Why Does Love Always Feel Like a Battlefield? { Jordin Sparks Wisdom }

Man oh man, it has been a funky few weeks. Doors have been opened and closed and opportunities have come up and I have been a busy little bee. And I like it a lot! But at the same time my mind has been bouncing around a new idea; the idea of love, and what a freaking mess that makes me.

Love. We all know love from the movie aspect. Best of Me just came out in theaters and I cry every single time I see the preview because Nicholas Sparks SOMEHOW knows exactly what heart string to pull on every girl in the entire universe. That kind of love that seems impossible ya know? But at the same time you hold on to the dream/ idea of it because it seemed impossible for them but look! They made it! Or they found it! And I will, too!!!! I tell myself and again, and cry a little inside. LOL it’s funny kind of. Kind of not. Thankfully I can laugh at myself in these situations.

Then there is Instagram, which I have tried to delete time after time but just don’t. Instagram is a breeding ground for happy couples showing of their happiness. Their completeness. Their love for each other. In artsy pictures that some photographer friend took. I like to think I’ll have this someday (the guy, the photographer friend, the pictures, and the love) but we all know I am far too awkward for these staged (even though they claim to be candid) pictures. And then there’s pinterest which is a whole other beast! I really didn’t even know rings and weddings could be so beautiful until I created my own virtual wedding via other people’s pictures. Man, the internet is a beautiful thing right?

Please don’t misunderstand me though, there is nothing nothing nothing wrong with any of the above. The movies, the pictures, well pinterest- maybe but only because I need to make my “dream wedding” board private so no one else can steal my ideas. But the above venting is just simply that, venting. But happy people in happy pictures, that’s awesome! I like to like all the pictures and will continue to rejoice with these people with a double tap of the pic and maybe a heart eyes emoji comment. And they are great and beautiful and I look forward to all of that hopefully someday. But here’s the real thing I want to get to- love and grace and completeness.

Love. What does it even mean to love or be loved? From a worldy point of view, or at least this girl’s worldly point of view, it is this: Being someone’s soul mate, someone’s other half, someone’s perfect puzzle piece, someone’s perfect fit. Completing someone.

I get real wrapped up in that idea real quick.

I see the world and the happy couples and the pinterest weddings and I get wrapped up in the idea that there is someone out in the whole wide world that is going to accept me and complete me and love me in the way I want and deserve and need to be loved. I have high expectations and standards and my mind wanders to this super flashy and worldly way of thinking and I quickly become unrealistic. I think well, God made this person for me so he will be perfectly made to fit and complete me. Oh and he will complete me and be amazing and perfect and it’ll all happen like a real fairytale- we will work together and go together and there will be no problems or disagreements ever and it’ll be great because God made us for each other!

This is simply not true.

No man or person anywhere, or thing, or amount of money, or job, or anything ever will be able to complete me. Or make me whole. Because ya’ll, God did not design me (and you) to be completed by another person. Or another thing. Or a job. Those things don’t complete us and they don’t define us and they don’t fill us. The things and people of this world will leave us hanging, will leave us empty at times, will leave us sad and incomplete.

I think that’s so especially true specifically in love and relationships.

We cannot rely on another person to bring us our joy and be our happiness. Because they will never fully satisfy! Remember the woman at the well (John 4)–she’s seeking joy. Jesus knows her past and her heart and sees her empty soul and looking for love in all the wrong places. Jesus says “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.” (verse 13 and 14). Everyone who looks to this world for anything will never be full and will never be satisfied and will always need more.

The same goes for people. When we look to our boyfriends and girlfriends and friends for completion and acceptance and real love, we come up short. And we always will. Someone doesn’t say the right thing or do what I wanted exactly or I ask a question with a perfect answer in mind and I don’t get it and then you know what? That person doesn’t love me. Instead of extending grace and mercy and loving the flaws and accepting the mess ups and understanding, I come to the conclusion that if it was love, it’d be better. It’d be greater and here’s the kicker, it’d be easier. LOL am I right?? What is this mindset?! It’s selfish, that’s what it is. Where is the grace? Where is the mercy? Where is the LOVE on my end???

Love isn’t perfect. It isn’t easy. It is not pretty all the time. It isn’t always ideal. It isn’t faultless for sure. But what is it??

What is love?

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

Love isn’t jealous or envious.

Love does not boast and it is not proud.

Love does not dishonor anyone.

Love is not self-seeking or selfish.

Love is not easily angered.

Love keeps no record of wrongs (WOW that’s huge).

Love does not delight in evil.

Love rejoices in truth.

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

{1 Corinthians 13}

Notice how it never says, love completes you to be the best person and also makes you feel warm and fuzzy all the time and is super easy. No!! None of those things that love is are easy! They are all really really hard actually. But that is love. It’s hard. It’s messy. It’s the flawed. Because we are hard headed and messy and flawed.

