Surrendering To Love

At the beginning of this year I was asked to prepare a mini-sermon for my class. The theme I kept encountering was on surrender. Funny how I never anticipated for this to be the theme of my year…

A couple months back I had a housemate ask me a startling question. She looked me straight in the eyes and asked: “Are you upset?” Taken back by her question I  really didn’t know how to respond. She quickly countered with: “Upset isn’t the correct term. You just seem restless.”

It’s been a few months since I’ve written. Mainly because I’ve felt conflicted writing about depression when I felt like I was in the midst of it. How could I help someone else, when I was full frontal facing it myself. This season had hit me to the core, often feeling dazed and confused about the predicament I found myself in.

Twenty-six has been a year of detoxing. Intentionally listening to the narrative I cultivated, and the self-worth I believed to deserve.

My wilderness has taken place in the beautiful country of Australia. Where I’ve fought kangaroos, conquered cockroaches, survived on chicken broth, dislocated ligaments, gotten into a pricey car accident, and wrestled with doubt and shame. It’s also where I have been surrounded by an incredible community. Where I have gained tenacity and grit. A wilderness that has softened me, making me even more compassionate and gentle. Less self-centered, less worrisome, and a whole lot more brave!

The process of surrender has done its magic. Unfortunately surrender didn’t come easy,  but it has brought peace, and liberated me to love the process I was currently in.

“Surrender your anxiety! Be silent and stop your striving and you will see that I am God. I am the God above all the nations, and I will be exalted throughout the whole earth.” Psalm 46:10

Surrender isn’t passive. It’s actually an active verb of giving over or yielding to. For me, it’s been a process of deliberately taking moments to pause. To reflect on the goodness within my life, to take deep breathes and remember to watch the leaves in the wind. To be compassionate towards myself in the process. It honestly takes a whole lot of mindfulness. Surrender is an invitation to smile. Surrender means accepting what is, and letting go of what isn’t. It’s acknowledging and loving every imperfection, every struggle, and every heartache. “Empathy and connection require us to know and accept ourselves before we can know and accept others.”(Brene Brown) How sweet that my God has never asked me to be perfect in order for him to use me. He loves our humanity.

As I’ve been reading I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) by Brene Brown, she synthesizes it so perfectly. “Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us. To let fear soften us rather than harden into resistance.”… “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and wounded, but between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

So here I am, 7 months after I spoke on surrender. And I am so grateful that I got to learn to become more compassionate towards myself.  To learn to smile even in the confusion, to ask for help even when I wanted to isolate. To trust the pain was only temporary and that God would revive what felt dead. I’ve gotten to experience His goodness firsthand and relearn to trust my Creator. To love myself fiercely, and to be vulnerable, to truly be authentic with the process. More importantly, I am learning that I am so much more resilient than I dared to believe and He will never leave or forsaken me.

Thank you to every angel that accompanied me on this journey! I am eternally grateful.

 

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Identity Stories

In the more recent days, I’ve been playing this tiresome tug of war with my value. Do I believe to be worthy of great love? Am I significant to my friends and family? Do I value my opinions, the thoughts I have and the way I look?

In a world where humans let others define their worth, dependent income brackets, hotness levels, their productivity or charm, it can be incredibly difficult to feel valued when we fall short. Therefore I’ve been purposely shedding “value layers” that society has placed on me, in order to really know my worth and value for myself. Because of this, the timing of this topic couldn’t be more perfect. 

If you’ve ever been intrigued by mythology, you’ve probably come across the more common Greek origin stories. Personally, I never spent much time reading mythology until we were prompted to look at the Egyptian, Babylonian, Canaanite and Greek Origin Stories. Once I sat down and actually read them,  I noticed the similarities and vast differences. In comparison, it made me appreciate the Christian/Hebrew Origin Story so much more.

