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5 Truths I Learn When I Have a Crush

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. Basically the past ten years. I went through middle school immersed in the “true love waits/kiss dating goodbye” Christian culture, so I spent a lot of my younger years thinking that crushing on a boy was inherently wrong. In my little twelve year old mind, I often equated crushing on a boy with sin.

Now, don’t misread me.  I’ve seen the ways the Lord used a lot of what I learned back in my younger years to teach me about His love and increase my value in the discipline of waiting. I don’t know that I would have the relationship I have with Jesus if it hadn’t been for the past ten years of pursuing Him and, way more than that, watching Him pursue me. The value of learning to fight for an undistracted love for the Lord spans beyond words.

However, I’ve since realized that there’s a difference between having an uncontested, unrivaled love for the Lord and running from things that He could potentially use to draw me to Himself (or draw others to Himself). There’s a difference between my obedience and pursuit of Christ’s righteousness, and the way I can hold myself to some standard of holiness that is more legalistic and harmful than it is Biblical. There’s a difference between being consumed, obsessed, or finding identity in a boy and having a crush.

Sometimes the Lord puts people on our hearts to pray for them. Sometimes the Lord opens our eyes to things He is doing in other people’s lives. Sometimes people just catch our eye. It can get a little confusing when all of those things revolve around a guy and you aren’t sure what you are feeling. It can be difficult for me to discern what is Jesus and what is my own desire. But here’s the conclusion I’ve come to: Jesus uses it all for His glory. The thing is, I’m an almost 21 year old woman. Boys occupy a signifiant portion of my thoughts. It doesn’t mean I’m not confident, independent, or content in Jesus; it just means I’m a normal young woman with a lot of hormones (can I get an amen?). Instead of running away when a crush finds its uninvited (and usually untimely) way into my heart, I’ve started running it to Jesus. Asking Him what He’s teaching me in the middle of it. Laughing with Him when it’s funny (’cause it always is). Crying with Him when it’s frustrating. Praying for others when they come to mind. Learning to embrace the story He’s writing, with however many hilarious or confusing twists and turns He chooses to throw in along the way.

Because, strange as it may sound, I’ve realized recently that having a crush often leads me closer to Jesus. I learn Biblical truths every time some guy catches my attention and makes my heart beat a little faster. So, I thought I’d share some of them with you:

1.) Little things should lead us to gratitude and worship.

The other day, the guy I have a crush on said hey to me. It was literally smallest, most insignificant thing that could’ve happened. And maybe I’m just crazy, but it made me smile. It wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of life or even in my day. I didn’t overthink his hello or take it to mean he’s interested in becoming better friends. I simply received it as a small gift of the Lord to brighten my day. As I walked like a giddy child to the cafeteria, Jesus reminded me that He tucks other blessings into my days that often go unnoticed. Flowers that are still in bloom. Coffee creamer that hasn’t expired yet. Friends that give me random hugs and send encouraging texts. Snapchats from siblings that make me laugh. How many things does the Lord use to show us He loves us that we ignore because of the fast pace of our lives? How much more of His joy could we tap into if we let small blessings lead us to gratitude and the worship of the One who provides them? We can’t have a pinhole sized view of what God is doing; if we expanded our vision for His work and practiced the discipline of noticing, what would change in our hearts and lives?

 

2.) We constantly have to be on guard about our preconceived judgement of people.

I feel like this is a lesson that the Lord may have to keep teaching me in every season of my life. For as many times as He’s convicted me in this, it still seems to be a recurring pattern when I meet or think about meeting people. Part of having a crush on someone you don’t really know is making irrational judgements about them. You think they are cute. You notice little things about them that you like (or uncover things in your social media stalking). And while they may meet or exceed all your expectations of who they are, it doesn’t change the fact that you don’t actually know them. I could go down the list of people I am friends with now who I said “oh, there’s no way I’m going to be friends with them” about. People are deep and complex and we are so quick to jump to conclusions about who people are and what our relationship should be with them. What if instead of assuming that boy would make a great husband, that you could never be friends with that girl, or that person over there is too broken to be loved, we simply chose to enter into relationships without expectations or our judgmental attitudes?

 

3.) My insecurities and fears are always going to try and hinder relationships.

