In the waiting room—waiting well in loneliness

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him” (Psalm 34:8).

I have heard it said that the world is a waiting room for Christians. We wait here until our spot in heaven is ready for us. The argument could be made that our mission here is to wait well.

The doctor’s office. Even before I was a teenager, I developed a healthy distaste for it. Each office has a designated waiting area. Depending on the news you expect to receive, the tiny room with uncomfortable chairs and air conditioning that is too cold can either be just another room—or the last stop on a train heading for a life change.


The argument could be made that our mission here is to wait well.


In my way of thinking, the only thing worse than enduring the waiting room—at a doctor’s office and in life—is having to experience it alone.

I was diagnosed with scoliosis—curvature of the spine—when I was 11. My mom, being the diligent researcher she is, did not want to accept a diagnosis until enough doctor opinions matched one another. She felt there was something at stake if we settled for the first diagnosis and prognosis. For the entire summer of 2005, I was shuttled to different doctor appointments, some with pediatric surgeons, others with orthopedic specialists.

Throughout this time, I did not know what to feel or even what to be afraid of. I simply had to lean into the one who was shuttling me back and forth.

One appointment was in San Diego.

I was upset I had to go in the first place. This was the third appointment since my initial diagnosis, and in my estimation, each appointment brought me closer to the operating table.

As I climbed into our pickup truck to endure the long drive to San Diego with my mom, I thought there was a chance she would not notice if I decided to just stay home.

I squashed this idea and buckled in. But I was nowhere near prepared for the long day ahead of me.

Long drive. Even longer wait in the waiting room. We sat in the waiting room for hours. We watched patients come in, sit down, get called back and then leave, all while my name was never called. I remember looking at one family who was there with their daughter. She had scoliosis like me, but she was post-op. She held her corrective brace in her hands and her parents told what I’m guessing was supposed to be an encouraging story about their daughter’s road to surgery and recovery.

I was not encouraged. Their words struck fear in my heart already rattled by nerves. I turned away and refused to listen to more.

While the family continued to talk to the other patients waiting to be seen, my stomach rolled and I was sure I was about to bore a hole through the door with my eyeballs. This door was the dividing line between my life as it was—as crooked as it may have been—and what my life could potentially be. I could not see past the possible surgery ahead of me.

I told myself if I could just be OK with living my life in that waiting room, then I would be fine. I would not have to go to the exam room, I would not have to see how curved my spine was, I would not have to endure anymore pain or discomfort on any level.

I could have stayed and continued to wait, but I knew I would feel trapped. We needed answers, my mom and I.

The moment finally came. My name was called. The long wait was over. At some point I had convinced myself I had to move in order to get to the other side, a time when this condition would no longer be an issue. I had to choose to live.

Loneliness feels like a long stay in the waiting room of life. But instead of waiting well, you feel strapped to the chair you occupy.

By no means was I lonely in that waiting room in San Diego. Though I was not talking or interacting with her at all, I had my mom. I had her presence. That was enough for me. My faith was in her ability to communicate to the doctors and nurses what I could not communicate myself.

Now, at 25, the illustration of waiting in that room feels real and lonely. I feel I have done something to deserve this station in life though the rational and faithful side of me tells me otherwise. When I was 11, my mom’s presence was enough to keep me from loneliness. Now, in my philosophical waiting room, God’s mere presence is no longer enough, and I must break my silence. I have to talk to Him, share with Him how I am doing. I have to force my heart to remember that God is my companion—all while feeling generally unfeeling toward Him.

Because the reality has to set in at some point. I did not do anything to deserve this, and the chair I occupy in my waiting room is not a punishment. It is not because God wants to prevent me from messing anything else up beyond repair. It is a simple season of waiting. In the meantime, the enemy would love to sidetrack me. He would and does take great pleasure in knowing he can use my own loneliness as a tool against me.


So why does it leave me feeling like God is not enough for me?


I am in fellowship, I am reading my Bible daily, I am talking to Him and praying every day, I take all my questions to Him, I do my best to obey Him.


Why do I always feel like nothing is enough to fill the voids inside?


While my heart and my brain know He is enough for me, the need is still there, and left unmet it leaves me feeling alone.

When senses are overwhelmed with the mayday message flashing a big red sign that reads “ALONE,” what truth is there in which I can seek solace? How do I know it will fill the voids even in the smallest way and for the smallest amount of relief?

In Isaiah 65, the prophet called God the “God of truth” (verse 16). It says in 1 John 4:7 that “God is love.”

That is truth. It is taken straight from the Word of God.

If loneliness is a season of waiting, not a punishment or God’s way of sidelining us for a while, what can we learn here? What can we hold to?

Just as I had to hold to my mom’s presence when I was 11, I have to hold to God’s presence in my waiting room of loneliness as He tells me to wait well. As I sit here, desiring more in one simple area of my life, I realize that God is actively working things out in every other area.

This season, while difficult, has caused His work in my life to become more evident. It has boosted my faith, reminding me that He is working in every moment.

In the doctor’s waiting room, I had to convince myself that on the other side of that door was something I needed—a straight spine. Sure, it would take time, but it would lead to that ultimate conclusion.

In the same way, I have to believe that beyond this waiting room is something God knows I need. Every single day I knock on the door, just to make sure He has not forgotten about me. Every single day, He assures me He is still perfectly aware of where He has me. Every single day, I muster the courage to keep trying.

He is in control. He is my companion. He is my faithful healer. He knows my needs. His Word is true. He always has a purpose.


Keep knocking on that waiting room door.


