Be Still

He tells me, “Be still,” but how? With dreams and duties eternally raging in my little mind, how do I possibly “be still?” 

It is laying my hopes and plans and worries at His feet, both in submission and expectancy, because “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps (Proverbs 16:9);” “Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent (Matthew 10:29);” “His left hand is under my head, and his right arm embraces me (Song of Solomon 2:6).” Having forgotten we can access His inner courts and commune with Him, the Creator of everything, how often do we choose worry instead? Enter the temple, hear His thoughts towards you, and then release the rest, because could anything be better than His will?

When I got sick in India, naturally my earthly father got equally concerned. I am and always have been his little princess, the apple of his eye. The quiet assurance that I am even more adored by my heavenly Father, and was in the center of His will, was his and my mother’s only comfort, the only thing keeping him from flying out there to save me. It was also my only cure for anxiety.

However now here I sit, the healthiest of my family, and stronger for having been so terribly ill. Up until that point I had been dealing with (while in denial of) an eating disorder. Because I was in denial of it, I can’t tell you for how long it went on, but I can tell you it wasn’t the worst it could be. Lately I feel like society tells us it is only to be counted as an eating disorder if nary a breadcrumb passes through your lips, but I disagree. According to the National Eating Disorders website, “Eating disorders… include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues.” So while I was eating, even though it was varied between equal and less than the diet of the nine year olds I babysit, I still obsessed over each breadcrumb, mentally planning how I would make up for it or why I deserved it, et cetera. Dogmatically searching Pinterest for pictures of celebrities I admired where the slightest belly-bulge or thigh curve was apparent became my routine coping mechanism, the way I prevented it from being full blown anorexia. And just to get everything out there all at once, it was not so much an issue regarding weight as it was control- if everything else was chaotic, at least I could force my body into order. Also, eating disorders stem from a hereditary mental track, just like OCD or ADHD, and, as most of you know, my mother dealt with multiple at my age.

Now that that’s all out there, my former eating issues are not what this post is about. It’s about my King’s devotion. He knew this was what it would take for me not only to recognize my detrimental eating and thinking habits, but also to make the decision that it simply was not worth it. Through my sickness, I finally reached my goal weight, and realized first-hand the damage it took to achieve it.

It was His devotion that had me learning His voice, and once His audible laugh, by the time I was in elementary school. It was His devotion that reminded me through every storm I can remember that “this, too, shall pass.” It was His devotion that created the imaginary worlds I grew up in and still hold on to that shape the way I see both this earth and the next.

Just this week I have felt crippled under the weight of everything that needs to be done. Wedding planning, writing, shooting, taking care of the home, all the many shades of ministry… The list goes on. But He tells me “there is a time for everything under the sun.” Even now, as I’m feeling overwhelmed yet again, I’m reminded of the times I’ve been through tougher months, the turmoil of which I now no longer remember. This will be the same. And in His devotion, these thirty one days of stress are closed with a week long retreat with my grandparents. 

It is His devotion singing grace over me when anxiety comes like thunder in the night. It is His devotion reminding me that each moment has a meaning beyond the next thirty seconds. It is His devotion leading me into the subsequent season, which He has termed my year of Jubilee. It is His devotion that will lead me on through that, when the next storm comes, and carry me through to the other side stronger than before.

And I need only be still.

“After these things I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. I will rebuild its ruins and set it up again, so the rest of humanity may seek the Lord- even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, declares the Lord who does these things, known from long ago.” ~Acts 15:16-18

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Daughter of Ministry

For several years now I’ve debated writing this one, a post about what it meant to grow up a daughter of ministry. Family dinners few and far between. Christmas never spent around my grandparents’ fireplace. My own graduation lunch filled with funeral planning because a dear friend of the congregation had recently passed, and the ceremony was to follow immediately after this classic life monument. 

I’ve grown up knowing that one wrong slip from my mouth could cause a church split, along with the love-burden of responsibility that comes with planting a church.  With my parents having both been missionaries, going to YWAM (Youth With A Mission) was a bit of a conveyor belt thing to do, as well as a lifelong dream. Other than that though, I had never quite understood God’s purpose for bringing me there, specifically Hawaii when we had connections at a closer base. But He knew the events of my life up until that point had brought me to a place where I needed to leave, to get out of the alternating spotlight and shadow of being a pastor’s kid. As my own wedding bells were being prepared, a veil of mourning still shrouded my eyes. It was glued over me; no matter how I shook it refused to move.

So He removed me. He took me to a place where I could finally breathe in open space. 

There, I felt my pain. At home, I couldn’t. Life kept moving too fast, and there were too many people for whom I felt I had to be strong. There, I experienced the freedom to choose my own life-path (not that the choice was ever withheld from me by my parents- they’ve always encouraged me to take whichever route the Lord showed me. But as I said, I felt a love-burden). There, I realized the emptiness born of any life not heightened by that sense of urgency, because this was the life I was created for. So I chose to return. And the decision was mine. 

Because I never felt I came before the ministry, but that I was as called to it as my parents, it’s always been a joy, even in the most trying times.  While I rarely had family dinner at home, I had regular dinners with my family of 150 people, equally as intimate. Every Christmas I can recall was spent with this same family, singing praises and exchanging gifts around the church Christmas tree. And now, though I missed my graduation, I am looking forward to a wedding possibly larger than even any I’ve photographed, with all those same 150 and others who have joined us over the years, each of whom I deeply desire to be there, celebrating with us. They truly are our family. 

So to those parents I encounter on a regular basis, if fear of your kids missing out is all that is keeping you from ministry, as the daughter of ministry, it’s worth it. I may not have learned which fork to use, but the lessons and gifts given to me from my parents were far more eternal, and for that I will be ever grateful.