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Most research on Egyptian Creation Myths dates back to 2780 – 2250 B.C.E, which are considered the Old Kingdom times. Similar to the Bible, the Egyptians also believed that in the beginning there was only water and chaos. The sun god, Ra rose from those waters and procreated with himself and spat out Shu (god of air) and vomited out his daughter Tefnut (goddess of moisture). When both of his kids lost themselves in the chaotic waters, Ra (Sun god) sent out his eye to find them. Shu and Tefnut returned to Ra and when Ra wept with tears of joy, humans grew from the earth.

It’s a sweet story, but nonetheless, it clearly expresses that human life wasn’t intentional. Humans were mere byproducts, even if it was caused by a joyful occasion. This comparison may seem far stretched but hear me out. I believe there is a deep innate desire in every one of us to be loved and desired. Unfortunately, I’ve had friends who’ve struggled with knowing they were unintentionally conceived. It’s crazy how this could shift your perspective of being unworthy or unloved and embed a strong belief of inconvenience and even insignificance. I’m sure the Egyptians didn’t feel or believe that they individually had much significance towards their creator. 

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This origin story is considered some of the oldest known to man. Apsu (or named An), god of fresh water, and Tiamat goddess of salt oceans basically mate and have two new gods. Ea (or named Enki) and the other grandkids become extremely disruptive and difficult to deal with, so Apsu tells his wife that he wants to kill them. Ea (the river god) hears this and decides to put a spell on Apsu that “kills” him, but basically makes him inactive. So then Ea has a son called Marduk, who fought battles for Ea and requested that he may become the god of gods. Later on, when he did become the main god, the Gods complained that they had to serve Marduk and do the labor. So plan B for Marduk was to create mortals (humans) out of clay to be the laborers instead of the gods.

Again, we have an origin story with water. This story takes a bit of a different turn- meaning I want to shift our focus to the deity.  If the gods were wanting to kill their offspring and having to rival for power and authority, how much power can they really be possessing? I don’t think I need to even address the moral issue here…

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Chaos and water (AGAIN- see a theme here?!), chaos had the name of Baad and Arapel was the god of cloudy darkness. After a lengthy line of mating with each other etc. Teshuqah is a god that wants to rule, reign and create. Through this process, different gods were made for different purposes: heaven, earth, time, sunrise etc. Eventually, all these gods arise and fight each other but the strongest one of them all is named Baal. Baal essentially wants the earth to be beautiful, so he creates humans and animals to inhabit it.

Very similar to the Mesopotamian Origin Story, with the deity struggle.  Therefore again my actual struggle is with the gods. But at least Baal created humans and animals to make the earth beautiful.

 

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According to the Bible God created Heaven and Earth. Darkness covered the earth and God said: “Let there be light” and there was light. For 6 days, he speaks to water, he speaks to the stars and the sky, he speaks to vegetation and birds etc. God continues to be pleased with creation but it isn’t until the sixth day that God says “Let us create man in our image, according to our likeness” and then there in Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that he had made and it was very good indeed.”

Genesis is such a rich book and one of the most difficult to understand. But I believe when it comes to value, there are two important things to remember from the Christian/Hebrew Origin Story.

  1. God created us in his image
  2. God was incredibly pleased with how he created us.

Both are extremely difficult concepts to grasp. It doesn’t matter how often I read and reread it, I don’t think I’ll ever understand the fullness of what those sentences mean. Throughout the Bible, there are verses that say that God himself thought of you before birth, before time and wanted you to be a part of this life. That means that you and I weren’t merely an accident or created to amuse a God. But even crazier than that, God himself was and is extremely pleased with us! In scripture, it says He knows every detail about us; our specific laugh, our individual physical attributes, even our hearts desires. That doesn’t just apply to a particular race, age, or gender. No this applies to every human being that has walked the face of the earth! So essentially we could literally do nothing, or even worse, mess up in every aspect of our lives and still- YHWH, my God, would still love me unconditionally and say I was worth every second, minute and year spent on this earth.

