Month: July 2014

Who are you?

Don’t you love how everyone is telling you what to do?

Let’s think about it. There are an infinity of quizzes, blogs, articles, and tweets telling you who you are, what you should do, how you should live, where you should go, what you should believe.

Is it possible that EVERYONE is going through an existential crisis?

Scrolling through my Facebook feed I am constantly bombarded by people posting the results of quizzes. “I’m an extrovert! What are you?” “I’m left brained! Take this quiz to find out what you are!” “22 things you should do before you turn 22!” “10 things a woman should look for in a man!”

Is it possible that no one knows who they are? Have we all missed that moment in life where we have direction and understanding of who we are?

It’s frightening, but also very sad, that so many feel the need to find their “directions” to a happy life via blogs and quizzes online. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but that post about “50 Ways to a Happier Life” is not going to make your life any happier. If anything, those types of posts make me feel inadequate. For instance, that 22 year old who has traveled all over the world and speaks four languages and is a national geographic photographer in her spare time: “Well jeez, I haven’t really done much with my life after all. What’s wrong with me?”

NOTHING. Nothing is wrong with me. The steps you took to get where you are in life, are not the steps I am taking to reach the same place in mine. That’s the difference. Your life. And mine.

Part of the development of the psyche is the realization of self. Somewhere between the ages of 1 and 2, a child realizes, “I am me”. As children grow, they begin to develop personality traits, and being to shape their character. Of course there are times that call for self-reflection and realization. But what does it say of our generation or society when we turn to quizzes and blog posts to tell us who we are, and stop experiencing life for ourselves?

Rick Warren puts it nicely on this post from rickwarren.org.

What this means is that you abandon any image of yourself that is not from God. You stop accepting what others have said about you, how others have labeled you, and how others have defined you.

You’re not defined by your feelings. You’re not defined by the opinions of others or by your circumstances. You’re not defined by your successes or failures. You’re not defined by the car you drive, the money you make, or the house you say you own when the bank really does.

http://rickwarren.org/devotional/english/embrace-your-identity-in-christ#.U9gdn4BdXT5

Let’s look at this lovely verse from Psalm 139. You might find it often on Pinterest or nicely painted on a canvas.

I praise you, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

The phrase that catches the eye is this: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”. It’s a beautiful truth about your identity. However, it is preceded by an equally important truth. “I praise you”. We find ourselves when we are praising/living for God. As Christians, our identity is intrinsically tied to God and how he created us.

I, personally, am done. I, the kid who grew up sneaking into Mom’s office to read personality books, am tired.

I choose to live life for myself, and make these realizations about myself through experience. I choose to no longer rely on someone else (who does not know me) to help figure out who I am. I choose to be me, and learn about me without quizzes, blog posts, or Facebook.

And now, it’s up to you. To live life by experiencing it for yourself, or vicariously living through articles you find online. YOU decide.

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Change

“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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” 

Jeremiah 29: 11-13

 

A ladder on the exterior of one of downtown Monroe's historic businesses.

A ladder on the exterior of one of downtown Monroe’s historic businesses.

Nobody likes change. Scratch that.

Nobody likes their plans getting upset. (Which leads to the whole…well, are they “your” plans or “God’s” plans? And his are bigger than yours, right?)

I have been drafting this post in my head for two weeks.

And even after two weeks of crafting the words in a different order, mulling over a creative metaphor, and generally just dragging my feet…I keep coming back to simplicity. News is best understood in its simplest form.

After living in Clarkston, on the outskirts of Atlanta, for one week as an intern with The Mission Society, I made the decision to go home.

I was so blessed and challenged by my one week in Clarkston. I learned about the culture and history of Burma from my host family and their church family. I learned about hospitality customs in Nepal from my next-door neighbors. I learned about how The Mission Society is investing in inner city Atlanta through John and Katheryn Heinz. And I witnessed Jesus moving in a community that has experienced more conflict, persecution, and change than any I have encountered before.

The refugees of Clarkston are so willing to share their stories with anyone who genuinely wishes to learn about their past, their home, their hearts. Whenever my family would return to the United States from living abroad for years, I often felt overlooked and unheard. You take away someone’s humanity when you disregard their story. It’s easy to look at a community of refugees and immigrants and list all of the problems. It’s hard to go sit in their living rooms, share a meal, and listen. I think listening is the key to the heart.

God is faithful and I learned more than I imagined I would. I am continuing to learn. Due to some miscommunications, along with some prodding from Jesus, I was convicted that my summer was not meant to be spent in Clarkston with the Mission Society.

I moved home three weeks ago. I spent my first week back looking for more opportunities in the city of Monroe, Georgia. My mother’s family is from Monroe. I grew up “doing furlough” in Monroe. My biggest fear for a long time would be that I would end up moving back to Monroe. And yet, here I am. But more importantly, God is here.

Through my parents’ church, I got connected to a local ministry called FISH (Faith in Serving Humanity). I was immediately attracted to their mission statement:

Because Jesus Christ calls His believers to be in service to the poor and needy among us, F.I.S.H. endeavors to respond to the needs of Walton County residents for food, shelter, utilities, clothing, medical care and transportation in verifiable situations.

The community at FISH is incredible. Their twelve staff members work with a crew of approximately 200 volunteers, who share the love of Jesus by loving members of their local community. There are times when statistics make everything seem hopeless. I have seen the hands-on love of the people at FISH restore dignity and love in the lives of hundreds of individuals here in my hometown. And I am beyond blessed to call myself part of this community.

So, in keeping this simple, funds I raised before this summer are now being transferred from The Mission Society to the FISH. The majority of the funds will go directly as a donation to the non-profit as they provide medical, dental, financial, and food services to the local community. A portion of the funds will be budgeted as my stipend.

I want to be transparent with those who have so generously prayed over my summer and given financially to the ministry God has led me to. Shoot me an email with questions about FISH, my summer, pretty much anything.

Change can be unnerving. But in change, I have found hope and joy through Jesus. And I am thrilled to continue sharing that life of hope.