Why don’t I talk to the guy I think is cute and have heard is great? Fear. My age-old fears of rejection and insignificance. What if he actually has no idea who I am? What if he thinks I’m weird? What if he doesn’t like me? What if my deep seated fears that I’m really not lovable, good enough, or desirable are confirmed? Well. . .what if? I’m good at playing the what if game and I’m guessing you are to. Humans have been playing it since the beginning of time, basically since Eve asked “what if” in the garden. It’s these questions and fears that, when not submitted to God,  hinder our relationships with others and distance our relationship with Him. My flesh is always looking for ways to protect itself, to protect the image I’ve created, to protect my heart. Dwelling on insecurities or past hurts builds walls in my heart. The kind of walls that ruin vulnerability or stop me from bold obedience to the Lord. These issues and fears are constantly resurfacing, often in different forms or with different language. When the Lord choses to use a crush to reveal them and get me to work through them, it may not be pleasant, but it’s always so good.

 

4.) It’s okay to laugh in the midst of lament (and if you are laughing at yourself, that’s okay too!).

Yes, there are serious parts of life. There’s incredible grief and problems in the world. There is suffering in the lives of the people around me. And yes, we have to fight against sin and lust and distractions without compromise or joking about the ways they seek destruction. But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t allowed to laugh. I live a pretty hilarious life, mostly because I always seem to end up in the most random, awkward, ridiculous situations. A lot of these situations involve my crushes. Like when I run into people because I’m not paying attention to where I’m going. Like when I don’t anticipate my crush showing up somewhere and I trip over myself in panic. Like when I don’t realize I have a crush on someone until I have to talk to them and then I can’t get words out of my mouth. It’s funny stuff, y’all. It makes me laugh. It makes my friends laugh when I burst into our apartment and go “you’ll never guess what happened today!” It makes my mom laugh when I call her and dramatically retell one of my stories from the day. I’m realizing that it’s okay to laugh at myself and my life. It doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize the suffering in my circles or the world. It doesn’t mean that I’m not lamenting or crying out to Jesus for the redemption that seems so far off. It doesn’t mean my heart isn’t breaking. We can choose joy in the midst of pain.

 

5.) I have to trust the God who is in control of my life.

This is perhaps the most significant and transformational thing that I learn every time some guy catches my eye. If you walk away from this post with nothing else, regardless of where you are in life or what your “crush status” is, I pray that you are reminded of this: the Lord is trustworthy and He is for us. Having a crush always challenges my ability to make things happen. It’s amazing the things we will do when we try to get someone’s attention or want to put ourselves in a situation near them. I become the conductor of my own orchestra. But you know what always happens? It’s the times I don’t plan it or force it or try to make things happen when something actually does. It’s when I finally give things over to the Lord that He can actually take them where He’s planned for them to go. This isn’t only true for my relationships. It’s true with my finances. It’s true with my five-year plan. It’s true with my dreams of ministry. It’s true in area single area of my life. God asks us to submit to His Lordship and that means we aren’t in control. We aren’t called to make things happen, we are called to trust Him and walk in obedience. A phrase that I’ve gone back to a lot in my life is “His glory is His prerogative.” Maybe his glory means that you and your crush will get married and it’ll be this amazing testimony to His faithfulness. Or maybe His glory is in what He’s refining in your heart through noticing a boy that you’ll never actually meet. At the end of the day, we have no idea what He is doing. And the freeing part is that it’s not up to us to figure it out. We’ve got to jump into His streams of unending grace and trust that He knows what He is doing. Because He really does.

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So It Begins Again

It’s so good to see people in the dining hall. To bump into people between classes. To have familiar voices filling our apartment stairwell. To listen to my friend’s stories. To give big, lingering hugs to people I’ve come to know as family.

The boxes have been unpacked. The textbooks have been purchased. The dekes have been trained. I’m sitting in the library, avoiding a paper that’s due tomorrow, dwelling on the blessing of great conversation at lunch and pending dinner plans with a friend before night class. It’s raining, Audrey Assad is playing on my Pandora, and my heart is incredibly full. Junior year has officially begun.