And only perfect love comes from our perfect Savior. Only Jesus completes us. Only He gives us the water of life and purpose and only in Him are we truly and wholely filled. We can only be satisfied in life when we are truly satisfied in Him.

I know that my future husband will be amazing and great and wonderful, but I also know I will need patience and compassion and grace (and I KNOWWWWW he will too, poor guy) to love him. And as I work on those things in my heart, my prayer is that he is doing the same.

And then maybe we can take cute pictures and dedicate cute songs and be SUPER CUTE but all the while being real and clinging to the perfect love of the Father always.

Romans 8: 38-39 // For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So here we go, learning to love.

xx. Austyn


My Favorite Disciple

This is an excerpt from Kisses From Katie, a book by Katie Davis (go read and be changed). I really really love this. I love how relevant the Bible is thousands of years later. I love how I can relate to people Jesus walked next to and had face to face conversations with. I always thought Peter was the coolest disciple. He jumped out of the boat and walked on the water (already writing my take on that incredible act of faith, stay tuned). He denied Christ three times, I feel like I deny Christ  more than three times a day, but Jesus being the grace-filled Savior that He is redeemed him and me (and you). He was such a go getter, just willing to jump up and get going and spread the Good News, I can so relate to that, probably on a more selfish level like- get me out of here Jesus I am seriously over this place! haha. But anyways, I feel like everyone has a Peter part of their heart. So this is awesome. I didn’t write this, Katie Davis is amazing. And I just really wanted to share her words.

I am Peter.

Peter is the rock which God built His church, but first, Peter was probably the worst disciple ever. I am Peter.

Jesus tells Peter that he (Peter) will deny Him 3 times, Peters says “No! I love you, I could never deny you, Lord” yet we all know that Peter does in fact deny Jesus 3 times. I know in my heart and my soul and the core of my being that I love the Lord, that I would do anything for Him, go to the ends of the earth for Him, but how often do I forget to give the glory to His name? How often do I take compliments without giving Him the credit? Do I, like Peter, deny Jesus the glory that is His?

Jesus told His disciples that it was God’s will for Him to be arrested. He went willingly when the soldiers came to take Him, but enthusiastic, loving Peter raised his sword and cut off a soldiers ear. “Put your sword away,” Jesus commanded. “shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” I am Peter. I have my own time frame. When I don’t see things happening, I try to make them happen. And Jesus says “put away your sword, put away your plans. Shall we not do what the father has asked of us?” So, like Peter, I put away my plans, my defenses, and watch as everything happens perfectly in Gods own timing!

After Jesus had risen, He appeared to His disciples while they were fishing. When Peter saw His beloved Savior, he excitedly jumped out of the boat and began swimming to where Jesus stood. Needless to say the boat probably reached the shore before Peter.

I am Peter- excitedly jumping into things and then standing, sopping wet at the feet of the Lord, smiling at my stupidity! I get excited, forget to think things through, and end up doing them the long way. Every time though, just as with Peter, Jesus welcomes my soaking wet self into His arms and is simply happy to see me.

I am Peter who made many mistakes, but I am Peter for whom God had great plans, whom God established to do His work. Peter is the rock on which Jesus built His church. The very night Peter foolishly jumped out of the boat Jesus reinstated Him in the presence of the other disciples.

“Do you truly love me?” He asked. “then feed my lambs” “Do you really love me? Take care of my lambs” “Peter, do you love me? Feed my sheep and come follow me”

For each time I deny God the glory that is His, for each time I follow my own will instead of listening to His, for each time I jump ahead without first consulting my Lord, He asks “daughter, do you truly love me?” and I do. “feed my sheep. And I will. And I do. “come follow me” And I am, or at least I am trying.

I am Peter. I mess up. I make mistakes, I am far from perfect and God will use me. God will establish great things through me.

You are Peter. God already knows that you will make a mess, but His plan for you is great. Go. Feed His sheep.

Perfect Timing

Timing. Man, timing is weird. I could write for days about how I really don’t get/really don’t like time and the concept of time. It comes and goes and it’s gone but where does it go? No where, it’s just kinda gone. It honestly freaks me out a little. I don’t like time; I never seem to have enough. That is also largely because I am a terrible procrastinator and spends hours of time wasted on Netflix, which is not so wise in the long run. Timing, though, perfect timing…

Here’s how I know my perfect timing and God’s perfect timing are on opposite ends of the spectrum.

