Current Sentiments of my Heart

It’s difficult, you know? This life. Trying to live up to people’s standards and expectations while also trying to be your own you. Regardless of who you are, people will always expect something of you – whether to succeed or screw up; pass or fail- or have standards that you should follow. Because of what people know about you – a little or a lot – they already have a life planned, and set out for you in their minds. “She’s so sweet. She’s gonna be a teacher or a nurse or something.” “He is a horrible person. He’s gonna end up in jail somewhere.” Some folks get these comments to the face, to the heart. Other people don’t even know what is being said about them…until later in life usually. It’s pressure. So much pressure placed on one human person to “do well” according to other people’s standards. Then, when you decide to act out of the bubble that people tried to fit you in, things change. Good and bad. You find a freedom that you’ve never had. You get so many discouraging comments from people you know and don’t. You second guess your decision(s). You feel wonderful about the direction your life is going in. You feel lost. Confused, even. Almost hopeless. Then, you pull yourself up. Your dreams keep you strong. Your hard work keeps you standing. Your passion keeps you afloat. I’ve felt these things and more. I’ve fallen and picked myself up. I’ve been so utterly confused about life and my specialized path that I wanted to give up.

Forget about all the work I put in

Forget about what I’m passionate about

Forget about getting fired up for what’s right

Forget about social justice

Forget about all of it…

 

I couldn’t bring myself to continue to think this way. It hurt. It bothered me. It caused disharmony in my heart. What do I do? I don’t feel like doing anything about it. I want things handed to me. I want privilege because my life would be better then. (Sigh) “Jazmin, have you forgotten who your Father is??” I had.

When I decided to follow Christ with my whole heart and my entire life, it required exactly that: giving Him my whole heart and my entire life. I once believed that following Jesus meant going to church every Sunday, getting involved in somebody’s bible study, and praying and reading the bible sometimes. Though none of these things should be excluded, I failed to understand that it required more. Following Jesus isn’t about the works that you accomplish for Him or how good you’ve been since the last time you “messed up.” Following this Majestic King involves falling madly in love with Him and trusting His love for you. Following Jesus Christ is saying,

“Lord, all that I am is in You. I give to You my life, my will, my desires, my passions, my plans, my dreams. I trust only You with my heart- my most prized possession- oh, Lover of my soul. I will trust that in everything, You are there and You love me. I am precious to You. I am Your child and You take care of Your children.”

 

Trusting in this invisible, Holy, indescribable God is a tough thing to do, but worth it.

 

My college career took a dramatic turn when I felt lead to change my major during my senior year. It didn’t make sense to me. I had a solid plan for my life all mapped out. I was confident that I would always have the resources I needed and in my abilities to do what I was planning on doing. Then God tested me. It took approximately two years of prayer and contemplation before I changed my major. I knew that by doing this…

I would no longer have a plan

I would face some difficult times

I would be forced to trust Jesus like never before

I would have to accept God’s will for me and not my own

I would look absolutely crazy to lots of people (family, friends, and professors)

 

Heavy. But, I’ll do it. I say I trust You and now it’s time to test that I guess.

 

Little did I know that this meant lots of praying, and not praying- a product of worry and frustration-, lots of crying, lots of envy, lots of struggle, lots of second guessing. The list is very long. I felt like I was so close to hitting rock bottom. In this difficult time, I had to learn to trust the Lord of my life, Lover of my soul, and Commander of my heart. Not just trust Him with my words but my actions too. When things were really crappy, instead of complaining, I had to learn to pray. I had to learn to find comfort in His Word…His complete Word. Not just scriptures that fit my situation. I had to learn how to rest and abide in Him, for He is my hope, my Sky, my Source of Life. ❤

 

