Tag Archives: Christian

Savoring the Moment: A Time I Want to Remember Forever

via Daily Prompt: Savor

There comes a time in everyone’s life where they experience a brief, fleeting moment that is extremely impactful; it affects them in some way, and they never want it to end. When those moments come, it’s best to savor them, and to process everything that you’re thinking and feeling in the moment. Then, once that moment becomes a distant memory, you can still hold onto it and remember what it felt like a long time ago. Here’s one of the best moments that I’ve savored, and that I hope to remember forever:

The Moment When I Finally Met Jesus on a Personal Level, and the Moment when He Finally Showed Me My Identity

This is a two-fold memory that actually spans two different events, but I’m grouping it into one category because it’s perhaps the biggest thing that I don’t ever want to forget. I had grown up in a Christian home always hearing about Christ. I prayed to Jesus, I asked for forgiveness when I sinned or felt guilty about something, I prayed that people would be healed of their afflictions, and I had even asked him into my heart in fifth grade. I read my Bible as often as I could (though probably not as often as I should have) and was heavily involved in youth group all throughout my life. And yet, despite all that, I never really knew Jesus personally, the way that he desires to know us. I worshiped him blindly, without ever really discovering his truth for myself. I followed him because…it was all I had ever known. I’d never known anything different, having been born and raised into this way of life. So of course, it was only logical that I would follow him. However, I needed to truly experience his grace for myself before I could take it personally (in a good way).

In my freshman year of high school, I began being plagued by these terrible thoughts of: “Oh my goodness, what if God isn’t real?” Sometimes, they’d affect my waking consciousness, whereas other times, I would wake up in the middle of the night absolutely terrified that there was a possibility that I might be living a lie. The idea of not having anywhere to go when I died scared me more than anything else. But deep down, I was scared of God not existing, because what did that mean for me? Eventually, the thoughts subsided, and I convinced myself that of course God is real. There’s no reason for him not to be. Still, I never really experienced him on a personal level….that is, not until one night on a youth group trip in San Diego, which was the first time I ever heard him speaking to me.

I was now seventeen-years-old, having just completed my junior year of high school. At the time, I was struggling with feelings of self-doubt, and wondering what my purpose in life was (if I even had one). I felt guilty all the time about a sin that I kept hidden from others because I was afraid of being judged, even though it wasn’t really anything “major.” I went to this youth event, and we were singing “Revelation Song” by Kari Jobe. As we got to the part that goes: “holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” I started thinking of how beautiful it will be when we get to be in heaven and sing that directly to God. And then, that was when I truly heard him for the first time. In my heart and in my mind, I could feel him saying, “You have no idea how much I love you.” He began working in me to give me peace and joy that day, and it lasted for a while, but this had just been me dipping my toes in the water. I was to have another experience later on.

In 2013, I was 20-years-old, and felt lost and hopeless. Over the course of the past two years, I had continued to struggle with my sense of self-worth. I had asked God to forgive me for the sin that I mentioned earlier. Several times, in fact, but Satan kept making me feel guilty. His classic lie was: “You’re not really forgiven,” or “did God really say…?” I got into this spiral of sadness, and entered a really dark period of my life. I never self-harmed or anything like that, but I just wasn’t in a good place spiritually or emotionally. I was a volunteer youth leader at my church at the time, and while I could preach about Christ’s unconditional love for everyone, secretly, I believed that it applied to everybody but me. In the depths of my soul, I believed that due to my past, God hated me. In fact, I was convinced that he hated me, and that despite my best efforts at serving him, I would come up short and go to hell. So I was constantly in a state of spiritual torment. I remember one day actually asking God, “what’s the point of serving you if I’m just going to end up in hell anyway?” Like I said, it was a very dark place that I was in, and one that I hope to never go back to. I went to a leadership summit with my church, in the hope to hone my leadership skills and reach the high school and junior high kids that I was ministering to. Little did I know, God had a message for me on that trip. I’ve often noticed that God speaks to me through music when he has something to tell me, and this time was no exception. We were singing Matt Redman’s: 10,000 Reasons, and during part of the song, God spoke to me clearly. He gave me my identity. His words to me were: “I don’t care about what you’ve done in your past. What’s important is the here and now, and who I’m creating you to be.” I felt so relieved, because in that moment, I knew that he didn’t hate me. He loved me, just as I was, no matter how much I felt like the prodigal daughter. However, there was also a part of me that was a little upset and angry, because I had struggled for two years with thinking God hated me, and I was frustrated that he had allowed me to believe that lie. So I asked him, “then why did you wait two years to tell me this? Why did you let me struggle with hating myself and wondering if you hated me, too?” And he gently replied, “the why is not important. It’s how I’m working in you and transforming you that’s important.” And suddenly, I knew that he was right. The reasoning behind my struggle didn’t matter. The point was that God was using my struggle to point me back to him. All along, even when I doubted him and wondered where he was, he was right there, pointing me back to him.

