Even though we’re doing basically nothing at work, I still find myself randomly breaking out into a series of maniacal grins and grimaces as I force the corners of my lips to stay neutral. It takes a monumental amount of effort to not burst out giggling out of the deep blue and frighten the souls out of my four other colleagues (man, I feel grown up using that word). God is impossibly good and I feel if it gets any better, I’m going to have to pass out for a week in order to let myself digest and prevent myself from imploding in happiness.
Thus, here are some teedbits, revelations, stories, and glimpses into my first week in Philly.
I cannot contain my boredom and excitement as I suddenly pounce on my coworkers and ask if they want to take a personality test. They acquiesce graciously and carry about completing the 16personalities exam. When they finish, I don’t waste any time and immediately start drilling them on what they got, if they find it accurate, if they like the description, etc. All five of us are the SF type. Sensing and feeling. It makes me wonder if my firm consciously recruits people with a certain personality type and if so, hallelujah because I fit right in. And then I take a step back and wonder if God personally recruited these four people to be my coworkers and companions for the week and coming months because He knew I needed a welcome team coming into a new city, job, home and environment. I giggle and laugh through the work week with the people He has placed by my side and thank Him for His provision.
I know they’re my coworkers and that our relationships are professional but, oh how I want us to be more than that. How I want us to be friends and family and God willing, maybe it will happen down the road eventually. Perhaps He brought us all together to complement and serve each other and I’m going to do my darned best to figure out the ways in which I can care for them.
“I think I”m a pretty decent person on the outside…but let’s put it this way; I wouldn’t want people to know my thoughts.”
Bethany offers her thoughts during Tenth’s community small group and I immediately relate. It’s so easy to forget that even though we have the righteousness of Christ dwelling in our hearts, we’re still prone to sinful behavior.
When I meet up with friends an hour past my bedtime, I don’t expect to feel so off. I am sleep deprived, blank, and physically uncomfortable as I struggle to stay awake and maintain conversations. But, what is worse is that no matter how hard I try, I cannot control my thoughts. The emotions in my heart range from frustration to bitterness to envy. There was joy and thankfulness, yes, but Satan takes advantage of my tired state of mind and floods my head with hateful and wicked thoughts. And even though I voice none of them (and probably no one suspected a thing), I am locked in a losing battle against my sinful nature the whole night.
I had felt spiritually invincible for a complete week and never did I anticipate that I could be knocked down so abruptly for seemingly no particular reason at all. It was truly a humbling experience as I struggled to hold on to the euphoria that had followed me all week and to understand that I am utterly screwed without the grace of God.
Living with Carolyn is like hitting the spiritual jackpot. Just listening to her talk for five minutes makes my heart lift and my body feel invincible. She tells me about her experiences and the experiences of others and I find my eyes continually being opened to the awesome nature of God. There is so much I didn’t know about Him and so much I want to know. As I talk to her and express my reluctance to accept these parts of Him and these stories that she tells me, God makes known to me the problems in my own heart.
I am afraid to dream bigger and desire more because I fear that God will not give me what I want. I’ve always been good at denying myself things that I wanted because I was terrified of going through the painful process of trying to get them and then getting hurt in the event I am not able to obtain them. I think there’s always been a deceitful, traitorous part of my heart that kept telling me; “God does not want you to be happy,” and I believed it for the longest time because I didn’t think I needed to be happy if I had Jesus. (He’s all that matters anyway.) But, what I’m learning is that God is not just merciful, He is full of grace and that is favor which we DO NOT deserve yet still He wants to give it to us. So even if I don’t need it, sometimes even if I don’t even ask for it, He will give it to me.
So now, it is a matter of me personally manifesting my faith in prayer and asking God intentionally for the things that I seek. Because, they might just be in alignment with what He wants and plans for me.
I talk nonstop for about an hour before I realize I should probably shut up and give God a chance to speak. He does and it brings me much peace and joy. I check the time on my phone and see that I still have some time before I have to head out and decide to approach Him on another matter I haven’t prayed about in a while. A couple seconds into breaching the topic, I start bawling my eyes out and it takes me completely by surprise.
“What is going on, Father?” I ask frantically but He doesn’t give me a reply. Instead, He just lets me cry on and on as I unleash this torrent of words and feelings I didn’t know I had hidden in my heart. (He’s turning into my own personal therapist and I’m okay with that.) As I blabber on and on, I get the sense that He wants me to be in pain…not in the sense that He wants to hurt me but in the sense that He knows I’ve been repressing things and He knows it is good for me to stop and let the hurt come. He wants me to feel pain because only then can I allow (and prayerfully ask) Him to heal me.
He waits patiently as I slowly allow Him to break down the walls of my heart. In the process, I realize that I am more broken and in need of healing than I originally believed. The encouraging thing is that it’s completely fine with me. Even though I was practically euphoric for a week and now I’m randomly breaking down in fits of tears throughout the day, I find comfort in the fact that I still very much need Jesus and that I have Him by my side. Joy hasn’t left me; peace hasn’t deserted me; I am just more aware of the fact of how present grace is in my life.
I am still ten times over the moon.
Even in the rain, Philly is beautiful. I don’t mind it in the slightest as I walk back home in the downpour, pants getting soaked and feet blistering from all the little tiny debris that somehow finds its way into my shoes. I learn quickly to stick to the far side of the sidewalk, as far away from the street as I can as the cars whiz by and spray cascades of water onto unfortunate pedestrians erring too close to the curb. There is an abundance of puddles and crossing streets are difficult because the length of my legs do not give me the range of motion required to cross a street without stepping ankle deep into a puddle. I usually walk way out of the way of a crosswalk to avoid the puddles and stay relatively dry.
I come to a crosswalk in which there is absolutely no other method to cross it except to suck it up and step in the murky waters pooling on the ground. I contemplate for about five seconds whether I am willing to ruin my shoes or find a different route home before shrugging and stepping forward. I halt mid step and realize the puddle is much deeper than I originally anticipated and step back to safety just as the go sign to walk is counting down. I give up and look helplessly around when I notice a man in a hoodie staring at me, face obscured, back hunched as he tries to protect himself from the torrent of rain. He is standing almost in the middle of the street, having safely bypassed the puddle. His hand is outstretched towards me and after a couple of (very slow and awkward) seconds, I realize he’s offering to help me over. Automatically, my hands go to my pockets as I make sure I still have my keys and phone (and I wonder for a split second if perhaps he intends to harm or rob me) but then shrug again and take his hand. I have to jump to make it over.
He holds my hand firmly and I feel a strange peace wash over me as I leap over the water. For the split second I’m in the air, I have this feeling that I just encountered Jesus personally, and that I am holding His hand. He lets go promptly after I’ve settled on the street, raises his hand to me in a goodbye, and heads on his separate way.
And then I realize, when God tells me to take a leap of faith, He’s not simply standing on the other side of the chasm waiting for me to arrive. He’s holding my hand when I’m in the air, bringing me assurance, comfort, support, and strength. By His hand alone do I find the courage to propel myself up into the air and into a different place.
“I am with you every step of the way; I will never leave you,” He tells me and He commands me to have more faith. I want to obey with all of my heart.