I’m currently in the heart of those difficulties mentioned above, but it is well. I do believe that. God is here and He is good, no matter what circumstance I am in. Some days I just want to cry, but on those same days God will use my roommates, my boyfriend, or His raw Word to pour His Truth into my heart, my mind. God is good. He is. He really is. God answers prayers, even the “little” ones. Believe me on this. Trust Him and let go. Give your worries to Him. He wants it all. Find rest and peace in Him, for He is the only One who can satisfy. His name is Perfect Love for a reason……… ❤  🙂

 

Relationship Goals

Many people, reading the title of this post, are probably thinking “Uh! Another girl in her feelings about being single” or “I wonder what she has to say” or even “I’m tired of people always talking about what they want in a man/woman”. I feel all of this. I’ve thought these things before when I would come across tweets or Facebook statuses or even just in some conversations I’ve had with some folks about love, marriage, and dating. Also, I’m at a time in my life where many of my friends, or just people I know, are getting married and starting families. I don’t wish to speed that process up at all but sometimes I wonder about what my future looks like and whether God has marriage and a family for me. Let me make one thing clear before I continue: I am NOT saying that I don’t have faith that God will give me a husband and a family, but I AM saying that He doesn’t owe me anything. The sovereign God who created the heavens and the earth and everything therein is not obligated to give me even a parcel of food!! He is God and He is Holy regardless of what He gives me or withholds from me. We owe Him our entire being. That’s how I feel anyway! Now that that is off my chest, let’s continue with my other thoughts…

So, marriage is a beautiful thing and I would love it if God gives me a wonderful family someday but if He doesn’t, what would my response be? Bitterness, anger, rebellion, depression? No! God doesn’t deserve that. If He doesn’t do anything else for me…EVER…He will forever deserve to be praised because of who He is. That being said, how then can a single, young woman grow to not be bitter in a time of marriages and relationships? How can she use her energy that she places into wanting a relationship and a family so badly to serve and honor God unashamedly? There is no step-by-step answer to these questions but I can share what God has brought me through and how it has caused me to fall into a deeper love with my King whose name is Love!

Over the last few years of my life, God has carried me through some very interesting phases. There was my ‘wanna be married more than anything’ phase, my ‘single and ready to do something stupid’ phase, my ‘how come I can’t get a man’ phase, and then the lovely ‘Paul’ phase. My ‘Paul’ phase was my favorite at the time, because during this time I had seen Jesus so clearly. I had come to the realization that I had been hurt and my heart had been trampled on. I was afraid to love but Christ had showed me His pure love in ways I had never seen before and I wanted to be totally consumed by Him. I wanted to be His ride-or-die, souled out for Him! I wanted to do whatever He wanted, and I believed that I could only be this way if I was single. After all, Paul did say, in 1 Corinthians 7, that it is better for everyone to be as he [single]. The moment my ‘Paul’ phase began was during a prayer group meeting with some friends. We were reading 1 Corinthians chapter 7 on this day. My friend said that he wanted to specifically look at what Paul says about marriage. After reading, we talked for a minute about marriage vs. singleness and how awesome being single is (in the context of being totally focused on God’s will and that alone)! We didn’t say bad things about being married because it’s beautiful! God honors marriage and I love what it stands for and how God allows us to give ourselves to another person in covenant but during this prayer group time, we put emphasis on singleness and how at this point in our lives Christ needs to be the focus and the center. It was an amazing conversation, to say the least. I walked away from this conversation feeling more attached to my Lord than ever. I felt so ready to commit to Him and give Him my all. That is a great feeling and one that we, as believers, should experience everyday.

I am not sharing this to tell people to go and live as Paul did (although it wouldn’t be all bad), but I do want to make the important point that while we are single we need to enjoy it through Christ. Christ calls us to do several things (i.e. make disciples, care for the poor, widows, and orphans, etc). What He calls us to can even include travel abroad, and wanting to be in a relationship so badly can fog the lenses of discernment and cause one to become stagnant or disobedient. As Christians, we need to learn to love being single, which also means that we need to get to a point where we are completely, and totally content with Christ and all that He is. Many of us Christians believe that we are already at this point. Of course we are content with Christ because…we have to be. But, the reality of this is that many of us have the desire to be married and have a family. While this desire is not bad, it becomes the center of our lives and what is most important to us. Thus, relationships/relationship goals have become idols in many of our lives.

