Note: Completely unrelated to anything I am going to be writing about in this post… Whatever the “freshman 15” or “freshman 20” is to college also applies to travelling. Straight up, I have fat where I didn’t even know my body could or even did store it. By the time I return to Canada, I will be a solid 50 pounds up from when I left. But all it means is that I am trying all foods, and am well fed. So rest your worried souls if any were concerned.
I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and I must say, the people you follow should probably post meaningful captions as well as quality photos so that you aren’t just mindlessly looking at nothing. I really do think that through a caption, which I may be getting into this too much, but nonetheless, a caption can really speak to you. Like today for example, I was scrolling through Instagram, as I was saying and I came upon this one photo. Now this person always posts nothing less than the highest of quality photos, but also captions that are life giving. The quote, I don’t know the context of what is being said, but this one quote has spoken measures to me, and is the backbone of my thoughts today. The quote was:
“If we’re resolved that this is where we want to go- into the mystery, not to hold God and reality, but to let God and reality hold us- then I think Religion is finally in it’s proper and appropriate place.” -Richard Rohr
I have to be honest and say that I don’t like it when people isolate quotes and disregard the context. However, the one line that has really made things make sense lately is “…into the mystery, not to hold God and reality, but to let God and reality hold us…” So in this moment I will do what I dislike most, but keep it relevant and, unlike what it is often used to do- isolating quotes- I will keep it true to what it is saying. This quote has made a lot of things makes sense. Lately, nothing has felt real, to say the least. And by lately I mean over the course of 5 years that there have been moments in my life that have felt hyper-realistic, or just straight up not real. Like this trip to Thailand. I couldn’t figure out why. I wanted to know why, even after following God all the way here, it has felt less real than any other time in my life. Why I felt like I was in the twilight zone or something. This place where I am super aware of life. Which sounds so stupid, but to where I am actually fearful of the life that I am living. Just fearful of living. That life and death is terrifying, even though I am living, and will die everntually. But it’s one of those “I am the only person aware fo my own life, seeing everything through my eyes and only becoming apart of other people’s life. For what reason? I don’t know. Why did God choose this life for me? Choose me to live in this time? (Esther 4:14) To look this way, and act this way, and have these friends, and this family…? I hope to never find out, if I’m being honest. Not until the day I die and reflect on all the things I had seen and done. But this quote explains these feelings. A very treasured friend and mentor of mine, Brittany, after telling her that coming to Thailand didn’t feel real, said that “anything with God doesn’t feel real. Because God isn’t of this world, so anything done for him won’t feel real. Because it isn’t ‘real’ to us.” It’s something apart from us. If that makes any sense? A whole unfamiliar world and realm of everything that is unknown 🙂
So when Richard Rohr says”…but to let God and reality hold us…” still not knowing the complete context, but I feel like this is what I have done. Or am in the process of doing. I don’t hold God anymore. I’ve definitely let go of reality. I think if I had let fear take hold of me, gave into uncertainty, and stayed in Canada, then I would be holding tight to reality and had kept God in my hands. Where in leaving it all behind I have let go of God, and am now allowing him to hold me, instead of me holding him. As I look back at what I was like I see it as a child who is in a storm. When the child is in their home, and the lightning can’t hurt them, they are sheltered from the rain, and, well thunder is just loud, and they hold so tightly to their mom or dad. The entire time through the storm the mom or dad is saying “don’t worry, nothing is going to harm you. I’ve got you.” But no matter how many times the child is told that they’ll be OK, they still hold tight. Once the storm has passed, the parent says, “see! You made it!” only then the child slowly releases their hold and goes to play confidently knowing the storm has passed. That’s how I see how my life was. And there is nothing wrong with holding onto God when there’s a storm, but to let go and see that everything is all right, that we’re protected, that we’re covered, and nothing can harm us, that’s when we can enjoy the storms, and rainy days. When we can whip out the board games, Uno, and Monopoly (not in the category of board game) and play them with God. When we aren’t afraid to let go and see that He is there with us.
