Someone recently asked me how I maintain an authentic relationship with Jesus and I believe this looks different for all of us. I don’t believe there is a formula to this; I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this question. Every relationship looks different- the relationship we have with Jesus is personal to us. Before this summer I don’t know that my answer would be the one I’m giving you now. I don’t know if this will always be my answer, but in this season here’s what I’ll tell you about my relationship with Jesus:
I think the best way [for me] to maintain an authentic relationship with Jesus is by living in a space that isn’t too comfortable. I remember one year as a high schooler at summer camp the pastor had us ask ourselves this question: if I’m comfortable is there any room for the Comforter? I don’t know that I completely understood the extent of this question at the time- I understood it in the context of high school and pushing myself to start important but uncomfortable conversations even if it meant risking my reputation. Now, in my last year as an undergrad, I understand in the context of taking risks professionally and relationally. In the future, I’ll understand it in a different context too. I think that's one of my favorite parts about life- knowing that each season, no matter how challenging, has lessons within them; falling with the leaves or growing among the flowers- we never leave a season the same if we allow ourselves to learn.
I think the easiest way for the devil to get ahold of us is to convince us that we’re fine just where we are. But I know Jesus always has something greater for us. I recently moved from Ohio to Portland, Oregon over the summer. I moved out there not knowing a single person, not knowing where I would live or how I’d even be able to afford to make such a dramatic move. All I had was an unpaid internship lined up and no other answers. The future looked a lot like a giant question mark. My life felt like a blindfolded trust fall. In my preparation to move, I found myself becoming anxious about nearly everything. I had a difficult time making even the smallest decisions. There were so many times I had trouble envisioning myself in Portland at the end of all of this.
From the outside, my life looked thrilling no doubt. I even received messages about how my life looked like a dream. I mean I had just come home from Europe, moved to school, and a few months later I posted a picture from Portland on Instagram. From the outside even I thought my life didn’t look that real. I am so grateful. I’m often in shock as to how much I’ve experienced within the past year of my life. But let me tell you, I’ve never heard a story without struggle on the other side. On the other side of the pictures you’ve seen on Instagram, there are so many in-betweens. Tears and panicky moments, questioning, doubts, learning to trust, stress and probably every other extreme on the spectrum of human emotion. There is a lot of real life behind the highlight reels on Instagram.
One day I sat outside and talked to God. I was close to my breaking point. I told Him that I had done everything in my power to make this work and if this is the plan He wanted for me now was the time for Him to step in. Being someone that likes answers and control, this was a super uncomfortable place to be in. It was in these moments I found myself desperate for Him. I found myself on my knees completely relying on His plan. It was about a week before my flight to Portland when I received a message from a girl on Facebook asking if I was still looking for a place to stay for the summer. Guess what- everything worked out better than I could have ever planned.
Not only did God give me my dream internship, but He gave me community, some of my greatest and deepest friendships, and allowed me to experience some of the most powerful moments of worship I’ve ever been a part of. My time in Portland allowed me to grow more than I have in a while. I left Portland this summer with a newfound trust in His plan. He knew exactly what I needed.
I don’t know, but I don’t think God took me to Portland for professional reasons only. I really think this summer was a season of learning to trust Him.
All this to say, continually stepping out of our comfort zones allows space for Jesus to step in. It's in the moments where we step into the unknown, or step into something blindly that Jesus shows up in all of His glory. These are the moments we see His promises fulfilled. This is where we see His strength in our weakness. I’ve always known He was a God I could trust, I’d heard stories about people taking crazy leaps of faith, but I had never experienced it for myself. The most important realization I’ve come to in this season of life is that if its His will, nothing can stop Him. Getting uncomfortable is the best thing I’ve ever done in my relationship with Jesus, and I bet He’s calling you to something greater too. He says this: My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12v9).
I definitely don’t have it all figured out, I’ve found myself getting a little anxious about graduating college in a few short months. It’s in these moments He settles my anxious heart and reminds me of this summer. I have no clue what’s next, but I’m learning to live in this uncomfortable tension because I know this is where I hear and feel Him the most.
I’m choosing to believe that the question marks will soon be exchanged for a beautiful story with underlines and exclamation points because I know God doesn’t write mediocre stories.
I’m excited to see what God has next because I believe the best is yet to come.