Stillness Amidst Singleness

Everybody seems to love to talk about preparing our hearts for future relationships and marriage, but it seems as if nobody wants to talk about how to prepare our hearts for singleness, so I decided to (trust me, I’m a pro. Single for essentially my entire life and counting).

Not to put it bluntly (but to also kinda put it bluntly), singleness can suck. Real bad. It can get lonely. It can make us feel unwanted. Unloved. Having someone simply makes us feel good. It’s a temporary solution to our loneliness. It makes us feel wanted. If you’ve ever been in anything close to a relationship before, you know the exact feeling I’m talking about. It’s a feeling that we all desire to have. We all want to be wanted. (Important PSA and a truth that I continuously need to speak over myself: just because you’re single doesn’t mean you’re not wanted. You’re wanted by the King of Kings. There’s nothing greater than that).

In this generation, we’ve made a habit of wasting our singleness by wishing it doesn’t exist. We’ve spent too much time praying for a future spouse and not enough time praying for the Lord to fully satisfy us in who He is. We’ve spent too much time wasting our breath saying “I’m ready for someone to love” and not enough time saying “Lord, help me to love You more.” There seems to be this pressure on singles that we need to have somebody as if we don’t already (His name is Jesus).

When we begin to treat our singleness as a gift rather than a curse, we’ll begin to see it as a gift. We’ll begin to learn things about ourselves that we didn’t even know we needed to learn. We’ll begin to allow the Lord to satisfy us in ways that we didn’t even know we needed to be satisfied in. We’ll begin to love the Lord in radical ways that we didn’t even realize we could love Him in. We’ll begin to accept love from Him and from others that we didn’t even know we needed to accept love in.

Who you are in your single life is what you’ll bring into marriage. If you battle with depression, you’ll battle with it in your marriage. If you battle with porn, you’ll battle with it in your marriage. I promise you, your future spouse cannot heal these areas of your life. They may be able to provide a temporary fix, but full healing will not take place simply from marriage. By believing that marriage is the answer to your porn addiction or your depression, you’re putting your (future) spouse in the place of God. They may be able to walk with you in your journey of healing, but they can never be your healer.

Just a PSA: if you’re lonely in your singleness, you’ll be lonely in your marriage. Don’t allow the enemy tell you that your loneliness is a result of your singleness. Say it with me again: don’t allow the enemy tell you that your loneliness is a result of your singleness. This is probably the most cliche thing I’ll ever say, but until you find full satisfaction in Christ and all of who He is, you will never find full satisfaction in another human. The best way to prepare your heart for singleness is to fully embrace all that He has to offer you in this season. You’ll never get it back. You’ll never be able to pursue God at this magnitude of your life again. Until He is enough for you, no other person will ever be.

In this season of singleness, God wants you to learn the depth of intimacy with Him. This is the season I’ve found myself in; the Lord has been radically filling me with all of who He is because I’m at a point in my life where I fully desire nothing and no one but Him. I find myself so often on my face begging for more of Him. It’s beautiful. It’s life-changing. It’s a season I’ll never forget. Just Him and I. Me and Him. Nothing else. No one else.

I’ve said this in previous blog posts and I’ll say it again: we’re ready for marriage when we cannot possibly be holier without a spouse. Holiness isn’t something that should be rushed. Continuously ask the Lord to reveal areas of your life that He wants you to be holier in!

I’m going to give you 3 crucial but practical ways to prepare your heart for singleness. Do with them what you wish. Take them or leave them (but I strongly encourage you to take them).

1. Be prepared for the lonely nights. 

Even if you find yourself fully content in your singleness, lonely nights will come. I promise. If I ever find myself in a state of loneliness, instead of dwelling alone in my room, I’ll go out in public (usually to a coffee shop or Target haha) or spend time with a friend because it’s much easier to be lonely when you’re physically alone.

