Hello to my beautiful friends and family! Greetings from my cozy little bunk bed on this chilly November morning here in Smithtown, New York. So much has been going on here at YWAM and in my life the past few weeks so I thought it was time for a little update.
I guess I can start off this post by saying that this experience has been one of the most eye-opening and challenging experiences of my whole life - mentally, relationally, and spiritually. BUT I also have never been happier or felt more fulfilled than ever before. It’s so encouraging to see the Lord working in my life as I am away from home and away from my loved ones. Jesus has completely broken me over the past few months, and I think that I am finally experiencing the feeling of true peace for the first time in my life. I have spent my whole life trying to impress my friends and my parents and my teachers and pretty much anyone I have come in contact with. I would bend over backwards to try to win their approval and acceptance. I’ve learned that that is also how I used to view God - that I had to keep doing good to win his approval. The fact that NOTHING I have done and NOTHING I will ever do, no matter how “good”, will ever make Jesus love me more. It’s such an easy concept to understand but it is so difficult to actually put into action. He loves me unconditionally, and even though I always make mistakes and fall short, he will never ignore me or turn me away. I have spent so much time trying to live this religious life and trying to make myself look holy and have completely missed the concept of passionately loving God. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Savior. But until now, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept of this red-hot passion for Jesus.
Passion: “To wholeheartedly give yourself to something, to be affected by.”
I like to imagine how the world would be if every single person was infected with this all-consuming passion for Jesus. I know for a fact that it would be the exact opposite of how society works today. There would be so much hope and everyone would be overflowing with joy. The thing that stands out to me about that definition of passion above is the part about it affecting people. I like to think that my passion for One Direction would rub off on other people, but believe it or not, people here don’t seem to be very affected by it. You can replace One Direction for anything in your life, whether it’s your husband/wife, car, favorite band, or sports team, but usually people just don’t really seem to connect with you on the level of your passion for this specific thing. But we all know and love that incredible moment when you find out that someone has that same shared interest as you and you possibly might jump up and down or shriek back and forth at each other or maybe high five or hug it out for a few minutes. From that moment on, you just click with that person and you know you can go to them whenever you want to talk about that specific thing. What if we clicked like that with people over Jesus? It might be a strange concept to you, but here at this base it’s the one thing we all have in common. And it’s actually perfect because since we all have an interest in this thing (well, person) nothing else really matters all that much. If someone gets on your nerves, it really doesn’t matter. If we have different opinions on something, it’s not going to change how we view that person. Imagine if the whole world could be like that! I dream of living in a world where people can humble themselves and accept other’s opinions. God gave us all different minds and different thoughts so of course we all aren’t going to agree on everything! I’m not saying we all need to put on our maxi skirts and flower crowns and gather around a fire and hold hands, but I think it would be really nice if we could all just focus on Jesus and not each other’s opinions and short comings. I want my life to be so similar to Christ's that when people look at me they see Him. Obviously I am not perfect and I never will be, but I want to live with this incredible passion for Him that completely consumes my life.
"We live in a universe at war, war for the affections of hearts.”
Take some time today to think about your top three (okay yes you fan girl people you can have top five) passions in your life right now. Would you consider Jesus and making Him known being one on your list? I know for a fact that before coming here He wouldn’t have been on my top. He was on there, but probably somewhere in the middle of the list. I got so consumed with my life and my grades and my sorority and my friends and my car and my bank account that I didn’t really give any second thought to the people out there who don’t know the incredible joy of being in a relationship with Jesus Christ. How ridiculously selfish of me! Like I said, I’ve been broken over and over of everything and for a while I felt completely filled with shame. I wasted so much time and so many good opportunities to lead people to my Savior. But now I have moved on from that guilt and shame and channeled it into how I will act in the future. That definition above really is right on point. You can’t affect people without passion. And now I have it. And I just want to talk all the time about Jesus and what He has done for little old me! Thank you Lord for opening my eyes and completely turning my world upside down!
On a less serious note, I am having the time of my life at this place. People are always asking me what exactly it is that I am doing here, and the answer to that is A LOT. I’m so used to my laid back days at college where I might or might not go to class and might or might not shower and the hardest thing I had to do all day was work out and decide if I wanted to nap or not. Here at YWAM, I am up every morning at 6 AM and going nonstop until about 7 o clock every night when I finish my dinner and sit down with my friends and watch Disney movies and talk about how much I miss my dog. You might think I am trying to be funny but I actually talk about Honey constantly and I am pretty sure I have seen every single Disney movie ever created since I have been here. But on a serious note, I am still head over heels obsessed with this place and the thought of leaving this base and these amazing people actually makes me so depressed that I want to curl up into a ball and cry and possibly suck my thumb. We have one more week here until we all go home for Thanksgiving break, and we are all kind of dreading it. I don’t want to go back into the gross real world and be away from my new and wonderful friends. BUT I am also so excited to go back home and see my family and my Honey bear and sleep in my own bed. You can bet your butt that I will be spending my five days in the south hitting up all of my favorite restaurants with my family and eating myself into a ginormous food coma. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about right? Hahahaha I would like to say that I am joking but Juju and I have actually already made a list of the restaurants we want to go to and I am so excited thinking about all the sweet tea I am going to be consuming and how many times I will be saying “y’all” without people laughing at my southern accent (which I still don’t really believe that I have.) I am so unbelievably ready to have access to a TV and getting the chance to watch the Iron Bowl with my psychotic football-loving family. I will be home for five days and then returning back to base on the first of December. From that point on, we will have two more weeks of lectures and then I will be returning back to the promise land of fried chicken and childhood obesity for a wonderful two weeks of Christmas break. After Christmas we will all be coming back to Smithtown and ending the lecture phase of our program and starting the outreach phase! I am so excited to see all the Lord is going to do through our team here in the states and then in Costa Rica. I can’t believe that I am almost halfway done with this program, it feels like forever ago that I got here but I’ve only been here for two months! Time flies when your life is being turned upside down.
I think that’s all I’ve got for now but I will be posting a few weeks after Thanksgiving. If you are still with me after all of that rambling about One Direction and childhood obesity you are a SAINT and I want to thank you for reading all of this. I would go on about everything I’ve learned here but I really think everyone should just take some time off and do a disciple training school for themselves :) Trust me you will not regret it. I hope you all (can you believe I just said that) have the best week and that you will be filled with an all-consuming passion for our Father!
May the Lord bless you and your families this Thanksgiving!