Say Hello Not Good-Bye

A couple of months ago, church was just hard. I had to say good-bye to dreams and learn how to welcome reality.

I walked to church that morning because we had car troubles. The sun shone brightly for the first time in weeks and it felt good to stretch my legs. My family had gone other ways since the car broke down so I was alone. I contemplated the morning ahead of me: helping out in Sunday school and running away from the question that was sure to come. The question that I would have to say no to. The question that hurt me so much. Are you going to Mexico?

~~~

Before I turned into the parking lot, I saw a little girl dash out of her door dressed in pajamas. She began to unravel the Christmas lights from a little tree in the yard. I don’t know why, but this caught my eye.

~~~

For some reason, I stuck around after church. I don’t know why I did it. I’d already made my decision not to go to Mexico so there was really no point.

“Are you coming to the meeting today?” my youth pastor asked as I finally went to the foyer to leave.

“No,” I replied. “I-I’m not going to Mexico.”

He looked disappointed. “Why not?”

“I just don’t really feel called to go. I don’t think God wants me to go this year. I’m not needed and I don’t need it, as much as I want to go.” I said. “And believe me — I want to go to Mexico more than anything. But I really just don’t think He wants me to go.”

“Well, that sounds like a good reason. We’ll miss you though,” he said.

“Thanks,” I said through tears. I watched the others enter the activity room where the meeting was to be held. Some of them had gone before, some of them were new. I envied my friends and asked God why. “Why can’t I go back? I’ve dreamed of it for so long? Why can’t you call me back? Please God! Why do I have to say good-bye again?”

But the Good defeated the bad and I heard His voice loudly and clearly…

“Don’t say good-bye. This is not the end. New things are coming. Good things. Say hello, not good-bye.”

I smiled. It was true. Yes, He was right. I put on my coat with a happy heart. Just because I wasn’t going to Mexico didn’t mean that God had forgotten about me. He was calling me somewhere else. Somewhere better for me. And who knows? Maybe I’ll go back to Mexico someday. It doesn’t matter though. Saying good-bye is irrelevant. Hello is the word to use for the future He has planned out.

~~~

As I walked back, I saw the girl who had been unfastening Christmas lights earlier. Now she was drawing a chalk house in the drive way. I was reminded of my younger days of chalk castles and neighbour friends and I felt the nostalgia and sadness come back. But only for a moment.

“Hello,” I said, smiling at the girl as I went.

“Hi,” she replied, looking up from her chalk.

I grinned. I’d said hello not good-bye. I can do this. I really can.

~~~

I wrote this post back in February, but over these last few months, these feelings have become even truer as I prepare to graduate and start a new life at university in the fall. While I am very excited to begin this new life, I am also apprehensive. I don’t want to say good-bye to everything I’ve known and loved.

But God is showing me once more that life is about saying hello, not good bye. Today, I was officially accepted into university after months of second guessing and debating. With enthusiasm, I said Hello and Thank you, God!

God has a wonderful future planned out for you, too! Don’t ever forget that He has your very best in mind. He loves you. So say Hello and not Good-bye.

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A Place Called Home

When I was little, I used to dream about and play it. I’d bring out my dollies and tea cups and play food, and pretend that I was a mommy and wife. I had to make dinner and rock the baby to sleep. And I loved it. I couldn’t wait for the day when it would be real.

At thirteen, the dollies and pretend food were quite gone but the desire remained. No, it came back even stronger. I remember holding my then one-year-old cousin and thinking of the day that I would have my own baby. I dreamed of and planned my wedding. And I thought of my husband often. In fact, I used to spend nights and days and any quiet times talking to him. Yes, talking to him. Did I know him? Not that I knew of. But in my dreams he and home were ever-present.

One day though, this castle of dreams crumbled. It wasn’t just one thing that made it happen but quite a few scattered events and realizations. It was the “friends” who crushed my view on femininity and a future home. It was the boy I wanted but could not have and the fear that no one would ever want to marry me. And most of all, it was the deep desire burning in my soul that could not be filled no matter how hard I dreamed or tried to imagine. Suddenly, this place called home became a miserable place for my mind.

Recently though, my thoughts have returned to that once-happy place where my mind liked to be. I’ve gone through a lot since then: grief and suffering, hurt, revisions, and new-found joy. Somehow, all of these things have patched the wounds of the lonely heart longing for home. Now, I can finally feel a longing for this place again.

And I find my thoughts wandering to it often. When I lie in bed, while I’m answering Biology questions, in the sad scene of my play, home is with me. Once again, this desire is strong. In fact, I think it’s even stronger than before. Perhaps it’s because I know what it is to not want it or think that I didn’t want it, and to come back restored. Sometimes its worse though, knowing that I am close to home but so far from it.