Since then, I have had a few moments of questioning, and of being slightly afraid that I’m not good enough. I know that I don’t measure up to God’s standards, and that I can’t ever truly measure up until I get to heaven. But then, when I start to doubt and question, I go back to this moment, and I think about what God told me. I am reminded of who I am and whose I am. I know where I’ve been, and where I’m going, and I can’t wait to see who I turn out to be when God is finished with me. I believe that I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. I can’t give up or give in, I’ve got to stay strong and fight against everything that tries to bring me down. But I’m not alone. God is always by my side. And even on the darkest of days sometimes, when it’s hard to find God in all the chaos, or when I’m not feeling very valuable, I think of these two songs, and they make me happy, and draw me closer to Christ:

I hope this post has inspired you. Don’t forget, don’t ever give up. God loves you more than you can ever know or fathom. And he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

 

The Outlier: The Strange, Yet Proud, Woman I’ve Grown to Be

via Daily Prompt: Outlier

Ever since I was a child, I guess you could say I’ve been a bit of an outlier. I’ve never really gone with the crowd, I’ve always sort of just done my own thing. I remember constantly being told by my classmates that I was “weird,” but never understanding what they meant by that. Now that I am older and wiser, I understand that they viewed me as someone who goes against the grain–not a trendsetter, but rather, a shy, quiet girl with strange interests. And today, I am proud to admit that they were right. Yes, I am weird, and no, I’m not ashamed of that. After all, if we were all the same, life would be pretty dull–the world would be a pretty boring place.

I suppose my weirdness started when I was in elementary school. I loved horses, and I would talk about them nonstop. From a young age, I researched all kinds of horse breeds and sought to learn more about them, and though I never had a horse of my own, I fell madly and deeply in love with these majestic creatures. I even started “club unicorn” when I was in second or third grade and they asked us to make “clubs” in class (in hindsight, I don’t know why the teacher thought this was a good idea, as it ultimately just caused more division between the popular and not-so-popular kids).

I never talked much in school, even through high school, except when in conversation with my closest friends. But they found that when they got me talking about something that I was passionate about, namely horses, I wouldn’t shut up. That’s actually how my best friend and I became best friends. We met in our freshman year of high school. We sat next to each other, but didn’t really make conversation. She tried to get me to talk, and one day noticed a spiral notebook I had with a horse on the front of it. She asked me if I liked horses, and apparently, the rest was history. I wouldn’t shut up, and a great, rock-solid friendship was born that is still strong today. I’m glad it happened this way. Frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Those aren’t the only weird quirks about me. Growing up, I wore pretty mismatched clothing. In fact, one of my outfits of choice was a pair of camouflage sweatpants, coupled with whatever shirt or hoodie I could find. I didn’t care if my outfit matched, so I would often go to school in some pretty interesting looking outfits. Ironically, I look back on pictures from middle-school and high-school years and laugh out loud at myself, wondering, “Oh my gosh, why didn’t anyone ever tell me those pants looked horrendous on me, or that I wore mismatched clothes?” Of course, back then, even if they had told me, I probably wouldn’t have cared, and would have just kept doing it. Honestly, I think the mismatched clothing came as a sort of rebellion against the rules of the middle school I had attended. While we didn’t wear uniforms, we couldn’t wear anything that had words, pictures, or logos of any sort on it, unless it was the school’s logo. All of our clothing had to be striped or solid colors. Our shirts also had to be tucked in at all times, even if they looked ridiculous. I remember once getting in trouble for having a two-piece dress (skirt and top that were separated), and not having the top tucked into the skirt. I told the principal it was a dress, but he didn’t care, and made me tuck it in anyway. I liked many of the things we did at that school, but I hated the dress code, and I remember that when my mom took me school shopping upon entering my freshman year of high school, I asked for everything I could with cute pictures, logos, and words on it, as I was so happy to finally be able to wear whatever I wanted. Did this result in some odd outfits at times? Maybe so. But I didn’t care, I was happy.