Confessing loneliness—a prelude to eventual redemption

Imagine you have been stuck in a densely packed forest and you finally found your way to a clearing. Imagine being rescued from that clearing only to be told by the rescuer to leave something of yourself behind—maybe a precious possession or something sentimental that gave you strength in the forest. You had planned on keeping it, taking it home, cleaning it and putting it in a safe place. When the future day would eventually come, you had planned to take it out and share the story attached to it. But instead of being able to take it home with you, you had to leave it behind without knowing if you would ever see it again.

It feels unfair to go through such a place of fear and uncertainty and what feels like impending death, then get to the clearing and hear God say, “You’re going to have to wait for a little while before this part of your story is redeemed too.”

That’s what this season of loneliness feels like. It is not a matter of being ungrateful for what I have, what parts of my story have been redeemed, how close I am with my people, how my story is being used. Those are all things I thank God for daily. No, it’s about the yearning I have inside to see parts of my heart be redeemed which cannot be completed in a solo lifestyle. It is just not possible.

So, I wait.


And in my waiting, I’m evaluating. I’m processing. I’m examining. And waiting some more.


I’m embracing vulnerability even though it strikes fear. Taking the honest road down the highway of loneliness.

An awful lot of what I have gone through lately has been part of a redemption journey. In part, it has been about learning to be vulnerable again. Previously, when I had an inexperienced life story, vulnerability seemed to be something people were afraid of rather than something people embraced.

Experience has offered understanding. Because vulnerability is hard. It is the deliberate act of opening up to people without knowing if you will feel better for it. You could be rejected, criticized, so much more.

In a sense, it is the deliberate act of putting yourself on the chopping block at the mercy of an executioner without knowing if he will have mercy on you or not.

These words, this post, are my deliberate act. I could easily keep everything wrapped up inside, refuse to share, waste my story, decline to take a risk in favor of the safety anonymity offers. I do not always want to share what I am going through, but if I do not share then I reject the story God has been faithfully redeeming thus far. He is not even done yet, and I have to restrain myself to keep from pumping the brakes because I desperately want Him to slow down. I have to resist pulling the emergency stop cord on the train I am not even conducting. He is driving, He is conducting. And He keeps telling me, “Grace, be vulnerable. I gave you this story for a reason. Trust Me.”

So here I am, in a holding pattern, but still being obedient.

While this post is not long, and maybe a bit scattered, it is introducing what I will be examining over the next few posts. I am fearful about being vulnerable. Loneliness is not fun and it messes with your thoughts and your heart, and it is something I would not wish on anyone.


So here I am, in a holding pattern, but still being obedient.


I was rescued from the forest, and it feels like I had to leave a piece of my heart behind. But the hidden part of that story is the keeper who has that part of my heart. I know He is taking care of it, taking time to properly heal it and fill it to overflowing. And someday when I ask for it to be returned to me, He will place it lovingly in my hands so I can then trust it to someone else.

By no means is this series going to be a “Woe is me” storytelling session. Rather it will be a honest time of sharing the beautiful if not frustrating lessons God is teaching me while allowing me to cling a little closer to Him every day.

Come with me on this journey. If you find yourself in this season with me—a simply complicated season of waiting and feeling more than a little lonely there—then take comfort in knowing you are not alone. At all. Ever. There are plenty of moments when I cannot feel God near me, and those are the moments I lean on my people who are with me in this season. Do your best to lean today.

I almost left—heavenly purpose for negative emotions

Revelations seem to happen when we need them most, but at a time when we’ve stopped counting on them.

I walked into the room where the young adult café meets on Sunday mornings at church. I went to the same water fountain to fill my water bottle. I went to the same people to say hi. I went to the same table I had been going to for a few weeks. I sat next to the same friend.

I needed something, but I had stopped counting on that need to be met. I didn’t think it would happen.

The service follows a schedule. For 20 minutes we have connection time at the roundtables. Two questions are discussed. I normally don’t give answers; I listen to everyone else. It’s my way of keeping my guard up. This day was no different.


I normally don’t give answers… It’s my way of keeping my guard up.


I listened and let my eyes roam around the room. The floor to ceiling windows gave me a view of the sky and hills surrounding the church grounds. The lights made the room open and welcoming. The young adults at every table were engaged and conversing. And then there was me.

Waiting for the sermon to start, I impassively listened to the last few minutes of conversation. Then the pastor finally began. And he immediately posed a question that made my guard go up even further. In a sermon called “Why Sorrow Matters,” he began by saying, “Our emotional well-being is not always God’s number-one concern.”

Coming from my own story, those words felt like a slap in the face. I’ve experienced my own sorrow, my own turmoil, my own heartbreaks. The last thing I ever want to hear on any level is that my emotional well-being isn’t God’s number-one priority. It begged this question: If that’s true, then what do we say to victims, to the depressed, to the anxious? How do we assure them and ourselves that God still cares? How do we assure them there is still a purpose behind our sorrow? Behind all our negative emotions, regardless of how long the seasons last?

In the moments after the pastor said those words, I fought the desire to get up and leave. I couldn’t see the value of sitting there when someone was trying to explain something I didn’t agree with.

But I stayed. And I’m thankful I did. A revelation came from it.

There is always a purpose of godly sorrow, and it is found in the hard truths we learn. Hard truths lead to repentance, a change in behavior. A change in behavior looks different for everyone, but each of us can look back through our struggles and find that one part of the story where God stopped everything and yielded a needed change.

After the purpose comes the knowledge of who the source is: the Holy Spirit. My experience with negative emotions is that it makes it far too easy to ignore the Holy Spirit, but I have also experienced His faithfulness. The better I got at ignoring Him, the louder He became in trying to get my attention back. He pursued me like the hound of heaven. I believe God allows us to venture as far away from Him as we want to, and for some perhaps it gets to the point where He stops calling them back and lets them be. By no means does this mean He doesn’t want them back—He does—but He also wants it to be their choice. I’m thankful I never got tired of having Him after me.


