Be still, my soul. The Lord is on your side. 

Be. Still. Be STILL. Don’t run, don’t hide, don’t curl up in the fetal position. Be STILL. Relax. Rest.

The Lord is on your side. YOUR side. The LORD. The God of the universe, who controls every atom and every galaxy, each dost mote and every star. He’s on your side. He’s not going to leave you. He won’t suddenly decide to revoke friendship or drift out of your grasp. He is on YOUR side. He is for you, never against. He is more zealous for your joy than you could ever be. Trust Him. 

Be still, my soul. Don’t fret over the painful things that have happened this week, or last week, or last year. Yes, cry. Grieve. But don’t worry. Don’t dwell. Don’t worry about the unknown future stretching out before you. Leave to your God to order and provide. Let the God who unrolls the past, present, and future of the world like a scroll arrange your present and future, just as He has the past. Has he ever let you go without? Has he ever not made things work? Has he ever left you alone? No, never. And He won’t start now. In every change, He faithful will remain. 

He is faithful. Trust Him. Be. Still. 

 

I’m getting married in 2 months. Actually, 69 days to be exact. On May 24, 2014, I will make the most solemn vows of my entire life, and officially become Mrs. Clay Selway. I will commit to not only share, but entirely give my money, my possessions, my future, my body, my soul to one man. Forever. No way out.

And he’s not “The One.”

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I love Clay with everything I have. He makes me laugh. He makes the bad days good and the good days better. He challenges me to be a better person, and comforts me when I’ve failed that challenge. He’s the kindest, gentlest, sweetest person I know. He’s my best friend, my hero, and the only man I’d ever want to be my husband.

But he’s still not my soul mate, and definitely not “The One.”

Not that I didn’t spend the first 18 years of my life longing to meet my “One.” Growing up, like any good midwestern girl, I was fed a steady diet of the idealized American romance. One boy, one girl – two star-crossed lovers who fight across space and time to fulfill their destiny of being together. From Disney movies to romance novels, I ate it all up. I had my own copy of “Romeo and Juliet,” that I read until the pages started to fall out. I literally watched “The Princess Bride” so many times I could have recited it in my sleep. I loved it. And I wanted it.

But no matter how I tried, I just couldn’t seem to find it. Even the best boyfriend I had failed my weighty list of expectations. No man in the world seemed like they would ever fulfill the ideal I’d built up. I sat around and lamented to my girlfriends ruefully, “I think God made me a man, but somewhere along the way he got hit by bus.” The humor was a thin veneer for some very thick disappointment.

After wading through the smoking rubble from a broken relationship with someone I thought was “The One”,  I met my now fiance, Clay, through some mutual friends. After a year of friendship, we began a careful dating relationship. 2 years after that, he asked me to be his wife. And in just 2 months, we will become one. But he isn’t “The One.”

You see, Clay will never be “The One.” In fact, I don’t even think there is a “One,” not on this earth at least. The very concept of a “One” implies that there is one, singular person out there that will fulfill every single desire of my heart, meet every single need, and heal every single hurt.

What an incredible burden! Actually, what a crushing burden. No man, not even Clay (and I admit I think he’s the best man out there) could do that. Think of who many needs, wants, desires, and hurts you have – could just one person ever take care of all that?

As a Christian, I believe that human beings have eternal souls. Souls that are filled with an immense, infinite amount of desires and wants. We need to be loved perfectly, to be known perfectly, to be cherished perfectly. But, as the they say “no one’s perfect.” And thus, no one, not even your spouse, no matter how well matched, will ever be able to fulfill you fully.

But our culture has told us this lie, and we’ve ate it up. And so we date, and break up, marry and divorce, all the while searching, searching, searching for someone, anyone to fill this aching hole inside of us. But they can’t. And they don’t. And they never will.

I think C.S. Lewis got it right when he famously said, ““If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

You see, I think we were made for another world. A world with no longing, no sighing, no searching, no pain. No disappointment, no unmet expectations, no broken relationships, no emptiness. A world with a perfect relationship with a perfect God; an Infinite being to fill an infinite need. And though we haven’t lived in that perfect world since Genesis 2, I believe that through Jesus, we can still have that relationship with God. And through Him, even while I struggle through this broken world, I have an infinite source to fill my never-ending need.

This is something Clay and I came to realize before we dated each other, and something we realize a little more every day. Because we both have a relationship with Jesus, we have all of our infinite needs, wants, and desires fulfilled. We don’t have to turn to each other for them.