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It’s a strange place to be. Wheaton has officially become my home; the people here are my family. And yet, I feel like I’m watching this season of my life rapidly come to a close. I’m over halfway done with my undergraduate studies. And praise God I’m not who I was freshman year. . .but I also wonder how much closer I actually feel to the woman I desire to be.

At the start of my freshman year I wrote about the top ten lessons I learned in my first two weeks at Wheaton. Most of them had to do with adjusting to people and learning to give myself grace in the midst of surfacing insecurities. Freshman year was a little rough around the edges, y’all. Then, at the start of my sophomore year, I gave an update on the things Jesus was teaching me about how to see people like He does. I wrote about how I was doing, where words like overwhelmed, distracted, and grateful came to mind. Remember the line I wrote at the beginning of sophomore year: “I forget to dwell on truth and then I wonder why I’m going crazy” – yeah, we are still working on that. 

It’s amazing to look back on the frustrating small talk and growth of freshman year or the mental over-processing and deep friendships of sophomore year. And now I feel like I’m standing on the bow of a ship that’s just left the dock into the vast unknown that is Junior year. I see so much excitement and potential for this year. It’s already been some of the most blessed, life-giving weeks of my life. And while it is all so good, Junior year also terrifies me. It scares me because I have a tendency to overthink things and have always felt a little too uncomfortable with the unknown. It scares me because everything feels a little different. Most of the differences are amazing because I see so much growth in them. The year feels different because I feel different. More free. More whole. Closer to Jesus.

And yet, for all the beauty that Jesus has led me into over the past two years and even in the past two weeks, I can’t forget to give myself grace in other places that feel different. Relationships that feel different. Hopes and dreams that feel different. Desires that are different. Decisions that are different, and, let’s be real, so much bigger than they’ve ever been.

This year, I want to say yes to more things than I say no to, even if they put me outside my comfort zone. I want to say and do things in confidence, without overthinking all the possible outcomes. I want to love others without limits, while learning to balance my emotional investment with the need for emotional boundaries. I want my love for Jesus and people to be reflected in my actions; I want to do the things I think about. I want to live a life of whimsy, laughter, and joy from the Lord and I want junior year to be where I really begin to live that out.

I want this to be a year of seeking. Seeking more of Jesus. Seeking out His people. Seeking first His Kingdom. Seeking opportunities to love and serve others. Seeking His will. Seeking what is true, not what I want to be true. And in all of my seeking, to always find Him as my good Father, knowing that being loved by Him is the most important thing about me. And the most important thing about everyone else I get the privilege of loving.

It’s going to be a great year, filled with things I couldn’t even imagine or predict if I tried, and it’s all because He is a great God. His love for us is so incomprehensibly deep. His plans for us are so unimaginably greater and higher than anything we dream. And that’s the reality we step into every time a new year rolls around.

So here’s to Junior year, Wheaton College.

On Waiting, the Incarnation, and 27 Drafts

Guys, there are 27 drafts sitting in my posts box. Most of them are just titles, placeholders for profound thoughts that I’ve had, spanning all the way back to the beginning of this year.

Clearly, I’m never really at a loss of thought. It’s just the following through with the blog post that I have a problem with. I don’t mean it, it just happens.

I was going to do a post with pictures from when my sister came to visit me for Thanksgiving, but they were all taken with my phone and I just can’t bring myself to put them up next to the likes of my Canon 60D photos. I’m having a hard time accepting the fact that I haven’t been able to capture college memories with anything but my pixelated phone camera.  It’s not Canon’s fault that my 60D weighs a gazillion pounds and I just can’t carry it in my back pocket.

Anyways.

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I leave for home in 16 days. Yes, there is a countdown on my dorm room door. I can’t wait to have coffee with my mom, hug my dad, laugh with my siblings, eat real food, use plush toilet paper, take a bath, smell a candle, worship at my church, drive my car. . .I just have to make it through finals first. Although, I’m going to miss Wheaton while I’m away. I guess this is what bittersweet feels like.

It is kind of a bummer that the end of the semester falls during Advent. The time we should be focused on others is forcibly spent focusing on our sanity and sleeping habits. When we should be celebrating the birth of our Savior, we are mumblings complaints about the alleged unfairness of our study guides. In high school, finals were always after Christmas, so centering myself on the meaning of Advent in the midst of the craziest three weeks of the semester is a new thing for me.

