It’s been a while. I’m a little bummed not to have kept up my usual posting schedule, but I’ve also been processing a lot here and am glad to have held off until I was ready to share. That being said, I’ve learned so much in my time here, and feel I’m finally ready to share some of that with the world, so without further ado, here are some lessons I’m learning in DTS.
Negativity and self-concern steal from seeing God rightly, joy, and gratitude.
I’ll be honest, the first two months of my time here were not great. I had a lot of expectations I didn’t know I had, and when they weren’t met or things weren’t easy for me, I got upset. I spent so much of my time wondering why things were so hard, why God wasn’t fixing my problems, and I was miserable. Having God start to shift my focus to others however, and more importantly to His plans instead of mine, I’ve found myself growing more and more joyful every day. I see a lot of what that self-centered attitude took from me in the past, how much I’ve missed because of it, and hope for continuing redemption in my thoughts, memories, and attitudes for those times. Thank God for His mercy in rescuing me from this attitude.
The spiritual side of things is real, and affects a lot more than we think.
I’ve known for a long time that there is more to this world than just the physical, but coming here has shown me a lot more about the spiritual side of things than I was willing to consider or acknowledge before, especially in regards to things like our day to day decisions, the authority we have, and the activities we partake in. I think for a long time I was afraid to think about it because I was afraid if I acknowledged it, I would open myself up to attack. Now I know that even if I don’t pay the spiritual side of things any attention at all, there’s still power there to affect my life, for good or evil. I’ve seen a lot more of how the two sides affect each other, and more importantly, seen how important embracing the spiritual side of things (acknowledging and walking with the Holy Spirit) is for living out real and effective Christianity. Though I still have a long way to go in a lot of these areas, I feel like God is really waking me up to both my own and His Spirit and how to interact with both.
I am the worst at making my own decisions.
Independence has always been a big struggle in my walk with God. Because I’ve had a lot of misconceptions of God in the past (also being dealt with here), I’ve often treated Him with a certain amount of animosity or close-fistedness, trying to shield the things I’m passionate about from Him for fear of Him taking them away or changing them into something I hated. I often felt like there was something stopping me from advancing to the “next level” in my faith, something that was keeping me from worshiping or trusting Him with my whole heart, and I got so frustrated that things like my faith or the things I wanted to do for God weren’t working. At the time, it was confusing and frustrating. In hindsight, well, kind of obvious. After all, if I wasn’t willing to give God everything, how could I worship Him with everything? If I wasn’t willing to trust God and let Him lead, how could I reap the benefits that those things have? Now, having come here, I’ve seen first hand just how bad I am at making my own choices. I’ve seen the results of my selfish attitudes and how twisted my dreams had become in my own hands, and have finally reached (or started to reach at least) the point where I’m willing to let Him take over, where I in fact really want Him to take control. Jesus, please take the wheel before I crash us again, right? It’s both awesome and terrifying.
When our concern is only on following God, everything else matters a lot less.
Another struggle I’ve had for a long time is worrying. I come from a family that has struggled with anxiety in the past, and though I’ve never had to take any medicine for it or anything, I have been known as a chronic over-thinker and worrier, running different versions of the future (and of course all of its cataclysmic tragedies) over and over through my head. Learning to trust God and let Him lead however, I’ve found those anxieties have dropped off a lot. After all, what difference does it make if any of those potential tragedies happen? What does it matter if God redirects my plans? I know they’re too small and poorly motivated anyway, and I will still be loved by God and in His presence even if the worst of the worst happens, so why bother worrying? Why try to connive things into being when God is already holding my hand and crafting things in His time? Now, I’ll admit I still do worry or have questions sometimes, especially in regards to things like dreams, desires, or “practical needs,” and I have in fact had some fairly serious anxiety problems in my time here, but they are getting better and I am learning by His grace and mercies to fight them off a lot faster.
God is my father, and He is good.
Linked to a lot of the things above, two of my biggest faith struggles ever have been in trusting God and in accepting Him as my Father. I think a lot of this ties back to old rejections from school and trying to earn my salvation (which I still have to fight), but being forced to trust God here, knowing that if I didn’t do it now I probably never would, I’ve been amazed and humbled by how faithful He really is. I have also seen, primarily through hindsight, how good, merciful and faithful He has been with me already, particularly in regards to not having given me much harsher corrections for all the stupid things I’ve done or thought about Him before now (e.g. my ungrateful, prideful attitudes, how much I’ve held back from Him, my negativity, pursuing so many things without Him, etc.) and in rescuing me before any of those decisions or attitudes led out to their final ends. Thank God that He is so good and merciful even when we are rebellious or stubborn!
I am lovable no matter what I do.
As mentioned above, I’ve often tried to earn a lot of what I have, and that has ultimately been really unhealthy. When I first came to my DTS, I was so touchy about certain things, and I had no idea why. Someone didn’t like Mad Max? Triggered. Someone thought sci-fi was stupid? YOU’RE STUPID. It was the worst. I talked to my discipler about it and she told me I had set a lot of my identity in those things and that’s why I got so upset. When my identity was wrapped up in the value of things like science fiction and fantasy, in the things I liked, how could I not get offended? God has loosened my fist on a lot of those things, and that’s been really good for me in a lot of ways. Not only that, but starting off with a clean slate, and an often sci-fi or fantasy free one at that, I’ve been shocked at how much I’ve been accepted. Even when I’ve been crabby and miserable (sorry guys), even when I haven’t been able to impress anyone with my nerdy knowledge or when nobody has read my novels, I’ve been loved, I’ve been accepted, and God loves me even more than that. It’s been amazing. And that’s not to say that everything I do is lovable, or that I wasn’t loved at home, but seeing it here, when people haven’t had any reason to love me, when I haven’t had time to establish my persona or come up with a list of reasons for being lovable, it’s something else. Thank you God!
I do not have to live in timidity.
Sometime in the last few weeks, I finally really gave in to God. Frustrated with constantly having this push and pull of whether or not I was going to trust Him, whether I was going to give Him everything, whether or not I was really saved or adopted or what all else, I finally called it quits. I’ve always known I’d eventually get all in for God, that I am saved and adopted and loved, and now, while I know I’m still a work in progress, will still have to fight battles in this every day, I’m there. No more of this constantly holding things back, no more of this wishy washy complaining or wishing that things would just go back to the good old days. Because guess what? In this life I will have troubles, and no amount of me wishing or begging is going to turn back the clock to when I was just a happy little kid sitting on my mother’s knee (I mean, let’s be real, I definitely still sit on my mom’s lap on occasion, but that’s not really what I mean). So much of my life and Christianity has been wasted on this back and forth garbage, of being too entwined with God’s love to back out and too afraid or desirous of the past to go forward. No more. Done. Over. I want it all. And, honestly, that’s terrifying. I still have to fight the worry that God might move me somewhere else, might take things away or make me patient every day, but that’s kind of faith, isn’t it? Following Jesus, dying to self, trusting that He is good. It’s definitely scary, but it’s also awesome, and I’m both excited and terrified to see where it leads.
So, yeah, those are some of the things I’m learning about here. I still have a lot of questions and things I’m puzzling through, and I might post about those later, but I think this is plenty for now. Thank you so much for reading!