This means that while I still receive things like love, affection, friendship, and affirmation from Clay, I don’t have to. I don’t demand them, but rather can receive them as a gift. On the bad days (or weeks, or months, or years), I don’t have to receive anything from Clay. Fulfilled in my relationship with God, I can choose to serve Clay when he’s not serving me, give when he’s only taking, and love when he’s nothing but unloveable. And on the good days (which, by God’s grace, will outnumber the bad) I will receive his gentle service, gifts, and love with a sense of undeserving joy and gratitude.

He’s not “The One.” The unchangable, unshakeable, never-failing God is “The One.” And Clay is a wonderful, beautiful, completely undeserved gift given to me by The One.

On May 24, 2014, I will become one with someone I love more than my own body. I will happily join with the one God has given me, and together, as one, we will serve The One.

I’m getting married, and he’s not “The One.” And I’m grateful for that.

Almost 4 years ago, I wrote this post about being a Christian with ADHD. It made much more of a splash than I could have imagined, and I still receive comments and emails about it almost weekly. I’m still stunned that something I wrote in an attitude of humorous exasperation over my own personal condition has been so helpful to so many people!

That said, I’ve learned a lot in 4 years. I still stand behind everything that I wrote in that initial post, but I want to make some clarifications that I hope everyone, including those who don’t have ADHD/ADD, will find helpful!

1. My condition is not a mistake, but it’s not “how God intended” me either.
I hear people say this a lot, and I know their intent is good, but it irks me. Yes, this is technically “how God made me.” But I am of the firm belief that this is not how he intended me, at least not in the sense of how he intended humanity to be. It’s like looking at a person paralyzed from birth and saying, “That’s ok, it’s how God made you!” Technically, you’re right, but it’s not very nice to say, and it actually communicates a pretty serious falsehood about who God is and what He wants for us.

You see, without going into a full-blown explanation of Genesis, when God created the world, everything was perfect. When Adam and Eve first sinned, everything was thrown into chaos. From then on, the world we live in has been fundamentally broken. My messed-up brain chemistry is just another example of that. Yes, God is sovereign and knew it was going to happen. But He didn’t intentionally create me this way, and He won’t keep me this way. One day, I’ll have a new body, and I’m pretty sure it won’t include a brain with ADHD. Which will be awesome.

2. My condition makes my spiritual life different, but it’s not an excuse for a lack of spiritual discipline or maturity.
So I have a hard time focusing, my ability to sit still is limited, and I struggle with consistency. These things mean that my spiritual life will always look differently from someone with a normal brain, but I truly believe that they don’t give me license not to try. I won’t go into detail about the things that I’ve found helpful for maintaining spiritual disciplines (stay tuned for “Part 3″ for that), but I will say that there are things that I’ve found helpful. I am fully capable of studying the Bible daily, praying consistently, and engage in group settings to grow.

3. My condition is NOT an excuse for sin.
I think this point is pretty self-explanatory, but I will elaborate. As tempted as I am to blame my sin on my ADHD, I know that’s not right. While it’s true that my propensity towards being impatient is caused by my ADHD, it doesn’t give me a free pass to selfishly force others to hurry up, not follow proper procedures, or otherwise make rash decisions. Yes, I hate waiting. I hate it more than I hate almost anything else in life. But the scriptures tell us, again and again, “be patient!” It’s one of the fruits of the Spirit. I don’t get to just excuse my lack of it as a “brain chemistry thing” and waltz on by. It just means that I’m going to have to pray more, repent more, try more.
I don’t get a free pass to sin, I get another opportunity to repent and rely on God to help me do what I know I cannot do on my own. 

4. I am fully capable of being a successful, mature, responsible adult who walks by faith and fulfills God’s purpose for my life.
My life will look different. I will probably never stop losing things. I will almost certainly need daily medication life-long. But I can, and I WILL be the person God made me to be. With the proper medication, a good support system, healthy Scriptural teaching, and a daily dependence on God – I can be all of the the above. I can have a life full of the good things that come from trusting God and working hard. I can learn to live life in the ways that God has prescribed. I can learn to let the truth change me for good. I can, as Jesus commanded us, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Not even the most severe ADHD could stop that. And I’m grateful for that.