Sort of. But not really.

Because the things I learn during Advent aren’t really anything specific to December, the cold, or my Christmas Pandora station. Or the fact that I have finals that I probably should be studying for right now.

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Two things the Lord has been teaching me this Advent season can be summed up in two words: waiting and incarnation.

First – we are all waiting. For something, anything. I’m waiting for finals to be over, bible study tonight, deeper friendships, mentors, Christmas break, my birthday, revival on campus, next semester, graduation, my future, roulette on Sunday, class tomorrow, more of the Holy Spirit. . .

Life is a series of waiting. There is never anything we aren’t waiting for. But what is so beautiful is that is exactly the thing Advent reminds us of – and glorifies within the person of Christ. It’s the tension of waiting for Christ and celebrating that He is already here.

But that’s where the incarnation comes in. Because Advent doesn’t stop with the waiting for the celebration of the birth of Christ and expectancy of His return, but Advent reminds us of the importance of living in the waiting.

It’s important that the Son of God chose not just to come to earth but to come as a human being. Jesus lived. I don’t think we’d go around calling ourselves gnostics, but we are kidding ourselves, and frankly missing out on a whole lot of Biblical living, if we don’t recognize modern Christian tendencies towards denying the bodily in favor of the “spiritual.”

One of the books for my Bible and Theology class last Quad had this thought-provoking quote:

“Indeed, the growing struggle among many students with pornography, masturbation, cutting, and body image may simply be an attempt by the human organism to get back in touch with its disembodied self as a means of verifying or proving one’s physical existence.” Read Mercer Schuchardt, Liberal Arts for the Christian Life, 250-251

While I think the aforementioned sins include spiritual tensions, Schuchardt raises an interesting point: we were Biblically created for dominion, relationship, self-denial. . .in a sense, living. Living implies the act of being alive. Incarnation is “God’s Word made flesh,” which means living at a whole deeper level. Living hidden in Christ, living with beautiful feet, living for eternity, but living none the less.

For me, part of living includes doing things that make me feel alive or hold some significance for me- like reading, writing, taking pictures, watching good movies, listening to music, laughing, and dancing. It’s easy for me to brush these things aside when life gets busy, but I need them. That is, I need them within my relationship with Christ. Because while Jesus is the only thing and person who will ever satisfy my soul and fill me with His Holy Spirit, I am also a body and mind, living in a physical, tangible world. And you know why that is so important? So was Jesus. The physical baby, Son of God, born in a manger, crying, bloodied, chose to live as one of us, to save us.

Here are some of my favorite, often missed, passages the Lord chose to include in His Holy Word:

“So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well” John 4:6

“The Child continued to grow and become strong. . .” Luke 2:40

“and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them.” Luke 4:42

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” Matthew 11:19

“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat.” Matthew 12:1

“Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:2

And don’t get me started on the other people in Scripture. For goodness sake, John included that he reached the tomb before Peter because he was faster. They were humans, living by the power of the Holy Spirit, but in a very real world; waiting and living at the same time.

I’ve realized recently that I’m living with a working, physical brain that literally never stops thinking. Reading helps give me deep, insightful things to think of, besides myself. Writing helps me get those thoughts out of my head. Pictures, drawings, dancing, talking, watching TV, laughing – all of those are outlets to remind me that I’m living, my mind is working, and it doesn’t have to be focused on over-thinking every situation I am or will be engaged in. I think we miss out on a lot of the joy that Christ has for us because we struggle to remember that our quiet time with Jesus or our corporate worship and our studying for finals or laughing with friends aren’t mutually exclusive.

Do we remember that He came, a purpose of His Christmas birth, was to bring abundant life.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

In addition to Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy, I’ve been reading Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest recently. He writes:

“The pietistic movements of today have none of the rugged reality of the New Testament about them; there is nothing about them that needs the Death of Jesus Christ; all that is required is a pious atmosphere, and prayer and devotion.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

We think the more we spiritualize everything, protect ourselves from sin, conjure up feelings of happiness the closer we will be to Jesus, and consequently the holier He seem to us. But the irony, and beauty of it is that His holiness is magnified in His incarnation. His love for us is demonstrated in His intervention in our daily living. His glory is magnified in the waiting. Abundant life is found through His Spirit, as we actually live life on earth. . .with the hope of eternal living in our sights.