2. Be in constant awareness of your thoughts.

This one is so (so so so) important. Make sure you’re always discerning if your thoughts are from the Lord or if they’re from the enemy. If they’re from the Lord, embrace them. If they’re from the enemy, rebuke them. If you’re left feeling unwanted, undesired, or unloved, rebuke that. That is so far from the truth! But if you’re left feeling satisfied and full, embrace that and ask the Lord for more!

3. Make sure you’re seeking satisfaction and attention from nothing and no one but Christ alone.

I talked about this a tad earlier but if you find yourself constantly doing things to get the attention of the opposite sex, sorry to break it to ya, you’re seeking satisfaction from man and not from God. This one is an easy one for me. It’s so easy for me to desire attention and satisfaction from a man rather than from God and I’ll constantly find myself doing things to get his attention rather than His (thank the Lord that He usually convicts me before I actually do them). Satisfaction from flesh is so temporary. Please understand this. No amount of temporary satisfaction comes close to being comparable to the eternal satisfaction the Lord has in store for you.

In conclusion, singleness is hard. Singleness sucks at times. But singleness is also one of the most beautiful seasons you’ll get the privilege of having. I, for one, can’t wait to continue on my journey in singleness because I can’t wait to continue love the Lord with all I am before loving someone else. He gets me. All of me. All of my attention. All of my affection. All of who I am. And at this point of my life, I wouldn’t want it any other way. But, I also can’t wait to have someone someday to walk alongside me and chase after God in full with me. Just because I embrace my singleness doesn’t mean I’m closed off to marriage (trust me, I’ve tried to be).

If you’re single, have so much hope! Even if you’re one of the few He has called to a lifetime of singleness, take so much joy. You get to find satisfaction in only Him forever! That’s so beautiful. But if you’re the one who’s single for just a season whether long or short and marriage is in your future, remember to have eyes on the now, not just on what’s ahead. Focus on where God has you now and what He’s speaking to you now. Don’t miss out on what the Lord has for you right now because you’re too focused on what He has for you in the future.

Proverbs 19:20-21 says “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

Take this and run with it. His purpose prevails. Always.


So All the World Will Know

As I walked into the prayer room on my campus to write this blog, a song I’ve never heard began playing. The lyrics say “though the earth may try to satisfy my heart, though the earth may try to tell me You’re not faithful, though the earth may try to blind me from Your goodness, You shine through” and wow. I genuinely couldn’t believe how accurate these lyrics are to my life right now. The past few days my heart’s been struggling to accept the fact that this world is turning away from Jesus, the only One worthy to praise, with each passing day. The earth can seem so incredibly blinding to His goodness.

During work this afternoon, the Lord just shattered my heart and I began to cry out in repentance of this world who chooses to reject, mock, and deny Jesus every day. Man, that’s so heavy… Jesus knew that when He died, there were going to be those people who completely reject Him and spit in His face but He died anyway because His love for us triumphed the suffering that He would endure. Wow… What a Savior.

There’s such an urgent desperation for something greater and it’s up to us to show the world that there is something greater; His name is Jesus.

Slipping away from Jesus starts small. It starts with one act of disobedience. It starts with one “no, I don’t feel like it” or one “eh, I’ll do it another time.” It starts with one drink. It starts with one less piece of clothing. It starts with one click on a website you know you shouldn’t be on. It starts with one look at something you shouldn’t be looking at. It starts with allowing one thought stay in your mind longer than it should. It starts so, so small.

The second I woke up this morning, the enemy placed the thought of a sin in my life that I used to commit frequently. A sin that my flesh genuinely liked committing because it made me feel good. It distracted me from the pain and it was fun. The enemy showed me flashbacks of times where I missed opportunities to partake in that sin and literally had me thinking “man, I wish I would have done that when I had the chance,” even though it was completely destructive to every aspect of who I am. You guys, this is literally how small it starts. Just one thought of “man, I wish this is something that I can continue to partake in even though it’s utter disobedience to the Lord.”

