Hey guys! Quick update from Redding and a few thoughts on a lifestyle of worship....
Have you ever run up on a situation that you were just SURE that God would fix for you if He really loved you? Have you ever pre-determined HOW God should help you out of a jam or answer your prayers? Sad to say, that can be me more often than not - although I'm learning to let go of my preconceived ideas pretty quickly these days. Sit back for a few and let me tell you a little story that I think pretty much sums up how we can approach God when we're not seeing things the way He sees them, or we don't have all the facts that He has. But more importantly, I hope it shows how He can and WILL use everything for our good and we just get to worship Him in the process.
The story starts with a little irony... If you follow me on Instagram, you know that a couple of days ago I posted something about how I was making oatmeal, studying outside, enjoying the weather and just being so happy in the moment! There I was - feeling so satisfied and content. You know... those moments when you really think you're just winning at life? Like you have a plan and things are going according to your plan! As they should, right? So my PLAN for that day was to enjoy my time outside and finishing my homework for the day and then get dressed and get myself to school on time and be ahead of the game when I go there!
Yeah, so... things did NOT go according to my plan. Let's just say that an hour later I was crying tears of frustration and wondering why God was punishing me. Quite a shift, huh? Welcome to being human! Here's how it went down...
I'm having a super chill time out there - I even make myself a cup of tea to enjoy and when I head back in to get it.... I have LOCKED MYSELF OUT OF THE HOUSE! Great. Now, my roommates warned me this might happen and there's a lockbox that has a spare key, but I can't remember the code and my phone is inside. In fact, everything was inside except for my binder and my bible and a pen.
At this point, I start calmly trying to figure out what the combination is to the lock - doing my best to remember it. Then I try wriggling the door - I may have even tried my hand at picking a lock (but I can't confirm that... lol!) I'm still pretty calm because I figure I still have plenty of time before I HAVE to start getting dressed and surely one of my roommates will come home in the meantime, right? Wrong. I was out there for two hours. And the longer I was out there, the more I totally lost my composure and worst of all - my peace. I kept asking God to rescue me! "I mean, come on Holy Spirit... You and I are tight! You can tell me the passcode and we can just be done with this! I NEED to get in and get dressed so I can get to class on time!" (Hint: That's what I thought I needed, but He knew so much better.)
I'M NOT GETTING MY WAY! UGH!
Nothing. I thought I heard numbers, but none of them worked. So then I started praying and asking God how He wanted to get me out of this situation. I mean, clearly it's Your Will that I get to class, right? All I heard was "Just wait. Do your Bible reading." I would love to say I listened right away, but it took me a few minutes. I did finish my Bible reading and then gave it all another whirl - listening for God to download the passcode to me, wriggling with the door, circling the house, knocking on neighbors doors. Nothing.
Finally, I broke. See, I had some pretty traumatic experiences as a kid with silence. Refusing to talk to me was used as a way to punish me and although that might not sound that bad to you, it was really pretty scary to a little 5 year old and it's always been a place that I'm easily triggered. So me asking God a question that I thought He wasn't answering was bringing up all sorts of beliefs that I held about Him and myself. That's when may have I found myself asking "Why are you punishing me? What did I do wrong?" Okay - I did ask that...
The frustration and emotion brought out tears that I probably should have cried a long time ago about all those times of being ignored and when I was done I finally asked God what He was doing in this moment and how I could partner with Him. I started to get the strongest urge that I should just walk to school (it's only a mile away). (Another hint: This was NOT an unnecessary part of the story. I HAD to express the emotion in order to be able to start to hear the answer. I couldn't hear over the sound of my hurt feelings. None of us can.)
So I feel like I should just head to the Civic, find my roommate and figure out a way to get back home and get dressed... "But God! I'm a mess! I haven't showered, I have on no make-up..." and some more whining that I won't embarrass myself by telling you. But the urge didn't go away. I thought I heard one of my housemates pull up (SAVED!!) so I went out to the street. Hopes dashed. Nope. It wasn't them, but there was a van across the street... I didn't know them, but I kind of watched for a minute trying to figure out if there was some way they could help me. Then I saw they had on BSSM badges so I went up and asked them what time it was. Time for class! Oh no - I'm already late! They offered to give me a ride and I said yes! One of them pointed out how God brought them along to get me to school, and I'm ashamed to admit - I was NOT impressed. My plan was for me to get back in the house, be able to do my little routine and feel comfortable when I went to school. This was NOT my plan, so therefore God hadn't answered me, right? Wrong.