The better I got at ignoring Him, the louder He became in trying to get my attention back.


And then there are all the opposites of godly negative emotions. Because while we have and always want to know the heavenly purpose behind negative emotions, we can’t be ignorant to what the world and what the enemy wants us to believe about our negative emotions. Here are two purposes I am sure of even though I’m positive there are more than just two…and I’m sure they become more personal for each of us.

Purpose 1: Godly negative emotions challenge me to be transformed. Worldly negative emotions challenge me to conform.

Purpose 2: Godly negative emotions challenge me to change my character (who I am). Worldly negative emotions challenge me to change my behavior (what I do).

So many of my own negative emotions have led me to discontent. My loneliness makes me feel alone even though I know I’m not. My sorrow had its moment of holding me down so far in myself I never thought I would come up for air. My deep discouragement made me feel as if there would not be another bright day for some time to come. And all these emotions made me ask this question: Can I move through this? How?

There are two methods I have been putting into practice to move through these seasons: Fellowship and Scripture.

That day at church, the day I wanted to give up and leave, the pastor shared two verses from 2 Corinthians 7—“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted” (verses 9-10). Paul wanted the Corinthian believers to understand their sorrow was for a purpose and God would restore them, and in the meantime they wouldn’t lose fellowship with their fellow believers. He wanted them to believe the truths found in Scripture—that while God cared for their emotional well-being, there were still things higher on the list He cared for more, like their salvation and repentance.

And the very fact Paul was providing these crucial biblical truths for the believers implies he wanted fellowship with them because he knew it would boost them up in their time of need.

I came so close to leaving service that day because my feelings were hurt. I needed to be told that God would always love me, that I could rely on Him and the people He placed in my life, that I could love people as He made me capable to do so. I didn’t want to hear that my emotional well-being wasn’t at the top of His priority list.

Imagine if I had left. I wouldn’t have had the revelation I had—that negative emotions have a heavenly purpose. I wouldn’t have walked away armed with the knowledge that God cares for me on all levels, not just the levels I care about the most. He sees me as a whole person, a growing person, when I can so easily be narrow in how I see myself.


Negative emotions still exist. Discontent still exists. Loneliness still exists.

So does fellowship. So does Scripture. So does repentance and restoration.


So does God’s plan to help each of us grow and see the changes and challenges in the right light, to see our sorrow backlit by its true purpose. And to someday use our godly negative emotions to love someone else through them.

Revelations can take place anywhere. Mine seem to happen in church. They seem to happen outside of the categories a human mind operates in. They happen in high school service even though I’ve been out of high school for years. They happen in the young adult service even when I feel more like a child who wants to be left alone. They happen at home during a small group session. They happen, and I have to hold onto that because sometimes every area of life doesn’t make sense. And that’s OK. Because in the meantime, God has me, has us, in His hands.

And soon, the heavenly purpose behind the negative emotions, the painful seasons, will be revealed.

Why it is OK to have negative emotions—the reason I wrote this series

There is always a moment. Time stops. Something clicks. God reaches in. It all makes sense.

I had this moment earlier this year.


There is always a moment.


I remember feeling unknown and disconnected. I remember feeling alone. I had lost my close dependence on God; I stopped trusting Him for a season. Life felt cheap in those moments. My existence had lost its depth and meaning, yet I was in the depths, treading water, muscles feeling like jelly and didn’t know how to get out.


It seemed I had no other choice than to wait. Wait for God to rescue me, wait for trust to be rebuilt, wait for the words to explain what felt unexplainable.


Time seemed to pass ever so slowly—like molasses going uphill in the winter time. And then the moment came. The click sounded. God reached in and gave me something to hold onto. A friend who needed prayer—and lots of it.

It’s been said that if we ever want to get out of ourselves and be a bit more selfless, all we need to do is pray for someone else. So I prayed hard for this friend. I put every single ounce of faith I could muster into what I was asking for. All of my unanswered prayers and even my mistrust no longer mattered. I knew God was trustworthy. I prayed promises over this friend for days, nonstop.

And God answered. Miraculous.

In the days following this miracle, God was doing something big. It felt like a deep cleaning was happening in my heart. Suddenly I had a reason to swim to the surface. Suddenly I had the energy to look at the negative emotions and ask God about them, lament those moments, grieve my losses and trust that redemption was already in process.

Soon I found myself able to trust God again, able to confide my laments to Him, able to articulate them to other people. He faithfully moved me from redemption to restoration. Every day I have a new reason to be grateful for the struggles I have had because that big something I felt He was up to…it comes a little more into focus.

But I wouldn’t have gotten to this place without allowing myself time to feel all the things I was feeling, to lament, to ask questions and wait for God to meet me in those places. To allow Him to know me.

If we weren’t meant to work on ourselves and process pain and grief, we wouldn’t have an entire book in the Bible called Lamentations; the shortest verse in the Bible wouldn’t be “Jesus wept”; we wouldn’t have all the grievous psalms David wrote when he realized just how much he was screwed up. If we were meant to have everything together and feel great all the time, then all the people in the Bible would be perfect too; they wouldn’t have a single flaw.


If we weren’t meant to…process pain and grief…the shortest verse in the Bible wouldn’t be “Jesus wept.”


But as you know, the Bible is filled with grief and sadness and heartbreak; it’s filled with grieving characters and harsh people who made big mistakes. But it’s also filled with redemption after all the negatives have been processed.

And that is exactly what God was doing through this miracle personalized for a friend.

In the days after this miracle, I was studying the armor of God. This workbook that was written by Priscilla Shirer, a very passionate speaker and teacher, was only meant to last seven weeks…it had been upwards of 12 or 15 weeks since I had started it. But it happened on the right timeline, and this was confirmed by the verses and chapters of this book that ministered the most to me.