This is why, as Christ followers, we have to be on the constant lookout and be discerning of spirits. The enemy knows every weakness in our lives and knows how to slowly trick us into disobedience by making something look good when in reality, it’s utterly destructive to our souls. But get this, the moment we were made new in Christ was the moment we gained the authority to tell sin to leave. We are no longer slaves to it. We’re no longer bound to it and it’s no longer bound to us. There’s an urgent desperation to break the chains of those in the world who are still enslaved.

You guys, we know the Mender of every broken soul. We know the Healer to every disease. We know the Chain Breaker who rescues those in bondage. We personally know the One who is all things to all people, so why aren’t we sharing Him like the earth depends on it?! Because it sure as heck does. Jesus gave us the privilege to share the good news in Mark 16:15, “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” We should be taking this and running with it. I mean, if you were terminally ill and someone had the very medication to cure you forever, wouldn’t you want them to share it with you?

We need to ask the Lord for broken and burdened hearts for those who don’t know Him. There needs to be an urgency. It’s the only way. We can’t continue only telling people about Jesus when we’re comfortable, when the time is right, or when it’s not awkward. It’s the Lord’s desire for all the world to know Him and it should be yours too. We need to be people who do absolutely everything we can to shine His light; despite what it costs and despite how hard it may get.

God is still in the business of parting seas for us. God is still in the business of raising the dead back to life. God is still in the business of raining manna from Heaven for us. God is still in the business of protecting us while we’re in the fiery furnace. The same God that performed these miracles is the same God who is still alive and active today. He is the ultimate good news. He is alive. He is moving. He is redeeming. His only desire is to bring others into His goodness and I hope it’s yours too.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! / Psalm 34:8

A Good God in an Unjust World?

The amount of times I’ve heard the question “how can God be good when there’s so much evil in this world?” in my Christian walk is endless and friends, I have a very simple answer for you… because God is good and people aren’t. 

My church is currently in a series about justice and this morning, the CEO and founder of International Justice Mission, Gary Haugen broke down God’s heart for justice in such a powerful way. He mentioned that God is passionate about two things… the world and justice. He also mentioned that the goal is to have a heart that’s more and more like the heart of God. A heart of justice, a heart of mercy, a heart of grace, a heart of fairness.

If you watch any sort of news, check social media or simply don’t live under a rock, you know we live in a dark, cruel and unjust world. There are millions of children all over the world in sex slavery who are being beaten and sold for just a few dollars up to dozens of times a day. Approximately one million people commit suicide a year. People every day are dying of unfair diseases, car accidents, drug overdoses, etc. Around 17,000 children under the age of five die daily of starvation. You get the point. So… where is God in all of this? Where was God when you were assaulted? Where was God when your dad passed away? Where was God when your best friend committed suicide?

God is a God who hates abuse and wants it to stop. God desires for our world to be a just and fair world; He’s not the one who’s allowing it, that’s you. That’s me. That’s the enemy. God wants us to take a stand when we see injustice and when we don’t, the flame will be fanned and it will never come to an end. Rather, it will only be built up.

For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish. The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever. / Psalm 37:28-29

Since God is a God of justice, how we treat people matters to Him. When we help the poor, the hurting and the broken, we are lending to God. He has called us to be the light of the world and to bring His goodness and grace into it. When we say yes to being a vessel of God, we are saying yes to fight against injustice. Just because God is good doesn’t mean this world will be and just because this world is full of evil doesn’t mean God is. God only has one plan to stop the injustice and wrongdoing of this world and that’s us. We are His plan. His only plan. He has entrusted us to be light in a dark world and when we fail to do that, we not only prove ourselves untrustworthy to God, but we add onto the darkness. Jesus wouldn’t pass by a need and turn His head; rather, He would meet that need.

I’ll say it again… God is good, people aren’t. We live in an unjust world because we choose to live in an unjust world. Rather than becoming angry at God and placing blame on Him for an unjust world, do something to stop it. When Jesus passed by the sick, He didn’t blame God for sickness in the world; He healed them. Jesus tells us in John 14:12 that we will do even greater things than He… and this is what we are to do.

