I wanted to write on a deeper level some of the things that happened at National Convention (and since), not only externally but also inside me. You see, NC was a strange week for me. Oh, it was a good week to be sure, but...something was different. I've tried to explain this to multiple people and the best way I've come up with is that it was just realer. More grounded in reality.
"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him..."
Dude--the perspective that gives me. Who am I to complain and be angry when God kills a plant that isn't even my plant in the first place? I somehow thought that going to Nineveh gave me rights to that plant, but that is so completely selfish and self-centered and blind. And in that case, my whole life is a plant that doesn't belong to me, and who am I to tell God off for doing with it what he pleases? Because ultimately, my purpose is to bring him glory, and goodness knows he knows more than I how I can be used for that end. And ultimately, anything I do outside of his will is so terribly empty and meaningless. And because of realizing all that, I can honestly say that I am content with where he has me. I feel like it's nonsensical or almost wrong of me to be content in situations where the world says I should be still throwing that pity party, but I don't need anything but Jesus, and that has become more real to me now than it's ever been.
I'm not saying it isn't still really, really hard, and that being content isn't often a difficult choice, a daily choice, that I have to make (and one I still fail to make a lot--I'm writing this on a good day, obviously, hah). Surrender isn't a one-time thing, I've learned, and I still sit sometimes, tapping my fingers and wondering when it will stop being hard, when it will make sense. There's a quote, the source of which I am completely uncertain:
"There are two types of waiting. There's the waiting you do for something you know is coming, sooner or later--like waiting for the 6:28 train, or the school bus, or a party where a certain handsome boy might be. And then there's the waiting for something you don't know is coming. You don't even know what it is exactly but you're hoping for it. You're imagining it and living your life for it. That's the kind of waiting that makes a fist in your heart."I can't tell you how many times I've raised that fist at God and shaken it because I'm sad and confused and lonely and angry. And lest you mistakenly think I have it all together, there are times when I have to set down my phone and hide my hands in my lap so no one sees that they're shaking from an emotion I can't even identify, and there are times I have to slip away from the crowd into the bathroom to get out a little cry, and there are times I come home alone, alone, late at night and fall on my floor in tears and shout that I just want to understand. Almost daily I feel super friendless and experience an achiness deep down that you can't get rid of just by taking a deep breath. Sometimes I have to repeat truth to myself over and over and over even if it's hard to believe it in that moment.
That's another thing that hit me at NC. You know that verse that is repeated to us often at difficult times when people are trying to give comfort about God being in control?
"'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.'" Jeremiah 29:11One of the things that I was confronted with at NC is that I simply didn't believe that verse. I was like "nope God, you don't know what you're doing, this is definitely harming me, how is this giving me a future, you're wrong." (hi my name is Jenn and sometimes I have a really bad attitude.) And so many of the things I've had to overcome in finally surrendering my hold on things involves asking myself the question, "do I really believe God is who he says he is?" Because he says he's good, and he says he's love, and he says things work for the good of those who love him, and he says to delight in him and he'll give me the desires of my heart, and he says he knows the plans he has for me, and that they are good plans. And it's funny, because most people don't take the time to read the rest of Jeremiah 29, which is God saying he has plans for the Israelites while they're in exile.
"Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him." Job 13:15Like, gee. I don't know, that may sound depressing, but sometimes encouragement comes in unexpected places. And sometimes peace and joy and a deeper realization of Christ comes through circumstances that are at last dire enough to wake us up to how helpless and broken we are without him, and how wholeness can never, ever come apart from him.
"The gospel enabled me to see that:Jesus is so good to me. I have literally nothing in life to complain about. Life is good, and when life isn't good, God is good, and I'm learning and clinging to the fact that that's all that matters.
because Jesus was strong for me, I was free to be weak;
because Jesus won for me, I was free to lose;
because Jesus was someone, I was free to be no one;
because Jesus was extraordinary, I was free to be ordinary;
because Jesus succeeded for me, I was free to fail."
whew. the end.
ps--you guys are great to put up with all my deep thoughts, but life is weird (what is life) and this stuff is like whoa to me, and it's stuff I can't keep quiet about.
pps--I met at NC these two really sweet and wonderful and awesome girls (Anna and Abi) who I had previously only known over the interwebs. how cool is that? pretty cool, I'd say. I've said it before and I'll say it again--TeenPact people are the best people (blogging people are pretty rad, too).