Honesty, Hurt, and Holiness

A couple of weeks ago, I was lugging heavy burdens around with me on campus for a few days in a row.

The largest load in my heart was that it had officially been a year since my grandmother’s passing. I was missing her, and I could not wrap my head around the fact that it had already been that long.

Back when it happened, I knew that in some ways a “new normal” would have to be formed. Holidays would not be the same, and my dream of having all four of my grandparents at my wedding someday was no longer a reality. And while I knew that I couldn’t spend my life expecting everything to stay the same, a deep part of me wished for constancy. My soul longed for heaven in a very real way then.

Remembering this time left me missing more than just my grandma; my heart ran away with the loneliness and hurt until I began missing everything about what my life was like a year ago. I miss Emmaus. Miss Dubuque. I miss the friends I made there and the classes I loved. I miss being surrounded by a sweet student community and being challenged by godly men and women. There have been several times this year that I have been walking around campus, remembered what life was like last year, and felt my eyes immediately well with tears. Carrying around the pain of missing my grandma along with these things a few weeks ago was crushing, and my deep desire for an unchanging eternity was once again overwhelming.

I was, and still am, so eager to spend eternity with a perfect, unchanging God. What an absolute joy it will be to spend  every day worshiping and enjoying him.

Before beginning this year at ISU, it was so clear that God wanted me here. I still believe he does. My time here, however, has been such a bittersweet experience. Change is difficult, and there has been so much of it.

For example, last week I changed my major to Human Development and Family Studies. I am very excited about it now, but this decision initially exposed my pridefulness and distrust in God’s plan.

I don’t want to be one of those flip-floppers who can’t make up their mind.

Everyone will think I’m a quitter.

This means I’m dumb.

Satan told me lie after lie about who I was because of this decision, which left me hurt and angry. Knowing my vulnerability, he then tried to convince me that enough was enough; I deserved to have things start going my way. I began to believe him then, too.

This isn’t fair. I just changed schools and majors last fall. I can’t believe I’m being asked to switch things up again!

I don’t understand why God would ask me to do this and then make me feel so inadequate and alone. Doesn’t he want me to be happy?

But praise be to God, for he faithfully showed me my sin and pointed me back toward truth. And the truth was this: even though I’m not at a Bible college, I have grown in my relationship with Jesus in huge ways this year. Moving to Ames allowed me to meet some very sweet people and be a part of great community. I have learned how terrible I can be at loving people and how selfish I am sometimes. And in contrast, I have seen evidences of how God has gifted me in encouragement and wisdom.

In simpler words, God has used the changes in my life from a year ago to:

1. further deepen my knowledge of him.

2. give me more exposure to unique parts of his church.

3. make me more like Christ.

And this is how he loves each of us: by making sure all of these things are present in the life of his children. Our increasing holiness makes us more like Jesus, who was the perfect example of a human being in the closest possible relationship with God. So by growing our holiness, God is giving us a deeper relationship with himself. And this is the sweetest treasure we could ever hold.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 ESV

…but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV

What more do I need? Nothing. What else could I possibly want? Not. A. Thing. But so often I ask him for more. He gives me exactly what is best for me and loves me perfectly, and I lay down and cry for more comfort, ease, and that only pleasant circumstances would come my way.

My prayer is that moving forward, I would choose to focus on these things in the face of change.

When I begin taking classes for my new major this fall,

or when I spend my summer overseas and my daily life is flipped upside down:

I want to seek God’s face, that I may know him more deeply. I want to engage with the people he created and loves. I want to allow myself to be molded further into the shape of the perfect love, servanthood, and grace of Jesus.

And, perhaps most importantly, I will choose to sing praises to God for doing these things in my life. He has done nothing but help me, love me, and offer me grace. No matter the circumstance and no matter the hurt, I pray that I will instruct my heart to offer up worship. He has been so good to me this past year, and I can’t wait to grow to love him more this year as he continues to be good again and again.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I again shall praise him, my salvation and my God.

Psalm 43:5 ESV

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