It’s honestly a bit daunting to believe this truth when I at times can so viciously pick myself apart. Entertaining thoughts of inadequacy and failure. There are definitely days where it becomes unwillingly difficult for me to like myself. This is where the creation stories come together, our values, our beliefs of why we are here and why we exist actually play a major role in how we see ourselves. If we believe that we are sheer accidents, then why would it matter that I value myself or others? Why would it matter what I think of myself? What’s crazy is that what we think of ourselves actually makes a world of difference. It determines what our relationships look like, what type of job we have, how much money we make, even how happy and content we are with our lives. I can’t stress enough that our beliefs about our value will and can shift everything, either negatively or positively.

It’s my prayer that you would grasp just how incredibly essential you are. That you were created with purpose and significance. You are a mathematical walking miracle that is surrounded by one hundred billion galaxies! I believe that He is very pleased with you and God thought the world would miss out if we didn’t have YOU in it!

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Why Jesus

Public Service Announcement: I AM ATTENDING BIBLE COLLEGE.

It’s still crazy to believe I’ve taken this road. Especially as someone who never considered this path. Heck, I didn’t even want to attend Pepperdine University due to it’s conservative/ religious views. And now I am going to Bible School?!?

Honestly, I’ve kept it under wraps for various reasons. Some were due to my lack of confidence in my decision, and some of it was honestly because I at times can be a bit too concerned with what others may think. Especially when it comes to my faith, I’ve been rather private for most of it. Also because of my lack of knowledge when wanting to defend my faith. But man I have experienced the GOOD NEWS. I have experienced his graciousness, his favor and his radical love and freedom.

My relationship with Jesus hasn’t always been mutual. For many years I wanted to engage spiritualism, as long as it didn’t involve Jesus. I loved the mystery of crystals, chakras, mantra’s and was clearly enticed by New Age Spiritualism. If you don’t know about New Age, it is a term used for a range of different esoteric beliefs that combine Mind, Body, and Spirit. But ultimately New Age is heavily focused on the self, and after much trial and error, I was confronted with innate human flaws. Due to my errors, logically it doesn’t make sense to elevate myself to believe that I am essentially God.

Transitioning from Buddhism and New Age to Christianity wasn’t a glamorous one. Christians oftentimes came across pretentious, self-righteous, judgemental and ignorant. But every time I stepped into that small Church, I wept because God spoke so distinctly to my broken heart. Years later I’ve come to realize that these so claimed Christians have never encountered God, rather claiming his name for power and authority.

Therefore my next blogs will be on a series of:

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After reading the Origin Stories of the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greek, and Hebrews, was I able to see the similarities and vast differences between them. I was drastically enlightened by how different cultures see the human relationship to the divine. More than anything the Origin Stories validated how beautiful and special the Christian faith it. It often times feels too good to be true and defines human identity their sacredness.

 

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July’s blog post will examine grace. Christianity is the only religion that is not based on our works to receive salvation, but we’ve been gifted with grace. Martin Luther once said: “I preach grace every day because every day I forget.” Grace is a precious undeserving gift that brings joy and freedom. In this post, I’ll discuss why grace is so crucial to mental and spiritual freedom.

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In August I want to focus on the Upside Down Kingdom. Discussing Jesus’ values and how incredibly contradicting they are to today’s culture. How drastic, sacrificial and people-oriented He is. At Bible College we consistently pray that there may be less of us and more of Him (Jesus) and during this blog, I’ll get down and dirty with just how raw and crazy that prayer actually is and just how good it really is.

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If you have questions on any of the upcoming three topics, please message me in the “What Do You Think” form. I’d be more than happy to incorporate your questions and thoughts. This series is to shed light on the joy, freedom, and healing I’ve received mentally and spiritually from Jesus Christ. Why I am so passionate about this good news and also to give you some insight on why I’ve committed to this gracious omnipresent loving God.

So do me a favor like this post if you are excited! Scroll below to subscribe and commit to this wild ride of a journey with me!

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