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  1. ChristCenteredGirl

    It Will Get Better

    Life always has its ups and downs. We will always be going through temptations and trials, (especially in our daily walk with God). But isn’t it great to know that we can give all our troubles to God and let Him handle them for you, knowing that He will always be there and provide you with everything you would ever need in abundance? Obviously, the answer would be yes, but some people may not always see it that way. When life can get pretty painful and overwhelming at times, it can be easy to wonder and ask, “Why God? Why is this happening?” It might have you question your faith sometimes. There may even be a time when you get so angry and confused with a situation, you want to turn away from God. And that’s exactly what I did. I renounced God and began thinking about going on a road to sin and a hardened heart. I never fully succeeded with that plan thanks to a few people God placed in my life. A few years ago on November 9th, I felt so confused and angry at God. All I could feel was this very strong resentment and fury on the inside. Just when I thought I was about to get closer to Him and grow stronger in my faith, that day just really took me by the storm. I acted very childish by indulging in self-pity and threw a rebellious temper tantrum because I felt like God had shoved His purpose in my face only to ****** it from me and leave me in the dirt, despite prayer. It made me question my worth and existence. Whether God really loved me or not. What I never realized was that during that season, God had actually been working in my heart and showing me where I truly was spiritually. I saw things about myself I never imagined and they were ugly. They led me to reevaluate my life and the motives I was carrying around. It dawned on me that I didn’t fully understand what being a true committed Christ follower was. I didn’t really grow up in a Christian home. My dad’s very stale in his Christian faith and I don’t think my mom really cares for God. God was rarely brought up in our home and we didn’t go to church. In the 8th grade, I remember asking my dad about God and he decided it’d be best to talk to a buddy of his from work who’s a devout Christian. The conversation lasted about an hour or two and I barely remember what was said that night....It’s sad, really. I remember being asked if I wanted to pray to accept Jesus as my Savior towards the end and I prayed that as I got home since I was self-conscious about praying in front of people. As I look back, I realized I didn’t see a significant change in me. I had a desire to read the Bible and go to church, but they were very fleeting. It seemed as if I was only playing a “Get Out Of Hell” Free card. I had no commitment, if I did, it wasn’t obvious to me. I was apathetic, lazy, living in isolation, selfish, and staying in my comfort zone. It continued that way until I was introduced to the Navigators in college. Nothing changed drastically the first year I was affiliated with them. It felt more like a routine. Bible study every Thursday at noon. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed going there for Bible study, fellowship, and of course pizza...hey, who doesn’t like pizza? Well, fast forward to Summer and Fall of 2013, and I’m in a place where I hated myself and compared myself to others constantly. I remember thinking why God created me the way I was and wondered if I really had a purpose. Skip to November and I was suddenly filled with hope because things looked like they were falling into place as I tried to devote myself to prayer and read my Bible. But then on November 9th, this “purpose” which I thought was coming true suddenly shattered in my face leaving sharp remnants of hopelessness, bitterness, pain, confusion, and anger. They grew larger overtime to where I completely wanted to shut God out of my life. I wanted someone to blame, so I blamed God. I did my best to indulge in things that weren’t pleasing in God’s sight as a way to “get back” at Him and bandage my wounds. The only thing that accomplished was more pain and misery. Three months later, I’m fighting the urge to repent. I continue to wrestle with God and for some reason, I returned to the Navs in January(despite efforts not to) and felt tremendous grief in my soul around February. I reached a breaking point which led me to seek out two Nav leaders for emotional and spiritual guidance. After a deep conversation with those two, I understood more of God’s love and was rescued from the rut I was in. Since then, I’ve been trying to pursue Christ and live to honor Him. I’ve noticed a significant desire for Jesus, spending time in the Word, and wanting to help others. I wouldn’t have written this if not. I’m not perfect, I still struggle in these areas. It has been a real challenge throughout because of constant setbacks, spiritual warfare, and my flesh. But I’m glad because I know that trials are meant for our greater good. Though the process is painful, it’s necessary in order to refine and shape us into the original masterpiece God intended us to be. I really hope none of you are currently in a state where you’re not interested in Christ and His Word, prayer, being missional, serving, worshiping and having fellowship with other Christians for the glory of God. And instead pursuing fleeting desires of this world. If you are, I implore you; don’t take this path. It won’t do you any good. Just take a look at some examples in Exodus and Numbers. Since the 9th of November all the way through mid-late February, I’ve tried to harden my heart but it was a constant battle with God. No matter how many times (or how hard) I’ve tried, He just wouldn’t leave me alone. And He’s definitely not going to sit idly by and let you do the same. If you are going through a tough season right now, then just know that it’s only a test. Once you pass the test, you’re going to see greater rewards at the end of the finish line. So please don’t give up. It may not seem like it now, but it will get better. If you question whether God will come through for you, let me ask you: has God ever once in the Bible made a promise He didn’t keep? If He says He’ll see you through, He WILL! (Psalm 33:4) If you’re still having doubts, it’s a clear indicator that you’re ignorant of the Word or you’re upset with not having things go your way. Life isn’t about you. It’s about God and what He wants to accomplish through you, for His glory, not yours. Things won’t always turn out the way you expect because God is the one in control. (Proverbs 16:9) His ways surpasses ours. (Isaiah 55:8, Romans 11:33) Look, that doesn’t mean God is indifferent towards you and your desires. God really does care and only wants what’s best for you that aligns with His will and timing since His plans are perfect (Psalm 18:30), and His timing is just right.