One morning I sat on my bed with my coffee cooling on my nightstand beside me. Lottie was curled up near my feet. It was cool outside. I had a good amount of work waiting for me at my desk. But those moments…they belonged to me and God.

I think in the moments when you need Him most He always delivers in a tangible way. I was unaware how much I needed Him on this day. Here I was just sitting on my bed, feeling neutral, my emotions coming slowly coming out of numbness. But God was about to do something big (proving that HE KNOWS ME because I didn’t even know this about myself).

For the portion I was reading from the “Armor of God” study this day, we focused on the helmet of salvation, how so much of our lives can be thrown off simply because our thoughts and minds aren’t focusing on the truth and protecting itself. This truth was cemented by breaking down Psalm 139.

I had read this psalm so many times. I had heard countless sermons spoken about it. It’s the psalm everyone references when a girl is struggling with her identity. It’s the “fearfully and wonderfully made” psalm.

But oh does it have gems in it.

After reading verses 13-17, the book instructed to highlight two portions that spoke to me most, and then it asked why they spoke to me. These are the portions I highlighted:

“My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth…. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” (verses 15, 17)

Then I answered why these statements meant the most to me. Here is what I wrote:

“The words ‘skillfully’ and ‘sum.’ Also ‘vast.’ It says I was skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth, and the word ‘wrought’ means tough metals were used to make something. I was skillfully wrought with God’s strength in me. And ‘vast…sum’… Well, who doesn’t want to know that a great and infinite and loving God has a ‘vast’ sum of thoughts for them? I feel very alone sometimes, just completely desperate for the knowledge that someone cares, however, humans can only care so much. God always cares. And I don’t think God’s thoughts for me can ever be numbered, and that’s a comfort.”

In a season when I felt unknowable and was convinced I shouldn’t have been feeling that way, and feeling absolutely discouraged because I didn’t know how to talk about it, this psalm I had heard and read 100 times before comforted me.

God knows me! God understands me! God can be trusted! He KNEW I needed that assurance on that day, at that time of morning, so I could be confident in someday explaining the seemingly unexplainable.

Your redemption is near. Trust God with your laments and your grief. And someday…who know, maybe God will have you in a similar mode as He has me—just trying to use your story to encourage someone else.

The act of settling unsettles us

Settle is an active verb. It requires a choice, a conscious decision that must be made. The word implies taking only a fraction of what one believes is due.

Settling in relationships, all relationships, can be painful.

I have been in pain. I have walked miles trying to alleviate the pressure in my chest. Rain or shine, I wore a path around my work because it was the only time I felt I could release the tension. I have spent hours justifying making the wrong choices for myself and my long-term well-being. Through a cycle of seasons I had to prepare myself for the decision ahead. Leaves fell, clouds rolled in and out, the hour of the sunrise and sunset changed…I stayed the same—not ready.

I wanted things to be settled. But I could not find my way through it. If God wanted the absolute best for me in every category of life, how could I be OK with settling for less?

While the implication behind the word can easily mean compromise, a healthy compromise at that, it is not always the healthiest choice to settle. After devouring Scripture over the last year detailing God’s will for us (how much He desires for us to be happy and joyful and at peace) I can tell you with confidence that God does not want us to settle—at least not for unhealthy options.

Here are a few of the verses I have pondered—

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly,” John 10:10.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing…These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full,” John 15:5, 11.

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage,” Galatians 5:1.

For me and for so many others, making tough relationship choice comes down to knowing that God wills for far more than what we will for ourselves. The feeling of knowing we can settle and supposedly be OK is like standing on the edge of a cliff knowing if you jump, you are likely to get injured and may not get another opportunity to do it safely. So, it comes down to this: If the pain you are enduring or the choices you are making are not leading to the life described in Scripture, then reevaluate.

If you continue to settle, here are some things I know from experience you will endure. I endured it. Some of my dearest friends have endured it as well. You are going to be OK. I just want you to know you are not alone.


The act of settling unsettles us.


Settling for those who are not going to treat you the way Christ does is unsettling. In settling, sacrifices will be made, beginning with your emotional and spiritual well-being. Your emotions will be rattled. Life will feel both chaotic and still, numb. You will question your own character, wondering what else you will find a way to justify.

The aftermath of settling is even more difficult to endure. If you are in the middle of it right now and you are rationalizing and struggling with doing what you know is right, I want you to consider the next couple of points:

  1. It will hinder future trustworthy relationships from forming. They will just be more difficult than they need to be. This could end up causing prolonged pain because trust has become difficult.
  2. You will always wonder if history is going to repeat itself, if you will find yourself in the same amount of pain for the same reasons again. This will zap your peace and your desire to move forward.

Those are a couple of the negatives. But because I tend to be the person who sees everything as being connected, I will tell you I have noticed two long-term positives from a season of settling:

  1. It has built determination to know the difference between healthy compromise within a healthy relationship and unhealthy settlement in an unhealthy relationship.
  2. It has strengthened me to stand up and not settle for anything less than what God wants for me, and as an extension what I want for myself.

At the end of these posts, I always have to ask myself, Where do I go from here? What does this leave me with?

Other than the verses I listed above, I am going to give you a person in Scripture I like to study. He is a kind, generous, compassionate, strong man of God who acted as a friend to everyone. He is an example I aspire to regardless of his gender. It is Boaz.

When I read a devo about him, I read these words—

In the example of Boaz, we see nine aspects of safe people:

Safe people understand the Father heart of God.

Safe people care about our safety.

Safe people introduce us to other safe people.

Safe people enforce good boundaries.

