Wednesday, November 30, 2011

hacked

So I'm pretty sure Satan hacked my phone.

Yesterday was a tough day for me. Lately I've been feeling attacked with all these thoughts of "no one likes you" and "you're all alone" that have been echoing in my head. And yesterday was really hard, because I was reaching out to people via text, via facebook, and nobody was responding. I was planning on spending time in the evening being with friends because I had recognized that it probably wouldn't be healthy for me to just be alone. But nobody texted me back, so I stayed in and watched TV and let myself feel sad and alone.

And then literally this morning, I woke up, opened my eyes and prayed, "Jesus, I'm sorry about yesterday. It was a really hard day for me, but I know that You love me and that's where I need to be deriving my worth from, not everybody else. Help me to believe this truth." My prayer was then interrupted by the sound of my phone going crazy! I got a stream of 20+ texts all from yesterday that hadn't gone through to my phone at all! They were all from my friends asking me when I wanted to hang out or where, or just some encouraging words for me.

How silly of me to believe I was all alone! And Satan, stay away from me. And my phone.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

learning

Being at home this Thanksgiving break has given me a lot to process through.

First, I've realized that my family severely lacks in grace. I think this is one of the biggest tragedies about my family. This is also what makes it so unpleasant to be around my family for any extended period of time. It is very sad to see how people function when they are not accustomed to grace.

The way my parents raised me was very justice-based. If my brother or I did something wrong (or if they thought we did something wrong), we would get punished. Except the punishments rarely fit the crime. In retrospect, I got punished for a lot of things that I didn't know were wrong. They never took the time to explain it anyways. So I grew up very confused and always walking on eggshells, because I didn't know when I was going to get punished for something. And I never knew what grace looked like, because it was never displayed to me.

Even more sadly, the way my parents interact with each other and their own family show a lack of grace as well. I mean, a life without grace? How does the Gospel even have any relevance to a life like that? I can understand the attraction one would have towards it, but I question how real the impact is if it doesn't change their day to day interactions.

I think college has taught me a lot about grace. When I entered college, I was like a poorly cared for animal-easily spooked, distrusting, independent to a fault. I had a very limited notion of what living out the Gospel could look like. I wasn't accustomed to living or dealing with people who gave grace, so I didn't know how to give any to others. However (and I thank the Lord above for the way He dealt with me), God placed some amazing people in my life who had had encounters with the Gospel, which allowed them to give me grace for being ungracious to them. I've learned a lot from them.

Second, I think I have a guilt problem with spending money. Did not see that coming, lol, especially considering my pre-college spending habits. Shoot, I would FLY through my money. And now I feel guilty when my parents or my grandma give me money. And telling them what I want for Christmas? Oh man, I feel almost embarrassed about telling them, even though they ask!

I think I'm striving for balance right now; my work/life balance and my saving/spending balance. I've simplified my life a lot since freshman year of college, and I'm much more mature with how I spend my money. So why do I feel so guilty spending money on myself? I mean, I tithe, save and invest diligently, so why can't I enjoy my spending, too? I think there's a lot more here to process through, and I'm interested as to what I'll uncover.

Third, and somewhat unrelated to being at home are these verses from 1 Samuel 22-23:
"Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.
23For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry." (emphasis mine)

Whoa. To obey is better than sacrifice? I feel like I've always valued sacrifice. Especially because the importance of Jesus Christ's self-sacrifice for the sake of humanity is constantly emphasized (and rightly so). But I've never really given thought to the fact that Christ's crucifixion was as much about (perhaps even more so) obedience than sacrifice.

I found this passage to be very convicting for me. If obedience is valued more than sacrifice in the eyes of the Lord, then am I being obedient to the God I swore to give my life to? What areas in my life do I struggle with obedience? And do I even take the time out of my day to listen, really listen for what He has to say to me? I can't obey if I don't listen. How fruitful are my quiet times?

Lots to think about. So thankful for the Savior that came down to Earth approximately 2000 years ago to save me and the rest of the world from an eternity spent apart from God. So thankful for the life He's given me and the places He's placed me to do His calling. So thankful for the way He continually pursues my heart.

My God is good. :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

sobering

Dear __________,

I heard about what you did today. It broke my heart.

If I could tell you anything right now, my hope would be to convince you that God exists, and that He loves you, He truly loves you. More than anything, I pray that this would become a reality for you.

You may never know how much I desire for you to know Jesus Christ for yourself, but I hope that my pleas to the Lord on your behalf will pay off.

God is real. He loves you. You can trust Him with your life. He has created you for so much more than you think you're capable of. He has placed huge passions and great vision for your life for a reason. You know those moments where you're spending time with your family or doing the stuff you love and you just feel so alive? That's because God created you for those moments. When you're in touch with the eternal and you feel full of purpose and exhilaration, that is reality. The world's pessimism and obsession with depravity? That is the illusion, no matter how real pain feels in the moment.

We were not created to live without hope. You know this, because you feel the despair and the darkness when hope eludes you. I know you're no stranger to pain and twisted love. I know the thought of God as your Abba Father freaks you out. You have been given many reasons to distrust fathers because of experiences with yours. But I fear that you will miss out on eternity of life because an imperfect man distorted your view of the perfect God offering His perfect, healing love.

I can see it in you when we talk. You want, so badly, for the Gospel to be true. You want there to be a God that can love you perfectly and completely purely. You want Him to care.

This letter is written to tell you that this Gospel is absolutely, 100% true. This is good news.

But you don't have to take my word for it. If trusting Him with everything is too much for you to handle right now, offer up a part of your life and ask Him to prove that He is trustworthy. He loves getting the opportunity to romance us. :)

I conclude this letter with the hope that one day I will be able to read this letter to you in Heaven; that you would know how intentional God's call on your life was and how strongly Jesus Christ wanted a relationship with you.

Blessings to you,
Sarah

Monday, November 7, 2011

friendship

Today, I am very grateful for my friendships.

I've been feeling very worn out lately. Between work and school, I'm probably pulling 50+ hour weeks.

Today was one of those days that I left home at 8:15AM and didn't come home until 11PM. And halfway through my day, I was definitely feeling it. I felt unmotivated, stressed by school, panicked by my apathy, and I just wanted to curl up in bed.

My yucky mood was totally cheered up by my friends. To end my night on a high note, I'm going to recount my happy little anecdotes.

-I texted two of my EPIC UCSB girls asking for prayer for my stresses and bad moods. They sent me back encouraging texts with tons of love and smiley face emoticons. :)

-I gchatted with Bandy about how I was feeling, and he sent me Mt 25:14-30, the parable of the talents, and encouraged me to keep going

-I was sitting in a classroom, waiting for the class to start, when my friend walked by and saw me. He came inside just to give me a hug and ask how I was doing.

-My classmate offered to study with me for our midterm AND bring me noms.

Amidst my world-weariness and burnt out attitude, I am still so grateful that I can call upon my brothers and sisters to help carry my burden and keep me going. I am so thankful that I never have to be alone, and that God sends along just what I need to keep my spirits up.

I feel very humbled by His grace, and the undeserved love of my friends.