Right now as I am in Thailand, in my storm of letting go of reality, I have also let go of God and have started enjoying life for what it is and what he made it to be. Whatever it may be. I walk with Him. Hold His hand. Make jokes. Like the one day I went for a run through the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life, or one of the most beautiful, because none can compare, I stopped to marvel at how incredible creation is and how we actually see His face in everything. And if you don’t know me, I spit a lot. Well, not a lot, but enough that it’s, well, it is gross. Anyways! I was running, and y’know, ‘needed’ to spit, so I did, and I heard God just kinda spit up a chuckle and say “y’know, you just spat in face.” What a funny guy I tell you. 139248291382/10 recommend getting to know him personally.
But there’s something in life not feeling real that makes it feel so real. Every moment is something amazing. It no longer feels like I’m just simply observing other people’s life, but that I really do have a life of my own. That I am living just as much as the next person. I used to feel really jealous of the lives other people were living. That their’s is so much better than mine. That I at one point had a this dream, and they are living it. Sometimes I do feel that way a little bit. Like when I see some fellow athletes competing in varsity track and getting stronger and improving tremendous amounts. But I get excited! I do still wish that I was competing in track, or had the opportunity to actually go far in volleyball or basketball, but the finances were never there, so I didn’t get the same chance. Maybe if I had been motivated enough to make it on my own… Maybe that’s another life I could have lived. Plus, if I had stayed in track, I wouldn’t be 20 pounds up. But I wouldn’t be 20 pounds up. So instead of “I wish I was doing that. I wish I was there.” I’ve made the shift to “shoot, I wanna do that. I wanna go there.” And then I plan to make it happen, and hopefully will eventually get it done. My life isn’t as short as I once thought it was. But I’ll get to that later. I have also come to see that it isn’t my life. I don’t go to the mountains every weekend with my university and/or high school friends. Go on snow shoeing, skiing, snowboarding adventures. Head up to my cabin at a lake with 5 of my closest friends and spend the week, or weekend away with them making memories. I don’t have an Instagram feed of super sick pics of me on top of a mountian over looking an emerald green lake. Or pictures from training camp in clear waters and open skies. I have come around to learning and realizing that this is OK. But more than OK, or even just accepting this, but that the life I am living is mine exclusively until I get married and share it with a husand and my countless children, but even then, it’s still my life. And God has incredible things planned for it. Things that, unfortunately, maybe others will look at and wish they were doing what I am. Writing a blog post in early April, in an air conditioned room, brushing annoying small bugs and ants off my legs 🙂
I don’t even think about the fact that I am 18 almost 19 away in Thailand for what will be 5 months preparing for what will be many years to come but probably a lifetime. I do miss being with my friends in Canada and going out to the mountains with them, hanging out with them and eating with them, but I have friends here that I get to that with. New friends who will become life long friends.
God is setting me up for success. In one sermon over a weekend at church camp this past week, actually, it shifted my feelings about being away and seeing people as God sees them. I had been so frustrated because I didn’t feel like I was connecting with God or even anyone I was encountering who I would be with for my remaining time in Thailand. In the sermon we were asked to close our eyes and just wait on God to speak to us. Something that we needed to hear, or something like that. I don’t very often have to wait long for God to speak to me in these moments. Usually before the pastor or speaker is even finished saying what they are going to say, God starts speaking. As the speaker was finishing his thought God whispered to me, “I wouldn’t set you up for failure.” Which I didn’t even know I was unconsciously feeling that way, but really I was feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere. That I wasn’t seeing or feeling God radically in Thailand. That I should be feeling some shift of some sort, or something that confirmed some feeling I felt that I was supposed to be having. If that doesn’t make sense, it isn’t supposed to. Because I didn’t know what I was supposed to feeling, but that I should be feeling something more than I was, which was next to nothing. I felt disconnected. Even God would speak to me and I didn’t feel as if it was really anything… Which doesn’t maybe sound right, but it wasn’t shaking me. And in this moment I remember this verse:
1 Kings 19:11-13
God has hardly ever spoken to me in a whirlwind. I honestly think though, as people say, ‘opposites attract’, that God speaks in a way that he knows we will hear. I am already a loud and expressive person, and when God speaks to me he’s a soft quiet voice, never aggressive, never loud. Clear, but not loud. And sometimes I do forget that. So to not see God , like see-see Him in all that I do, I wonder if what I am doing is changing anything. If God is working through me. If I am working through Him. But it’s impossible for me to not since I came here for Him, to see Him, and for Him to work through me, not as I was saying, that I work through Him. That was a lot of ‘him’s in a sentence. But it doesn’t work that way. God brings the glory, I don’t. I’m just the vessel He has chosen to instill the glory and to release it.