Right now, imagine how it feels to be blamed and hated for something so evil and corrupt that you didn’t even have a single part in. Not even the smallest. Imagine having the blame placed on you for starving children. For war. For sickness and disease. God faces that daily. The only part God takes in corruption is making beauty out of it. He doesn’t cause it. He doesn’t add onto it. He restores it… But only if we let Him.

If you hate injustice, pain, and suffering, you and God are on the same team. If you want it to stop, you and God are interested in the same thing. Why turn your back on someone that feels an even greater passion for justice and goodness than you do? So, rather than turning your back on God and placing the blame on Him, ask Him for His heart of passion and ask what your part of removing the injustice of the world is. You and God are on the same page, so why wouldn’t you wouldn’t want to team up with an omniscient God and find a means to stop the injustice? We cannot ignore the one thing that has the ability to turn any darkness into light just because we believe He is the cause of that darkness. Spoiler alert; He isn’t. We are. The enemy is. Ephesians 6 says our battle isn’t against flesh and blood but our battle also isn’t against God; it’s against the enemy who is the bringer of corruption. If you fight with God, you will always win. If you fight against God, you will always lose.

We are called to bring justice into an unjust world. Jesus says to us “you are it. You are the light of the world.” So, what’s your part? What are you doing to stop the injustice? Are you becoming angry at God or are you asking God for a holy anger towards injustice? If your anger is at God, your anger is in the wrong place. He is the good. He is the bringer of light. He is the bringer of justice. I challenge you with this: if you have no anger towards injustice, ask for it. If you do have anger towards injustice, do something about it. If you’re not doing your part, do it. If you are doing your part, do more of it. God’s heart is to see a world of wholeness, justice, and kindness by seeing a world that comes to Him. Is this your heart too? If not, let it be.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? / Micah 6:8

How to Find Intimacy with the Lord.

If you’re a human being like me, you’ve likely gone through, are currently  going through or will go through a season of complete dryness and feeling like you lack intimacy with the Lord. It’s expected. It’s normal. It’s okay. What’s not okay is staying complacent and comfortable in the dry season and forgetting how to be intimate with the Lord. The Bible tells us that the Lord leads us into seasons and takes us out of seasons but through any season, no matter how dull and no matter how dry, intimacy with the Lord is possible and even expected from Him.

Because seasons lacking intimacy is expected in our walk with the Lord, I’m going to give you a few basic and practical steps on how to stay intimate with the Lord amidst dryness that have helped me a ton!

1. Be cautious on who and what you’re allowing in.

Are you allowing friends who lead you down the wrong path in? Where is your heart when you’re listening to secular music and is it glorifying to the Lord? Are the movies you’re watching and the people you follow on social media growing you in the Lord or are they distracting you from Him? If you allow the things that aren’t of God in rather He Himself, there’s no room for Him simply because light and dark cannot co-exist. The Bible says that the Lord will spit lukewarm people out of His mouth. Lukewarm isn’t an option. You’re either in or you’re out. The Bible also tells us that suffering is expected, but if the apostles rejoiced because they had been counted worthy of suffering for the name of Jesus after being thrown in prison, we have no excuse not to rejoice when trials nowhere near this intense come our way.

2. Find a community of believers and friends/leaders who can hold you accountable.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” / Hebrews 10:24-25 

If you’re not surrounded by people constantly who can lift you up and encourage you, escaping complacency and the dryness is nearly impossible. Being involved in a community of believers is crucial. It’s a necessity in our walk with the Lord. If it weren’t, the Lord wouldn’t have bothered to tell us in His Word how crucial it is. Be open with your struggles with leaders in your local church, community, or Godly friends. Allow them to give you wisdom and point out places of your life that need improvement and that need to be healthier. They’re there to help, not hurt.