(Ecclesiastes 3:11) Thus, I encourage you to draw closer to God and seek HIS desires instead of yours. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did. You’ll still continue to face challenges, but how you respond to them will make a huge difference. We all have choices and will continue to make them. You can either choose to turn to God and accept His purpose in your life or choose to abandon Him and go your own separate way. My hope for writing this is that it helps at least one person. I hope something or maybe several things stood out to you to where you want to pursue Christ like never before. If something did resonate and you were encouraged, then yay it was all worth it! And if not, then that’s okay! I’m just thankful you took the time to read this. If you’re stuck in a rut and can’t seem to break old habits or maybe you’re unsure of where you stand spiritually because your life hasn’t produced any fruit, my best advice is spend time in the Word and engage in dialogue with God, don’t be afraid of listening to what He says. This will take practice, don’t expect perfection. And make sure you’re not taking this journey alone. That was one of my biggest mistakes. Other Christians need what you bring to the table and vice versa so that the body of Christ can mature, be healthy, and complete. My prayer for you is that you will continually seek Jesus and want to be a good imitator of Him. And to keep pressing forward when you want to give up. “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”-2 Peter 1:10-11
  2. ChristCenteredGirl

    My Season of Loneliness and Isolation

    Loneliness is rampant in today’s culture. It’s an epidemic in every part of the world. Everyone has experienced this unpleasant feeling at one time or another. Remember that time on the playground when all the kids were playing and you were sitting on the sidewalk, wanting to join in but was either too shy to approach them or they never made an effort to approach you and invite you to play with them? Or maybe you felt left out in high school because nobody saw you approachable enough because you were labeled awkward, weird, or different from the rest like I was. I was a socially anxious teenager growing up. I couldn’t relate well to most people or keep a conversation going. I grew up in a very sheltered, protective environment which made it difficult for me to connect with others and engage in social activities. As a result, I tried to keep myself under radar as best I could to avoid judgment and ridicule from people, but to my dismay and chagrin, they found out since I didn’t do a stellar job apparently. My senior year, I suppressed my desire for connection and found solace in watching anime, reading books, and playing video games instead. In college, I met some wonderful people who helped me realize the depths of God’s love and saving grace that drew me to Him, but when I was strongly encouraged to join a community/church, I declined and went solo in my Christian journey. I identified myself as a “lone ranger” simply because I felt like I couldn’t be a part of community. I knew the essence community had on believers, but I was too ashamed and embarrassed of my setbacks and worried about the perception of others. There were a few times I actually went, but my anxiety was so overwhelming each time I stopped going. I was still living in the past, succumbed by fear of ridicule, judgment, and rejection back in high school. Isolation felt more comfortable and familiar. However, it isn’t. Studies have indicated that loneliness and isolation attributes to depression, suicide, and a range of physical health issues. Not only that, but isolation makes us more vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”The enemy is a coward. He plays dirty and usually targets those who have isolated themselves because they’re weak and defenseless without fellowship. He knows he’s not powerful enough to go after those who are united in fellowship because, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”-Ecclesiastes 4:12. That’s why it’s so important to be rooted in the Body of Christ. And the only way to do that is to surround ourselves with like-minded Christians. When I was still solo in my Christian walk, not only did I believe I couldn’t belong to community, I also believed this ridiculous lie that I would be fine as long as I read my Bible and prayed. It’s not enough to just read the Bible and pray. They’re both essential, but that’s never an excuse to neglect meeting with our fellow brothers and sisters. (Hebrews 10:24-25) Those who do are in danger of slipping into apostasy. Isolated Christians only care for themselves and pursue their own interests. (Proverbs 18:1) As believers, we play an integral role in exercising our spiritual gifts, fostering growth and development, keeping each other accountable, praying for one another, teaching and edifying all for the sake of building up the church and glorifying God. (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 3:8-11, Ephesians 4:12, Acts 2:44-47, James 5:16, Matthew 18:19-20) For two and a half years, I stumbled blindly into the murky waters of sin which pulled me deeper into apathy, idleness, poor self-control, anger, bitterness, self-pity, a decreased appetite for God’s Word, more selfishness and loneliness that kept getting worse.. If you’re currently there, run, get out of there before it’s too late! There is nothing more terrifying than drowning out the voice of the Holy Spirit with your fleshly desires. If you’re suffering from loneliness, guess what? You’re not alone! Many people have gone through and are going through it from various contributors such as disease, death of a loved one, divorce from a spouse, a recent breakup, betrayal from a friend, relocation, neglect from childhood, etc. But the main contributor is our fallen state: Separation from God. So often, we try to fill that void by putting so much stock in our relationships with people. If only I had a lot of