January 2015 archive

I Am Still Confident of This

I am still confident | www.heismakingeverythingnew.comCan I be honest? 

This first month of 2015 has not panned out quite how I had thought it would. It’s been filled with a lot of challenges and emotional ups and downs, discount but it feels like mostly downs.

It was incredibly difficult to leave my family and return to Ecuador for a second semester. Last semester in Ecuador was an incredible experience. I felt like God was constantly surprising me with new aspects of His character and in the things I saw Him doing around me. As I flip through journal entries from last semester, I’m reminded, and even surprised, by how much prayer I put in to the semester and by how God answered those prayers in magnificent ways. I felt like it was a semester of refinement for me, where the Lord really stretched my character and my abilities in ways that just wouldn’t have been possible had I stayed in Boston. And I truly am so thankful for it. I also made some incredible friends and was constantly challenged to face my day to day life with a heart of adventure. It really was an amazing semester.

But studying abroad is also exhausting. I’m always at least a little bit outside of my element and the constant street harassment and not feeling safe in my own city has worn on me. Living in a completely different country with a totally different culture is hard, as is being away from my family for so long.

My first week in Ecuador was really difficult. I landed and less than 24 hours later I got super sick with what turned out to be a stomach infection. How on earth did that even happen so fast? I was sick for several days meaning that I missed my first few days of classes and spent a lot of time alone in bed. This definitely didn’t make my transition back easier. Last semester I was amazed by how easy my transition was–I adjusted quickly and didn’t experience much homesickness. This time around has been pretty different. I’ve experienced more homesickness than ever before in my life, which has been a profoundly hard and new experience.

I’ve been continuously reminded of the importance of holding on to the promises of the Lord. I know that God has a specific purpose in me being in Ecuador for another semester. I know that He has already gone before me and prepared an Amilia-shaped space for me in this place. This has been something I’ve held onto tightly as I’ve struggled through this past week.

One Sunday morning before leaving for Ecuador I was at church and during the service there was a time where people took turns reading out scripture. One woman stood up and spoke out these words, “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” As soon as I heard those words, I felt God saying very strongly that this was His promise to me for 2015. Those words have been very powerful for me this first month of the new year. It’s been a reminder to be expectant to see the goodness of God here and now, in the land of the living. The following verse reads, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait on the Lord.” These words have reminded me that there is often an aspect of waiting to see the promises of God fulfilled. I don’t believe that the waiting is necessarily because God wants to withhold good things from us…I think sometimes we just don’t know what’s happening in the waiting because we see such a limited picture in the scope of the universe. But I do know that God is not ever far from us, and my prayer has been, “Lord, meet me in the waiting.”

I believe that God has special, joyous, and good surprises in store for me this semester, and even in my times with Jesus this week I’ve felt what it’s like to be met in the waiting, to learn in the waiting, to build an enthusiasm in this season for my day to day and for what is to come.

Things are already feeling easier as I’m physically feeling better and getting back to the swing of things. I am so thankful for all who have been praying for me and who have reached out to me these past few weeks–it has made a significant difference. I would absolutely love further prayer, encouragement, and words from the Lord as I live out my life here in Ecuador. It takes faith to say that I am still confident of the promises of the Lord, but praise God that He is so faithful and that we can expect to see His goodness in the land of the living.

Is God Enough For Us?

Is God Enough For Us? | He is Making Everything New

I am now accepting orders for this motivational poster ;)

Let’s imagine that you are the only person on earth–you are completely by yourself but you have perfect intimacy with God. You get to experience the incredible beauty of God’s creation while immersed in His constant, sick unhindered presence. Would that be enough for you? Would it be enough for any of us?

I used to think that the answer was an obvious yes–God is all we need to live a joyful, info content, rheumatologist and fulfilled life. If we had perfect intimacy with Him we would never feel lonely and we would never need anyone else. Our real issue is that we live in a fallen world and all this darkness and sin gets between us and God, but if we could live in a place without sin, we would only need God to complete us, to fill our souls. But I don’t believe that anymore.

That wasn’t what you were expecting, was it?

Here’s the thing–the Bible tells us that our hypothetical scenario was real. God created the heavens and the earth and he fashioned one human being, Adam, to live in the world He created. There was no sin in the Garden of Eden, nothing to keep Adam from God, and Genesis 3:8 seems to suggest that God was present in the Garden in a physical form. And yet, God said that it was not good for Adam to be alone. Alone? But how would he be alone if God was there? But he was alone–Adam needed the presence of another human being to fulfill him, to satisfy the longings of his soul, in addition to his relationship with God.