3. Recognize how you’re spending your time.

When we don’t “feel” God’s presence, it’s easy be content outside of it. It’s easy to let dust cover your Bible and it’s easy to “forget” how to pray, but these are things that we must fight through. We have no option. We need to be in constant prayer and we need to be constantly in our Word, not only for the holiness and betterment of ourselves, but to give a worthy Savior the worship He deserves even when we don’t “feel” like it. I mean, I’m pretty certain Jesus never “felt” like being tortured and murdered on the cross for you but He did it anyway because He loved you too much to leave you broken. If we fail to recognize the holiness and the utter goodness of God, we then become complacent in our relationship with Him and choose to spend our time essentially ignoring Him when all He desires is for us to run to Him.

God desires for you to be in communication with Him and for you to be in His Word. He desires to fill you with Himself and if we’re not doing those things, we become full of ourselves rather than full of Him. Again, light and dark cannot co-exist. It’s Him or the world. One will leave you feeling temporarily pleased and satisfied but later on broken, hopeless and lost and the other promises trials and sufferings but also promises eternal life, unshakable joy amidst trials and freedom. It’s up to you, my friend. Although there is nothing in this world He desires more than You, He was gracious enough to give you a choice between Him and the world.

Escaping complacency is never easy, but it’s necessary. Jesus is worthy of all of our praise, not our “when I feel like it” praise. That type of worship is empty, from the wrong place of our heart and not what the Lord is worthy of. Worship is a privilege, not a chore. Once you begin to see it that way, I promise you’ll want to do nothing but worship. You’ll find yourself falling more in love with the Lord daily. You’ll find yourself in a place of such awe that you feel like you can’t love Him any more than you already do but then He’ll be faithful to wreck that and you’ll continue to fall even deeper.

Remember, Jesus never “felt” like dying on that cross, but He did anyway. The Father never “felt” like allowing His son to be murdered, but He did anyway. He didn’t do it for your “when I feel like it” worship, He did because He saw your brokenness and chose to save you. I beg you, please recognize that. That alone should be enough to make you want to drop everything and worship Him right now. I promise, you’ll never escape complacency if you don’t recognize His utmost worthiness to be worshiped.

Read this. I dare you.
Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness. Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!” / 1 Chronicles 16:23-31

Loosing the Pangs of Depression

Yesterday in a life group at college, we were encouraged to seek the Lord about something we need to be vulnerable in and tell our roommates what the Lord laid on our hearts. For the first few minutes of praying and seeking, I was genuinely unsure. I’m already a pretty vulnerable person and it’s easy to share about my struggles so nothing stood out to me right away. I felt the Lord moving so strongly in my heart in that moment so I knew there had to be something He was trying to speak to me. I began seeking below the surface since there was nothing obviously on top and that’s when I so clearly heard the word depression. “Oh, not this again, Lord…” I thought, utterly disappointed and even scared to bring it up again.

Depression is a darkness that I’ve been at war with for many years. It’s completely overtaken me at times. It’s won too many times in my life, which is why I become fearful to even speak the word out loud. It’s been the cause of years of self harm and two suicide attempts. Depression was my identity. It was all I knew to be true.

When I started getting heavily involved at my home church is when I felt my depression shrinking. I had a glimpse of healing and will never forget one of my beloved friends saying “Nadia, you have been freed from this. You are healed.” I walked in this. I stood by this. It was the hardest thing for me to believe because of the fact that it was my sole identity and I was prepared to suffer from depression my entire life, but I chose to embrace those words anyway.

This has been the absolute most discouraging aspect of my life because there are times I fully believed I’m healed from depression, then I become severely depressed again to the point where I cannot physically get out of bed. It brings such a heaviness throughout my entire body. It’s a vicious cycle. The smallest things in the world can trigger it which is extremely frustrating because it automatically makes me much more sensitive than the average person. One of the hardest parts is having to explain to people (and an entire new school with entirely new faces) why you’re so joyful and giddy one day and the next look like all life has been stripped from me the next. It leaves me feeling so abnormal. Like an outcast. Like I’m alone in a room full of people.