I never had to do anything ‘physical’. All I had to do was say yes and after, God has done it all. I don’t know what God bringing me to Thailand has done so far. I won’t know for a very long time. I will probably never know. I may witness countless things along the way, but that’s not the same. Seeing isn’t knowing. As I see people acting in ways that are of the culture in Thailand, I see it, but don’t knowthe reason why. Just as seeing isn’t really believing. I’ve heard it said before that we need to first believe before we see. If you don’t believe miracles happen, you will likely never see one. Even if one does surely happen before your eyes, you will try and explain it away.
In being here I am learning to believe and see after. I’m learning to let go of understanding because literally sitting in a room with Thai people surrounding me, speaking Thai, it’s hopeless for me to try and understand what they’re saying. I can only listen to the words and the tones. Which, hearing their tones and reacting, I have tricked some of the women into thinking I understand Thai. Is that a win? Not really. Because I don’t understand when they continue to speak to me. But, I feel like I am understanding more, even if I don’t know the meaning or the context. This is leading me towards how God works. I don’t understand his ways. I actually just don’t understand him at all! Which is where I have walked into the mystery and left all previous notions and I don’t know, knowledge or belief that I understand God, or have any little bit of understanding in His ways. So if I ever said it before that I understand what God is doing, I actually don’t. But that’s faith. People aren’t being raised from the dead. The hospital isn’t filled with less people everytime I walk in. No one is getting healed on the spot, basically I have yet to witness any physical miracles take place. Actually I witnessed a few at the camp, but that’s not all that God is. He isn’t just a miracle. To see can stir up faith, but if all that is to find is physical, then faith would burn out and die quickly. I may not be seeing Him everyday, but I am believing that He is moving. And that’s faith. Not knowing what it looks like, but trusting in Him. If I knew what He was doing at all times, when He was going to do it and what would come out of it, then why would I need to believe in Him? If everything just worked out and I knew all that would happen? I wouldn’t have to trust because thats the way it is and that’s just the end of it. I’m rambling now, but my point is I’m trying to say if I understood God I wouldn’t need to have faith in Him because He wouldn’t be God. Which is what I feel like a lot of people miss out about Him. They want to understand everything that happens, but because they fail to understand why the world is how it is, and the events and everything that is happeing, they think He’s absent. So it’s become easier for them to explain Him away. To deny His existence. Which I guess could be easy. To just deny Him if you never knew of His goodness and faithfulness. But how is life enjoyable? Where’s the joy in seeing people’s confusion or even anger when they don’t understand how, in the midst of your pain, in the midst of your hurting and anguish, or even in other’s, that you still proclaim that God is good. That He does, infact, love us. And I don’t mean for the joy to be mocking, but to recognize and know that what you hold is so powerful. Some people just don’t get it. Yes, my heart breaks for them when they don’t yet have this in their life. Yet I still remain joyful because I have God to comfort me and carry me through and can only hope that my faith in God and believing in His faithfulness would only change their heart. That they could look at me and say “I don’t know what it is that you have that keeps you so filled with hope and joy, and peace, but I am setting aside my anger because I want to know what it is.”
I don’t want to understand what I carry. I know what it is that I carry, but to understand it would cause me to stop asking questions. To stop digging deeper. Once I understand, there’s really no need for me to look into something further because I have aquired the knowledge I need. I can set it down, set it aside, and move onto something else. I don’t want that. God is far too complex and there’s no end to knowing who He is, even after deathwe will forever be seeing new sides of His face. So in letting go of reality I can just live within the reality of God, let him hold me, and only witness all that he does through me, and in me.
With much love and thanks,