So, apparently, when you stop denying God’s plan for your life (even if it’s just in one area of your life) and accept and embrace it, you finally have peace, you don’t worry, you’re able to just move on and not freak out about things. And that’s kind of where I am right now 🙂 It’s a weird sensation, not worrying about things, realizing that, whatever happens, God has a plan for everything and there’s nothing that can thwart that plan. He loves me too much to let that happen, and He’s transformed my heart far too deeply for me to deny Him any longer. I think areas in life where feelings are involved (which, I suppose, is pretty much every area :P) are harder to surrender to God because feelings change so quickly and are so subjective that it just doesn’t seem like anything can be concrete there. But when love is involved, specifically God’s love, there’s a concreteness present that can’t be denied by anything, by any amount of rationalization, of denial, of skepticism.God is going to win, no matter what.
Now that I’ve stopped being a stooge-face and I’ve finally given in, things are much nicer 🙂 much more peaceful inside of me.
This morning I was tempted yet again to not go to church. But then it was like, “No, I really need to grow and be encouraged and edified by other Christians.” And after looking back on the day, I’m so glad I didn’t give in.
While I was getting ready, I heard Jimmy and my mother speaking. I think my mom, even though all of us kids are all grown, still likes to use the terminology she used when we were little. She used to say things like “Mommy-do,” which, translated into English, means “allow me to assist you in this endeavor, young padawan,” and she still says this on occasion. This morning, while she was talking to Jimmy, she asked him “Jimmy, do you like raviolis?” making the already plural form of ravioli into a double-plural.
Jimmy, to my great surprise, responded with, “Yes, I do…Mom, ravioli is already plural, you don’t have to add an ‘s’.” I nearly cried from joy, not because he’d corrected his mother, but because he had a word moment and as a writer that just caused me to have a weird happy moment.
Anyway, we headed to church, walking there because the weather was beautiful, the sun shining, a light breeze. So, while we were waiting for Sunday school to begin, Mom and I were talking to Pastor Dan and Julie, and I was trying to explain a great biblical finding explained to me by a friend. I don’t know how she did it, but my mother took that opportunity to embarrass me in a very unexpected way. She sort of exposed my love life (or lack there of) while I was TRYING to explain this TOTALLY AWESOME truth to my pastor. I didn’t think I could be embarrassed by something my mother said at this age, but it’s obviously still quite possible 😛
After Sunday school, during morning service, my Mom was going to sing a song for the congregation. I was asked to do the technological stuffs for her (starting the music and adjusting the volume). Well, I’m sort of challenged in this area (technology), so I ended up pressing the wrong song and being unable to even connect the sound to the system and I was just a ridiculous person. While Mom was fixing what I’d messed up, she asked me to sing with her. I said yes.
Now, for the longest time, maybe it’s because I grew up doing plays and learning to perform via singing, dancing, and acting, I always saw singing before my congregation as a performance, not necessarily a show, but I had to be right on, my voice warmed up, prepared. I had to rehearse and practice for a while before getting up and singing.
But this morning was different. Mom and I stood in front of the congregation, singing Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave, and for almost the entire song, I didn’t feel like I was performing…it was just me and God. I was singing to Him, and on the last line, “I am redeemed, thank God, redeemed,” I let out a sigh of relief, knowing that, as I sung to Him, the words were true. I am redeemed…thank God, redeemed.
It was in that moment also that I realized what a jewel my congregation is, what a rarity my church family is. We are small and have very few people, but we love each other. We are of one mind and we tolerate each other’s characters in a way that builds up each other because of God’s power and His love and His desire to exhibit that through us. I’m not saying we’re perfect, but to be hit full force with how blessed I am in this way was a magnificent occurrence.
During the morning service, Pastor Dan preached on spiritual warfare, making a point of explaining exactly who the enemy is. The enemy is not the unsaved. It’s not the government. It’s not murderers, gossipers, liars, homosexuals, haters, rapists, or any human being. It’s Satan, and as mystical or fantastical or over-dramatic as that may sound, don’t doubt for a second that it’s true. As Christians, we fight a spiritual battle every day, a battle to deliberately obey this God that loves us so dearly, fighting for His sake because we love Him and because He loved us first. God is going to win. So the question has never been “will He win,” but rather, “will we be on the winning side when He wins?”
Something else amazing happened this morning in church. There’s one elderly woman who is this wonderful little lady, and she is so full of joy and love despite the state of her health. She’s frail and small, but, no joke, the volume of her joy greatly exceeds the volume of her physical body. For a long time, I sort of dreaded talking to her because she likes to talk a lot. But this morning, I found myself really wanting to hear what she had to say and to love her through listening to her and responding to her in a meaningful way. We had a wonderful conversation, and I was refreshed by her words and her joy 🙂
What’s happening to me?
