Tag Archives: truth

Known and Loved

I have this theory about life, which I’ve likely borrowed from any number of books or lectures I’ve heard over the past 21 years, and here it is:

our deepest longing as people is to be known and loved.

We live busy, rushed lives where these things often get pushed to the wayside. Meaningful connections and moments are replaced by a hurried pace and self-absorbed actions. Our deepest desires manifest themselves in other ways as we seek to be known by others – through what we post on social media, through the way we talk about ourselves, through self-promotion of the things that give us confidence. All of that stems out of a longing to be unconditionally loved; when we don’t feel that kind of love, we question whether or not all of us is worth loving, and we engage in subsequent image management. If we control what people know then by a strange association we can control their love. Thus, we continually seek approval, relationships (whether emotionally or physically intimate), and anything else that enables our desire to either run away from engaging in deep knowing/loving of others or to pursue it in ways where we still maintain control.

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So tonight, I find myself curled up in my Clemson blanket, next to a candle that I’m not technically supposed to have lit, in the sunroom, writing out a tentative plan for highschool small group tomorrow. I’m drawing from Bonhoeffer’s God is in the Manger for themes of waiting, hearing, and the season of Advent in general. I’m intentionally leaving space at the end of the time for the girls to reflect and develop a personal awareness to the movement of the Holy Spirit in the space we’ve allotted for that kind of thing. The tentativeness of the plan comes from a desire to the let these girls, on the precipice of adulthood, have some level of say in what their small group looks like. If they want to talk about something else for two hours, that’s fine. I’m flexible.

As I’m hitting a sweet spot in terms of typing out potential questions and spaces for their engagement, I realize there’s a foundational principle that I want to keep in mind, both in my planning and in the way I lead the time tomorrow. So, I scroll back to the top of my note and type: “remember, the goal is that these girls would leave knowing that they are both loved and known, not only by me but infinitely more so by the incarnate God of the universe.” It’s a principle that I want guiding not only this youth ministry but every action of my life. To do whatever I can in making people feel known and loved, whether thats intimate relationships or passing interactions, for the sake of reflecting but a shadow of the love and knowledge that our Creator has for us. He’s El Roi, the God who sees us. How can I choose to see others so that they might feel His presence?

Yet as I sat in the sunroom tonight, typing out that simple reminder, it was like a tidal wave of grace overcame me:

“you know that’s true for you too Maddie”

I can’t adequately explain when Jesus speaks in these kind of moments; I just know that I’m never the same. Because when He says things like this, it touches on the deepest parts of who I am. Everything else slips away as I sit in the presence of my incarnate Savior, the One who indwells my faithless, sinful, fragile being. And yet, it’s that being, every intricate part of it, that He knows more intimately than I can imagine and loves more deeply than I will ever understand.

Because when we spend our days focused on making others feel known and loved, it’s easy for our souls to forget just how deeply we are known and loved ourselves. While He demonstrates that love in a myriad of ways, not the least of which is lavishing love upon us in community, there is something fundamentally central and profound about the depth at which He, El Roi Himself, knows and loves us.

I don’t know about you, but that truth feels overwhelmingly enough for my soul. Now, for the grace to walk in it.

Whatever is True

Miss me? It’s been quite the week, y’all. Finals, coming home, general exhaustion. But I’m sitting by a fireplace with a cup of tea (that my sister made me) and a Christmas tree, so all is well.

This is another post is I’ve been wanting to write for awhile. It’s something I think about and talk about a lot, especially when it comes to people asking for my relationship advice. It’s a truth that can permeate every area of my life if I let it. I can’t take full credit for the idea though. Last year one of my friends (hi Steph) passed along some of her sister’s wisdom that has stuck with me. It was based off of Philippians 4:8.

We all know Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

You’ve probably been in Bible studies where you’ve gone through all these adjectives describing what we should be thinking about. You’ve probably made lists of honorable, pure, and lovely thoughts you should be having throughout the day. Instead of going crazy deep into this verse, I’ve found myself stopping on the first three words:

Whatever is true.

What does it mean to meditate on what is true? How often do I choose to look at what is true, whether that’s the Lord’s truth in Scripture or what’s true about the circumstances He’s put me in?

One of my strengths (according to StrengthFinders) is futuristic, so maybe part of it is that, but I think we all have a natural tendency to dream. It’s part of the reason we love Netflix, books, and movies. It’s why we think it’s fun to look back through photo albums or old Instagram feeds. We love ideals. We love imagining or remembering the best. There’s a necessity for hope when it comes to walking with Jesus and expecting Him to move. But what do we do when hope gets muddled with our desires? When what we want blurs the lines of what God is actually doing in our present? This is where He calls us back to what is true.

