Waiting. The space in time where you are now and something you want in the future. Waiting can be excruciating, exciting or bring anxiety. Whatever feelings we may experience, they're feelings that arise in us while pondering unknown outcomes. As a new Christian, for me waiting is new. Allow me to provide some backstory before I continue.
Two and half years ago I discovered the only truth. I set my faith in Jesus Christ! It was the most freeing feeling I've ever had! For about 5 years prior to this I searched for God for many years in the New Age belief system and found nothing but artificial and momentary relief from life's constant hardships. I wondered if this was really all life was about? Something just didn't seem right, so I began questioning everything! It was in His perfect timing when Jesus gave me faith to truly see who He really is! Instantly my new life in Christ was a stark contrast of goodness and love to the old life of torment, pain, and loneliness. Knowing little of the faith, I assumed my belief in Jesus was all there was to it. Life would go on, and I'd be happy. I wasn't quite sure what to do. Meanwhile, God brought in so many amazing Christians into my life. They really just started popping up out of nowhere! I was frankly so overwhelmed by love, I had no idea how to respond to it. But it was clear to me then, it was Gods way of showing me He was real and He was right there. As time passed, God continued to show me He was there and my faith grew. I felt confident with where I was as a new believer, but I also knew I needed more exercise to grow spiritually. What was most evident was I needed help responding to the Holy Spirit to live out the new life I'd been given. I had trouble hearing Gods direction, and I continued to make choices based on the way I had always made decisions. I used to create a plan, set goals, then achieved those goals. I didn't know any other way to live. I had spent 30 years of my life making what I wanted to happen, happen. I never waited and never sought God for direction. In our "work hard" and "live out our passion" society I drove myself to an all-around burnout because I never waited. I was the "take the bull by the horns" kind of girl, and no one could stop me! Something about the way I was created has this "press on until the end" mentality. No matter how difficult the path or how tired I was, I continued despite the pain. When I should have stopped for a moment to reflect on what I was doing, I pushed through it until the end. In today's world we might call that perseverance and a strong work ethic, and maybe some of it is. However, I learned very quickly that the gas pedal couldn't be full throttle all the time and perhaps waiting was a good thing. It couldn't be that hard, right? Little did I know what God had planned for me around the corner...
It was December of 2016. I broke up with my boyfriend at the time. Devastated and heartbroken, again. One month after that, I was laid off my job. And a month after that, I crashed a dirt bike injuring my shoulder for six months. Oh, and to top things off, I was sick through this time for three months straight! At first, I had a difficult time understanding what was going on. Why were all these things happening at once? And why had I applied for a hundred jobs and not one of those companies wanted to hire me? Naturally, I went into fear and wondered why God would do this to me? I played the blame game for a while towards God and woe was me. At the time I didn't want to believe I had been brought to a desert place, so I continued to try and bring myself back up. After months of responding this way, I only received more anxiety and more fear. As time passed, it was brought to my attention through many outlets that I needed to be leaning on God, not my own capability. I began learning more about God, and I started to realize some of what He was doing in my life. God showed me the places I held onto as my identity. And the only way of redirecting me was to keep those things away from me, so all that was left was God. I realized this season in my life was occurring because my heart was in the wrong place. The things I valued and places I spent my time were the exact opposite of where God wanted me to be. He wanted to develop my character and change my priorities. He wants my heart to be on heavenly things, in a relationship with Him and other people over worldly things.
Proceeding this loss of a significant other, my job, income, and the ability to do any exercise, I found myself still. This was the first time my life seemed to have come to a screeching halt! In the silence of being sick in bed, with a hurt shoulder, no job, and no boyfriend, God taught me some significant lessons. One of the reasons I was having a difficult time following the Spirit was because I didn't trust God and I didn't find my identity in Christ. I was unable to perceive Gods thoughts towards me, thus unable to follow His guidance. I couldn't hear Him because I didn't really know Him. I knew about Him, which is much different. What I learned, was that God not only wants our closest relationship to be with Him, but He also wants us to live out our lives as He created it from our inception. And we can't do that without knowing Him. Not only is this what He wants but it's for our good because He loves us. It's so we'll continuously seek Him as provider and not seek earthly goals or achievements to please our carnal nature. The closer we are to God, the easier it is to follow His direction and live the life He made for us. Without Him, we choose on our own. And for me, I know what my life looked like when I decided, I became broken time and time again.