Relationships/relationship goals have been my idols for my entire life. It wasn’t until recent, during my ‘Paul’ phase, that I decided (with God’s grace) to make Christ my Lord and put away my idols. This included my strong desire to be married and have a family. So, I was going strong in my ‘Paul’ phase for about 9 months. It was great, but then some other things happened in my life. I started making some not so smart decisions and realized that I was rebelling but I couldn’t figure out who I was deciding to rebel against. Naturally, I said I was rebelling against my Lord but later I found out that I was rebelling against a previous relationship.

‘Paul’ phase ruined! Uh!! It was so good!! I felt like I was in such an awesome place in my life and I was totally focused on Christ. While this may have been true, I was also suppressing some things, apparently. In the midst of making bad decisions, I realized that I was getting male attention, which was what I wanted! I would go out and get all of the wrong attention from random guys. Thank the Lord I never got hurt or made any stupid mistakes that I regret. Experiencing all of this RIGHT AFTER my ‘Paul’ phase made me realize that committing my heart to the Lord requires trust and patience. It is a process that requires putting in work every single day. I was content, but then I let impatience influence me, as well as my surroundings. I entertained conversations (and many, MANY chick flicks) that put me in my feelings. I got advice from the wrong people (mostly myself) and I did not go to the One who could patch up the wounds of my heart that I somehow picked at and opened back up. I found myself in a really low state and I began to idolize and covet relationships…again! Then, all of a sudden, I began to struggle with many things in my personal life that placed an even heavier burden on me. It was rough. I forgot how to pray. I felt that God was far and I wanted to throw in the towel! Then, I started to pray and the only thing I kept praying for a long time was “God, I need you! I can’t do this without you” over, and over, and over again. God began to reveal to me how He never stopped loving me and that He never will. He showed me how He was there the entire time. He showed me that having a relationship with Him requires commitment, honesty, trust, and selflessness. God was teaching me the meaning of unconditional love and I fell for Him yet again. I saw Him in His majesty in a more beautiful way than I did when I fell in love with Him for the very first time six years ago. His holiness caused me to weep because I was in awe that a King so wonderful as He would allow me to even TRY to love Him. God, so eloquently and so gently showed me what true love is through His scriptures. His word is beautiful. God showed me that the most important relationship in my life is the one I have with Him, the One who loved me first.

Because I named this post “Relationship Goals,” I want to wrap up by telling you all my relationship goals. There is only one relationship that I desire to be in more than anything else in the world, and that relationship is the one that I have with Christ. I want to get to know Him more and more each day. He has proved His love to me and it hasn’t failed me yet. I want to be completely surrendered to His will and to His word. I want my desires to be His. I want to love like He does. I’ve never known a love like this and I just want to experience it each day, even on my “down” days. I want to love like Jesus’ word commands us to. I want to live and love selflessly to please my Lord. I want to love God with everything that is within me and love people as Jesus tells us to. I want to follow Him. I want the scripture Galatians 2:20, and many others, to be true in my life. My ultimate relationship goal is to completely trust God with my heart and my entire life. He deserves it all, plus more!

I am in a new phase right now in my life and it is definitely my new favorite. I cry a lot and I realize that God’s love is unfathomable and that is very frustrating but it all takes me back to Him. I call this the ‘trying to figure out how to love my Lord’ phase. I might call it something else later but I’ll stick with that for now. I like this phase because it shows me that God is “by my side, thick and thin, highs and lows” [Lecrae song reference haha]. This phase is the most humbling of any that I’ve ever been in (including the ones not mentioned). This phase causes me to be more vulnerable and requires me to be more focused and devoted. It’s pretty awesome. I encourage you all to seek Christ like never before, especially if you’re struggling with the idea of being single “for so long” but also just because of who He is. The more you get to know Him, the harder you fall. The great thing about falling for God though is that He will be there to catch you and embrace you like none other. ❤