What’s so freeing about meditating on what is true is that it doesn’t limit the scope of your circumstances. It doesn’t keep you stuck where you are today. It doesn’t hinder dreaming because it doesn’t mean that what is true today is the same thing that will be true tomorrow, or next month, or a year from now. Meditating on what is true right now doesn’t limit what God can do later. It just means that you’ll be less likely to miss the blessings and beauty of today.

Dwelling on what is true also stops our thoughts and dreams before they become linked with misplaced desires or hinder us from seeing what God is doing in the present. It doesn’t allow us to miss out on the significance of God’s work in our present. We don’t want to miss out on living into what is true right now, even if it’s hard or painful or not what we would choose. Because, whether for better or worse, it may not be what is true later on.

This has been such a foundational way of thinking for me, in every area of my life, but specifically when it comes to relationships. Or rather, desired relationships. It’s easy to dream about whether that boy over there likes me. It’s easy to read into signals of kindness or friendship and imagine that there’s something. Does he like me? Will he ever like me? What if he came over here and swept me off my feet? Would we work as a couple? And so on and so forth. . .Or maybe there isn’t even a boy that I’m crushing on. Maybe it’s just the overarching desire to be in a relationship.

Whatever the dreams, it’s easy to slip into a place of desire that can blind you to what the Lord is doing right now. It’s easy to become distracted and disillusioned, and ultimately disappointed when the things you’ve imagined for yourself come crashing down.

So, meditate on whatever is true.

This includes every general, cliché truth about who the Lord says you are and what He is doing in the world. It means reading Scripture and letting it’s words sink into our hearts, whether we feel it or not. It means sitting at the feet of Jesus and letting Him tell you what is true in your life right now. It also means honestly looking at your circumstances, emotions, and situations, choosing to see what is true in them, not necessarily what you’d like to be true.

It’s not the funnest line of Scripture I’ve ever meditated on. But it continually brings me back to what the Lord is doing in my life today and reminds me to hope in His trustworthy plans for the future.

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Crying in a Coffee Shop

The other day one of my roommates and I were sitting at Blackberry Market, our post 2:00 class decision to hang out and pretend to do homework. It’s like the Holy Spirit decided to meet me in the midst of the lemonade I’d been craving all day and a rainy day coffee shop. Why He chooses these moments, I’ll never know. As conversation topics rolled into reading a devotional together, the tears quickly surfaced. What the heck. I promise, I don’t plan on crying as often as I do. It’s not like I plan to have these heart-to-hearts with Jesus and the people in my life, they just kind of happen. Pretty soon we were both crying and laughing and sharing the hot cinnamon roll in front of us.

After our verbal processing session, a quick run to Target, and some literal running on the indoor track of our gym, I went to drive my car back to our apartment only to find that my key wouldn’t unlock the car. The unlock button wouldn’t work and I couldn’t get the key to turn in the door. What the heck. . .again. I found myself on a long walk back to my apartment to get the other set of keys. A long, rainy, cold walk to the apartment and then back to the car. A walk through puddles that I’m pretty sure could be classified as small sized ponds. My sneakers are still wet y’all. Needless to say, the Lord and I had a pretty honest conversation through the rain and my chattering teeth. To give you a glimpse into the state of my heart last night, I may or may not have said out loud: “well maybe Your plan for me is to just get hypothermia from being out here and then I’ll die. At least then I don’t even have to worry about any of this stuff you are asking me to deal with! I wouldn’t have to wrestle with questions of who I am or have to trust you with my future. And I wouldn’t be wet or cold anymore!”

Did I mention that I don’t ever plan for these things to happen to me? They just kind of do, leaving me shaking my head and sometimes my fists but always marveling at the means the Lord uses to draw me back to Himself.

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These moments didn’t lead to some profound realization. They were just simple, unplanned moments where I met the Lord. Moments where He revealed pieces of my heart that I hadn’t been willing to look at. I realized that old fears had resurfaced. Old identity issues had came back up. There were things I thought that I’d worked through, until the Enemy snuck them back in and I’m reminded yet again of the lifelong battle that we fight.

It’s nothing new. These questions of am I enough? And more than that, is Jesus enough?

Am I enough in the midst of my sins and recurring struggles? The circumstances I can point to where I’ve obviously failed in loving the people around me? The ways I’ve failed to guard my thoughts and submit my desires for sanctification in the Lord? Am I enough for the things He’s calling me to that I feel incredibly unprepared for?