And this, friends, is what the waiting of Advent and incarnation on Christmas means for us (in addition to a whole lot more, said by a whole lot more eloquent speakers and authors. . .and Scripture itself).

I pray that the Lord would show you what abundant, incarnational living means for you. I pray that He would give you His grace to hold living and waiting in a tension that magnifies Christ. And that you would have a very blessed Advent season.

“Thou art worthy of an adoration greater than my dull heart can yield; invigorate my love that it may rise worthily to Thee, tightly entwine itself round thee, be allured by thee. Then shall my walk be endless praise.” Valley of Vision

Making Joyful Noises

Sacrificuim Deo spiritus contribulatus: cor contritum et humiliatum Deus, no despicies // The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: a broken heart, O God, shalt Thou not despise.

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That Goodness, infinite and ineffable,

Which is above, runs toward love,

As light comes to polished bodies.

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You are moving fast on these mountains

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Rise up, follow me,

Come away, is the call,

With the love in your heart

As the only song

There is no such beauty

As where you belong

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Alzándosé colorada con la luz del nueva día, Para estar en tu poder, mi amor // Arising, red, with the light of the new day, To be in your possession, my love.

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Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel? Then why not every man?

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Just give me Jesus.

The Wheaton Women’s Chorale, Men’s Glee Club, and Concert Choir all preformed last night in an opening showcase. Besides the fact that I was in awe of the talent of my classmates and friends, the songs reminded me of what it means to truly worship the Lord with beauty. I had forgotten the lesson the Lord taught me awhile back about worshipping Him and Spirit and Truth. And, in His beautiful way, He called my wandering heart back to it.

I love worshipping the Lord in Spirit. I know what the presence of the Lord feels like and I could stay there forever. There is nothing that compares to a time of corporate or quiet prayer when you know you are before the Throne of Grace and the Great High Priest is speaking words of love over you. I get excited to hear His voice, to me or on behalf of others. Discerning the movement of the Spirit in people or places is an incredible gift, but it also can lead to discouragement if you (read: I) am not careful.

Because when I go into the prayer chapel at night and don’t “feel” it, it is easy to become frustrated. Sometimes I blame myself. Sometimes I blame God. Often, I just give up and count that time as for naught. I have to remind myself, or rather, the Lord keeps reminding me, that He is not dictated or contingent upon my crazy, new college student emotions. The joy I felt after what my mom calls a “divine encounter” is not lost when my selfish heart settles upon feelings of insecurity and loneliness after watching others. The blessing and the struggle do not cancel each other out – they are both gifts from the Lord. They both lead me to worshipping Him in truth, despite the range of my human emotions.

Wheaton is a hard place. Don’t misread that – it is a good place, the place I know the Lord has called me, a place with incredible professors and nice people. But it is hard. . .parts of it are hard spiritually, like the lack of transparency, brokenness, and presence of the Holy Spirit. Parts of it are hard emotionally, like feeling unknown in an unfamiliar place that cultivates, at least initially, more one-time encounters than life-long friendships. Parts of it are hard physically, like being surrounded by athletes and people who are obsessed with working out, as well as having to choose for myself when and what I am going to eat. Parts of it are hard mentally, like staying out of my head and my overly-analytical, futuristic thoughts.

But I’ve realized my dependance on the Lord is ways I never have before. I am more humbled and in love with Jesus than I ever have been. I’m more aware of the Spirit – and also more aware of my need to worship in truth, when I don’t always “feel” it. Things are crazy, fun, exciting, boring, overwhelming, beautiful, blessed, encouraging, frustrating. . .but they are all good, because He is all good.

I have so much more I could say, but it’s dinner time and the Lord still has things to surprise me with today (remind me to post about the beauty of taking a Sabbath – and taking one that is focused on the Lord). I will leave you with this verse that the Lord brought to my attention during our quiet time earlier this week:

“You are my servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday – enjoy the sunshine for me, since it’s a cloudy day here in Wheaton! Soli Deo Gloria.