Some might argue that God created Eve not because Adam actually needed her to live a fulfilled life, but rather that God wanted more children to pour out his love on and so he made Eve so she and Adam could have children.

But that argument isn’t convincing to me. If we did not need the community of other humans, wouldn’t God just create an infinite number of gardens and create a beautiful individual to place in the middle of each one? Or wouldn’t He at least create a less intimate way to procreate? And if relationships and community didn’t really matter, why would God strip himself of heaven to come and be with us on earth? Because of our salvation, you say? Well then, couldn’t Jesus have been born and then killed a few hours after his birth? Why was it necessary for him to become friends with a close group of men and women and live life among God’s children?

I believe God placed the longing for heaven into each human heart because he knows that we will never be fully satisfied without him. He wants to give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4), but I also think he made us for community. He designed us in such a way that we need each other. Our families and friends and spouses and children are not some sort of substitute for God until the Lamb breaks the power of Satan and restores God’s creation–we need these relationships to really live.

Now, of course, we do live in a fallen world and Satan twists our relationships to hurt us. But, in spite of this, we still need each other. And when we’re living in the new heaven and new earth, we will still need each other.

I agree with C.S. Lewis that “if we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” If we are in tune with the deepest longings of our heart, we will find that we have a longing for a place we’ve never been but that we somehow remember. We have a longing for home. But I would submit that we also have a deep longing for real intimacy, vulnerability, and the experience to be truly seen and known by those around us. The desires of our heart really go hand in hand–our pursuit of God should deepen our pursuit of human beings. And our relationships with those around us, people created in the image of God, should lead us deeper in love with the Lord.

This has practical applications for our lives. If you’re trying to take yourself out of the world so you can be more connected with the Lord, you’re missing out on a beautiful part of life that God created for your delight–intimacy and community–and actually might cut yourself off from a deeper understanding of God that we can only get from living life with others. And if you’re trying to find your identity and purpose for life in those around you, you’re never going to be able to fill the deepest longings of your heart.

What Recovery Looks Like

In my first ever post on this blog I shared that God told me that 2013 would be the year I recovered from my long-term eating disorder. And it was. This is an update on my recovery journey, ask two years after I received that promise. 2014 ushered in a year of solid, glorious recovery. I’m living a life I never thought was possible and it just keeps getting better year by year!

I’ve learned that recovery truly is a process. In 2013, I had a lot of bad days, days where I felt like my eating disorder was controlling my life. But I was able to stop all my eating disorder behaviors and then slowly my depression started fading away and my self esteem improved and I entered 2014 with so much more confidence and actually loving my body for the first time!

In 2014 I found a continual increase of good days. Days filled with glorious freedom, days where my mind was able to fully focus on the present, on my day to day life and my relationship with my friends, family, and God. I would find myself during rare, quiet moments realizing that I hadn’t even struggled remotely with my eating disorder in a long time. My eating disorder is becoming more and more removed from me, fading into my past, becoming more like the memory of a nightmare that almost doesn’t feel real to me anymore.

If you had told me that this sort of recovery were possible for me while I was in treatment or even during my first semester of college, I wouldn’t have believed you. And yet here I am.

I’ve learned a lot about recovery and have been so surprised by the faithfulness of God. And when I say the faithfulness of God, I really mean it. I think back on the life I was living, completely miserable and distanced from my friends and family, hating myself and convinced that God didn’t love me, and I’m left feeling astounded and thankful because I know none of it would have been possible without God’s never-ending pursuit of me.

My recovery means that I’m living a joyful life. It’s not all happy rainbows, it’s not perfect, but it is marked by joy, a hope and excitement for each new day.

My recovery means that I understand that food is necessary for my health and survival, but also that it can be eaten simply to be enjoyed.

My recovery means that I can go clothes shopping and not be bothered that I can’t fit into the sizes I used to wear. It means I can wear a bathing suit and feel pretty darn good about myself.

I love my tattoo for so many reasons – it reminds me of God’s promise and faithfulness to me and it also embodies all the things I’ve learned about recovery – it’s continuous, it doesn’t move on a straight line. He is making everything new. He’s doing a new thing. And if it’s possible for my life, it’s possible for yours.

What Recovery Looks Like | He is Making Everything New

Recovery is a process and I’m learning what its twists and turns looks like. I am looking forward to the day that I realize that I haven’t thought of my eating disorder for years. I know that day is ahead of me and I am ready for it!