I used to have a legitimate timeline of what my life was going to look like from the day I started college to the day I died (give or take a few days, I mean I gave myself some wiggle room). And today, I am sitting here seriously laughing out loud at myself. Because oh my gosh ya’ll, my whole idea of how my life should have looked is so so off. I had my days mapped out and my friends all in order and where I was going and what I was doing and how my apartment would be decorated and who was going to be my bridesmaids and when I was going to get married (but funny because I was/am SO single and I didn’t/don’t have a promising groom lined up). So here’s the big stuff: I would finish school in 4 years (and have the time of my life obviously) and get a teaching job right out of college. My fairytale wedding would be during the summer between my senior year and first year teaching, I’d spend roughly 2-3 years adventuring with my soul mate then bam 3 kids, close enough to be in school at the same time but not close enough to have all the same friends. I had names picked out, a school I was going to teach at, my wedding colors, even! Thanks pinterest! To top it off, I had a dream job for my husband haha! Yeah the one I don’t even know yet! It is all so comical now looking back but I can promise you, I thought this was how my life was to play out.

This was before I knew my Savior as a friend instead of a religion.

Now here I am, head over heels in love with Jesus… but let’s take a look at the timeline. I am in my third year and not close to being finished with school, like real behind, I don’t go to the big university I had planned on attending, I don’t have a cute DIY decorated apartment with 3 of my closest friends, I do not have even a hint of a boy in my life, I barely have friends (and by barely I mean I have like 3)! I am so far off the track I created and dreamt up and I am not going to lie, it is FRUSTRATING sometimes. I am often find myself angry, asking why me.. why not her? Why is this so much harder for me than them? It’s easy to blame God, because I mean if God wanted me to have an easy perfectly timed life, He could give it to me right??

So that is how mine and God’s ideas for my life differ, and here is why I trust His plans over mine. Here is where Jesus swoops in, saves me, and answers all my questions at once. I am about to sound like a stuffy old preacher, but let’s turn to John chapter 11.

{Back story real quick- Jesus was best best friends with the 12, but He also had a special place in His heart for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (siblings). They hung out a lot and were very good friends.}

So in verse 2, we find out L (Lazarus is kind of annoying to type over and over) is sick, so sick and basically on his death bed. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus and get this: it didn’t even say “L is sick, hurry home”, it said “the one YOU LOVE is sick” the one You love, I mean that is top friends on snapchat status, BFF, like Jesus you LOVE this guy. So L was sick and really this is not a problem though, because Jesus LOVES him and heals people daily, people he doesn’t even know. In the sister’s mind, this is an easy fix for the Savior of the world! And He did this all the time! He would be back in perfect timing to save L and get the glory.

And Jesus got the message and said (vs 4) “this sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God” Praise the Lord! Here He comes to the rescue! Or so we thought… instead of rushing to His friend’s side and healing him, Jesus heads in the opposite direction for a few more days. Wait WHAT?? Why didn’t Jesus do what He should have done OMG HOW ANNOYING!! Why isn’t Jesus doing what I think is best for this situation?

This is where I find myself a lot. I think I know all the answers, I think I know what’s best for me and those around me. I think I know what Jesus should be doing and when He doesn’t, I get frustrated.

Isaiah 55:8-9 ~ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

This. Soak that in. Just as Heaven is higher than the earth, so are His thoughts higher than my thoughts. Makes so much sense yet, sometimes I find that so hard to trust.

Jesus didn’t come when he “should have” or when our silly little human minds think he should have.

And L died.

Jesus returned to find Mary and Martha mourning the loss of their brother and broken by the fact that Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, their friend, had pretty much left them hanging. Mary cried out to Jesus “Lord, if only You had been here! My brother would not have died!” (vs 32). AKA if you came when we asked instead of playing around for a couple of days, we’d all be happy! Where were you Jesus? Why didn’t you show up when we wanted you to? What in the stinkin world?!

BUT WAIT.. The story isn’t over.

Jesus was sad and he cried and he was angry at himself (yeah guys Jesus was emotional too sometimes!!) and finally said “Remove the stone” And Martha is over there like “Jesus, he’s been dead for FOUR DAYS, let it go man” and Jesus replied “didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (vs 38-40). Throwback to when Jesus said God would be glorified in this. Jesus goes on to pray “Father, I thank you that you heard me. I know you that you always hear me…” (vs 42) and then He yelled out “L COME ON OUT!” AND L CAME OUT!!!! He was four days dead, but at the sound of Jesus’ sweet voice, he came out alive and well!

What if Jesus just healed him instead of raising him to life… sure God would still get glory but what a more beautiful way to bring praise to the King right?! He raised a man from the dead! I MEAN HELLO! Glory to God. What a Savior, literally.

This story means so so much to me. And it has for a really really long time. When I think about the anger Mary and Martha and honestly probably Jesus himself felt about L dying, I feel so understood. And I don’t know about ya’ll but being understood brings so much comfort. I often get so annoyed, angry, let down by God’s plan and how it isn’t what I had planned. But this life I’m in, it’ll end in God’s glory. All this pain and loneliness and everything in my life that seems so off track works together not only for my good, but for God’s glory. So I cling to that truth, His ways are higher than mine and I’d take the God of the universe’s ways over mine any day. Plus it’s a much cooler story.

Thankful for His Perfect Timing.

xx. Austyn