Hi there! It’s been a while. A lot has been going on this past month! So many things have been happening for me in my work world, my emotional world, my spiritual world, and sometimes even my social world!
Back in September I posted about how sometimes being on Young Life staff isn’t easy. In fact, it might be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve done so much learning and growing this month that it feels like I’ve been in Botetourt for years.
(P.S. For those of you who aren’t familiar with VA..or maybe just have a hard time pronouncing things, its “bot-a-tot”)
Anyway, I would venture to say that September was perhaps the hardest month of my life. If I’m being honest, a lot of my emotions that I experienced in September were a result of the Lord cleaning up a mess that I made for myself during my last couple semesters at Roanoke. Jesus has been so faithful to me and has come to meet me in my mess. However, I will say that the healing process has been super painful! I probably cried more tears in September and October than I did my whole 4 years in college. And that is a lot! Jesus probably has to have a shelf the size of a football field to bottle up and store all of those bad boys! (Psalm 56:8)
You probably think I’m being overly dramatic and emotional. And you might be right! But I think that I was not ready and prepared for what happened to me this summer.
To go from Hometree (the house I lived in last year) to living on my own and being on Young Life staff, was/is the most difficult thing I’ve done in a long time. There were nights that I felt like I wanted to be anywhere else in the world than Botetourt. There were also so many nights when I was convinced that the Lord made a mistake in calling me to this mission. Or that I had some how come onto Young Life staff against His will.
I think that this is my biggest fear in my life and the biggest trap that I fall into..that I was not really supposed to go on staff with Young Life. This is the thought that consumed so much of me during September. Every night that I was alone and sad in my house, my mind was engaged in such a battle against this lie. I was hurting so badly and it seemed like I wasn’t going to make it. I can’t begin to describe how lonely and hopeless I felt! All because I allowed a little voice in my head turn into loud shouts of condemnation and guilt. And, if I’m being honest again, these little lies began entering my head really about this time last year.
For a whole year the lie that I’m not good enough, that I’m too crazy for the Lord to call me and chose me and use me, and that I’ve messed up too bad, has worked it’s way into my heart. A WHOLE YEAR! How ridiculous is that? The enemy has stolen so much from me! It literally is making me angry right now to think about it! It blows my mind the ways a little lie can turn into such a big mess. Seriously! Here I sit-a year later-now able to see all the ways that I believed this lie.
As depressing as it is to realize these things, I can’t even describe the hope that it brings to me. Being able to recognize this makes me able to reclaim who I am and to reject what I saw in myself in college. I know that sounds crazy. But I think that the person who God made me to be was not entirely present these past four years. If you only knew me while I was at Roanoke, I really am sorry. I think that what you got was a watered down (or mudded down!) version of me. However, please don’t hear me say that I wish college never happened. Or that I wish the relationships I made in college didn’t happen. Because that is not true. There are so many people that I love that I started loving at Roanoke. All I’m saying is that I was not fully present there and I’m thankful that I don’t have to be the same Marissa that was in Salem.
I don’t really know where I’m going with this. And I didn’t plan on writing anything like this today! I started to blog today with intentions of telling you about fall weekend. But I guess Jesus had other plans! Before I close, I want to share a story with you that helped me come out of September with my job and my life 🙂
1 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help.
7 When the Israelites cried out to the LORD because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”
11 The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”
13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
14 The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
In case you’re like me and didn’t feel like reading all of that, I’ll summarize it. Basically God allows for the Israelites to be oppressed by the Midianites. Then the Lord was going to raise up Gideon to deliver Israel. What the two say to each other is what has been so significant for me this past month. Gideon is running around scared as he tries to hide what was left of his food from the Midianites. God enters the picture by calling Gideon a “mighty warrior.” How hilarious and awesome is that? Hilarious because Gideon is anything but a warrior! And awesome because God sees us as who we are going to become and not for who we are now or for who we used to be. Gideon was so far from being a warrior. And in fact, the way he responds to God is by doubting him and questioning him! It blows my mind that the Lord is so gracious to Gideon. God sees Gideon for who he is going to be, not for who he is now! God also sees Gideon according to the desires of Gideon’s heart.
There were so many nights when I was laying in my bed and praying that the Lord would remove my sin from me. I would literally get angry that I was still struggling with the things that I struggle with. But this story shows me that God saw me for the desires of my heart. He knew how genuinely I wanted to be free, and He lovingly decides to see me and treat me according to the desires that I had! How awesome is that? I’m so thankful that God sees me for who I will be in eternity. He sees me for the ways that he will redeem me and for the ways that I will mature throughout my life. This calls me up out of the lies that I believed in college and I feel like a new person. I feel like I’ve met Jesus all over again for the first time. And that is exciting to me.
I hope that makes sense. If not, sorry that I just wasted your time!
If you are the kind of person who didn’t read all of this because it was so long and dense, I will leave you with a few pictures.