A few days ago when I was feeling depression heavily, I entered the throne room of God with so much hurt in my heart and potentially disappointment in the Lord because I felt lied to about my healing. He responded with “I haven’t taken your healing away from you.” Wow. That was such a beautiful reminder that if the Lord has healed you, He has healed you. He doesn’t remove healing. He doesn’t reverse it. He doesn’t break His promises. Being healed doesn’t mean you’ll never battle with it again, it simply means it’s no longer your burden, it’s the Lord’s. My friend reminded me that through this time of reoccurring depression, deeper healing will come.

In just a short month from tomorrow, I’ll be three years self harm free. I vividly remember not believing that self harm will ever be something I’ll be fully free from, even when I’m old and gray. This is something that controlled my life for years on end. It was a war. An addiction. It was a coping mechanism to the darkness that depression brought me. It got to the point where I would still self harm solely because it was habitual, not because I was hurting or needed to cope with my depression. Today, three years later, I can proudly say I wear the scars self harm gave me because I am not self harm’s victim, I’m a warrior who defeated it.

Sometimes when depression sneaks back into my life, it’s hard to remember that I’ve even defeated it at all but then I’m reminded that I didn’t; that was all Jesus. He defeated my depression the very moment He defeated death and the grave and if you battle with depression also, as you’re reading this, I pray that you find so much comfort in the fact that you don’t have to fight alone. You’re being fought for every single day by the same King who robbed the grave.

Depression, you tried to take my life but I took it back.

Depression, you tried to tell me I’m unworthy, but I serve a King who knows and embraces my worth.

Depression, you tried to grasp onto me but my God’s grasp was tighter.

Depression, you stole my happiness but you could never touch my joy.

Depression, you lost the fight to a victorious God who fights for me daily.

Depression, you have been defeated and you will remain defeated.

Depression, you may sneak back into my life at the most undesirable times, but I will always be ready to put up a fight. You will never win. My God already did that. The pangs of depression are loosened. The chains have been broken. You have been defeated.

I’m proclaiming this over myself, you and any loved one you know that suffers from depression. If you know anyone who battles with this, please be patient with them and ask them how you can care for them during their bad days. If you personally battle with depression, be vulnerable and let people know when you’re having a bad day. It’s okay. People are here to love on you! You can’t expect people to know what you need when you need it.

Remember: depression is a liar. Depression is coward. Depression comes to steal, kill and destroy but the Lord came to bring life and bring it to the full! Embrace your warrior status rather than dwelling on your victim-hood.

“But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” / Psalm 3:3

Bad Starbucks Drinks and Spiritual Opposition

The other day, I was on my way to a woman’s retreat with my school and I was craving my favorite drink, chai, from Starbucks. I had my friend make a quick stop so I can run in and get one for the road. Now, if you’re an avid chai drinker like me, you know there is absolutely no in-between for chai. It is either delicious or absolutely disgusting. I bet you’ll never guess what mine was… I didn’t have time to have the barista remake it so I basically wasted five bucks on a cup full of milk and a drop of chai. I was so frustrated at that moment because I’m so frugal and absolutely hate spending money, let alone wasting it. I completely shut down because I was so irritated.  I not only wasted five bucks but my craving still wasn’t satisfied. I let it alter my thankfulness and worship to God that night in a room full of hundreds of other women worshiping the same, patient God not worrying about wasting five bucks on a bad Starbucks drink.

I don’t know how many others are like me, but I’m the type of person who can shut down from things very easily. If something upsets me in the smallest manner, I’ll shut down for most, if not all of the day. It’s ridiculous, but it’s just who I am. I’m growing in it daily. It’s a struggle.

The definition of opposition is “disagreement with something, often by speaking or fighting against it.” I don’t know about you, but I know I disagree and even fight against God consistently. The question that I find popping in my mind more often than not is “God, why?” and I try to fight with Him as if I know best (spoiler alert, I don’t).