But then, I don’t really know what God has planned. Perhaps this place called home is coming soon or maybe it isn’t at all. While that last thought is hard to grasp, I have learned to be content. I know that as much as I would love this place called home, that I don’t need a husband and family to make me happy. Because I have God and He loves me. He contents me and fills the space in my heart, now and forever. Yet He gives me this dream, this longing, this desire for home. And I believe that in His good timing and with His best desire, He shall fill it when the time is right.

Note: I often write posts and leave them in the draft section for a while. This post is one of them. I wrote it back in November, but never published it. Due to a bit of “blogger’s block” this week and the fact that these feelings have been even more on my mind than ever (as I consider my life and what to do with it), I decided to publish it today.

Something Greater

Easter eggs // Ostereier

Image via Wikipedia

The Easter that I was five, I thought that nothing could ever be better than little chocolate eggs. When I saw all of those coloured eggs leading from my bedroom door to the living room, I squealed with delight and picked them up as fast as I could. I was so excited that I took all the chocolate, including the pieces that were intended for my sister. I remember telling myself that all the things I liked before were not important now because I had this chocolate. My childish brain could see nothing greater than colour and chocolate.

 

Today, at seventeen, I find myself falling back into that state of childishness. I have plans for my life. There are things that I want so desperately right now. I have dreams, goals, and aspirations. It’s hard to see that anything could be greater than all that I have planned.

Last night, I was fed up with it all. I was sick of not knowing, tired of having to wait, and scared about the future. I sat at my computer and tried to write a story about it all. But the tears flowed down my cheeks and I couldn’t think and I cried out to God in desperation.

A noise and a pop-up on the right side of my screen distracted me from my thoughts for a moment. Seeing that it was a skype message from a good friend, I clicked on it.

Hey Liz, I read.

Hi! I typed back.

We made small talk for a bit, until we got to the root of the matter. That friend always seems to dig deeper than the surface, even when typing to each other on Skype. I told him about my worries for the future, feelings right now, and concern. I realized that I am directionless right now. I felt lost, confused, and beyond repair.

The typing sign went on and I sat there, wondering what he was going to tell me. At the sound of a Skype message, I looked to the screen and there it was: the truth I’d been needing to hear.

Maybe God has a totally different plan for you. Maybe you aren’t supposed to be an actor or a teacher. Maybe you’re pursuing the wrong goals right now. Wait and listen, Liz. He may have something much greater lined up for you and you are too engulfed in your present problems that you are missing the opportunity to let Him lead you.

I stared at the screen for a few minutes before I replied. I honestly didn’t know what to say. I knew that he was right though. God may have a different plan than mine. In fact, He probably does. It’s something greater, yet it’s hard to see right now. I’m too engulfed in my present problems and what I think I’m supposed to be and do, like my friend said. It’s just like the Easter I thought that chocolate eggs were the best thing that had ever and could ever happen. I’ve consumed myself in the wrong places and have lost sight of what really matters.

As I typed to my friend, it’s extremely difficult for me to see that something greater right now. But I’m only human and I guess that is how it goes. I can’t see the picture at the moment. The something greater doesn’t seem so great yet. But I will choose to trust in God, for the something greater will indeed be greatest.

PS I didn’t really mean for this to be a follow-up post on my last one…that’s just how my week went and how amazing God is. 🙂

 

His Plans Are Next

Change is peaking around the corner of my life at an alarming rate. I have to get a job, and I need to finish learning how to drive. I have to apply for scholarships and send in a university application and save my money. Next year, I might move away. I will be in a different environment, working and learning from strangers, hanging out with new people, and living a totally different life. I’m 17, I’m going to graduate, and move on…its invetible, I guess. But so hard and scary and strange at the same time.

There are so many things that I just don’t know right now. Like, why am I going to such an expensive university that I can’t even afford? Or, why am I going into a career with so little money to be made when I don’t even know if I want that career? Also, is getting married and raising children part of the plan? Is there someone out there for me? When am I going to meet them? And, what is the purpose of all of this? The questions are endless but the answers don’t come.

I think about my life right now. I do my school from home, pouring over the computer, a Biology text, and various word documents. My days are filled with cooking meals and washing dishes, playing the piano, singing, and pretending I’m Scrooge’s fiance or The Darlings grumpy maid. I go to rehearsals for plays and learn how to teach Spanish in a classroom and attend youth groups and church. There are friends that I see many times a week. I talk to them on Skype much more than I should and bake cookies and plan parties and meet for Starbucks with them. I sing and play the piano and work on a cherished novel and write my thoughts down on this blog. It’s mundane but contenting. I like it but I need to leave this life next year.

