My transition from San Clemente to Redding was an exciting adventure that turned into a much more difficult time of change than I anticipated. It was almost a culture shock. Growing up in the busyness of my beautiful Orange County beach town, there were many ways of life that were engrained in who I was, that once I was removed from my comfort zone, they began to be exposed.
Sitting quietly. So foreign to me. I am a list person. 📝 I am just beginning to realize how I've relied on structure and productivity (aka insane busyness) to pacify my anxiety and give me the counterfeit feeling of purpose and accomplishment. But hey, to everyone around me, I appeared to be successful, moving forward in life and "put together" right? So the non-stop busyness was justified, right?
Wrong. My first few weeks in school at BSSM were torture for me. I was out of a schedule, adapting to a new city and rhythm of life knowing nearly no one and having no familiar activities to run to that kept me productive and that kept my anxiety pacified. No weekly ministry, no job, no familiar friendships to run to, no stability as I've known it .. I began to feel everything that's been suppressed. As so much began to resurface, it's safe to say I was a hot mess.
But I have Jesus! Why am I such an emotional mess? Why is sitting quietly so painful for me? The fear. The insecurity. The crippling desire to be liked and accepted. The destructive words that have been spoken over me. The deep wounds on my heart. I could feel it all. I didn't have all the activities and families "coping skills" to rely upon anymore -- literally all I had was time, and was Jesus. I began to go into PLANNING MODE. Frantically applying for jobs, making lists..weekly schedules..appointments..people to call..youth at home to encourage with texts and written letters..presents to make..trips to plan..budgets to control..homework planning lists..a healthy meal prep..exercise schedule..I began to give myself so much TO DO in the midst of feeling such deep emotions, so I could RUN from them and continue pacifying my anxiety with productivity. There was nothing wrong with the tasks above I was trying to accomplish, but there was everything wrong with running from God to these things to find comfort and relief.
Everything I attempted to do began failing. I was applying for jobs that I was way overqualified for, and being turned away. I got a GREAT 25+ hour a week job at a flower shop, and God refused to give me the peace and joy to accept it. I kept applying until I had peace. All the tasks I was running to intensified the deep emotions I was beginning to face and I heard the sweet and still voice of the Lord nudge me, "you didn't come up to Redding and BSSM to do the same things you did at home. Be present"
So I thought, "maybe I should stop trying to get busy, and start trying to talk to God about all this ugly stuff resurfacing in my heart?" 💡 and whatayya know! He started responding! I opened His word and was led to specific verses that comforted and cleaned out my heart. I began to cry. Much needed heart surgery began. I gave myself permission to feel..to feel deeply. To feel anger. To feel grief. To feel joy. His presence came and I was still enough to recognize the sweetness and power of His Holy Spirit in the room with me. His radical comfort came and began to heal my heart. I began to encounter His love in these moments of stillness. I began to process pains and memories I'd buried for yeeaars. And from this quiet place, I began being directed by Him and given heavenly wisdom as to what to do next. One task at a time.
Now I had applied to 30+ jobs on care.com over the course of 2 months..I only got 5 responses denying my application? I have 6+ years experience, a teaching credential and a degree in child development. What the heck? So I gave up. It was in my quiet place with the Lord that I felt his nudge.. "check care.com right now" I felt like peter who had been fishing all night long, only to catch NOTHING.
"Whatever you say boss"
Not an hour before a woman had posted about her need for part time child care in Redding. "This is my husband & my first time fostering children. We would love someone with a heart for foster kids and experience with young children"
"Is this for real Lord..?!"
I didn't want to get my hopes up, but I eagerly applied with a heart of child-like faith and excitement!
A day later I actually got a response! She wanted to meet with me for coffee! JESUS!!!
My time with the beautiful mother grounded me. And my moments witnessing the faithful service of her and her husband have inspired me beyond words. They hired me and essentially, welcomed me into their journey of fostering these beloved little ladies. Their unshakable faith in Jesus and radical, unconditional love for these little girls began to pierce my heart. I saw the gentle, stable and tangible love of Jesus they were giving to these tiny girls. It is sacrificial. They are falling in love with these girls and giving them everything a good good father would delight in giving their children..and they are risking the deep pain they may feel if / when they little ladies get reunited with their birth parents.
I've been humbled and inspired every time I share moments with this married couple. I am dreaming of a stable, godly and healthy marriage glued together by love for and faithful service to their Lord Jesus. Every day I am thanking God for their example, His provision and my priceless and life giving moments of loving these precious little girls.
So that brings me to Friday taco dates with Jesus. Around the corner from their house is an authentic and delicious Mexican food restaurant. God has invited me to find comfort in moments like this, where I can look forward to time connecting with Him, enjoying the good things in life and intentionally protecting my connection with Him instead of missing precious moments like this by running back to my rhythm of unhealthy busyness.
This tiny, loud and delicious Mexican food restaurant and these weekly taco dates with Jesus have been some of the most reflective, enjoyable and healing moments since getting settled into my new life in Redding. Deep pain and memories continue to resurface, but I'm no longer afraid of facing them. I have found the one in who my soul loves. Song of Songs 3:4
No human or activity could ever bring comfort, healing,
purpose and life-giving joy to my moments like Jesus has. And whether I am accomplishing much, or doing nothing, I am content as long as I am connected to my life-source.
Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
Philippians 4:11-12 MSG
Slowing down and surrendering all I've relied on to strengthen me..becoming weak and broken, coming into God's safe presence, giving myself permission to feel every deep pain resurfacing from my heart.:has brought me close to the heart of Jesus. I have become so weak and broken only to be made strong, stable and healthy in my quiet moments in the presence of my Lord. His Holy Spirit comes and rebuilds the ancient ruins long devastated, binds of the broken heart and has set this captive free.
Who wouldna known you could experience such joy and healing over tacos 🌮 I pray this same healing, comfort and joy for you. ❤️
He doesn't have to come encounter us with His love,
but he always does.