Safe people are generous.

Safe people encourage our character.

Safe people pray we would flourish.

Safe people provide comfort and kindness.

Safe people point us to God as our safe place.

If your relationships do not strive to this standard and you know God has better for you, trust Him. While I do not regret anything as it is always being worked out and redeemed, I do wish I would have been less fearful and perhaps not worn such a divot into the pathway around work.


Safe people point us to God as our safe place.


Be encouraged. You deserve the abundant like God has planned for you, the life He wants for you. Do not settle for less than what He wants, what He has. I am cheering for you.

How to enjoy the relationships meant for you

I sat at one of the picnic tables at work. It was hot outside. A heat wave had settled in the region and I was feeling it. But I was excited. I was going to catch up with a friend for a few minutes.

She excitedly hugged me before we sat down together, and quickly the conversation turned lighthearted as we recapped our weekends. Then it went deeper and what came out was a time of connecting, and we walked away with more common ground than we already had. But keep in mind, this person is not exactly like me. Looking at our personalities, we are opposites. But seeing that we can connect over a common desire and common lessons we are learning is encouraging.

Our lessons seem to be about relationships. And this is slightly where our differing personalities come into play: While she is fearful her people will leave her, I fear I am undeserving of my people, the relationships I have. Both stem from fear and both result in the potential to lose people who matter to us, yet the process we go through between the starting point and the destination is different.

The conclusion to our conversation was the reality that we are meant to be in relationships with others because we are meant to be in relationship with Christ first. And in the moments when our relationship with an invisible God is in jeopardy, it is the human relationships He uses to bring us back to Him.

A short part of my story has to do with isolation. During a turbulent time for me, I retreated from most interaction because everything caused pain. At times the pain was like an exposed nerve ending. Other times it was a dull ache. Still pain nonetheless. Coming out of that time of isolation made me feel as if my relationships could not survive much longer. How could they when I was holding myself back so fiercely?


Isolation made me think I did not deserve good and healthy relationships.


This was in complete stark contrast to the life I envisioned for myself as a young girl. Always knowing there was a cry in my heart for deep connections, I desired people from all walks of life to populate my life, my heart. I wanted to give myself to my people because that is what I wanted in return. But with age, the process of forming strong relationships seemed unclear. What worked for one relationship did not work for another. Nothing about connection seemed easy or wanted. Where did this leave me? Where was I supposed to go from here if I wanted that little-girl vision of full relationships to come true?

It has been a learning process. The past year has been spent relearning healthy relationship habits, reprogramming my thoughts and heart to trust and realizing relationships can be great, just as I always imagined.

Healthy relationships, in my experience, can just happen. But they take work to stay that way. When a relationship takes an unhealthy turn, it infects different parts of your life. Think of a habit you have, one you are not proud of. If you were to lay down that habit right now to replace it with a better habit, a healthy habit, do you know there would be a time of relearning healthy habits? You will need time to get rid of what was unhealthy to take on what is healthy. The same goes for unhealthy relationships. Be patient as you relearn what a healthy relationship is meant to resemble.

One part of my relationship struggle has been realizing that I find more reasons to keep my heart safe than I do to trust it to someone else. Broken relationships have been characters in the last five years of my life, and each one convinced me (in the moment of its breakdown) that trust is not something I want to do again. Earlier this year, I was so convinced trusting people was not worth it that it invaded my relationship with Christ. I could not even say I trusted Christ with my heart. But while it was scary for me to think about trusting again, it was even scarier to think of the alternative—an ever-hardening heart because I would not let anyone come in and change things. I could not live like that. So, I reprogrammed my thoughts and heart to determine it was OK to take a chance and trust. It has been a day-by-day journey, but God has not let me down; neither have my people.


So, I reprogrammed my thoughts and heart to determine it was OK to take a chance and trust.


What came next was a lesson about my community. While I would gladly step off a ledge for any of them or hunt them down in a burning building to pull them out or vow to protect them and take care of them to the best of my abilities, not all communities are perfect. They never will be. But that little-girl dream to have a group of loving, fearless, funny, inspiring, encouraging people to accompany me through life…that community can be real, even if not perfect.

All this to say that no amount of relationship struggles will ever kill my desire to have great relationships. If nothing else I am a fighter for my relationships because I know this one thing: I was made—we all were made—to be in relationship with Christ, and that is meant to extend to relationships with others. But here is the thing: The enemy wants me to think relationships are not worth it, or rather I am not worth being in relationship with. This is a lie. A lie I have to fight against every day. And this fight takes on three facets I am going to share with you and I hope it encourages you.

  1. Be the fighter God created you to be. Take up your belt of truth. The truth is God created you to be in relationships and has many precious plans and promises for you, for us. When we stand on that, we are fighting.
  2. Be confident in the relationships you have and the relationships you are working on. Each is accomplishing something in you, making you into who God created you to be.
  3. Enjoy them. A wise man once told me that connections with people are intoxicating. It is true. I enjoy my relationships with the hope they will all last a lifetime. I pray you have the same enjoyment.

He Proves His Faithfulness

“Everything’s okay. God’s timing is always the best. He’ll make it all work together.”

Perhaps you’ve had these words said to you. Perhaps you’ve been the one saying them. Regardless of the circumstances or your role in them, these words don’t always provide the assurance needed. At least they don’t for me.

But the moments when things are chaotic and don’t make sense…those are the moments when God is orchestrating everything just to give me a boost of faith right when I need it most.

And there is so much evidence of this being the truth.

I’ll share some examples of this from my own life to show this to be true. There’s no better story than the one you can share with kindred spirits. And there’s power in experiencing similar details that simply prove God is at work.