I have to laugh at myself now, because I remember walking around high school and seeing kids dressed up in cosplay outfits, and thinking how stupid that was. I also remember hearing about anime, but never watching it for myself, and thinking that it, too, was stupid, if it caused my fellow classmates to cosplay and LARP (Live-Action Role Play) every day at school. I remember wanting no part of that. Then, when I started dating the man who has since become my husband, we started watching anime together. He already liked anime, and he got me interested in it, too. I tried finding a few on my own, and found it hard to engage in the story line, and I was bored within the first five minutes of the show. That’s when he recommended Clannad and Clannad: After Story to me. That is by far the best anime love story of all time. I still bawl like a baby every time I watch it, yet it is absolutely so poignant that I had to purchase the whole series on Blu-Ray. I occasionally binge-watch it, and bawl when I do, but it’s worth every minute. It’s that good. As my husband and I usually say whenever we’re talking about sad or moving animes or movies we’ve watched, “the feels on the bus go round and round” and “the feels in the sky keep on turning.” 🙂 Now, I watch anime all the time. Some of my favorites include Clannad, Clannad: After Story, Sword Art Online, ItaKiss, Kobato, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Little Busters, Charlotte, Rewrite, Kanon, and more. I also now cosplay, and in fact am planning on going as the Cheshire Cat from the original Alice in Wonderland this year. I’m so excited for it and can’t wait! Yes, I know I’m in my twenties, and that cosplay may be seen as weird, but that’s why I’m an outlier! I know I’m weird, and I don’t care! I just embrace it! It’s fun!

Probably another thing that makes me an outlier: I don’t easily get jokes. I never have. All of the popular kids in school used to make jokes, and I never got them. Which only served to make the kids think that I was even stranger or even more of an outcast than they originally thought. But I didn’t really care, because there were often glorious moments when a friend of mine or my youth leader and I would have something amazing and funny happen, and it would become our inside joke. And when that happened, it was simply marvelous! Even now, it takes me a little to understand some of the jokes my coworkers make. They’ll say something, and I won’t get it, and then about fifteen minutes later, I’ll randomly start laughing, because I finally got the joke. And then they all give me strange looks because I just got it, but I don’t care. It’s all in good fun.

Honestly, probably the biggest thing that I’ve been seen as weird for, is also the thing that I am most proud of. I am a Christian. I have been ever since I was a child, as I was born and raised in a Christian home. Jesus has been very much a part of my life from the moment that I was born, though I didn’t know him personally until 2013, but that’s another story for another time. I’d walk around school talking about Jesus and even reading my bible, mostly from 6th grade all the way through high school. If there were any Christian clubs or organizations that started in my school, I was always a part of them. I participated in See You At the Pole every year, and was unashamed. I miss that event, I wish that there was still a way to do it as an adult, but I celebrate the love of Christ in other ways now. People often called me a “Jesus Freak” or a “bible thumper,” but I didn’t care. To me, it was never about being popular. It was just about being kind and showing others the truth. I’ve never been ashamed to declare my love for Jesus, his love for the world, and the truth and grace that he proclaims for all of us. Even now, I am still a dedicated Christian, and preach the word to others every chance I get. It’s just who I am. He never abandoned me, but rather, he saved and blessed me in every way, so I will never abandon him. In him I live, and move, and have my being. Amen!

Finally, the thing right now that probably makes me the quirkiest is that I am perceived as a crazy cat lady. I talk to my cat, I go on and on about my cat, because she is like a child to me. She is very sweet (most of the time) and I absolutely love her to pieces. My friends and coworkers call me a crazy cat lady, and maybe I am, who knows? All I know is I love my cat, and I am not ashamed! Of course, the other thing that makes me strange is that I communicate significantly better in writing than I do in verbal communication. I often get tongue-tied at work when trying to tell my coworkers a funny story. Just yesterday, I said that someone put both titles on the same stock number, when I was trying to say that they put the same stock number on both titles. It confused my coworkers, so I had to clarify. Here’s an illustration of how written versus oral communication works for me:

written-vs-verbal-communication
Classic me, always ending a presentation with “so, yeah….”

In conclusion, I am socially awkward, I have weird interests, am obsessed with animals, I enjoy anime and cosplay, and I am religious, and that makes me an outlier in every sense of the word. However, I am completely okay with that, because at the end of the day, you have to know who you are and be comfortable in your own skin before you can even begin to relate to others. And I don’t necessarily think being weird is a bad thing, anyway. In my case, I have met others who have similar interests and passions, and thus, have forged good friendships. Perhaps the same can be true in your case, as well.