Yesterday was my 5 year anniversary of living in New England. 5 years. I just can’t believe it. I am amazed that: First, 5 years have somehow flown by so quickly AND that somehow it has only been 5 years that have passed. Isn’t it weird how that happens.
I have found that as you grow older those two statements ring more and more true. It feels as though time is racing by, and yet, it feels as though the adventures we experience and the people we come to know, we have always known and experienced. Simply amazing!
There is a lot that God has done in me and there are more than I could list of things that I have learned over the past 5 years but for kicks and giggles let me list what seem to be the top 5 things I have learned…
5 things for 5 Years
5. That distance doesn’t hinder relationships it only changes the way we relate. When I moved to California from Washington I was a young 19 year old who had never lived away from home. I was desperate to relate the same way as I always had and so I called my family EVERY SINGLE day. I wasn’t ready to let go of the day to day interactions. I wasn’t sure what it meant to have a life outside of them, I thought that if things weren’t the same then somehow it meant my relationships would be gone. Fast forward 3 1/2 years when I moved to New England. I not only was moving away from my family but I was moving away from my friends to a land that was unknown. What I now know is that GOING and SENDING others means that our love is increased. We may SEE people and comunicate with them less but it doesn’t make it any less impactful. When distance limits time and hinders communication it makes (or must make) what contact and time is spent together that much more intentional.
4. Different doesn’t mean bad or wrong, it just means different.
The culture and people in New England are different than both Washington and California. When I moved to California it felt as though what people did differently was WRONG. It felt wrong because if they weren’t wrong than it must mean that I WAS wrong. This feeling was based on a misconception that there was one right way to speak, one right way to love, one right way to meet/be with people.
Over the past 5 years God has begun to show me the beauty that is found in ALL of His people and how intentional He was to create us all to see and love and meet people differently. As God showed me the purpose He made me with to see differently I was able to see or at least imagine the purpose He had for the different found in others. Truth is truth but sometimes that very truth can be expressed, seen and experienced differently. Different doesn’t mean bad or wrong, it just means different.
3. Joy is found on the otherside of fear.
I love that recently there have been many Christian worship songs that talk about how God conquers fear. This is probably due to the fact that for much of my life fear ruled me. I can see now that fear even ruled my relationship with God: I feared being found out by God or others as being the phony I felt inside. I knew my sin and struggled to be “good enough” to deserve the gift God had given to me. When I moved to New England God began to make my face my fear. He challenged me to make decisions in my life not based on my fears (especially of failure) but instead based on His faithfulness and His love. 1 John 4:18 says “Perfect love cast out all fear…” and God challenged me to trust His perfect love in the face of my fears. I took a trapeze class, I went skydiving, I allowed Him to shed light on my past and I opened my heart to the possibilities of love. And through it all I found that joy is found on the otherside of fear; when I allow my trust of God to dictate my decisions I experience freedom. My only explanation when asked what skydiving feels like is that it is pure joy, there was nothing else but peace and joy. When we journey with God and choose Him over our fear, we find His perfect peace and joy.
2. My potential has more to do with God than it does me.
Now hear me out for a second… In high school and even in college you could have summed me up in one word: perfectionst. I felt like I needed to be good enough to make an impact on the world. I felt this call of God on myself to do something important, something big but I never felt as though I measured up to that call. And to be honest, that is probably true but I’ve learned in the last 5 years that I don’t have to:
Be good enough
Be wise enough
Be creative enough
I only need to trust God in me and His leading and He will make the rest happen. My potential has more to do with God and His power in me than it does on what I can do myself. When I trust in that, impossible things are possible.
And finally, 1. My identity is wrapped up in God’s love.
This has been huge for me. If you haven’t figured it out yet my identity for a very long time was wrapped up in what I could do and the impact that I had. I saw powerful ministers of God and felt as though what they did impacted who they were. But now I know the truth, who we are dictates what we do and our impact. If we want to be the light and love of God to people than our identiy MUST BE found in being loved by God. Only when we rest in, root ourselves in and identify with God’s love can we in any way give that same love to others. His love overwhelms me. A few days ago I wrote this in my journal,
“A different sort of security comes when we see our whole identity as being based in Your love of us. If we are certain of nothing else we can be certain of being found in your love… Your love is fullness of peace and strength. Your love will not fail to change, transform, challenge and empower. Your love is who we are and THAT changes everything.”
When my identity is based in God’s love then I can trust that He will change me. He will cover me. He will empower me. He will… His love never fails and His love drives out fear. If I am found in His love, if being loved by Him is who I am then nothing can stop me from being His love to the World.
I am in awe of all God has done in the past 5 years. He has changed me and marked me in incredible ways. Here’s to many more adventures and years allowing Him to do what only He can do in AND through me.