I’m part of a small group that meets every week. We are studying the book of Esther right now—a book famous not only because it’s main character is a woman but also because God does not play a direct role in the story. He remains behind the scenes. Esther contains gems about integrity, standing up for what’s right, not compromising and the power relationships have.

In my own quiet time in the mornings, I am studying the Armor of God. This week in particular has been about the shield of faith, how it’s meant to be a shield not only for myself but for others as well (as the shield of a Roman soldier could cover himself and one-third of a fellow soldier).

And in the last couple of months alone, God has placed people in my heart and my life to trust and treat well. It’s been like watching the book of Esther and the Armor of God come to active and fruitful life all the time.

The common thread here is relationships. As I get older and learn more and experience more of life, I become more convinced every day that God uses people in profound ways in the lives of others. And things seem so genuinely unrelated—until they don’t, until you have that feeling in your chest or your gut, that lightbulb moment telling you it all makes sense now.

That’s God. That’s His faithfulness being proved to You.

The knowledge that He remains faithful in the midst of so much turmoil is evident when happenstances that seem so unrelated suddenly start to morph into one single tapestry—like a 750-piece puzzle coming together.

One day I can be wallowing in every kind of bad or negative thought about myself, and the next day God has me talk to someone who is struggling the exact same way. When I want so badly to take the plunge, to face a fear, and I find every excuse to back out, I’ll end up reading a testimony about overcoming fear, or I’ll open my Bible app and the verse of the day will be about fearlessness. Or one night I’m recalling some painful parts of my story for the benefit of another and the next day they let me know God used that honesty to minister to them.

It’s difficult to explain the full feeling I get when I know God is walking me through this life. Because it’s not easy and it doesn’t always feel good. Because staying faithful to Him is the hardest thing I have to do every single day. Because at the end of the day it’s still difficult to have faith in a God I can’t see.

At the beginning of the year I made a commitment to be fearless. I decided that if anything ever held me back from following where God is leading me, it wouldn’t be fear. (I’ve shared this commitment on my Instagram previously.) Not long after I made this commitment, I started to get the sense that something big was coming—bigger than I would be capable of wrapping my head around. And that feeling is already starting to materialize. In very small ways, but still materializing.

And just to get to this point of seeing the smallest bit of materializing blessings I had to endure a season on empty.

And thank God I did.

God took my heart, hearing all my cries for a full life. He answered those cries by filling my heart with Himself and giving me new desires, new dreams, new goals to accomplish. And He’s proved His faithfulness time and time again every day since.

Those words I mentioned at the beginning of this post…they don’t always offer peace, but they do offer a glimpse of reality when it doesn’t make sense. Because God is truly and faithfully working things out.

Kindred Spirits in Honest Agony

At multiple times in life, every one of you reading this will be in agony. The circumstances for each of you may be different, but the feeling will be the same.

I speak from experience.

In agonizing moments, it seems there is nothing that can seemingly offer relief. You feel as if you are falling into a dark abyss and you’re not sure there’s anything or anyone at the bottom who will catch you. If you are a Christian, you probably have it stored in your memory that God is going to catch you because that’s just who God is. But this doesn’t offer immediate peace and tranquility.

The last thing you or I want to feel in these moments is absence—of family, of friends, of love, of community, of a good distraction. But loneliness, and enduring it, dominates everything. You have an entire schedule planned for your day, your weekend, and a wrench is thrown. Now suddenly going to the beach doesn’t sound so fun; instead you’re just going to take a nap (because that’s all you have the energy for) and hope that when your eyes open you have a text message or an Instagram notification. Now, instead of making something delicious and healthy to eat, you choose to find and consume every ounce of chocolate in your kitchen. And it goes on. Your actions are skewed and distracted because your thoughts aren’t following a singular track anymore. Your day no longer consists of trying to get from point A to point B. It’s more about just trying to get to a point even if it’s point Q. And trying to follow the squiggly and circling lines on the map that don’t make sense in order to get there.

Am I painting a picture of chaos? That’s the goal. Because that’s what it feels like to endure agony alone.

I am a huge advocate for community, a strong one at that. One who makes an effort to know you, asks you the tough questions, helps you grow. But I’ve learned and observed something new.

My generation is very into feelings behind actions—doing what feels right, getting a job that feels right, making choices that feel right, enduring changes that feel right, maintaining relationships because they feel right. And it’s also very into the reality that life throws curve balls that mess with us on deep levels—our identities, our morals, our values, our goals, our faith. We’ve learned much about mental health and every professional who has any experience or background in this topic knows experiences must be processed. So if someone is coming out of a traumatic experience, it’s important for that person to let the pain be felt in order to process it and heal from it.

But is this idea of allowing pain and agony and anger to be felt biblical? And if it is, how is it meant to comfort us when we already have strong communities around us comprised of real, living people instead of simple words they left behind for us to read?

I live alone. My closest family members are over an hour away. My best friend is also over an hour away. I have a small number of people I will go to when I’m in internal chaos. They’re the people I’m comfortable around, the ones who have fearlessly broken through every wall I defensively put up, the ones I trust, the ones who are my kindred spirits. Having those people who are similar to me makes the chaos bearable.

But when those people are unavailable, what am I supposed to do? Their lives don’t stop when mine is in chaos. Yes, I have my heavenly Father; I can talk to Him, but when in chaos my thoughts aren’t focused. So I find something one-track to stay my mind on.

I read my Bible.

I have kindred souls in the Bible, books I can read that assure me what I’m feeling is not new, as these writers (Ruth, David, Jeremiah) also experienced the same thing. And they never held back in their conversations with God. Which gives me even more assurance that God wants me to be honest with Him. This means that all the mental health professionals are right who encourage people to feel the full weight of everything traumatic that has happened to them. And even more important, it’s biblical to do so; if it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have the honesty found in Psalms and Lamentations.