5. The prescription for how to live the Christian life with ADD/ADHD is GRACE
For YEARS, I wondered how to live the Christian life as a woman with ADHD. And then one day, when I wasn’t even looking for the answer, it hit me – GRACE. Grace, grace, grace, and more grace. The answer of how to live the Christian life as a person with ADHD/ADD is the same answer of how ANYONE is to live the Christian life. We’re not special, and we’re not different. We’re sinners, and we’re desperately in need of grace.

I might sin differently because of my ADHD, but it doesn’t nullify God’s grace. I am to repent and cast myself into His arms, same as anyone else. And I know that He will accept me, because Jesus died for that. He died for my failure to be patient, for my volatile mood swings, for my lack of self control, for my wandering affections. He died for my sin. And He died that one day, I might see Him as He is – beautiful, loving, ever-patient, slow to anger and full of steadfast love and mercy. For now, I see that only in part. But one day, I will see that in full. And in that day, my brain will be healed, along with my body. I will be perfectly patient, perfectly at peace, perfectly controlled, and all my affections will be set in their rightful place – with Him, in a never-ending day of praise to the King of the Universe.

Looking forward to that day, right alongside you. Until then, Brothers and Sisters, take heart in this -
“…I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12

If there’s one thing to know about me, it’s that I love to read. I’ll read anything and everything. One of my favorite ways to spend Christmas break is curled up on the couch with a good book. So here are a few of the books that I think you should curl up with, too!

1. Desiring God – John Piper
This book is big. But don’t let that intimidate you! It’s one of the few books that I’m willing to admit changed my life. In summary, John Piper lays out the theology on which his whole Christian life rests; the idea that God is most glorified when we find all of our joy in Him. The Christian life shouldn’t be dull, restrictive, or duty-filled. It should be the opposite!

This book really did flip my idea of what it meant to live a God-glorifying Christian life upside-down. (Also, I really did read this one over Christmas break. Tip: If you’re feeling that it’s getting repetitive, move on! Skip some pages – that’s advice from the author himself.)

2. The Pressure’s off – Dr. Larry Crabb
I read this book over the summer, and it is fantastic. If you struggle with perfectionism and the need to perform, or feel that you’re constantly dissatisfied in your relationship with God, you need to read this book. If you feel constantly lonely, disappointed, sad, angry, empty, and alone – this book speaks to that. To quote one of my favorite parts of the book, when you come to know what Jesus really did to take the pressure off, “You’ll be full of joy….you’ll be solid, no longer a vaporous ghost pretending you’re real.”

3. Don’t Waste Your Life – John Piper
If “Desiring God” is just too intimidating for you, this book would be a great substitute. It covers the general idea of what “Desiring God” covers, but is much shorter. In addition, this book is especially great if you’re a young college student still contemplating what to do with your life. It will kick in in the butt, but it will also give you hope and drive to live for something greater. Definitely recommend this one for an easier, lighter Christmas read!

4. Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands – Paul David Tripp
Don’t ignore this book if you’re not in full-time ministry or counseling. If you know and love even one person, this book will help you. Even if you don’t know and love one person, this book might help you heal so that you’re able to do that! In “Instruments,” Tripp explains how broken, imperfect people can be used by God to help other broken, imperfect people. Using practical, easy-to-remember principles, and peppered with interesting real-world examples, Tripp makes this an accessible guide for helping others achieve real, lasting life-change. Don’t mistake this for a self-help book – it’s anything but. But if you’re tired of watching others around you continually hurt themselves (or are sick of hurting yourself) this book will be immensely helpful. I still refer to mine from time-to-time!

5. Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery – Eric Metaxes
This biography is not only excellently researched, it is well-written as well (something of a feat in my opinion.) It’s detailed, but not boring. If you don’t know who William Wilberforce is, he was an English member of parliament who ended the slave trade in Britain, after a life-long fight. It’s a seriously inspiring read, especially as the movement to end modern human-trafficking is starting to pick up momentum. Highly recommended for anyone, but especially a history-lover. (I’d even say you’d be pretty safe buying this for that family member that loves to read as a Christmas present. Anyone should love this book!)

That’s it! Happy reading!

“What I need to survive is not fire…I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.”

I need someone to show me how selfish and horrible I really am, but love me and tell me they think I’m wonderful anyway. Not because I am. But because they love me. And that’s what love does.

It loves, sometimes just to spite the bad.

“…for we walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Cor 5:7

I’ve always liked this verse – Perhaps because I’ve never been able to live it.