It was after church that I began contemplating the five love languages. The book that talks about this specifically is the Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. I haven’t read the entire thing (it’s one of the five million books I’m reading at once), but whenever I’m at the Brock’s, the topic of love languages always comes up and we delve into it with great fluidity and animation. I really want to love people, but I was reminded today that everyone loves in different ways. First of all, the only way you can even begin to love someone, for real, is if you’ve known the love of God and if His spirit thrives within you. “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) The next thing to do is figure out the person’s love language.
These are the love languages: 1) Words of Affirmation, 2) Physical Touch, 3) Receiving Gifts, 4) Quality Time, and 5) Acts of Service. Now, I’m not saying these are part of the rule book of life, but I am saying that deciphering how someone loves and how they wish to be loved (what they respond to in love) is a wonderful thing. Because when you take the time to understand someone’s love language and respond to them in that way, love them in that way, understand them in that way, and apply this knowledge to your relationship with them, it shows them you really care about them and want to love them.
Also, it’s fun and fulfilling to learn how to channel the love God has given you for a specific person, whether it’s a family member or a spouse or a boyfriend or girlfriend or a best friend 🙂 If you want to show someone you love them, take the time to learn their language.
After church, I baked blueberry muffins and made chicken salad. Mom, Jimmy, and I had lunch and then threw three of our kayaks into the back of the truck and headed to Millbrook, a small pond just outside of town. Now, Millbrook has a sign in front of its long drive that says “Millbrook Beach.” Millbrook is not a beach. It’s a pond with one shore covered in sand and a pavilion. It’s been Millbrook Pond for all of my childhood, but now they feel obligated to give it the title of ‘beach,’ even though it’s not. Regardless, it’s the closest thing to a beach that you’ll find in The Sticks, and it’s perfect 🙂
Mom and Jimmy set off the shore before me. I pushed my kayak away from the shore, the water coming up mid-calf, and I climbed in when I was out far enough. As I glided through the water, the waves bouncing beneath my kayak and the sun glinting off the jagged surface of the water, I stopped to wonder why anyone would want to live anywhere else. Birds called to one another across the pond. Fishermen in their canoes caught bass and crappy. There was nothing but the sounds of God’s creation filling the air. And it was beautiful.
After making our way along the outline of the pond, we brought the kayaks in and headed home. Back home, I laid out in the sun and wrote in my journal, talking to God about the day. I did Zumba with Mom (it was hilarious) and then jumped in the shower. Gracie came home from working all day (she’s shadowing a caterer in preparation to become a chef or a culinary genius) and she brought home left over food. It was delicious and our conversations at the dinner table were meaningful and wholesome, and it was great. She was so exhausted though.
I learned then, as I sat at the table, that both of my siblings’ love language is Acts of Service. So, after dinner, Gracie wanted ice-cream from Stewarts’ and she asked if I would go get some for her. Knowing her language, I did this for her (dragging Jimmy with me, of course 🙂 ) and I saw how she responded, and my heart warmed. Later on in the evening, I wanted to love her further, so I asked her if she wanted tea, and when I brought some to her, she responded with “I just can’t believe someone is serving me…it’s wonderful.” And my heart was stirred and I thanked God ten billion times for giving me every ounce of wisdom I possess at present and for loving me so that I can learn to love my sister even when she’s tired and grumpy.
There was a point during this evening, late at night, when all of my family (my father, mother, Gracie, Jimmy, and myself) were all sitting in the living room, spending time together, talking about different things, mostly theological things, but also everyday, normal things, and it was the greatest feeling in the world to have us all be together and nothing be wrong and having no worries at all. We laughed, we sang, we talked, we discussed, we learned. I couldn’t believe it.
For a long time, I’ve always wished to be somewhere else, always worrying about the future and pondering the billions of scenarios that could or could not happen. But this past week or so, since I’ve accepted God’s desire for my life, since I’ve realized what He wants me to do, since I’ve understood that love is what it all comes down to, I find myself completely content with staying here, with my life remaining just as it is, with all of the problems and the trials and the difficulties, with all of the uncertainties. I’ve never been so able to live in the now, to live day by day and to understand that the future is up to God and not in my hands at all. It’s not mine to think about, but His.
And how absolutely cool is that?? So, while I’m waiting for God to bring about the next phase of my life, I will continue to learn how to love, continue to learn to be reckless, continue to learn about who God is, continue to learn how to enjoy Him. What an adventure 🙂
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” —Proverbs 16:9, ESV