Maybe it is because I am studying to be a teacher or maybe it is because I am obsessed with having a consistent schedule (probably a mixture of both), but I feel the excitement of a new school year in a deeply spiritual way. When the end of May rolled around, I legitimately prayed, "God, you have to get me through today emotionally and physically because there is no way in your beautiful green Earth I am going to make it on my own." I was #sodone. However, when my hourly planner arrived in mid-July, relaxing by the pool quickly became overrated. In sum, I LOVE FALL. I love new beginnings. I love football and the holidays and having something productive to fill my time.
This summer though...this was a good summer. One of my favorites to date. Nothing exciting happened and perhaps that was why it was so wonderful. I walked into this summer needing intense rest, both physically and emotionally. I think it goes without saying that God came through for me and then some. He never leaves me hanging, not even for a moment.
I wrote this at the beginning of finals week on Sunday, May 22: "This summer, please capture my attention, God. Allow my heart to be open to You...help me believe! Help me to believe who I am in You. You are so good. I don't believe that right now because my heart hurts over Pam. But I will say You are good until my heart believes! Life feels like a punch in the face. There are more questions than answers. But You are so faithful God."
Pam left this world and moved on to her true home on Saturday, May 28. There are not enough words to describe all the thoughts and emotions--good and bad--since that day. In short, it has been a difficult time of grief saturated in the grace of God. Sometimes my whole body aches because I miss her. I cry for her family because I know their ache must be even deeper. And other times I rejoice because I know one day we will stand together, praising our Savior forever. Thank you, Jesus, for that incredible promise.
The other big part of this summer was learning about my identity in Christ. I never realized how incredibly lost and hopeless I was because I didn't believe that I had a new identity in Christ. But this summer, Jesus grabbed my heart, held it close and whispered over and over, "It is finished." Before this summer, I never consistently believed that God loved me. I constantly felt like I needed to work harder and save more people to gain His affection. There were times when I briefly believed it could be different, but I was too caught up in making people happy to notice that everything I did was in vain because I was working from my own strength. It took a horrible, lonely season of life to realize just how desperately I need Him. I could never work hard enough to earn God's love. I could never save anyone no matter how much I preached. On my best days, I am not good enough to be loved by God. But by grace and the cross, God loves me and when He looks at me, He sees Jesus! I don't have to work anymore because I am already loved.
This is normally the part of the annual end-of-summer blog post where I make empty promises about the changes I am going to make this school year. But no more. Once I learned who I am in Christ, I started to realize how many other people in this world must be hopeless like I was. And Jesus started to stir in my heart a desire to hold my arms open wide, share my heart, and tell people who they really, truly are. The difference this time around is that I don't feel compelled by guilt or duty, but rather by the Spirit who is at work inside me. All of this is from Him, so much so that it surprises me. It doesn't make sense that I would want to share the inner-workings of my heart with others. That sounds scary! What if I get hurt? What will people think of me when they hear what really goes through my mind? What if no one likes me anymore?
Rest. That's what will happen. I will be able to rest because I have security in my identity. If everyone forsakes me, if I lose everything, if I find out I am going to die tomorrow, I can rest because I know who I belong to. He is inviting me to join His story, to have a front row seat in everything He is going to do this school year and for the remainder of my life. And I say, YES GOD! I want to hop in. Keep giving me faith. When I forget who I am, remind me. Help me to believe. Help me to see. Help me to keep my arms and eyes open to what You're doing.