As much as I don’t want to admit that it’s true, I know that it is: I live my most of my life in fear.

Even as a child, I hated the grip that fear had on me. When I was in junior high, I decided that I was going to conquer one of my biggest fears – heights. I signed up for a week long summer camp that revolved around heights. Literally. A week of high-ropes courses, rock climbing, zip-lining, and other stomach-churning activities. I thought if I could just show “knuckle-down” and “man-up,” I’d be able to walk away cured of my fear. Fool-proof plan, right?

It didn’t work.

Of course, I did make it through the week. I did all of the activities we were supposed to, and only wet my pants once or twice. But I walked away, still afraid of heights. To this day, being more than 6 feet up makes my head spin and my stomach churn. I couldn’t conquer my fear of heights, and I don’t think I ever will.

Even though I know that didn’t work, I keep thinking that if I just try harder, I won’t be so scared anymore. I keep swallowing my fear, and forging ahead, thinking that doing one more “brave” thing will make it go away. But every morning, I wake up, roll over, and find that familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach again.

I’m so sick of living in fear. It clouds my days, robs my joy, and strips my faith. It flys in the face of all that I say I believe.

I don’t think I’d ever realized how ruled by fear I am until this season of my life, when so much seems to be shifting under my feet. I’ve moved out on my own, started a new job, have begun applying for my next job, and am planning my marriage. The questions are unending:

Where will we live? How will I ever save enough? How will we pay for X (our honeymoon, an apartment, a mattress, my medical bills, etc.)? What will we do? Should we go into full-time missions work? Where will the money come from if we do? Will we make it? Will our marriage last? Am I doing the right thing?

They pile up around me, burying me, until I’m drowning in my own paralyzing fear. I choke, cough, splutter. Whisper tiny cries for help. It takes everything in me not to give in, pack it all up, and head for the hills. And in this metaphor, the hills are a stable, stationary job with a reliable paycheck and a life devoid of relationships that might be painful or fail. It seems easier than looking at my trembling face in the mirror every morning, and wishing there was a braver soul looking back at me.

I’ve been doing everything in my power, especially these past few months, to ignore the fear I feel inside of me. I didn’t know what else to do. This morning, though, my pastor said something that really struck me. While preaching on Luke 1, in which Gabriel tells Mary she will conceive Jesus, he said this; “If you want to truly follow Christ, you have to realize you won’t have your questions answered before you say ‘Yes, Lord.’”

I won’t have my questions answered before I say “Yes, Lord.” I will say yes, and most likely be swimming in a sea of questions. But just because I have questions, doesn’t mean I’m not walking in faith. In fact, saying “Yes” in the face of those questions is the very definition of faith. I won’t be walking in perfect faith all the time, but I don’t have to live in fear either.

Like Mary, I will say “Yes, Lord,” when he calls. I will wake up every morning, and look at my trembling face, feel my heart shaking with fear, and remind myself, “You walk by faith, not by sight.” I will fear my deep, paralyzing fear, and cry out to the God who emboldens my heart and strengthens my soul. And He will not disappoint.

My name is Emily. I live my life tempted to fear. But I have the power of the living God inside of me, and I will choose to do what I’m called to, even when I’m scared. I don’t know what this means for me yet, but I’m sure I’ll learn.

“….for we walk by faith, not by sight.”

I’m 22 going on 23. I’m stumbling my way through this rocky, transient stage of “adulthood.” I’m not nearly as physically close to my friends and family as I would like to be. I’m still trying to figure out who “I” am. In 6 months, I’ll be married.

And I’m completely, totally, out-of-my-mind afraid.

My current life is a strangely wonderful and horrifying mix of change and choices. I’m planning my wedding, applying for jobs, looking for my first “married” apartment, trying to make sure we have enough to pay for it all.

Sometimes, it’s hard to sleep at night as I run down the list of all of the “needs” that are looming overhead.  Sometimes it’s hard to sleep at night because of the exhilarating, wonderful, beautiful things that are happening. Sometimes, it’s both.

It’s beautiful, and it’s terrifying. It’s exciting, and it’s scary.  It’s the best and worst, and sometimes I can’t separate the two because they seem to come mixed together.

I can’t decide whether to keep my eyes wide open, lest I miss it all, or squeeze them tightly shut, lest I see it all.