Thanks for reading my thoughts! Feel free to leave any comments or questions. May God reveal His unchanging love to you and cause you to fall for Him over and over and over again. There is nothing like it…

-Jaz

A Challenge to NOT Live Comfortably

As a Christian in America, it’s very difficult to not live a Christian life filled with comfort and religious practices that we think will get us to Heaven. Today, very few preachers, pastors, and reverends teach the church what God’s word actually says. So much of God’s Truth has been watered down, skipped over, or just flat our ignored for the sake of retaining a certain amount of church members or partners. When the focus is to keep the numbers up, sermons become very surface level and vain. They turn into “feel-good” messages instead of God’s convicting Truth. Instead of pushing us to make disciples in the world and to follow Jesus, many messages today are focused on comfortable living and financial prosperity.

Jesus was very clear about what was expected of all who believed in Him. Matthew 28:18-20 reads:

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

This command is one that requires action and movement. This is not to say that we are all called to go abroad to share the gospel, but this is saying that if we are not doing this, we need to reevaluate our lives as Christians. As the scripture above shows, Jesus promised that He’ll always be with us. Since we know that we have His support through everything, why is it so hard for us to give up our comfortable lives for His sake? Isn’t He worth it? Of course many of us answered yes to that but do we really mean it?

We need to get to a point where we realize that our lives are not our own. In Galatians 2:20, Paul said:

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Paul understood that his life belonged to Christ. Christ captured Paul’s heart in such an astonishing way (Acts 9). That encounter that Paul (Saul) had with Jesus transformed his heart and mind. Right after that experience, Paul didn’t waste any time sharing the gospel of Christ! Why does it take us so long to realize what our purpose is on this earth? Why do we hesitate to spread this awesome Truth that has been revealed to us? These are questions that I ask myself almost daily. My life has been interrupted by the convictions that our Lord and His Word has placed on my heart. I am challenging myself to not live comfortably and I want to challenge all other believers who will read this.

The scripture that challenged me was Matthew 16:24-26:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

There is nothing comfortable about denying yourself and taking up a cross! This call to give everything up for Him was one that I’ve struggled with and one that I’m still learning to fully understand. The following are a few questions I had floating in my mind after actively reading the above scripture:

  • What does denying myself look like?
  • What does He mean by taking up my cross and following Him?
  • How much persecution is involved?
  • Can I really do this?

I encourage you to not ignore questions like these (if you have them) but pray and ask God for understanding and revelation. He’s faithful and He gives us answers when we ask.

I want to abruptly end this post with a few resources that have helped me to begin to understand what it means to follow Him!

I am currently reading Follow Me, a book by David Platt. This book discusses, in much detail, what it means to follow Christ and how it is not easy or comfortable but worth it! I suggest that all Christians read this book. It’s quite amazing. If you have any questions about it before you read it or while you’re going through it, let me know and I’ll try to answer and help you as best as I could.

I also suggest watching this very challenging video below by Francis Chan. It’s real deep!!!! Francis Chan talks thoroughly about the part of Christianity that is of much importance but not talked about as much as it should be. It is very convicting.

***My awesome sister in Christ, Kirsten. N, shared this message with our vamily on our Spring Break trip last week! Shout out to her!!!!!***

I write all of this because it’s been on my heart for over a year now and it’s something that I’m still asking the Lord to help me understand. I’d rather not live than to live a comfortable life that is not pleasing to my Lord.

Please, share your thoughts and concerns with me! I pray that God’s Word continues to convict His people and that we not get comfortable in this life and miss the point. He’s worth all that we have and all that we are. Let’s forever worship Him in spirit and in TRUTH! Take His Word for what it is and what it says.

I love you guys and gals!!!! ❤ ❤

-Jaz

*Forgive me if some of my thoughts seem a bit jumbled. It’s very difficult to articulate this stuff. Pray for me! 🙂