Both books are filled with agony and pain and sadness and desperation. David, multiple times, cried out to God wanting and demanding to know where He was! David felt alone, and the One whom he thought would be near felt miles and miles away. So he cried out!

Never once does the Bible record God being fed up with David’s shifting emotions, Jeremiah’s mournful laments, Ruth’s grief and desperation. If anything, it brings Him joy to know that His children are being honest about how they feel, what they’re going through. Yes, He already knows and understands your pain (Hebrews 4:15), but He wants your honesty. And when you can’t form the words to tell Him, He has given you His Word filled with accounts from people who encountered the same pain.

So when you’re in chaos as I am on occasion (it seems to happen too often) be comforted in knowing you’re allowed to feel the full weight of your circumstances. And even more important than that, you have a Savior who wants to comfort you and kindred spirits in His Word who have already gone before you. There should never be any shame when the fire is intense and we feel left to bear it alone. Cry out! He’s listening! Don’t be ashamed to ask for someone to listen to you!

Faith That Stands

I think it’s normal for a young person to adopt Jeremiah 29:11 as their favorite or life verse. I was no different. Until I got to college. My life verse then changed to something a bit unexpected, but it has proven true in every huge moment in my life.

Hebrews 10:23—“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”

This verse was written in gold letters on my graduation cap in 2015. And it has been written in ink across my left shoulder since this time last year.

When I got “He who promised is faithful” permanently written on my body, it simply seemed like the right thing to do. Obviously, it’s my favorite verse and I already know God is faithful and keeps His promises, so why not write it down where it can’t be erased? Well, a year later, I now better understand my reason for wanting the tattoo and I know His faithfulness in a whole new way.

Let me explain.

I grew up in a Christian home. My parents are both strong Christians and they did everything they could to teach me and my siblings what it means and looks like to follow Christ, have faith in Him, love Him as He first loved us. I took to faith early on in life and it became real for me when I was around 14 years old. Suddenly the old beat up Bible on the shelf that was designated as mine was interesting. Suddenly the words written there were worth reading, the verses worth memorizing and writing down on pieces of paper, sticking them all over my bedroom walls and door. Suddenly prayer was something that came naturally to me. Suddenly I enjoyed going to church for more reasons than the mere fact that I would see friends there.

Time advanced. I grew older. My relationship with Christ grew deeper. I noticed that the world I live in can cause a lot of damage to that precious relationship. I knew I would have to protect it if I wanted it to survive. Scripture (find the right Scriptures) told me faith was the key to everything. Life, with all its challenges and joy and sorrow and happiness and tears, would not make sense without faith in Christ to carry me through.

I went so long without much of a challenge, I got lazy, naively believing that I was untouchable. And then college started. College held the most challenges I had encountered up until that point. I had to learn to be strong and faithful. And through the challenges I learned more about myself, about my Savior and about our relationship. And I knew instinctively from that point on that I wouldn’t be happy in life unless I could somehow combine the importance of my faith with everything else—career, family, relationships, etc.

It had to be the center of my life, the center of everything. Without it, I would be lost.

After graduating I learned that college was easy compared to the real world. During my season of being a recent graduate with next to no real prospects on the job front, I would sit in my room with my Bible open and think, Wow, things are certainly never going to get easier, that’s for sure.

Over the last nearly three years since graduating, God has allowed many different challenges to intersect my path. And these challenges…currently I’m having a hard time believing that anything could top them. It scares me to believe that someday I will endure deeper heartache and pain. So the question I am asking right now is this: How do I strengthen my faith and rely on God, whom I should have faith in, when I feel like I don’t have any faith left? And where does this leave me?

Something I need to keep in mind is there isn’t any way I can know what God is doing right now, or what He had in mind when every single trial began. Furthermore, there’s no way He fell asleep on the job. He didn’t get tired and take His eyes off of me and then suddenly couldn’t find me. And even more important than that, He would never want me to deny the range of emotions and feelings I have right now or the reality that none of them make perfect, complete sense to me all the time. I need to remember that honesty with Him is and will always be important.

So what is my reality right now? The feeling that the deep and abiding relationship I have with Christ is not nearly as potent as it should be. Why? Because I am having a hard time trusting Him. This is a tough conundrum to have because where faith is, usually trust is close by. But while I believe and have faith that Jesus is real, that He came to die for my sins, was buried, rose again, ascended to heaven and is coming back again, I am having a hard time trusting Him with myself.

Now it’s not a matter of believing He hasn’t proved Himself to be trustworthy; He always has, always does, always will. It’s more about the current circumstances I find myself in, the reality that the feelings brimming over in my heart, are so intense and telling me that I need to keep everything close to the chest, even from God.

I am having a hard time believing that He can heal me and redeem me.

As I write this, though, I have come to a few realizations:

  1. God started the redemption process in me a long time ago, and even when I don’t feel it, He’s redeeming me.
  2. For someone who enjoys depending on feelings, it’s hard for me to have faith when faith has no feeling. This is the second season in my life where faith has felt particularly difficult, all because the strong feelings from the previous joyful season have faded and difficulty has taken its place.
  3. When trust is difficult, you have to keep trying and doing it anyway. In the last five months I have had so many new relationships take root in my heart and each one of them has served a huge God-purpose in my story. Without me even realizing when it’s happening or even how it’s happening, God uses multiple people throughout my day to encourage me, to show me that I can trust them, I can trust HIM. After all, He has brought all of these amazing, strong, Godly women into my circle.
  4. Telling my story for the benefit of another is relieving. Multiple times in the last month God has presented numerous opportunities to share my story or simply be honest about something, and every single time the answer has been, “I’m going through that too.” What better way is there for me to work on my trust in God than allowing Him to remind me I’m not alone? What the enemy used to isolate me, God is using to build a community of trust, revealing a bit more of His grand purpose for me every day.