I’m 22 going on 23.  My life is changing so fast I can’t keep up. I’m complete, totally, out-of-my-mind afraid. And I’m totally, fully, 100% grateful for all of it.

 

 

A few days ago, my headlight burnt out. Because I’m naturally a penny-pincher saving for my honeymoon, I decided to save some money and just buy the bulb instead of paying an auto shop to do it.

I have absolutely no car knowledge. None. (I know how to fill it up with gas, wash it, and drive it. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I grasped the distinction between a car and a truck. I really don’t do my own maintinence) So, in the past, I would have had my friend Rob or my fiance to do it, but sadly Rob has moved away, and Clay is in Florida for the week. I sat, considering this fact, after I’d already bought the bulb. For a moment, it seemed it would have to wait until Clay got back from Florida, over a week later.

But then, a thought.

“I’LL DO IT MYSELF!”

So, like any strong, independent, college-educated, 21st century woman, I grabbed my toolbox and a flashlight and headed out to my car (still in my red dress and leather boots, of course).

I popped open the hood and stood there, staring at the engine with the owners’ manual in my hand. I must have looked pretty pathetic standing there, because my neighbor came up and asked if I needed help. I turned him down, citing a “need to learn.”

I wrestled with the bolts for about 15 minutes, before concluding that the one last bolt that I needed to get out was deep within the car at an impossible angle. Stalemate. But I wasn’t willing to give up. This wasn’t just about changing my own headlight anymore. This had become a matter of personal pride. To quit would be to admit defeat. I could never quit now.

Again, I stood, contemplating my options. It was then that I realized I had an advantage that the mechanic who had written this manual didn’t have: teeny-tiny “woman hands.”

I didn’t need to take the entire headlight out, I could just stick my hands in there and change it while it was attached!

15 more minutes later, some scraped knuckles, and a little bit of frustration – bingo. Bulb changed. I turned the car on and – LIGHT!! I did it! I had changed the bulb, all on my own. In a dress and a cardigan, no less.

I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!!

 

car

This is what success looks like.

This time next week, I’ll be building my own car from scratch.

Oh, how he loves us. I don’t know of anything more beautiful, and more worthy, than this.

So. It’s been 10 days since my last entry. Please don’t boo me.

I know, I know. I said this year I’d be better! I’d update this blog at least once a week with stories of what God was teaching me and what was happening in my ministry.
And now, here I am, almost done with my 2nd full month of ministry, with 3 blog posts under my belt, and a very long “Things to Write on My Blog About” note on my iPhone.

It’s not that I’m not trying. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’m trying really hard. It’s just that, despite the fact that I spent 4 years in this ministry as a student, that my parents did a fantastic job of launching me into adulthood, and that I have enough energy and drive for 10 people – I’m only one person, and this whole thing is really hard.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my job. I’m loving every minute of being on my own, and working in ministry. I would never go back. But it’s just hard.

I’m trying to be a responsible adult; Do my job well, pay my bills, eat healthy foods, exercise, sleep enough, keep a clean, homey apartment, socialize, spend quality time with my fiance, actively participate in my church, maintain my personal spiritual life, and stay on a budget. In theory, I can do all of those things. In fact, I know i can, because I’ve done them all. Just not all at once.

I can seem to actively keep about 9 of those 12 things going at a time, if I work hard and buckle down. But those last 3 keep slipping out from under my fingers, no matter how hard I try. It’s like trying to pick up a tennis ball when you’ve already got an armful. Just when you’ve managed to pick up one, two more go bouncing out of your arms.

I’ve been pretty hard on myself for my failure.

But I know that’s not right. The God I worship and serve is a God of grace. He’s a God who does want me to be a responsible adult – to steward my body, my money, my relationships, and my ministry well. But more than that, He is the God who saw a sad, sorry broken bunch of failures, and sent His Son to succeed in every area that we’ve failed. Because of His success, in God’s eyes, I am a success. On my own, I’m a total failure. I’m spiritually bankrupt. I have nothing to offer. But now, because of grace, I am co-heirs with Christ, and have an eternal kingdom waiting for me. There is grace for every place that I fail.

Right now, there is a coffee mug sitting next to me that’s been on my desk for a week. There is a pile of clothes on the floor that I’ve been stepping over since Sunday. I haven’t exercised in a month.

I’m 22. I don’t have it all together. I probably never will. But there’s grace enough for that. And I’m thankful.

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Past Musings

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