thank you for the wilderness

thank you for the wilderness
where I learnt to thirst for your presence
if I’d never known that place
how could I have known you better

thank you for the lonely times
when I learned to live in the silence
as the other voices fade
I can hear you calling me Jesus

I’m an extravert.  I’ve always known it – I love people.  I am a talker.  I excel in places that are bustling.  It’s partially why I get more work done in coffee shops than alone in my apartment.
But I’m also shy.  If you’re reading this and you’ve spent time with me in person you are probably surprised by that statement.  But I am. I haven’t always been shy.  I used to be very outgoing.  But somewhere along the way I lost that trait.  I’m sure it had something to do with fitting it.  I realized somewhere around middle school that I was not like everyone else at school.  I didn’t exactly fit in.  So when I am placed into a situation where I am surrounded by peers, I shrink into myself.  I default to the people around me that have bigger personalities.
Again – if you’re reading this and you really know me, you’re surprised.  I have a larger than life personality when I’m comfortable.  When I feel loved and valued, I am a little over the top.  I’m a little much – and it’s great.
But the problem is, I’ve been told that I’m a little much – and that’s a bad thing.  I’ve been told I’m intimidating.  I’ve been told that my confidence is off putting.  I’ve been told that I feel like I’m entitled to something.  These critiques of my personality have created a negative thought pattern in head.  When I feel resistance, I tell myself these lies – over and over again.
In my last post I wrote about finding a way to claim the freedom that was freely given to me.  I realized after I wrote it how much of my life has been spent being less free than I could have been.  Because I’ve bought into these lies.  I’ve given into my life circumstances rather than giving into the one who created me.
As Lent was starting, I put myself into the wilderness.  I followed Jesus’s example and purposely turned down the volume on some voices and turned up the volume on God’s voice.  I purposely placed myself into situations that were lonely in order to find fulfillment in Jesus.
In doing this I realized something about myself.  I’ve learned to drown out the lonely with people, tv, music and other things.  I’ve learned to numb the pain of feeling alone through these other things.  When those negative thought patterns arise, I don’t fight them with the truth, I simply drown them out with other things.
But doing that doesn’t make them go away.  It simply quiets them for now.  But they will always come back.
But they don’t have to rule my life.  They don’t have to be the loudest voice because the Truth is – I’ve been healed by the Healer, made new by the Creator, stronger because of the places where I was weak and needed him.
God gave his Son so that I could be free.  Jesus sacrificed his life for my freedom.  And as I’ve been in the wilderness this Lenten season – as I’ve leaned into the truth and given control back to God, I am thankful.
Thankful for the loneliness because it shows me I’m created for community.
Thankful for my Too Much-ness because is shows me I’m alive and unique.
Thankful for my messy story because it gave me the moxie I need to live this crazy life.

Honey, you are free…

… as much as you can stand to be

Today’s post title comes from a song by Jimmy Eat World.  I’ve always had a special place in my heart for this band – they were the soundtrack to my high school years.  Every once in a while when they drop a new track I download it and their sound takes me back to a time in my life that seemed easier.  This song is called “You are Free” and it’s no exception.  It’s undeniably a Jimmy Eat World song, but it’s also been a little bit of a soundtrack to my 2017 Lenten season.
I’ve written a little bit on the things I’ve added into my life throughout Lent but here’s the semi-comprehensive list:

Life Lived Beautifully’s Breathe Bible Study on the Psalms <
> Reading Jennie Allen’s Nothing to Prove <
> Reading through 1 Corinthians alongside the Goddaughter <
> Journaling (almost) everyday <
> Intentional involvement in the Lead Stories Community (and Podcast) <

Throughout this time I’ve started to see some patterns come out.  Some threads throughout all of these different practices.  God has been tying in everything around me, He’s shown up in some pretty amazing ways and the overall message that I’m hearing him tell me over and over is this:
You can be free – as much as you can stand to be.
God’s been pouring into me and reminding me that He’s already set me free.  It’s not Him who limits my freedom – it’s me.
He sent Jesus to earth for me.  Jesus died for me.  Jesus was resurrected so that I could have freedom.  Not limited freedom – complete freedom.
So the things that I have put in the way of my freedom, the lies that have been told to me that limit my freedom, and all the excuses I’ve made as to why I can’t be free.  Those are nothing for the power of the Holy Spirit.
This Lenten season has drawn me closer to the throne.  I’ve sat at the foot of the cross and dug into why and how I’ve limited my own freedom.
Saying those words to myself: You can be free – as much as you can stand to be.  Reminds me that I have to do the work to clear out the junk.  To take the time and space to claim the freedom that was so graciously and mercifully gifted to me.
So as we step into Holy Week, how can we live our freedom out?  How can we lay down the lies that the enemy has put into our heads and pick up the freedom of the cross?
Let’s remember that the story we tell and the traditions we participate in this week shine light on the one who set us free.
You are free – as much as you can stand to be.