After everything I've learned, I still struggled with what I was supposed to be doing. How was I suppose to get closer to God so I could hear Him? In the space, while waiting on God, I found anxiety (which I never knew I had). I experienced fear! "How am I going to pay for my life? No one else is going to do it for me", I thought. I found sadness, loneliness and sometimes even hopelessness. Now, if you know me, your thinking "What?! Carrie?! Hopeless and unhappy?!" My entire life, I've been a bubbling ray of hope and I could find joy and positivity even in the darkest times. But somehow this was different. These feelings made me wonder why I couldn't snap out of it this time. Why was this different? Well amongst all this change that was going on in my life at the beginning of this year, I was also facing some other major changes that occurred over the two years prior. My faith changed, I quit my high paying job to move to Sedona to work at an art gallery that ended up failing after two months of living there. Then I had to move back home, find another job and re-adjust to that new position, new home, and new people. I was exhausted and overwhelmed! At that time, I didn't love the way my life was on the outside, so I starting working towards exterior changes. I continued seeking these changes, setting goals and attempted to achieve those goals, which normally works for me. Only this time everything remained the same. I learned real fast that if you can't change your circumstances that it's probably time to start changing inward. I heard prayer was powerful so I began to pray for inward change. I'd pray for things like, "Lord change my heart and my mind. Rid me of my fear to follow you. Help me take up the cross. Help me trust people again. Help me show others love. Grant me a heart of forgiveness. Grant me a heart of gratitude and giving. Help me not let money have power over me. Change my eyes for the men I find of interest. Help me not live in this world but in your will while here on earth". Through all these prayers and many more, I knew there might be rough waters ahead. But I was ready to endure to become a changed woman! With a survival mode mindset, I thought I could handle anything God threw my way. I believed I knew what it felt like to be in pain, so if the road to transformation was painful, I assumed I'd respond correctly. To be frank, I was a bit scared and slightly prideful in thinking I could handle this kind of major transformation with ease. I also thought God could fix all these circumstances in my life if He wanted to. It felt like He was the cause of my sadness and pain and I believed when He was ready He would fix it. However, I know God is about perfecting love, not coddling love. Which means He's more concerned with building my character. And if it took me "kicking and screaming" to realize my stubbornness and pride, then God will let me walk through that trial until I learn it. The only person who was in control of my response to my current circumstances was me. God is not a puppet master, we have free choice. He will guide us towards His sovereign will but the how we get there, what we do while we're waiting is up to us. And during this time in my life, I really struggled with the inner changes. I had a bad attitude and was acting very stubborn. I didn't want to let go of my full-time fashion career I had worked so hard to build for myself. And after a lot of reading about God and His character, it struck me. I was looking at it all wrong! God is the one who gave me the opportunities. God is the one who gave me the finances. God is the one who created me to work hard and persevere. When all this time I thought everything I had done was because of me, it was really God all along!
Through these last eight months, I've been waiting; waiting for a new job; waiting for health and a healed shoulder. I'm waiting to meet my true love... I'm a romantic! Waiting for financial freedom and family peace. Waiting, waiting and some more waiting... And through this long time when the things I valued most in life were all no longer there, I heard God! One night while falling asleep I heard Jesus speak to me! I knew it was Jesus right away, I could feel it! He said to me, "A pigs prayer will bring you a bruised apple." I woke up and thought I should write it down, but I fell back asleep. After waking up in the morning, I told my sister what I heard, and I wondered what it meant. I couldn't recall anything in the bible about pigs and apples combined with prayers. So later that day I googled "pigs, prayers and apples" and the first and only site that showed up in my browser was a story called, "The horse and pig." It's an old fable about a horse and a pig roaming around looking for food. They come upon an apple tree, and the horse praises God for the food. He has a great attitude and gratefully receives the blessing from God. The pig, however, is rummaging around on the ground eating the smashed rotten apples and has a bad attitude. He says he can see how they will run out of food and when they do, they'll move along to the next source of food. The horse looks down at the pig and offers to share every other fresh apple. The pig grunts, and says okay. After receiving a few fresh apples, the pig says, "TOO SLOW"! The pig preferred to eat the smashed apples on the ground! He was more comfortable with doing what he knew rather than waiting for the fresh apples from on high.
