Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The power of a letter to God.

As I was taking a mental health break today from all the reading I've been doing lately(it never ends!), I caught up on some blogs. I found one a friend posted that caught my eye. It was titled "Confessions of a Christian That Still Struggles"It hit really close to home. I couldn't help but think God directed me.

Last semester I struggled, a lot. I started doing something new. Something I need to do more often. On a night where I was just about as overwhelmed as I thought I could be, I picked up my Bible and journal, stopped to get a cup of coffee(decaf of course) and just drove. I drove to Mount Sequoia. It has a great view of Fayetteville's landscape. It is the place I go to when all my problems seem bigger than me. When my emotions seem to take over. It has become my spot. Seeing the landscape of Fayetteville with all the buildings looking minuscule, their lights making the city so magical, brings me peace.

It reminds me that in the whole scheme of things, my problems are tiny. I am tiny. And my God is huge.

So there I was, car in park, coffee and journal in hand. I just started to write. Anything that came to my mind I wrote it down. Some good, some bad. Sentences, phrases, words. If the thought came through my head again I would circle them. Eventually I wrote a letter. To who? God, probably. I'm not really sure.

As I have been brutally honest on this blog in the past, I will today. The letter started out "Before and currently, I have this desire, this passion, to be known as the girl with struggles but put together. The independent, working-it-out-with-God, ever-promising, always looking for the positives girl. I want to be looked at and envious of how together I am..."

Fast forward to today. The blog that I mentioned above is brutally honest. It is of a girl who has faced struggle, a girl who has cried out to the Lord, asking to be given undeserving love and grace-multiple times. She talks of this idea many people have that as a Christian you really only ever can hit rock bottom once, then God takes over. She talks about how she didn't experience that. She hit rock bottom more than once.

Living for Christ is a constant struggle with an incredible feeling of satisfaction-if you can actually feel it. I love how she says "once we surrender (our lives to Christ), the enemy hops on us...trying to suffocate any peace and life that was so freely given to us..." The constant struggle I feel as a Christian is from said suffocation. I encounter things daily that tempt me. There are times when I successfully overcome the temptation and admittedly times when I give in. But isn't that what makes me human? And what makes God SO good? He accepts me despite my downfalls.

It's times when I remember that there is NOTHING, not even denouncing His existence, that could make my God stop loving me. Even if I fail, even if I turn away from Him, He will always have His eye on me. He will always be ready to forgive and give love. As the blogger says, "That love, that grace, is what gives me strength to fight my flesh and choose to live for Him. Not out of fear or obligation, but because His love and grace is so full force regardless."

I still have times when I feel overwhelmed. Last night I picked up my Bible and notebook and just wrote. Some good, some bad. Sentences, phrases, words. Then a letter. To who? God, probably.

And you know what? He was still listening.

He directed me today to a blog that confirmed I wasn't the only one feeling overwhelmed with worldly desires. To a blog that reminds me that it's okay to struggle as a Christian. To a blog that told me I'm not the only one that desires to be seen at as put together even when I'm not. To a blog that said I don't have to be put together to be seen as a strong Christian. It is the strength in admitting that struggle that makes me one. It is the strength in remembering to accept His undeserving love that makes me an accomplished follower.

So I admit to you today that I struggle. Constantly. But as I admit that, I find my strength.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Far from the straight and narrow.

Another (partial) snow day, another blog post. I realize this is the first blog post of my LAST semester of undergrad. Scary to think that I started this blog my sophomore year!! I've been trying to stay focused seeing as my last semester of school has arguably the most difficult courses yet. Whoever said senior year would be a breeze lied to me, or maybe they just didn't expect for me to be graduating on time with a combined major and double minor! In my mother's words, I'm "her favorite overachiever".

Anyway. I thought I would share some thoughts on how God has been working hard as I look back on my four years here.

Four years ago:

"Hi, my name is Abby MacDonald, I'm a freshman Psychology major from Saint Louis. I will be graduating in 2014 and going to get my masters in education so I can teach high school students from an at-risk, low income background." 

I had it ALL figured out. God worked on that plan with me of course, why else would He have put Young Life in my life? Why else would I have found my deep interest in Psychology from my high school psych class? That's who I was planning on being and I was happy about it. For goodness sakes I practically looked like a teacher already-cardigans and all. God was there for me and He was leading me down the straight and narrow path. Or so I thought.

A year ago:

"Hi, my name is Abby MacDonald I am a Psychology major and Social Work and African and African American Studies double minor. I will be going to grad school (not sure why yet) and will be working in the school system most likely." 


"Hi, my name is Abby MacDonald, I'm a senior combined major in Psychology and African and African American Studies with a double minor in Social Work and Anthropology. Yes I did pick up three areas of study within the last year and a half, yes I WILL be graduating on time and no I will NOT be going to grad school right away. I'm not sure exactly what I want to do but I want to find a connection to somewhere in Africa."

All this is not said to brag (although I think my parents like to brag a little bit and my sisters bored of me having to explain what I'm studying), it is said to point out that what I thought and planned on to be the straight and narrow path God set out for me was far from it. He is still working. At least I hope He is because I'm graduating in less than 100 days and still have no plan set in place for what happens after I throw my cap into the air. I know I've said it on this blog before, but God sure does have a sense of humor. He is showing me just how many twists and turns I can take. Along with the fact that those twists and turns can be fun if I let them be.

Want some more humor from God? This summer I was at my sister's wedding shower talking with Father Gary who would be marrying Kelley and Matt in no time and he asked me what I was studying. After taking a deep breath and listing what I was studying his first reaction was different than most. He said he was somewhat surprised because Psychology and Anthropology are the two areas of study with  the highest numbers of Atheists. I'm pretty sure he's right. It makes sense after some of the classes I've taken-religion doesn't necessarily sit right with some of the theories and ideas.

I was talking with my mom about the fact that I am taking a course this semester to study the modernization of Witchcraft in Africa-not really an ideal topic in my mom's opinion. I'll admit, it is a little strange that I have chosen two relatively secular areas of study. But I thrive in studying the unknown. I so much enjoy studying what makes me different, or more similar, to a group of people that I didn't know about in the past. I think a good Christian does their research. In my opinion, not studying different ways of life and the benefits of such would lead me down an ignorant path. I don't say that to make Christians who don't know the ins and outs of witchcraft look bad, but for me, I want to do my research. I want to share what I've learned and make a connection back to my faith. I love finding God in unexpected places, and for me-that means studying as many different cultures and way of life as I can.

So there you have it folks. I'm still unsure of what will come after May 10th, but God is teaching me slowly but surely that it's okay. He's gotten me through these last four years, okay truthfully the last 21 years of my life, but I can't wait to see where He takes me from here on out.