"The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope." - Samuel Johnson
The beauty of living for Christ, and not ourselves - is beyond rewarding. It's constant and life-giving. The fruit of spiritual obedience, despite the uncomfortable courage and change it constantly challenges me with, has become far more precious and desirable to me over the stagnancy and endless cycles of anxiety produced by doubt, fear of lack, dependence on money, self-glory. Over my failures, over my shame and pride, over every other thing that never satisfies enough, I am so thankful beyond words that I get to walk out my 26th year with my faithful, loving God.
As I reflect on this year, I feel that the intensity and unfamiliarity of living I've walked into is just a foreshadowing of a greater dosage of living for years to come - in challenges, oppositions, growth, and adventures. Everyday, I feel more joy as my heart, mind and soul are learning to be in sync with an everlasting hope. Simultaneously, I am being renewed with hope and belief in the truth of who God is, the promise of God's love evidenced by the daily whispers and reminders of a supernatural glory. The sunset. A conviction. Compassion. My own need for hope. Presence. Love. Divine appointments. Quiet Worship and exchanges of thankfulness. This is what it's like to walk with Him. I'm reminded that it is a daily and constant relationship that continues to renew my standard of what it looks like to daily love and live in Him and for Him. I see the relevance of living in wholeness and how that translates to stewarding the life I've been given with excellence, not because it's an obligation, but because it's an act of love and genuine worship. I want to serve my creator, not as a slave who fears a master, but as a daughter of the most high who created me with a purpose.
When we receive love, we are transformed by the freedom that love brings. When we love someone or something so much, we want to be and do our very best in stewarding it. Similarly, a new desire to strive for excellence isn't equivalent to striving for perfection, but simply a reflection of a heart that is responding to a good giver who has given such a perfect unconditional gift of love and grace. This love, I've found - never runs out. This love, has never condemned me. This love, has never given up on me. This love, has made me believe again - with my whole heart. It forgives. It hopes. It bears all things. This love, is worth every ounce of my living and being. In my happiness or in my sadness, in my disappointment or satisfactions, weariness and strength, this love - is my everything.
When there is something we love, we look forward to it, not dread it. I've noticed a type of dread in my own heart and in those around me - to serve, to grow, to live humbly, joyfully and abundantly. Maybe this is because we've lost hope. Maybe it's all the disappointments we've experienced, disillusionment, the depressing and dreadful news of devastation and death that have planted deep doubt in our hearts, creating an attitude of pessimism and skepticism against the possibilities of receiving or truly witnessing any genuine goodness - or that goodness potentially becoming an actual living reality. Maybe the only way to cope with the hopelessness that doubt leaves us with is - distraction, where everything apart from distraction(s) becomes dreadful. But by continuing to live in this state of unbelief, we become numb and powerless. As a result of this "dread" attitude that I've unconsciously carried close in my own heart, I've grown guarded, bitter and numb, less compassionate. At the same time, my ability to share and believe in the goodness of love and the power of hope was dormant, powerless, and almost dead. It's more than easy to get distracted and swayed in our affairs with doubt. It's time to expose that doubt and seek real hope again.
Like the zootoxins in a snake's venom that slowly and numblingly take it's ignorant prey down, doubt also paralyzes us in the same fashion. For a whole year, I've unsynced parts of my heart from the God of Hope, only picking and choosing when, where and what context I might want God to be in. Then, my identity became in the things I did and had, experiences and moments, opinions and knowledge, not my character or who I was created to be. In the meantime, I was subtly, then fully convinced by a deceiving urgency to worship the illusive productivity of busyness that performance, competition, and perfectionism demanded of me. I sometimes start passionately with what I believe in, get busy doing the work, forget the purpose, then get burnt out. If we neglect the heart for too long, sooner than we could've imagined, we unknowingly divorce our purpose, passion, and dreams in exchange for the hopelessness, busyness, emptiness and vanity that doubt leaves us with.