Your neckline must be two finger lengths from your collarbone. You can’t watch that movie. Your shorts are too short. You shouldn’t date. Sound familiar? Like many of you, I grew up in The Purity Movement of the 1990s and early 2000s. To be honest, purity seemed kind of cool at the time. There were giant conferences promoting it, teen pop stars modeling abstinence, and parents buying their daughters fancy rings if they committed to saving sex for marriage. You could even say that purity was popular.
We’ve all had days when life won’t let up. Days when when our circumstances just seem to drag us down. Days when we feel the brokenness of our world so keenly. On these days, the despair threatens to swallow us up. Our circumstances bring feelings of loneliness. Hopelessness. Negativity. Anger. Defeat. Stress. Rejection. Anxiety. Shame. Fear. Bitterness. Our emotions can blind us and tell us lies about our circumstances. It’s only when we encounter Jesus, the Truth, that we can be set free from these lies.
Despite what Disney tells us, a happy life isn't about all your wishes coming true, it's about the motives of your heart. What are you wishing for in the first place? John Piper says,"We can live for our will or God’s will, or we could have our passions so transformed that we need not choose between the two." If the desire of your heart are properly aligned with God's will, when you love what he loves, when you want what he wants, that's the real dream come true.
My Grandma often scolds me that I do not take time “to stop and smell the roses”. She’s right. I don’t. I like to keep busy and do as much as possible. Even when I’m spending time with the people that I love, I like to squeeze in the memories and “maximize” the time. Thankfully, I'm married to a man who knows how to slow down.
We fail a lot. In fact, you could say it’s human nature to fail and to do so frequently. So how can we fail and be "perfect just the way we are" at the same time? Something seems off about that...
As a kid, I thought God wanted me to do His bidding, almost like I was His little robot of good works. As a robot, I thought I should be programmed perfectly, and perceived that any flaw in my circuitry would cause me be to cast aside and rejected. However, God is so much bigger than that. He longs to have us be with Him, to seek His wisdom, and to encounter His loving heart.
If I’m honest, I sometimes feel like I have to keep up appearances with God. I can fall into thinking that I have to get my act together because He is so holy. But God already knows me fully and completely. So who am I trying to impress?
As Christians, we are all stretched to grow and mature in our faith, but we aren't meant do it alone. We need Christian community to encourage and challenge us.
I have realized recently that the gift of hospitality looks different than I have imagined in my head. My gift of hospitality can’t wait to be used until I live in a house. Or on my own. Or until I’m married or have kids or have the time or money. God has given me the spiritual gifts I have now to be used right now. I need to learn how to use all my gifts in my current season, location, and state of being.
When I reflect on high school and college and all the ways I worried, I now see so clearly the peace worry robbed from me. I became a slave to my worry. That's not what God wants for us. He desires for us to walk in freedom from worry.