But then again. . .is He enough for the uncomfortable, challenging things He calls me to? Enough for the moments when I feel painfully alone? Enough for the sins that, despite the disciplines and fighting on my part, seem to have no problem resurfacing? Enough for every hope and desire of my heart?

Obviously, I know the answer to every one of those questions. I’m guessing you do too. I know the Scripture that combats every one of the questions. But just because I know doesn’t mean that I won’t forget. It doesn’t mean that I don’t need these moments in a coffee shop or in the rain where the Lord reminds me of who I am and who He is. It doesn’t mean I’m falling apart or that I’ve somehow failed Him again. It means I’m human. It means I’m in need of His grace. It means I’m still living in a broken world where the Enemy can still lie to me. It means there will never be a day where I don’t need to proclaim truth to my heart.

The truth that I am beloved. He is for me. He is near me. He is enough.

Five Non-Cliche Truths You Need To Hear Today

One thing that I’ve learned in my mere twenty years on this earth is that if I’m not preaching to myself and letting Jesus speak His truth over me, then something else is going to. It’s like my heart wakes up every morning searching for something to cling onto. And to be totally transparent, the first thing it grabs is not always the truth of Scripture and who I am in Christ (even though I have it taped under my bunk bed, so in theory it should be). Sometimes I see a text from a friend and I let that dictate my value for the day – if it’s good and encouraging, then I’m at best riding a blessing-wave of temporary happiness and at worst letting my pride fuel my self worth. If it’s bad, I’m probably going to be in a less than ideal mood and looking to being defined by the world. Sometimes I let my mirror speak into my life. Sometimes I let a grade or a job or my perception of a situation define my reality.

I have to sing truth over my heart. Sometimes every minute of every day, because that’s how quickly I forget. But maybe that’s just me needing more grace.

I also need people speaking truth to me and over me. I need to hear the Holy Spirit in others proclaiming truth because most of the time its stronger than the things I see dimly with my own heart. This also means I need to be speaking them and praying them for others.

And just to clarify, when I say these are non-cliche, I don’t mean that you haven’t heard them before. I don’t mean that you may not even read all of them because you think you can be sick of hearing them. You may think they’ve lost meaning for you. I happen think it’s incredibly dangerous when we let the very truth of who we are and who Jesus is become cliche, meaningless, and rote. Yet, how quickly I also forget the reality of how powerful this truth is.

When I say these aren’t cliche, I say that because the truths of Scripture are the deepest and MOST TRUE things the reverberate in our world and in our lives. This is who you are. This is who Jesus is. These promises are everything because they are spoken to us by our God and Savior.

This ins’t taking “feel good” Scriptures out of context. This isn’t about proof-texting to boost our egos and give each other “holy” compliments. This is commanding our souls to dwell on truth. The truth that permeates every page of the love letter we call Scripture. The truth that is in every chirp of a bird, twinkle of a star, or the smile of a dear friend, through what theology would call general revelation. These aren’t some exclusive five magic points for a feel-good life. These are life changing, lead-you-to-uncomfortable-places-because-of-what-they’ll-call-you-to-do truths. Because when your heart realizes the depth of these truths, you can’t not respond to the Divine Pursuer with radical and wholehearted obedience.

So, let these wash over you with a fresh grace today. Or in this moment. And maybe the next. . .and the next. . .

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1. ) You are incomprehensibly loved by God. You’ll never understand just how much He delights in you and those around you.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

2.) The fact that Jesus loves you means that no one else’s perception should define who you are. Walk in a grace-filled confidence of how deeply He cares for you.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

3.) It’s not up to you and you aren’t qualified in and of yourself. It’s all about Jesus. So continue to embrace humility and let His Spirit work through you.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

4.) The Lord’s ways our higher than ours, so we won’t always understand His plans for our lives or the world. We can, however, always rest in the fact that He is faithful and trustworthy

. . .but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. . . Deuteronomy 7:8-9

5.) What we think is crazy or confusing or broken doesn’t surprise God; He gets us. He wants us to ask, seek, and knock, approaching Him with prayers, questions, gratitude, emotions, and burdens. 

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-15

Any truths that your heart has been clinging to lately?

Happy Monday, friends.

Don’t Be Harder on Yourself Than Jesus Is

Everything comes full circle. I titled this post almost a year ago and then saved the blank draft, hoping the words in my head would translate onto the page over the next few days. They never did. But after weeks of a relentless attack on my identity, I think I get what I was feeling before.… Read more. . .

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. That Goodness, infinite and ineffable, Which is above, runs toward love, As light comes to polished bodies. Shosholoza You are moving fast on these mountains The… Read more. . .