So my conclusion is this: Faith doesn’t always bring good feelings, just like the process of getting a tattoo. Sometimes I’m genuinely down about something, genuinely can’t shake off the funk I’m in, genuinely worried about someone, genuinely trying my hardest to pray with faith, and it’s hard to do. But this feeling of having such frail faith isn’t going to last forever, just like the pain of getting a tattoo is temporary. God continues to teach me these trials and frustrations will make my faith even stronger for tomorrow. And at the end of the day, I have stronger faith and a beautiful reminder of it. Though the trials ahead I’m sure will only get harder as I get older, that’s okay. Because my faith stands.

Where’s Your Armor?

Let’s talk about the enemy, particularly why he seems to be so interested in God’s kids.

At the very end of 2017, I was on a plane coming home from Texas. I had spent Christmas with my family and I was making my journey back with my fur child, Lottie. It was a long day (I’m not exaggerating at all. If you were one of the few who I talked to that day, you know how stressful it was). But when you’re on a plane there’s little to do. The ground and all its stress-causing problems are thousands of feet beneath you, which means your mind can wander to different things.

I took this opportunity to write in my journal. And instead of writing a normal journal entry that would likely turn into a long prayer/conversation with Jesus, I wrote out some things I was thankful for in 2017. Then I turned my attention to what I wanted to accomplish in 2018.

Any time I look back on a year of my life, I like being able to say that I’ve learned a big lesson, gone to a few new places, experienced deeper relationships and grown in my faith. And even though 2017 was difficult in many ways, I accomplished something in each of these categories. Looking forward, I decided that 2018 would be the year I become a conqueror, and this would mesh together every single category from above.

I spent a good portion of 2017 in fear, and as I sat in my slightly uncomfortable aisle seat on a long flight back to San Diego, I told God that I didn’t want to be afraid of anything anymore—including grabbing ahold of the great things He wants to give me. I will conquer fear in 2018.

After about an hour of writing, I closed my journal. I had written down an entire page of goals for the coming year, and I was excited to see how God would stretch me.

Well here’s the not so funny thing about fear: it’s a tool in the enemy’s belt. If you’re like me, then you’ve struggled with fear, that sinister whispering voice in your ear telling you that you need to give up, you’re not worth anything to anyone and you’re better off simply bowing out of the fight. Imagine the chaos you’re causing for the enemy when you decide that you’re going to take away one of his best weapons.

Within about a week after I set my main goal of conquering fear, I was sitting down on my couch early in the morning, drinking a cup of coffee, when I felt it. A stirring started in my chest, and I could sense the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me that it was going to be a difficult year. But like a fool I didn’t take the moment to pray for strength. I simply acknowledged what God said and moved on with my morning routine. And I didn’t think about that moment again until a couple of weeks ago.

Around the time this feeling came and went, I began a study called “The Armor of God.” It’s a workbook that goes through the book of Ephesians, specifically examining chapter 6. The writer of the workbook, Priscilla Shirer, does a good job of giving her readers a reality check. I can practically hear her sass as she tries to snap her fingers in front of my face to get my attention, as if she is saying, “Uh, hello! Girl, wake up! The enemy is out there, he’s real, and your armor is nowhere to be found!”

The first week, it was a good reality check to have. But things didn’t click until the second week. This foreboding in my chest that I felt, and this reality check to remember the enemy is real, is why I felt God telling me this year would be difficult! What else could I expect when I declared that fear would never be an issue anymore? Of course the enemy is going to scramble for new tactics to get me back under his control!

Here’s what I’ve learned in the last couple of weeks (more accurately, here’s what I’ve relearned in the last couple of weeks).

  1. A Christian with his or her armor on is a force to be reckoned with. The seven individual pieces are powerful tools, but when they are all combined they form the spiritual, biblical defense needed to live in this world—and live in a way that brings people into the fold of God’s family.
  2. The enemy knows us. For as long as we’ve all been breathing he has gathered intel on all of us, learning what our weaknesses are, sharpening his tools and striking at the first opportunity he gets—and he keeps striking. But he’s a liar, he’s deceptive. He wants us to believe that the abundant lives God wants us to have—the kind of lives Jesus came and died to give us—isn’t attainable.
  3. When we understand our own weaknesses and strengths, we begin to understand that we have the armor right there, ready to be used. For me, I realized one of my weaknesses—therefore one of the enemy’s greatest tools to use against me—is fear. I decided to fight. And immediately, the attacks began. At every turn since setting my goal and declaring to God that I would follow Him with fearlessness, the enemy has lobbied every attack he can think of. It’s been a fight every day, but I refuse to give up.
  4. I can give up, I can run scared, but it wouldn’t do any good. Not physically, emotionally, mentally and certainly not spiritually. Why? Because my armor doesn’t protect my backside. Retreats are not covered. I continue to fight. And God has already promised in His Word that the enemy has been defeated. I just need to follow Christ every single day, choosing to strengthen my faith and dependence on Christ.

It’s not easy to be a target, but understand this. It’s even more difficult to know that God has amazing plans for all of us, but we’re almost always too afraid to grab them. And if you desire to grab them—if you desire to further God’s kingdom, grow in your faith, love people better, change your ways, open your heart, have a better attitude, conquer fears—then rest assured knowing the enemy is going to work overtime to get you to give up and run away.

But also rest assured that your armor is already prepared for you. Just put it on, and fight. Don’t run. Don’t be afraid. It isn’t easy, it isn’t simple, but it’s WORTH IT because to God YOU’RE WORTH IT.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”