When I put these two lives together, one completely strange and unknown and the other the very life that I lead, I just get more confused. I love my days now but I don’t want it this way forever. I want to go to university next year, I want to be an actress, and I want to grow up but then again, I really don’t. I am confused. Just plain confused. What is my life about anyway, God? What do you have in store? Will this road be full of thorns or flowers? Can I even do these things I think that I need to do? What is next?

This time He answers. “What happened last time?”

It sounds vague but I know what He means. You went to Mexico and learned how to love and did things you were totally afraid of doing. You started this blog and became the writer you wanted to be. You got past insecurities and became a new, confident person. You got through a year that was horribly tough and made it better than any other year I gave you. You persevered, moved on, and excelled. But most importantly, where was I? Right there, holding your hand, and leading you through. What’s next? You know what is next. 

And really, I do know what is next. Ok, maybe I’m still pondering exactly where God has placed me and why. Maybe I don’t know the date of my wedding or if there will be one at all or if this university thing is going to work out and if acting is my true goal. Perhaps I’m still a bit scared, apprehensive, and confused. However, beneath it all, I know what is next and that is so much more comforting than the worry could ever be. No matter what, God and His plans for my life are next.

Part 3: Better Than Desire

This is the last post in a three-part series on trusting God and putting our desires aside. To read the first two parts, click here.

 ‘”God, I just want this too much.”

I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve said those words. Yes, my desires run deep. So deep that I constantly forget that the One who gave them to me has some even better ones in store. I just have to trust.

Sometimes though, that trust is much easier said than done. I remember sitting outside one dark night in the cold, overcome with grief and disappointment, and wondering if God could still hear me. I felt like He’d just taken the last thing that could ever possibly make me happy. “God, what are you doing?” I asked through trembling lips. And there was no answer that I could hear.

But God was still working. No, He didn’t stop. My ears may have been closed, but His hands were busy. I might have had strong desires, but His were stronger. If I could have seen or heard back then in my foolish state, I would have seen and heard great things. I would have watched the unneeded desires fade away, heard the voice of Love that was indeed whispering in my ear, and realized how happy I was with this new direction. God’s desire was at work.

And I remember when I decided on another cold, December night that even though I “couldn’t hear” God, I was just going to trust Him anyway. I had faith, somewhere deep inside. I believed, despite the pain that bit my soul. God was there, even when I was too deaf to hear. And so, I trusted.

Today, I see the fullness of God’s desire and my trust. There have been good conversations, days that just made me smile, and amazing opportunities. I’ve met amazing people and developed deep relationships. I am full of happiness and joy for the life that I have been given. Yet, it isn’t at all what I expected. No, there is no likeness to what I once wanted or thought I needed. That’s because God is better than desire. 

God, help me to trust you more. I know you know what you’re doing. I give you my life now. I surrender all. You are so very much better than desire.

Part 2: Trust Vs. Desire

This is the second post in a three-part series on trusting God and putting our desires aside. To read the first part, click here.

Trust. It’s a five letter word yet it seems to be one of the hardest things for me to do. I’m not sure why, but trusting God with my life is often something that I either completely forget about or decide not to do because I think that my way is best.

I’m also the type of person who has a lot of desires in life. I guess we all do. Unfortunately, zero trust and %100 desire just leads to a plain disaster–its like eating a piece of raw meat.

For example, once I had a good friend and a strong desire to tell him something. I knew in my heart that I should wait to tell him, if I was ever to tell him at all. However, I flirted with desire and enjoyed it’s pleasure so much that when the opportunity came, I chose desire over trust. What did I reap? A broken friendship, pressure, stress, and disappointment. It was like biting into a burger that I thought was a steak.

You see, our desire isn’t necessarily God’s desire for our life. It might seem good at the time being but it doesn’t give you that lasting pleasure that you crave deep down. It’s like different kinds of foods–we all know that a well-made steak is the best choice of meat and that a McDonalds burger is hardly healthy or satisfactory. However, just like trust the steak takes more time, energy, and patience to cultivate while the burger gives instant pleasure, as giving into desire does.

More recently, I almost gave into desire again rather than trust. I chose to listen to a conversation between two friends that I thought would satisfy my craving. God told me that I should walk away but instead, I gave into my desire and listened. This cultivated further desire and I almost said something that I would have regretted later–just because I wanted it and was too impatient to listen to God. Thankfully, God won over and I trusted Him with my desire. The result? Restoration, peace, forgiveness, and happiness. I got to eat the best steak instead of that raw burger.