Leading up to this season, I’ve been finding myself so consistently completely shut down when it comes to God and anything that has to do with Him. I’ve been prioritizing homework and a social life over time spent with the Lord and let me tell you, I can feel it. But the Lord has been so gracious to me and although I close myself off, He finds such gentle and sweet ways to pour in. Whenever the Holy Spirit pours into me, I find myself wondering why I ever wanted to be closed off to Him in the first place. If you’re a Christ follower, I’m sure you know the feeling. It’s an experience like no other. It’s so bittersweet. It’s so encouraging. It’s so satisfying. I just love it so much.

Refinement: The improvement or clarification of something by the making of small changes.

I absolutely love this definition and how it goes along with the Lord so well. “Small changes.” This complement’s the Lord’s patience and grace so well because in times of refinement, the Lord brings small changes for the sake of our own self betterment and the glory of Himself. He doesn’t overwhelm us with changes unless it is necessary for growth in our relationship with Him and if it is, it’s a change that needs to be embraced.

In seasons of opposition, the Lord’s patience is accentuated so well because He refuses to rush us. He speaks only when we listen. He pours out only when we offer Him our cup. He’s so gracious not to force Himself upon us but simply waits for us to meet Him at the halfway mark. He’s already there. He’s already waiting.

I think one of my biggest regrets in my walk with the Lord is how blatantly I’ve shut myself off from Him. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand how I could possibly shut off the one thing that is in constant relentless pursuit of me. It doesn’t make sense, yet I still do it. Constantly.

I think once I stop trying to make sense of the Lord’s patience and embrace it instead, miracles will begin to happen. We don’t need to make sense of Him, sometimes we simply need to embrace Him and the goodness that He brings, even when it doesn’t make sense.

Openness with the Lord is such a beautiful thing because He already knows everything about you, so why let Him flourish you through that? He can only move so much when you’re closed off to Him, but the moment you open yourself up, the opportunities are limitless. Let the Lord do a new work in you today. In this season. In the times you feel like hiding from Him, run to Him instead. Expose yourself to Him instead. He already sees you. He already knows you. I promise you won’t ever regret running to Him.

So, if you’re like me and a bad Starbucks drink can somehow lead you to shutting yourself off from the Lord, remember that He is patient but He is also expectant. Minuscule undesirable circumstances are not worth missing out what the Lord has for you in that moment. Remember: He’s already at the halfway point. You just have to meet Him there. He’s waiting ever so eagerly. For you.

The Overwhelming, Never-Ending Reckless Love / A Tribute to Ethan Barclay.

As I sit here in a coffee shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota, my heart can’t help but to hurt. With tears in my eyes, knots in my stomach and shaking hands, I look back to Tuesday night when I got the news that a close friend, a Marine, a son, and a man of God was killed by another Marine. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, I’m sure you know the feeling. It’s a feeling like no other. It’s a pain like no other. It feels like nothing short of a nightmare.

I knew the time of spiritual warfare would come because I recently moved to a missions school. I knew that the enemy will do anything in his power to get me to leave this school because the last thing he wants is the gospel to be shared… but I wasn’t prepared for it to happen my first week of school. And let me tell you… he almost won. I had it all planned out. I would go home to mourn with mine and Ethan’s church and come back to Bethany in the fall semester. I wanted and still want nothing more. Trying to mourn being surrounded by strangers is rough, but I got an encouragement from a lovely friend, “the Lord knew the events would be in this order. He knows you’re strong enough to be there and intercede from there.” and although this is hard to swallow, it’s so true.

Although we have many, my favorite and most bittersweet memory of Ethan was when we were both a part of my church’s play, Novel. It was based in the 80’s and we were both extras. We dressed to the nines and I was privileged to be his dance partner. Nearly every practice (there were dozens), he would make fun of me for being able to see straight over my head because I’m so short and trying to tickle me because I’m not ticklish. He was convinced he would get me to laugh (I always did because he always failed, not because I was ticklish haha).

Ethan playing around with Snapchat filters while awaiting our part in the play! This photo so accurately describes him, haha.