Uncomfortable and Growing.
I get to school, kind of looking at the ground a bunch because I feel so vulnerable and exposed (I mean, I'm in a tank, shorts and a sports bra but it felt so vulnerable for some reason!) I get a temporary badge and then make my way to find my housemate. I can endure the embarrassment just a little and then go home so I can still have my way. But if I do that, I'm going to miss worship and while I was talking to one of my leaders, she did such a great job of empowering me to make a good decision. She just told me "I hate for you to miss worship, but if you want to go home and shower I totally understand. It will count as an absence but that's totally up to you." I said, "I just don't know what to do." She looked at me and said, "I don't either, but you'll make the right decision." #responsibility
So, I go in for the first session, hug the back wall and try to blend in... and it's so good! A sweet classmate next to me just showers me with some love and I start to feel a little less exposed. She doesn't seem to be looking at me funny at all. Huh. I slowly start to calm down and listen to what I'm hearing and I think... "I can't miss any of this! I don't want to miss worship."
Then I start to realize that all we're dealing with here is my pride. And that's already been busted. I mean, I'm in the building... 1300 people have already seen me just the way I am au naturale. That's our greatest fear isn't it? Being seen just as we are... Will they accept me the way I am? Will they love me without my mask and my makeup? I'm just being real here... we've all thought this in one form or another, right?
And here's where it started to get REALLY good! I decided to stay. I mean, I'm here to be transformed, and I could feel God's invitation to get out of my comfort zone and all Him to do something in me instead of hurrying as fast as I could back into my safe zone.
Worship begins and right then, God sent one of my RG girls by (she's like my fave person here already - just a gem!) and she gave me the biggest hug and said she'd been texting me! I told her really quick what happened and she dove right in to cover me. "Oh, I'm so sorry! That's so tough! You look great though and we have a seat for you!" All my anxiety goes away and I instantly feel better. (Third Hint: God created us to live in community. He didn't EVER intend for us to just get the answer to our problems from Him. He always intended to use those around us - something I am learning in profound ways in this season.)
I tell her that I want to stay up at the top of the room for worship, but I'll join them afterwards and I DIVE IN to worship with all I have! And something happens in that moment.... this is one of those moments where I get to sacrifice (the very definition of worship) something for the King. I get to praise Him and sing about His faithfulness with everything in me - even though He didn't do what I asked. Even though things didn't turn out the way I wanted. And AS SOON as I lift my hands to declare His faithfulness, I am overwhelmed by His Love and His Presence and He begins to show me all that He was doing through the whole thing.
"Katherine - this was about so much more than you getting dressed. It was about the part in you that truly believed that I would passive-aggressively punish you for something I never talked to you about by keeping you out of the house. I wanted to heal that place in your heart that felt abandoned. And look - I gave you what you REALLY needed - freedom from believing that if people saw you at "your worst" they wouldn't accept you. You needed that SO much more than you needed to show up all put together." Tears of gratitude... I was just so overwhelmed by what a GOOD FATHER He is! I LOVE this part of God - He is totally dedicated to transforming us more and more into HIs image and giving us back our identities as sons and daughters. AND THAT WAS THE POINT.
And of course, as it turns out, the rest of the afternoon was EPIC and I was SO SO grateful that I didn't miss any of it. I also had the amazing opportunity to be loved by the people around me in a way I had never allowed before. #vulnerability
Now, did God cause this little episode? No, of course not! I'm the bozo that locked myself out of the house. Haha! But He IS THE GOOD FATHER that used the whole thing to work the absolute best for me in the midst of my mistake. I wanted to share this story because I think it's such a small, sort of harmless example of what happens in the bigger, scarier areas of our life. Family, relationships, jobs, finances, healing, all the things we pray for and pray about... Sometimes it can be so frustrating when God doesn't do what we ask, but let me encourage you...
Lean INTO HIM. Lean into what He's doing in the moment. Stop and ask Him how you can partner with Him and then worship Him with all you've got for WHATEVER He tells you to do. It changed my life this day and I know it will change yours too.
Love and lots of hugs from Redding!!! Talk to you again soon!