Choice.

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I’ve heard it said that life is a sum of our choices.

I haven’t been a fan of that phrase during certain seasons of my life because it felt unfair.

What about the things that happened to me that I had no control over?

Didn’t those things define my life as well?

A couple of years ago I started seeing a therapist after my life had hit rock bottom, at least my own personal version of rock bottom.

I sifted through the rock and the rubble with my therapist week by week. One rock at a time. Sometimes I got so frustrated that I threw them all back in the pile only to start over the next week with the sifting process.

But I chose to keep going.girl walking barefoot

In my weekly conversations that consisted of trying to untangle the mess of the sum of my life choices up until that point, I started to realize that I did in fact have a choice in everything, even in the things that seemed out of my control.

That’s a humbling reality right there, but reality it was.

The fact was uncovered that I had the choice about how I reacted to every single situation in my life.

I chose how my life was going to move forward from that day on.

I could choose to get out of bed every morning. Some days I chose this and others I didn’t.

I had a choice whether or not to have just “one more” glass of wine instead of actually facing my situation in life.

I had a choice whether or not to blame the Church for what had been done to me and leave it, or I could choose to stick around and try and make it better.girl at end of dock

I had a choice whether or not to bad mouth someone who had slandered my name or to instead trust the God of justice with His ultimate outcome someday.

I now have a choice whether or not to open myself up to people or to close them out.

I have a choice to trust or be defensive.

I have a choice to be angry or to embrace the unexplainable peace of God that only comes with my full surrender to Him.

I have choices. Every day.

Some days I choose really amazing things. And some days I don’t.

So yes, my life could be identified as a sum of my choices, and that definitely is a part of my identity.

But as I’ve been praying and working through the process of what my true identity is, I’m making another choice.

I’m choosing to think of my life as ultimately defined by the fact that I am a choice.

I have been chosen by God.girl dancing to man with guitar

He made the choice to die for me even when He knew there would be days that I would choose the taste of wine or men over Him.

He made the choice to invite me into this world even though He knew the pain I would endure.

He made the choice to stick around and fill me with His Spirit even though He knew that I would doubt Him to the point of walking away from Him time and time again.

He chose to create me.

He chose to love me.

He chose to die for me.

He chose to be raised to life again, for me.

He chose me.

And He continues to choose me every day.

He continues to forgive, heal and comfort me every day.

He continues to choose to partner with me and show me His incredible plans for my life day by day.

girl on bikeHe has chosen me.

He has chosen to devote His entire existence to loving me.

He has chosen you too you know.

And now, more than any other choice in my life, the one that will continue to matter the most, the one that will continue to define my identity more than any other choice I could ever make, is the choice I make every new day to believe that He has called me chosen and worthy of that choice.

So today, once again, I choose Him back.

I choose to love others the way that He has chosen to love me.

And I choose to love myself because He has chosen to love me.

I am a choice.

I am His choice.

And that is the choice that ultimately defines my identity.

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Maybe.

alice41I truly do believe that God is all I need. He fulfills every desire in me, and even though I don’t understand that fully and I struggle with doubting it at times, I do believe it.

I heard one of the greatest quotes once from a professor of mine. He said, “Truly living as a follower of Jesus means following your deepest desire rather than your strongest one.”

I live in a constant state of volleying this strong-willed heart right back over the net from the side of my strongest desires to the side of my deepest desire, but this is not always a game I win. That being said, I do believe that God is the truth, the way and the life. I believe His heart for me and I desire him deeper than I desire anything else.

As I round the corner to my two-week mark before I embark on a new season of life on the East Coast, I’ve been asking a question that I can’t seem to find the answer to.

I know that God is all I need. And I believe that.

But what is ok to want?

Sometimes my strongest desire does win out over my deepest. I allow myself to act a certain way, make a decision that does not invite the full blessing of God over my life, etc… And those actions and decisions are usually based out of me acting on a desire of mine. A want.

But I’m afraid that in the process of trying my best to invite God more fully into my life on an ever continuing basis that I have started to fear the wants as if they are all going to lead me astray.

If God is all I need, what is ok to want? I don’t believe in a Christianity that restricts us from asking questions but I do know that sometimes we must rest in the unknown and be at peace with the fact that we will never fully understand this life on this side of heaven.

So where does that leave me? As far as I can tell in this very moment sitting in sweats in my favorite coffee shop in Portland (side note: I’m actually nervous about the fact that my sweats will not be acceptable in DC, but that’s beside the point), here’s where I land:

I believe that my desires, if they line up with the heart of Jesus, are ok to have. I can honestly trace back almost every act of rebellion that I’ve ever done toward God and trace each one back to me suppressing a want of mine because I thought it meant that I was claiming that God was not enough for me. Instead of being honest with my pain or struggle at a sense of lack, I got mad and just reached out and grabbed what I thought He was holding back from me.

My dad passed away from Cancer when I was eight years old. I didn’t grieve for him until I was 21 because I always felt as if grieving over him meant that I didn’t have faith that God was good and that He was ultimately in control of things. I’m not sure where this idea came from, that to trust God meant suppressing my needs and desires that I had from this world, but I don’t know that this concept has been a struggle for most of my life, and as well meaning as Christians can be at times, I think we get this part of our walk with God wrong…a lot.

What does God “being enough” actually look like? God has the ability to act and speak through everything and anything that He desires. How does God relate with us? He created us in this world to be in community and relationship. He speaks through our brothers and sisters, He speaks through His creation, He acts and fulfills in the most creative of ways, most of which we will probably never even fully know about! So what do we really mean when we say that God is enough for us? I have a suspicion that it doesn’t mean what I’ve believed it to mean for most of my life.

I’m reminded of when Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane and came back to his friends sleeping. He approaches them and says, “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” (Matt 36:40). Jesus wanted to have a certain kind of relationship with his friends, he desired things from them to meet his heart where he was at in a trying time in his life and was hurt when he didn’t receive that. He doesn’t hide it, he feels it, he expresses it, and then He still goes back and prays to the Father. They don’t seem to threaten each other or cancel each other out. And I’m pretty sure we’d all agree that God was absolutely enough for him. But I think he still wanted.

And maybe when I give myself permission to want without equating that with a lack of faith, maybe that’s where freedom resides. Maybe being fulfilled with God alone in the truest sense of that concept means that I am actually free to want and hope and dream without fearing that my faith is lacking or that God isn’t truly enough for me.

And maybe this is the place where I start to see God everywhere and in everything and everyone who strives to love me the way He does.

And maybe this is the place where I start to take my own role in other people’s lives more seriously as well, knowing that their desire for a connection with Him is something I should always be mindful of when interacting with them knowing that I am just one of many avenues to how God will fulfill the wants of their hearts as well.

And maybe I’ll start letting my wanting heart be a little more unashamed of wanting.

 

Maybe.