Since I last posted, there have been a few new developments in my life. I now love saurkraut, which I always thought smelled too gross to even taste but actually tastes amazing on rye with turkey, mustard and a little corned beef. And I also absolutely LOVE One Direction. haha! That song "Beautiful" or whatever it's called is the new constant play on my iPod. And, I'm happy to admit that I enjoy Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Carly Rae Jepsen and pretty much any of the five songs they play over and over on pop radio stations. :)
Other discoveries and developments? Turns out that Extra's Apple Pie and Mint Chocolate Chip gums are pretty much the standard for gum perfection now, along with light blue Stride. :) And even black decaffeinated coffee gets the job done when there's no alternative. :) Toaster Strudels and Pop Tarts won't actually kill you (even if it may seem like it at the time), and the inventor of mac and cheese was really hitting the mark. While I retain the right to use whole wheat pasta and fat free sour cream with my cheese, I am delighted to have made the connection here. And, last but not least, I've discovered that running is actually fun! It's just like anything else you love; you learn to really appreciate it when it's taken away from you for a time. I'm so thankful that my old friend is back, and I pray that we can find balance, peace and joy on the road.
The most important discovery I learned over the past month, however, was that life is full of change. (This might seem a little elementary to the rest of you, but I'm just now figuring this out.) There are times when things that are out of your control just rock your world, and you just have to find your way through it because there's no other choice.
That's where I've been: to the land of no comfort zone. To the land of everything being taken away and turned upside down. To the point at which I was literally on my knees realizing that I had nothing but Jesus. Everything that was comforting to me was gone. Absolutely every single tangible person and thing that had brought me solace was removed. Praise God.
I've been having trouble looking back on the experience as positive because of the amount of anxiety that it produced, but now removed from it I can see it as a huge gift. Only here could I ever have learned that our Father is truly all we need.
When people say that, it's not that they're saying we don't need money or food or water or shelter--duh. I'm finding that they're talking about emotions and mentality. We all have certain things that bring us comfort. Things like people, hobbies, foods, substances of all kinds, habits, places, etc. While these aren't bad things (blessings if held properly and aren't illegal), they can certainly keep us from seeing Christ clearly in His role as the first love of our lives--the only One who can satisfy us at the deepest and most intimate level.
Think about your greatest source of comfort. Is it a person? Is it sleep? Is it a substance? Is it a hobby? Is it your job? What if it was taken away? That can be an anxiety-producing thought. Now imagine ALL of your comforts being taken away. No loved ones. No home environment. No favorite foods. No familiar habits or pastimes. Imagine that all you have is a room with walls, food, water and a few strangers around you. Okay, even take the other people away. What do you do? How do you react?
No, this wasn't the severity of my situation. I'm just painting a worst-case scenario so that we all can realize the point. When Christ is all you have, you learn that Christ is all you need.
He's not an object that can be removed from our lives. He's not a cigarette that will be burned away. He's not a piece of pie that will eventually end or a piece of gum that will lose its flavor. He's not a good night's sleep that eventually brings an alarm. He's not even a human relationship that will eventually end either death or a breakup. He's eternal. He's forever. He's the beginning and the end. And the best part is that He loves us so much that He died for us and offers us an intimate relationship unlike anything we will ever experience here on earth. Not with people or things. He alone is constant.
Last night I read Hebrews 13. I know I've read verse 8 at least a thousand times, but last night I really understood it: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
Life is full of change. People come and go, and things are given and taken away. If we are holding onto these things so tightly that we can't see our eternal Lord, we will be crushed when they are removed. Thankfully for me, while I was devastated for a time, I was quickly rescued by God and His truth--that He would never leave me (also in Hebrews 13).
I have no idea where you're at or what you're clinging to for comfort, but I want to encourage you with this: Enjoy your comforts, but make sure you are enjoying them as temporary gifts from the Giver. Don't find your everything in anything that can and will be taken away by life and time. People and things were never meant to bring us constant peace--that can only be found in God alone.
If you have been clinging to anything above Him, I totally challenge you to reprioritize so that when it's time to let go of it, you will be able to do so with a peaceful heart. Or, you can just be hard-headed like me and let it happen before you're ready. :) Either way, do know that the Lord will be there, waiting to show you His faithfullness, peace and love. And that will never change.
Hugs to you all! :)