So, in the battle between trust and desire, I encourage you to choose trust every time. It might seem more tedious like the time it takes to chew a piece of steak. Or perhaps you don’t want to go through the “cooking” process that builds trust. However, I promise that like a steak is to a burger, offering God your trust is much more satisfactory than giving into desire.

Part 1: All Of My Desires

Desires. We all have them. Whether big or small, our hearts are always yearning, ever hoping for something or someone or both.

As a hopelessly romantic seventeen-year-old girl, you can only imagine how full of desire my heart is right now. People say I’m lucky to have the rest of my life ahead of me to do with what I want. And they’re right — it is nice to know that, if God wills it, I have a wide future stretching out before me. On the other hand, it’s quite aggravating to have such a long road that is so full of experiences, people, and events that I do not know about. Because like I said before, my heart is simply bursting with desire — for life, love, adventure, and excitement. But my desire cannot be met now, no, not yet. I have to wait. And in this waiting, I do not know if my desires will indeed be fulfilled.

Sometimes I just get so discouraged about this whole desire thing. I know it seems sort of silly but really, I do. I’ll sit in my room and stare at the wall, wondering the hows and whys and whats of my life. I pray to God in these times and His answer is always simply this, “Give them to me.”

“But how can I just give them up?” I ask. These desires aren’t just little girl wishes for a doll or a child’s hankering for the last cookie in the jar. My heart is real and full of hopes and dreams that have been built for my whole life-time. My desire is strong, I can’t just let go…or can I?

You  can,” He says. “Please, give them to me and I will set you free. You know I always have before when you have surrendered. Do it again, my child. Please.”

It’s hard but I know He is right. God has more than proven to me on many occasions that He can take care of my desire better than anyone else. So, here goes. I’m giving it all to you, Lord. Here’s my list of hopes and dreams. I’m giving you my desires. Take them now and let them be what you want.

My desires…

To do well in my final year of highschool. Build better relationships with my family, friends, and people I don’t even know yet. Get accepted to my dream university and go there next year. Go back to Mexico. Become fluent in Spanish. Finish my novel and get it published. Act somewhere big. Find someone who loves me…who I can share my life with…marry him and have a family of my own.

I encourage you to write down your desires, too and surrender them to God! In the next part, we’ll talk more about trusting God with these desires. 🙂

I Didn’t Know…But He Did

I’ve been sentimental lately…thinking about the things that have passed since last spring and how they have altered my life and my self. Most of all I’ve realized that I am not the same person as I was last April, last summer, or even in December when I started this blog. I’ve been changing like the weather of each season. I have blossomed and I have grown. I never would have thought it though. No, I did not know….

Last spring I was such a little girl. I was over-busy and stressed but I thought myself as happy as ever; I had a crush on a boy but I thought I was in love for life; I was excited to go to Mexico, and believed that I would bring joy through my wealth, and I was sure that my relationship with God could not get better. Little did I know that my busyness would bring disaster, my crush would fade away before I turned 16, I would become joyful through the wealth of Mexico, and my relationship with God was far from best.

In the summer, I never knew that my grandma would die and that I would withdraw from life, or that I would have my “first love” experience. Last fall, I didn’t know that I would be heart broken and that I would get through, that I was unhappy then and would come to a greater joy. I couldn’t see the tears and pain, the joy and smiles that were coming my way. I didn’t know what would happen, neither the bad or the good. I could imagine but I did not know. If you had asked me what I had thought would happen then I would have said something very different than what has happened.

And even now, months later I still don’t know what is going to happen. I am still immature and silly even though I’m better at managing my time, I know that I won’t marry the boy that I like in highschool, I understand what true wealth is, and I have a better relationship with God. Life isn’t a straight path at all and I know more than ever that it can and will be bumpy at times. But I’m not scared because I have a hope that is stronger than my dreams and ideals, my dissapointment, and tears. I have a hope in the One who knows everything because He created it with me in mind…for good and not for bad…and so I know, everything will be alright because He is in charge. Even though I didn’t know…He did and although I still don’t understand…He does.

I’ll be the first to admit that life is hard and that I get mad and feel hopeless. But because I know that I have a God who is wonderful, loving and will never desert me, I can have hope. I don’t need to be scared or worried or anxious. I don’t need to cry…and neither do you. Life is a puzzle that is confusing at times and we can’t always see how the pieces fit together or if they do fit together at all…we get frustrated and give up but in the end we must let our Dad put it all together. So just trust Him and let Him work, let Him fix the broken pieces, and finish your puzzle for you.

And it’s all because of Him….I didn’t know it then, but He did.