friends, I’d be satisfied. If I was married, I’d be complete. If I could just get this person to notice me, I would feel important. But in the end, we feel just as empty as we started out. We crave after the things that won’t bring us full satisfaction, because they were never meant to in the first place. Society has done a great job in forming idols out of relationships. We feel we have little to no value if we’re single, have just a few friends, or don’t have any right now. We strive persistently for validation, intimacy, and affection only to be met with disappointment, hurt, bitterness, and regret. Sometimes, we feel as if God wants us to be lonely and miserable, like He’s holding out on us. On the contrary, He doesn’t. He understands completely for He said in Genesis 2:18, “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” And that’s before the fall! I think part of us longs for affection from people instead of God because of the shame and guilt that has passed down to us and plagued us as a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. We can’t fathom God’s love towards us so in a sense we distance ourselves from Him. But God’s love for us doesn’t change; never has or will ever change. “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore, I have drawn you with everlasting kindness.”-Jeremiah 31:3 Friend, if only you realized the magnitude of God’s love for you, the excruciating death He suffered on the cross, you wouldn’t need to strive or beg for validation from anyone. Your value doesn’t come from the opinions of people. Your worth is not defined by how many likes, followers, and comments you have on social media. Or whether you’re popular, single, married, have children, etc. If you truly want to know where your value comes from, look at the cross Jesus died on for you. He willingly gave Himself up as a ransom to rescue you and provide access for you to have a rich, personal, deep, satisfying, and intimate relationship with Him. How it grieves our Heavenly Father when we treat the sacrifice He made through His son as if it meant absolutely nothing to us every time we pursue idols. Yet He continues to lavish His wonderful love, mercy, and grace on us despite. Isn’t God enough for you? Unfortunately, it’s human nature to go after things we can see and God understands this. But, we must be careful with what we long for most in our hearts. Deuteronomy 4:24 tells us that He is a jealous God, consumed with wanting to be first and foremost in our hearts, and He will not partake in or share His glory with another. He is either our all or nothing. Throughout Scripture, you’ll meet plenty of characters who knew the struggles of being human and their issues with loneliness. Some of the prominent ones are Elijah, Job, Jeremiah, David, Paul, and even Jesus Himself experienced it. But what is the one thing each of them had in common despite their difficulties and hardships? Their wholehearted devotion to God. Study these guys if you haven’t and see what you can learn from them. Something that is really helpful in dealing with loneliness is investing your time to serve others. Serving people has great benefits. It opens doors to sharing Christ with non believers (which should be our ultimate goal), it shifts your focus off of yourself and your problems which is a fantastic remedy for self-pity and depression, it helps you identify your spiritual gifts and where you’re most useful in developing them, and it enables you to cultivate potential long lasting friendships. Regarding friendships, if you want to make friends, you must learn what it means to be a friend. Being a friend is more than texting a Bible verse or writing an encouraging e-mail or letter when they’re down and it’s more than having and sharing common interests with each other. What if the whole purpose of having relationships with others was to live beyond yourself instead of living for yourself? “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13. Jesus is the best definition of a friend. He taught that true friendship is all about sacrificial love for one another. A true friend is someone who loves without gain, is loyal when times are extremely tough, loves you even when you’re at your worst, allows you complete freedom to be yourself and express your feelings and thoughts with them, rebukes you when necessary, and is consistently willing to put your happiness above theirs. It takes time to build friendships and effort to maintain them. Be patient and rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance. If you feel like you’re in a perpetual season of loneliness, trust me when I tell you that it’s only temporary. Loneliness is a feeling, and like all feelings they come and go like the fleeting winds. They should never dictate what you know intellectually is true from God’s Word. I know circumstances can make it very difficult to believe, but that shouldn’t stop you from living a life of obedience and commitment to God. There was an Irish missionary named Amy Carmichael. Amy was called by the Lord to South India where she started an orphanage for underprivileged children and rescued young women and girls from prostitution. She served there for 55 years witnessing God’s love to them. Amy lived a life of celibacy and suffered from great pangs of loneliness and desperation, but she accepted that as a cost of obedience for her life. I think for some people, loneliness is a lifetime cross to bear, but to a degree it’s part of the suffering promised to all who follow Jesus on Earth. Regardless of the cost, Amy exemplified such a tremendous love for the Lord and displayed incredible humility and dedication to serve Him that all of us should strive to emulate. In the midst of loneliness, may we realize that it’s a season filled with an opportunity to grow closer to our Lord and Savior. May we not be deceived by our human emotions and desires as well as the lies of the enemy telling us that God isn’t enough to bring us full satisfaction. May we place our trust in what God says in His Word. If we did this, just think of the many people that would come to know Jesus through our willingness and obedience, not based on how we “feel”, but what we “know.” When we fail, may we rest in the fact that God will always be with us towards the very end. (Matthew 28:20) “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”-Romans 8:38-39 “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”-Ephesians 3:14-19