After reading this, I was laughing so hard! First off, how genius is God to deliver that message, so clever! I love Him and praise Him so much for knowing the details of my personality and what I need to hear Him. My major take away, and how this story applies to my life was instead of rummaging around frantically seeking another job in fashion; God wanted me to stop and understand that He is taking care of me and that I need to trust Him, even if that means to wait a long time. I can't tell you how many times over this last ten months of waiting for job direction did I say, "This is taking forever!" My family and friends can testify. I believe God has given me this time to know Him, gain trust in Him and reevaluate my life. I've always made plans; now God is teaching me how to follow Him. The kicker here for me was the practical application. I understand the lesson, now what do I do? Well, the story of the horse and the pig also revealed some guidance. It said for me to challenge myself and take the time to know God; To be in a relationship with Him so I can follow His voice. Without knowing Gods true character and trusting in His promises, we will have a difficult time discerning which direction to go; And that is precisely what I've been experiencing. From what I've read, how to be closer to God is to pray, for everything! Talk to God about anything and everything and then watch Him work! Through prayer, we should ask, be thankful and praise Him as well as repent and forgive. The more I do these things, the more I can see His love renewing my heart, mind, and soul! Even without doing these things, God has shown me so much grace in my life. I can see how He loving draws me back in closer to Him, even in times I haven't said sorry for what I've done. That's God, and that's His grace! This alone has opened my eyes a tiny bit of experiencing His character. Secondly, God asks us to read His word daily. The bible is the heart of God. Reading His word helps us learn about Him and spend time with Him. In doing this, I feel renewed by His spirit every time, and that makes me want to keep coming back! God also asks us to take the steps He asks us to take. When we do, we'll find how great they are, and our trust in Him will continue to build. Our love for Him grows, and we begin to want to spend time with the one who loves us, the one who created us.
As of now, I'm still technically "waiting". But waiting in action and with a hopeful and excited attitude. Now I wonder what God's going to do next in my life!? I'm praying and trying to hear His direction. It isn't easy and let me tell you the day I became a believer in Christ, I had no idea this was what was in store for me. However, the refinement God provides for each person is incredibly worth it. My life has changed so drastically it's jaw-dropping. And not changed because I tried to. Sure, I had to make a choice, but it's obvious God hasn't given up on me. He wants all of us to change for the better. And He's very specific on exactly when, where and how He decides to implement a change in us. I believe getting to know God will never end and that's exciting! As I continue to wait on the Lord, I'm excited to see what's next. And not just now but a few years down the road, five years, ten years, twenty years! Who knows what's going to happen next?! What I do know, is God is changing this girl who never felt loved and is showing her love. He's changing her "plan everything" way of life in exchange for an easy going attitude. I read in a devotional that we should hold our lives with an open palm. We never know what tomorrow will bring, but it's our choice to choose our attitudes and whether or not we'll change and trust Him. If you've never accepted Jesus as your savior, I suggest you do it now. And if you're still wondering who He is, seek Him. God says when we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find Him! God never gives up on us. The question is, are you going to answer the next time He calls? I vote you say yes and live out the life God intended you to live. Like in the fable of the Pig and the horse, the story says, "The life God has planned for you, it is good".
After a month or so of writing this post, I realized I wasn't waiting on God at all. He was waiting for me! And so I've begun to build this website for my art, to glorify the Lord. Because that's not only what He's asked me to do but being an artist has always been my dream! I can't tell you I'm the best artist you've ever seen. In fact, I full well know there are many others whose talents and skills succeed mine. But what I do know is, when Gods involved, anything is possible! I'm excited to write about my life on this blog and watch God work season to season! Stay tuned!
Verses: Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
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FerverentPrayer; Story of the Horse and the pig: https://books.google.com/books?id=2aw8DQAAQBAJ&pg=PT103&lpg=PT103&dq=a+pig%27s+prayer+and+apples&source=bl&ots=DcMZb-zhGP&sig=ItRm4YHtyMv16RJijOzASXoRs-Y&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwidm_i5pfHWAhWHwlQKHVC5BWYQ6AEIfTAZ#v=onepage&q=a%20pig's%20prayer%20and%20apples&f=false