Finally, something wonderful happens. This person, who seemed so closed off before, has a moment of vulnerability with you. He paces and distances himself from you as he speaks, unsure of how to properly articulate how he’s feeling. You wait patiently, understanding how difficult it is for him to be so open after being so hard and cold towards the possibility of a relationship. As you wait, he fills the air with words that tickle your ears and cause your cheeks to flush. Those words coat you in a dazzling warmth as they make their way to your heart. You hear him telling you, for the first time, how beautiful you are to him. He tells you how much he admires you, how proud he is of you for making it through so much turmoil in your life and still being who you are today. He tells you so many sweet things and it overwhelms you to the point of tears. He tells you he didn’t fall in love with you for your appearance but for your character…. you noticed he mentioned the “L” word and you can’t believe this is happening.

And then he really says it.

“I love you.”

Your heart skips a beat and you smile, feeling so giddy you could fly if you wanted to. He repeats himself and you embrace… surrounded by his warmth and reassurance, you finally feel safe enough to let him in completely. You know that once you say that phrase, you mean it. Once you say that phrase, you’re “all in” and don’t intend on giving up easily.

So, you take a deep breath… and you let him know that you love him, too.

In that moment, things seem to be going so well. You both finally reassured one another of your feelings. You’re both happy and are willing to figure the relationship out, one moment at a time.

He has met your parents, and they care deeply for him, whether he is aware of it or not. He asked them for permission to date you and they were beside themselves- no one had taken the time to do so before. They respect him, and expect him to take care of their daughter. Especially because he has talked of building a future with her, publicly and in private.

The day comes for you to meet his parents and you’re so nervous that you go all-out. You wake up early so you can get ready. You take a shower and primp. You pick out a lovely dress and heels to match. You take the time to put on makeup and do your hair just so. Your heart is beating a mile a minute, but you want to make the best first impression possible. His parents mean so much to him, and you want the evening to go smoothly. You look in the mirror and feel confident, ready to meet the most influential people in your boyfriend’s life.

The evening takes a turn in another direction, and you’re told that he is having doubts about your relationship. Your heart sinks and you begin to panic. You tell yourself to calm down, not wanting to ruin the work you did on your face. You try to reassure yourself that everything will be okay. You love each other, right?

You end up going home, dress and all. You’re shocked and don’t know what to do, and you’re hurting more than you let on. You start thinking about the worst possible scenarios. Your mind is reeling as you sit there in your dress, humiliated, explaining to your parents why you’re home early instead of meeting his parents.

Soon, you find yourself fighting against insecurities of your own. And it hurts that he doesn’t seem to understand, that he isn’t as patient with you as he said he would be. He even gets frustrated with you when you don’t immediately articulate what’s wrong. He distances himself and doesn’t comfort you when that’s exactly what you need.

You feel him pulling away. He told you he loved you, yet he is closing himself off to you. He told you he wanted to marry you, and you were perfectly fine with waiting for his debt to be taken care of. His goals were important to you, too. You wanted to see him succeed. You were excited to continue getting to know him as the months passed on. You were intent on being there to support him and love him through whatever trials and hardships came your way.
In the end…. your love wasn’t enough.

In the end, his goals were more important. You became a distraction. An obstacle. You were no longer a person, and your feelings no longer mattered. Somehow, in a matter of days, he took you from planning a future together to ending the relationship.

And you know what?

You, my friend, are going to be okay.

I know it doesn’t feel that way right now. You’re frustrated and hurting, and rightfully so! You poured yourself into another person only to find out that it wasn’t good enough that they were not ready for a relationship. They were not ready for someone with such a big heart and great capacity to love so much. This is NOT your fault.

You, sweet sister, are not broken. You are not unlovable. You are so full of life and joy that it might be intimidating to the weak of heart. God has a purpose for you, even amidst the pain you’re feeling in this moment. You are His beloved daughter. You are immaculate! You are so beautiful, inside and out. He designed you with His own hand, He looks at you and sees a flawless masterpiece. What you see in the mirror is a distorted view of what He sees. Why? Because we are our own worst critics. And we have the enemy pouring ideas into our minds that we are less than what we are.

When “I love you” isn’t enough for someone else, that is their loss. Not yours.

When your words of encouragement and support aren’t enough for someone else, they have no idea what they are missing out on.

When things like this happen, it is obvious to me that the other person has some growing to do. They have their own demons to fight, and until they sort themselves out on their own, you don’t need to be a part of it. The mental game that was played is toxic for your mind and heart. If you have to constantly be worried that they will pull away when things get tough, that is not healthy for YOU.

It is okay to think of your well-being! It is not selfish to protect your heart from further damage. You are allowed to lick your wounds and take time to heal. Allow yourself to mourn the loss of a potentially wonderful relationship, and thank God that He saved you from something you thought was for you when it obviously is not. Not right now, anyway.

Who knows what the future holds? God may work on the both of you and bring you back together in His timing. He may take you separate ways. Either way, He knows what’s best for you. He is on your side! He is FOR you, not against you.

Girlfriend, you have so much to offer this world. Don’t let one person determine your future. Don’t allow the pain from your past dictate how you will live in the present. The past mistakes and failures are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ- there is absolutely no need to keep looking over your shoulder!

You owe it to yourself to keep moving forward. Take this time to focus on your relationship with God. Spend time with Him daily and lean in to your community. God places people in our lives for a reason! He doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. Those people surrounding you? They each have a valuable role to play. Some will teach you hard lessons. Others will encourage you and lift you up. Be willing to accept the help that God has surrounded you with.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” – 1 Peter 5:10

God will HIMSELF restore you. In this world, we will have pain and we will struggle. He reassures us many times throughout the Bible that He is with us. This verse reminds me that my struggles have a purpose. He allows me to go through them so I can grow, learn and ultimately lean on Him through it all. I have hope in HIM alone because I know He will never leave me broken or defeated. He HIMSELF will bring me back from the pain and I will be stronger for it.

 “… Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of opposition, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, Your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.”

– Isaiah 43:1-3

He calls us by name. He is with us no matter what the circumstance. We have nothing to fear in this world. Not even heartache.

Ultimately, our worth and contentment should come from God. Not another human being. Why? Because we are all flawed. We all are broken in a way that only God can heal. Each of us make up a mosaic of pieces that have been shattered in one way or another. God is the glue that pieces us together to make something beautiful out of the broken mess that we are. He can see the completed image- we cannot since we are in the midst of the mess. That’s the point. We need to humble ourselves and realize who He is and who we are. We need Him.

When “I love you” isn’t enough….

God’s grace, mercy and sacrifice is. His love for you cannot be measured by time or space. He will never leave you brokenhearted and confused. He will never take advantage of you or lead you along. His love is pure and unhindered by selfish ambition. He just loves you as you are. He loves you right now, flaws and all. He doesn’t love some future version of who you could be. He accepts you in your mess, with that past you’re ashamed of… those insecurities and fears that control you? He can set you free from their grip. All you need to do is ask.

Chin up, darling.

You are cherished. You are beloved. You are desirable. You are wanted. You are talented. You are strong. You are brave. You are beautifully and wonderfully made.

God is not finished with your love story. He hasn’t given up on you. Don’t you dare give up on yourself.

– Love,

Leah ♡

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