You see it all

I vowed to keep a few people updated on my YWAM journey via this blog, so with that promise I want to preface by saying that I also promise to be completely vulnerable and transparent through these blog posts. No one wants to read about fake bliss, right? I have been here for about five days now and it already feels like weeks. It's been a difficult process identifying with my emotions because I can honestly say I have never seen this side of myself before. A difficult yet somehow glorious process.

I arrived on Friday and the thrill of new scenery left by Sunday night, exchanged with heat exhaustion and a cold. I keep surprising myself here, completely going out of the lines from the norms of my personality. Normally an upbeat and positive person, I found myself shocked when I was up late at night in uncontrollable tears. If you know me well, crying is the opposite from normal for me. I think I have cried more in the past five days here than I have the past year! I room with 13 other girls so to prevent waking anyone with coughs and sobs, I escaped to the laundry room at 3:30am, journal in hand, ready to give God a piece of my mind. 

"Why am I here? Why would You send me to this place? I feel miserable. How could I be feeling like this? What am I even feeling? Why am I here?"

It was completely out of my element to feel that way, to feel unhappy. God let me express all of my frustrations, patiently waiting without interruption. I sat there hugging my knees, wishing to be on top of the "mountain" I was so comfortable on back home. Familiarity, routine, people I knew deeper than their first name and hometown… 

When I was done unloading every last thought and feeling on Him, He spoke over me four simple words. "I am with you." No fancy or elaborate wisdom, but everything I needed to hear. With His words of truth came overwhelming peace. He reminded me that He is a good good Father, ready to set His "agenda" aside to just listen and feel with me. 

The thing is, His only agenda is love. 

If love means listening in a specific moment, God will listen. If love means direction, God will make a way. If love means chiseling away fears and doubts, He will hand-tailor His creation. Everything He does is fueled by the purest of loves. Even through my craziest emotions, God remains constant in the way He unconditionally and infinitely loves. 

I certainly never heard it advised to scream at God during a Sunday morning church service. No one ever told me it was okay to throw all my ugly stuff in the open, out from under the rug. How could such a Holy God want to hear my ugliness? Certainly I was expected to have it all put together… all the time… right?

God is not concerned with fake or forced love in response to His pure love. He wants to lead us to a place of love that is genuine, hand in hand. It is a process of trust, not obligation. That trust comes from transparency; laying everything out on the table before Him no matter how difficult it may be. He desires our realness, not that we fake emotions based on a set of rules. He does not care if He has to sit up with you at 3:30am listening to your tears and anger. He would rather take that than counterfeit emotions any day, any night. 

Our right standing with God is perfect and never changes (2 Corinthians 5:21) so why have I been so afraid to be honest with Him? It is OKAY to struggle, as long as we're struggling with the One with all the answers, the only One who can provide perfect love. Vulnerability on our part allows God to fill the holes we have, and the voids we feel that need filling. Honesty. Realness. An angry conversation is OKAY, He is not scared of our emotions. He already sees it all and loves us the same. Instead of retreating like most humans might, He will give you answers when you ask the tough questions; He will give you peace.

Before I went back to bed, God reminded me that I asked for this. I was talking to God a while back, asking Him if all my familiarity, norms, family and friends were stripped away from me, would I still have the faith to follow Him with the same hunger I do when I am comfortable? He reminded me of this conversation to reinforce that He trusts me. The process might suck at first but ultimately it is because God loves me enough to trust me. He doesn't want me to remain comfortable. Just as any good father would want their daughter to learn by being stretched, God wants the same. My struggle may not always be beautiful but the end product always is, because I am being sifted through the hands of God Himself. He knows just how to create beauty from ashes. 

Already I have been finding this YWAM adventure to be a refining one. God is already burning away my impurities and replacing them with His perfection. The more time I spend being vulnerable with Him, the more His holiness is imparted to me. He is making me gold. 

1 Peter 1:6-9 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.