Moving Forward

I have been in a very dark place. I've written several posts during the last few months, but never published them, because none of them fit well with the theme of this blog, finding beauty in the everyday. I was in such a dark place mentally and spiritually, I honestly didn't think I could find any beauty whatsoever.

During the days leading up to my graduation, a thick, dark cloud of discouragement settled in over me. I thought graduating from college would be different. I thought I would be different. When I was younger, I assumed that by the time I graduated from college, I would know who I am, what my purpose is in life, and have a pretty good idea of how to accomplish that purpose too.

But I never really known what I wanted to do in life, what I wanted to be when I "grew up." And I thought by the time I graduated, it would all be clear. But it isn't.

Over and over, people asked, "Aren't you excited to be done with school?" I smiled and said, "Yes, it will be so nice to be done..." but honestly, I dreaded it. I would have a degree, quite possibly the most vague degree ever in existence, with lots of little bits of knowledge and experience. The fact that Brian is still unemployed gave me feel the added stress of wanting to provide financially.

Also, I'd been a student since I was four. It became part of my identity, and goal I was constantly working toward. When I reached that goal, what next?

And I was angry. I was angry at God for not making my future even a little bit more clear, for not answering my prayers for direction, for being silent. I was angry that he had allowed circumstances in my life that seemed completely unnecessary. Trickles of distrust wound through my thinking without my realizing it. All of my frustration, hurt, and discouragement boiled down to a few questions: was God really going to provide for us? Was he really good?

Did he really have a purpose for my life? 

One sleepless, tear-filled night, I asked God all of those questions and more. I confessed that I felt like my life was a cosmic mistake, that my aunt's death made me question his goodness and plan, and that I felt stuck- spiritually stuck, relationally stuck in relationships that never seemed to get better, and directionally stuck without a plan - and I wished he would just do something. I was tired of waiting.

By no accident, our pastor began a short series of messages about seeking God's direction:
...You may not know why you're here - but God certainly is very clean on why you're here...Everyone grab your wrist and feel if you have a pulse. Here's the deal, if you have a pulse, God's not done with you yet! You're not on the shelf! By the way, most of God's choice servants in scripture demonstrate times of fuzziness on the particular mission God had sent them out on (Abraham, Joseph, Elijah, David, Moses, Jonah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul, Peter, etc...) He made you and redeemed you. That means he has gifted you....On this point we can go to God's Word. Notice Paul says it this way in Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." - Pastor Joel Tetreau
 I read ahead in his notes, and the conclusion questioned:
"Where are you headed? Do you have direction this morning, or are you floating in the sea of wind and emotionalism?"
Talk about conviction. "Floating in a sea of emotion" pretty much summed it up.

One of the main texts for the sermon was Philippians 3:13-14," thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching toward those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal..." That verse stuck with me. Pressing toward the goal...moving forward.

To move forward, I would have to repent and let go of my anger. I would have to grieve the loss of my aunt.  I would have to seek out God's purpose for me, one step at a time, one day at a time. I would have to stop allowing myself to be overwhelmed by my circumstances and just deal with them.

And, I would have to remind myself constantly of God's goodness and love for me.

And that brings me back to the purpose of this blog.

That's exactly what I set out to do with my blog posts: recount God's gifts to me and the myriad of ways He displays his creativity and beauty in the world.

I checked my journal, and discovered that I hadn't recorded a single gift or cause for joy since November 21st.

So I'm back. I'm working my way out of this dark cloud, one gift at a time.

611. My new shoes, purchased with my graduation money. I've wanted a pair of Converse for a long, long time. I found this pair for $20!

612. A wonderful time with my little sister, and that she made it safely home flying by herself. And, that she is a big reason I was inspired to start recording gifts again, since I got her started on it and she is still doing it faithfully.

614. My friendship bracelet from Melissa, one of my youth group girls. It reminds me of our Mexico Missions Trip, my material blessings, and the blessing of friendship.

615. Since the beginning of my struggle, Brian has had two interviews with a company here in AZ, both of which went very well, and another one on Monday!

618. A fun evening with the youth group over at our house for a end of the school year/almost end of the school year party with pizza, frisbee, Toy Story, and lots of laughter.

620. A beautiful Arizona day.

621. Summer is here!

622. Another day with the dog. In a few months, he'll be returning to his real owners, but until then, I can enjoy his unconditional love and constant enthusiasm.

623. Another day in this house, enjoying the opportunity to have the youth group over while we still can. We're planning to move in two months and find a studio apartment to lower our rent costs.

625. Good news from our landlord! To save them the hassle of finding new renters, they offered to work with us on the rent price!

628. Finally being able to put into words in this blog post what I've been experiencing during the last several weeks.

There's more I could add, but I'm saving it for another post!
"Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3: 13-14