It’s one of those nights. I’m sitting here looking through an old external hard drive that I forgot I had. It’s full of my high school research papers, AIM conversations with old crushes, songs I haven’t heard in years (that I still know all the words to), and pictures I had forgotten were taken with friends I haven’t spoken to in years. Looking through it has definitely given me some laughs, but also a lot of emotion. Being the king of nostalgia, I know how to work myself into a state of missing seasons past – even now I’m turning on the Plain White T’s just to feel more nostalgic than I need to.
Looking back at the past always puts me in a state of reflection – would my younger self be proud of where I am? Is my life anything like I had expected? I feel like I am finally in a season processing a lot of things. I wanted to write these out mostly for myself, but if you find yourself in a similar season I hope this can be an encouragement to you.
The past few years have been extremely tough for me. My social media persona is usually one that is pretty cheery and positive. At this point, I pretty much only post updates about the ministry that I work for (which I’m sure is really annoying for anyone that doesn’t care about it haha) and pictures of the mountains when I get a few days a year to escape to upstate New York. Despite the polished highlight reel of my life, the reality is that the past two years have been incredibly difficult.
This month marks 2 years since I left the church I grew up in and committed to working towards a vision I truly believe God has placed in my heart – to see the most vulnerable people in Baltimore loved, restored, and empowered. I love my city. I love offering what little I can to seeing Baltimore become a place of fresh life and hope for those who are tired and weary.
I have always felt a little unqualified for this work – mostly because I don’t think I fit into everyone’s clean and shiny box of what someone in ministry should look like. I’m a recovering television producer with a heart for people that somehow got thrown by the God of the universe into this crazy sphere that I never planned for and never expected. I’m a little all over the place. I love worship music, but I get down to Missy Elliott. I speak in tongues daily, but I don’t think Jesus is a Republican. I love sitting in coffee shops in the city and watching the hustle and bustle, but I also find myself being refreshed on country roads at sunset. I am obsessed with Harry Potter, but C.S. Lewis speaks life into my soul. I don’t think I fit very well into many people’s boxes, but I know with certainty that I am a beloved son of my Father in heaven.
When we started our ministry I had no idea what a 501c3 was, I had never driven a box truck, I had no idea what it was like to stay with someone as they detox from heroine, I didn’t know the harsh realities of homelessness and human trafficking in Baltimore, I didn’t know anything about the foster care system, I didn’t know how much it hurts to work tirelessly with an addict only to have them run back to their addiction, I didn’t know what it would feel like when the excitement died down and your friends stopped coming around, I didn’t know some people view serving as a competition, I didn’t know other people would take a genuine heart to serve and look at it with cynicism.
Honest moment: Sometimes I miss having a “normal” life. I miss my family living in Maryland. I miss seeing friends on a regular basis. I miss living in Towson and walking up the hill to my grandmother’s house just to say hi. I miss walking into church and greeting people who have known me my whole life. I miss writing stupid Fine Arts dramas and laughing my butt off at every practice. I miss being as involved in people’s lives as I wish I could be. I miss extravagant Christmas productions and carefree summer nights. I miss having weekends free to travel on a whim. I miss making good money. I miss the comfortability.
I want to get across that all of these feelings are valid and real. I don’t want to pass by this because over the last two years I have been knocked down by waves of insecurity, inadequacy, loneliness, depression, and uncertainty. Am I the right one, God? Is this really the plan you had for my life? What about my plans? Is it supposed to be this hard?
I don’t think we ever stop feeling this way. There will always be a very human part of us that battles fears, worry, and shortcomings. However, I have found in my life that when I TRULY trust God with my life, my response time gets better and better. The insecurity that used to knock me down for a month, now knocks me down for a week. The depression lasts for a night instead of a week. Why is that? Because I have seen God come through, and when you see Him come through, you can’t help but trust Him more and more. It is also so important to have people you can talk to and who can speak encouragement to you. It may take a lot of humility, but you have to let people know when you are hurting. To the people who matter, it’s not an inconvenience.
I have also learned that my comfortability is not something God is very interested in – He is more interested in me being faithful to where He’s called me no matter the cost. When I release my desire for comfort and control to Him who has called me and equipped me and positioned me for such a time as this, I have to trust that He will be faithful to do what He says He will do – provide.
Provision is a funny thing. The American Dream has created a society that is consumed with us working to achieve complete control of our lives. We want to be in a position where we don’t have to worry about where our provision will come from. We want to create comfortability, safety, and peace of mind. I have been down the road of chasing The American Dream, and I found that what I was striving for wasn’t consistent with the life Jesus encouraged me to live in the New Testament. How many of us brush over Matthew 19:21?
“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Not me, God! What about my comforts? My family? My job? My salary? My friends? My plans that I worked so hard for? His response – “follow me.”
I have learned over the past two years the true meaning of Jehovah-Jireh – “The Lord WILL Provide.” I have lost a lot of my comforts – I moved, I left my church, I left my job, my laptop died, my car died, friends became distant, relationships ended because of the nature of my work, money is always tight, the list goes on. However, I wouldn’t trade any of those things for what I have now – a complete peace in God’s purpose and plan for me.
So what about when the storms come? What about when relationships don’t pan out the way you had hoped or someone steals the lug nuts off your tire so it flies off while you’re driving or you need a root canal or your friends are all busy or the money for your electric bill is not in the bank account?
Do you worry? Do you doubt your calling? Do you wallow in the pit of depression?
NO. I can say that boldly and with confidence because my God is Jehovah-Jireh – “The Lord WILL Provide.” He has always provided in the past and He will always provide in the future. Nothing will knock me down. Yes, He can provide me with the tangible resources like money and shelter, but even if He does not – I know He will be faithful to provide peace and joy and comfort no matter what the circumstance, and that is what I lean on. That is what gives me strength in my moments of loneliness and confusion. That is what gives me hope in the middle of a world in utter chaos.
So that’s my life. At times, it’s a jumbled up mess of tiredness and humanness and uncomfortableness, but it is a life that I wouldn’t trade for anything. One that is constantly being revived by the Lord who provides for me and knows exactly what I need to make it through every single day!
“A God wise enough to create me and the world I live in is wise enough to watch out for me.” – Philip Yancey