Looking to the Future: Advent
I'm sorry for the long time away!
I went off to an amazing conference, and then it was time for Thanksgiving.
I might go back and type up all my Bible notes I took while I was at the conference, but posting them online wasn't at the top of my priority list, tbh.
God spoke powerfully and plainly to me during that conference, both through my time meditating on His word, and through the speakers and meetings that I was able to be part of during that week.
And, well, what it boils down to was that my quiet idea that maybe I would like to go into Youth Ministry isn't my idea. And it won't be quiet forever. It's what my current goal is.
So, I'm going to be going forward with that as my thought behind my actions. Will this get me closer to this goal? How would the kids react if they saw me doing this? How would the parents react if they saw me doing this?
Let's be real, the parents are the scary part.
So, some things that I want to accomplish in this time of preparation for the future:
- Get my license (this is kinda embarrassing, but I never got my driver's license. I moved off to college when I was 17 before I could take the test, my college town actually had good transit and I was poor, I moved back home and my doctor told me not to drive until I was diagnosed, and then I moved again).
- Solidify a healthy Bible and prayer habit. (I can't promote a healthy habit in kids if I can't do it myself)
- Learn how to be purposeful and Gospel driven on social media (I've been trying to do like 1 min Bible studies on tiktok and am going to be posting this on FB - https://www.facebook.com/pg/alittleleftofrighteousness)
- Continue to document my walk towards and with ministry (this blog and tiktok, and maybe a podcast? idk. Tell me what you think.)
- Continue learning about ways to help kids with the hard stuff.
I honestly can't wait to see what the future holds.
I am learning under an experienced Youth Pastor, with a very enthusiastic and empowering church behind me. Everyone I spoke to at the conference I went to (which was for Youth Workers) told me how good of a fit I was, and how much they were looking forward to the coming years and seeing me come into my own.
I... I can't wait either.
In the meantime, though, I have kids that are already looking up to me and who already need me. And I will give them my whole heart while I am with them. As they deserve nothing less.
It's Advent y'all!
Happy new liturgical year!
Hope you're all excited to prepare for the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
So, for that, I'm going to be taking a short break from the monster Bible study I was doing to do a short Advent one. It's only, like, a week long, but it looked good.
(If you want to follow along, it's the Advent plan by Grace Family Church)
The readings for today are both in Luke 1.
Luke 1: 78-79
So, we've read these already in this blog. I'm not going to go super in depth with them. But I am going to answer the pretty good questions that are in the devotional with them.
What hope have you given up on?
I have given up on more than I honestly thought. I feel like I've given up on finding love. I know I'm only 26 and I have my whole life ahead of me, but I feel so unsure on that horizon. I'd love to have someone, sure. But I will not settle for someone who isn't going in the same direction as me or who won't support me in my schedule or anything like that.
I've given up on going directly into my field of study, or or going back into the nonprofit sector. I loved them, and I know that I studied it all for a reason, but it isn't so I will be working in a hotel.
I've given up on living independently, and have accepted that I can't do all the things I used to be able to do. But, in that, in giving up that bullheaded idea that I have to tough it out alone, I have been able to find joy in communities I would have otherwise ignored.
What disappointments have you faced this year?
Similarly, I have faced a lot of disappointments in the past year.
I had a rough start to 2019, with me still adjusting to moving back home with my parents. I was visiting a ton of doctors to try and find out what was wrong with me, and there didn't seem to be any answers. I had, like, 4 MRIs in a month.
I started to settle, and then even find joy.
And then I had to move again.
My parents sold my childhood home. For a very good reason. But, it still stung. I had found a job that I liked and could do. I was about to get a promotion at work. I knew that, with a little more patience, I would be able to sustain myself. But, not in time.
Then I scrambled to find a fulltime job in a city nearby. Maybe I needed to move to another city with a good fulltime job. Maybe I could support myself again.... even though the reason I moved home was mainly because it wasn't safe for me to live alone because I would randomly collapse. I just... I just didn't want to admit defeat. I didn't want to have to be passed to another family member. I wanted to prove I was strong enough.
And I wasn't. I didn't get the jobs, even though I got really close a few times.
I moved to Florida. With my grandparents, down the street from my Aunt and Uncle. I hadn't wanted to.
But, I did. And I tried to mask my anger at it all.
I kept trying to snatch the first job that I would see once I moved down here, because I wanted to prove that I wasn't a layabout. That I could do it.
Once again... ignoring my body's new limitations.
(It was really freaking smart of me to think that I could work at a restaurant when the whole freaking health issues started with me being on my feet too much.) (Or that my body, with a disability that lower immune systems, should work with newborns.)
And so, each job ended with pain and with irritation and disappointment.
But, through it all, I had the Youth Ministry that I started volunteering with. The Praise Team I started singing on. The CR team that I started learning with. They kept me going despite my vocational failures. Reminding me that I was failing because I was trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Showing me explosive success in my church life and volunteering to keep me steady in the storm... remind me where my priorities were.
I've had people I've been interested in dating, only to have that collapse due to them pushing forward, not being on the same page as me about boundaries. Disappointing, because I could see it work, I could see how well we would work together.... but not at the behest of going back on my personal boundaries.
I've had a lot of disappointments this year. But I've also had an overwhelming amount of success. And so many of those joyful moments were because of those "disappointments."
And later on, the story of Zechariah goes from being disappointed and refusing to believe God to singing God's praises as John the Baptist is born.
Being silent and watching.
Almost anytime you listen to someone talk about prayer life or praying, you'll hear something along the lines of "have you tried listening?" or "it's really hard to listen to God speak when you're talking the entire freaking time."
And, well, it's true. And, well, Zechariah got 9 months to learn how to listen to God.
And we need to do the same.
... not be silent for 9 months, but, you know, listening.
What might you notice if you were silent? Be silent for 2 minutes and asked God one single question, "What do you want me to notice?"
The answer is going to be different for everybody. But the thing that I felt God was wanting me to focus on was what was already within reach. I need to keep practicing love and compassion and gratefulness for what is already in my life and what God has already gifted me. Instead of acting like everything is a placeholder for the future, it's my active duty now.
Instead of dreaming about the dog I want to own in the future (a greyhound), I need to focus on my cat now.
Instead of thinking about where God could take me next, I need to pay attention to the church family I have now.
I've always had to prove myself good enough. Had to be the good kid. Had to prove I was strong enough to live alone, brave enough to travel alone, strong enough to overcome... alone. Always alone, and always having to prove my worth.
I already have worth. I have God. He has made me more worthy than I could ever prove myself to be. Being able to live alone for nearly a decade away from family is nice and all, but being loved by God is greater. Being able to have a job is nice, but God making a place for me in His family is greater.
I keep analyzing everything in how I can prove myself worthy of existing. I need to start viewing it in how it honors God, and in how it is enough for where I am now. I'm doing my best in God's eyes just being. I don't need to try and get society's gold star too.
Bless you all.
Love and peace be upon you.
Have some deep time with God today. Tomorrow. Every day.
Think about the things that you found to be disappointing. Think about the things you find to be successes. Think about how they're connected.
And think about how God speaks to you and through you when you're not trying to make your own pedestal to prove your worth.