Have you ever had one of those days where you wake up and smell the chocolate chip pancakes and your pet unicorn brings them in to your room on a silver platter and he remembered to put the ice in your milk just the way you like it and you have a closet full of freshly-laundered clothes to choose from and you hit all green lights on your way to work and you knock out a million reports before lunchtime and your boss tells you you’re doing a great job and your unicorn brings you your favorite lunch of chili cheese dogs and Mountain Dew Code Red and you continue to build great relationships with your coworkers and you go home feeling tired but oh-so-satisfied with the epic day that you just had?  Anyone? No?  Guess it’s just me then.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the level of joy and excitement that I’ve been feeling lately (hence, the reference to the pet unicorn).  It’s so hard for me to put it into words, but I suddenly feel like I have a LOT to say.  I haven’t had any sudden epiphanies or revelations, but there’s definitely been quite a bit of growth happening in my life and I want to share it with people.  I feel like walls are crumbling, icicles are melting, and fear is being put in its place by the only One who can do all of those things WHILE juggling:  Jesus, of course!  I guess I should back up a little bit and explain where I’m coming from.

At some point in the last six months, I hit my all-time low emotionally.  I didn’t recognize it as my “lowest point” at first because, like most low points, the journey there was a very slow creep.  But once I realized it (thanks in large part to a conversation with a great friend who gave me a massive kick in the rear on a late night drive), I felt hopeless.  I felt stuck where I was.  I started wallowing in self-pity and disappointment for letting myself get this bad.  I was sad because I sinned and I sinned because I was sad.  (Read that last sentence again.  It’s a lot deeper than it might seem.)  It was a yucky, sticky place to be.  For storytelling’s sake, let’s call this place Denial.

The repercussions of living in Denial had seeped into every area of my life.  I took a very critical viewpoint on almost everything.  I let the fear of striking out keep me from playing the game.  I figured if I couldn’t be the very best employee, or the closest most empathetic friend, or the most committed student, then what was the point of even trying?  Failure isn’t fun.  My solution: if I never tried in the first place, then I could never fail.  It was great!  No emotional investment means no pain, no disappointment…  Just numb apathy.  In Denial, auto-pilot mode is the default standard.  For me, auto-pilot mode was putting on my “good Christian” outfit and saying all of the right things that people expected me to say.  It scared me how good I had gotten at faking it and staying shallow.

Deep down, I knew that the Answer was right in front of me all along, but I was too prideful to admit that having full control over my life still hadn’t satisfy me.  And frankly, I was too embarrassed to admit that Jesus was my last resort instead of my very first choice.  Therefore, I was seriously living in Denial.

How dumb could I be?  I’ve grown up in church and I’ve served in areas of ministry.  I KNEW that I should’ve been reading my bible and praying and listening to more Christian music and just putting myself in a place where I could really hear God speak to me.

But because I was living in sin, that was the last place that I wanted to be.  His voice was the last thing that I wanted to hear.

I even went so far as to unfollow certain believers on Twitter because their tweets made me feel dirty and ashamed and even angry.  How petty is that?!  I was putting up walls wherever light was peeking through and I made sure that I avoided places where there was a good chance of running into someone who might ask, ”How are you REALLY doing?”.

This all sounds horribly depressing, and to be honest, I didn’t realize how bad it was until I was on the other side.  But that’s the point!  I AM on the other side!  I attribute this in large part to the prayers of my friends and family, because there’s no natural, mortal way I was giving up the iron grip that I (thought) I had on my life anytime soon.  I also think God just started reminding me of the basics.  He loves me.  He pursues me every day and in every way to bring me back home.  The only way I can experience true freedom is by trusting in the atoning sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ.  I have been forgiven.  He looks at me and sees His pure and blameless child.  I still mess up and I sure as heck don’t have all the answers, but I know the One who does!  I have direct access to Him through prayer and His Word.  It’s crazy to think that I’ve “known” these things for 16+ years of my life, but I’m just now starting to BELIEVE them with all of my heart.  And because I believe them, I can’t help but live them.  I want Him to do amazing work through me and I want to use the gifts that He’s given me to ultimately glorify His name.

Three months ago, I would’ve scoffed at the paragraph above, and maybe I even would’ve written off that Christian as weird or extreme.  But now, I just see it as beautiful.  It’s beautiful because it has nothing to do with me.  Everything I touch with my dirty, sinful hands ends up messy and ultimately doesn’t satisfy Him.  By presenting my life to Him, in faith, I can finally please Him in a way that I’ve never been able to do before by my own efforts and my own power (Hebrews 11:6).  I’m almost afraid to set expectations or goals for my future at this point, because I know that whatever He comes up with is going to be bigger and better and brighter and more epic than anything I could possibly imagine!

J

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