I recently saw an article about Ethan saying he was a “ray of sunshine,” which touched my heart because it so accurately describes him.

A ray of sunshine. I love that so much. Ethan was nothing short of that. He was so kind and his generosity was almost abnormal at times because I never once saw him be selfish. I went to a Social Club Misfits concert with him and a few others and because I couldn’t afford it at the time, he bought me VIP. It was so unexpected but I was so excited because that meant I could meet them!

Ethan’s favorite worship song was Reckless Love by Cory Asbury.  If you haven’t heard it, you need to. Here’s the link.

Cory heard of the news and sent a video to We Are One (our church’s youth ministry). “I haven’t stopped crying, I’m weeping with you guys, I’m crying with you guys, I’m praying for you guys.” “The thing that I felt from the Father that where there is pain, there is the Comforter.” Ethan’s last tweet was wanting to win his record so Cory sent it over to us. It was overwhelmingly kind of him and so heart-felt that he wanted to mourn with us.

I never wanted nor expected to live in a world without Ethan. There’s an overwhelming amount of hurt as a result of his death, but there is also an overwhelming amount of joy that he is without a doubt, happier than earthly possible in his new home – Heaven.

The night of his death, I was reminiscing on the last time I hugged him. It was a Wednesday night at youth and I had no idea he was going to be there. I ran to him excitedly and hugged him with joy that he was home. The words that replayed in my mind an excruciating amount of times was “I wish I could hug him one last time.” As a friend was praying over me, I got a vision of just that. Ethan had his arms wrapped around me hugging me in a way that made me feel like everything’s going to be alright. I know it will, but I also know that it’ll take time.

I’m endlessly thankful that the pure emptiness I’ve been feeling can be filled with the Holy Spirit simply by the call of His name. This is so beautiful to me / that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman and waits for the call of His name to come and fill us.

My heart is shattered into a million pieces for Ethan’s family. His father’s only child was taken out of this world by the hands of another person, another Marine. I can’t imagine. His mother. His grandparents. I’m so broken for them. My heart aches so terribly for them.

But the good news, aside from his glorious new home, he left a legacy behind.

This was just who Ethan was. He loved Jesus and loved His people. It was so evident. Ethan’s life touched literally thousands of people and led one (that I know of) to Jesus through his death. He was so special. He was so loved.

My song for Ethan’s friends, family and loved ones is New Life by SEU Worship. It’s the song that I played over and over the night of his death. It says “You bring new life into a broken heart, You bring new life to us,” and “You bring faith that fear can’t reach, You bring peace that sets us free.” This is TRUTH. I felt this song so strongly that night because I, along with many others, felt as if all life was stripped from me. But the good news is that Jesus brings new life! Although it doesn’t make sense and although it hurts like no other, Jesus is still so good. I’ve had to constantly remind myself of this the past few days.

In the words of Ethan Barclay,

“All I have to do is trust in Him and know that whatever happens, happens for His good and according to His Will and even though it might hurt, everything happens for a reason.
We can’t lean on our own understanding because He has a plan and it’s 10x better than what we think would be good for ourselves.
It’s just like the story of Job; we might think that whatever is happening could never get better, but then because of His faithfulness in God, He got blessed with everything he had plus more.”

Ethan’s death is a loss for us, but it’s a gain for Heaven. I can’t imagine how overjoyed all of Heaven was to have Ethan home. His coming was awaited and utterly anticipated. He’s home.

I love you, Ethan Andrew Barclay-Weberpal. Each day I am more excited to see you again and hug you again. Until then, I promise to do everything in my power to leave your legacy behind everywhere I go. It’s not a goodbye, it’s a see you later. Oh, how I can’t wait for that day.

For those who are willing and wanting to help, there’s a GoFundMe for Ethan; here’s the link.

If you can’t financially be help, as I previously said, please just cover the family in your prayers. Tell his story to others. Let’s never let Ethan’s legacy stop.