Introspective on Father’s Day

Today is, of course, Father’s Day, and unlike most Father’s Days of my life, I am weirdly introspective.  Well, I suppose “weirdly” is not an accurate way to put it, as I did not feel this way until I listened to my pastor’s sermon at church.  He took this day as an opportunity to speak to the men of the crowd and A) call them out on their complacency and submission to normal culture and B) implore them to submit more to the LORD rather than just to “try harder” as being more “perfect” men.

So, obviously as a female, this may seem to apply very little to me, but I realized through the sharp ache in my heart during most of the sermon that this message actually applies to me on so many levels.

I realized that almost no man in my life possesses these attributes.  Now, before I go on, I want to say that I’m not trying to rip on every guy I know.  Some guys I know might be the epitome of this God-fearing man and I just don’t know it because I’m not close with them.  And those guys who I am close with and I don’t see this attributes in, that doesn’t mean I’m calling you a horrible person or trying to push you down.  Right now, I just need to process how I feel realizing that I see such a lack of these integrity-filled men in my life.

I am only 21, but I already feel absolutely worn-out by how little I see men lead nowadays.  Maybe it’s partially due to the push for feminism or maybe men are just getting lazy, but as a Christian woman, I want to be led and guys aren’t doing this.  As much as I have recognized that I have a “saving complex” and that causes me to be drawn to people with rough pasts who are just clawing their ways out of them, I’m absolutely exhausted of being the person trying to make a guy, whether a friend or more than that, into a person who pursues the LORD willingly and unabashedly.

I know, it’s a bit of a contradiction that I have this innate desire to fix people, yet I want to find men who are already there.  Men who will admit they don’t have it figured out and are so freaking fallen, yet who pursue the LORD with a ubiquitous zeal that makes some people uncomfortable and others also want to submit to the LORD.  I’m sick of being the leader– yes, assertive, Type A Annika just said that.  I’m sick of stepping back and trying to motivate and entreat men to look to step up and pursue Him.  I want to be surrounded by men who are already there, who push me to be a woman who submits to Him every single day.

I believe Christian women, at their very core, desire to be led.  However, we– especially the Type A ones– are not going to allow men to lead unless we see them as fit to lead.

And I’m exhausted.  I want to play the role the LORD designed me to play.

So, I guess on this Father’s Day, I just want to find more men that allow me to do exactly what God designed me to do.

Writing Indicted Me

If you’re reading this for a snippet of talk about God or a good read, stop right now.

I want to write right now, but I can’t.

My head is pounding, my eyelids puffed up, and every time I eat my body treats the food like a foreign substance.

Yet, I know I need to write.  Writing has been my outlet for processing for many years now.  It translates the throbbing thoughts of my brain into clear, tangible reality– reality that I can address, that I can do something about.

I know something is very different, though, when it takes me 3 minutes to write one single, easily-constructed sentence– and it still uses passive voice.  Is it possible that I am too far gone for even writing to help?

Life changes a lot in a week, huh?  I always used to say that to myself, but I am still surprised when it happens.  Maybe I can find hope that this will all change in a week.  It’s not true, though.

One of my roommates said to me today, “The old Annika would be absolutely dying right now.  You must finally realize that you deserve better.”

I am dying right now– I’m just hiding it better.  I laid in bed for an hour this morning trying to get myself to stand up (luckily, I woke up before my alarm, so it didn’t matter).  I’m not ok–  I’m just not externally dying.

The saddest part of this is it was my words that indicted me.  Me just trying to process the normal turmoil that pulses through my INTJ brain became evidence against me.

None of this writing is coherent, but I need to stop writing.  It’s not helping.

 

Catabolism

Don’t you love when God takes verses that you have heard a million times and then has you reread them after He gives you a fresh pair of glasses?

I sure do.  And tonight, He gave me that– actually, he is still giving me that, even as I write, because writing has always been my primary mode of external processing.

What verses sent me into this mental tizzy?  Interestingly, it was a story found in Luke 18 that I have generally regarded as biblical cliche (I am a horrible person for labeling any verses as this now that I think about it…)– the story of Jesus talking to the rich young ruler.  This guy had everything in his present life, but he realized that there’s more to life than what is here on earth, so he asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life.  Jesus answered,

“One thing you still lack.  Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

~Luke 18:22

Ok, so I have heard this story, like, a thousand times in my lifelong career at church and 7 year career at Heritage Christian Academy.  Until tonight, I have glazed over them, thinking, “Of course, yes, we are supposed to give up everything we have for Jesus.”

Yes, God, I will sell my nice clothes and use the proceeds to sponsor an orphaned child.

Yes, God, I will donate my time every week to volunteer as a Sunday school teacher for adorable yet annoying kindergartners.

But wait…what about my expectations for my life?  No, God, those are mine!

I may not be monetarily wealthy (poor college student, you know), but I am extremely wealthy in how God has gifted me.  Now, before you call me cocky, I believe everyone is wealthy in their own way, whether it be in their ability to show compassion or their artsy-ness or how much weight squat.

For me, it’s my brain.  I feel like most people who know me recognize that, and that has caused me to put a lot of my value in its abilities.  Since it got me recognition from a young age, I learned early on to use it as a tool for my own glory.

So, naturally, as a Christian, I need to lay it down and use it to serve Jesus, right?

Yet, I have been through the whole “lay down your life plans for Jesus and do what He wants for your life” conundrum already back in high school.  I gave up my dream long ago to be a Nobel Prize-winning scientist and instead be a medical missionary in Morocco.

Isn’t that enough?  I already altered my whole freaking life plan for You, God.  That was a catabolic explosion in my life.  What more could you be asking for?

The kicker is that I have a lot of time until being a medical missionary will become a reality.  I still have to finish my undergrad AND go through medical school AND complete my residency.  So, in that period of time, I have a lot of opportunities to glorify myself.

Which, by the way, I love doing.

And, you know, my brain is the tool that gets me that glory.

I love when people talk about how smart they think I am.  I love when I win a research competition or submit a research publication that gets accepted.  I love when my boss at Caribou tells regulars that she has a smart volleyball girl who works for her and comes up with awesome trivia questions that people can’t answer (ok, I know, the fact that people can’t answer my trivia questions giving me pleasure is extremely nerdy…).

So I start to milk my brain’s abilities– and take the credit for the results, when credit is actually due to God.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still have every intention of following God’s call to be a medical missionary in Morocco; however, I have run astray in the path towards that goal.

I have turned Morocco into something to brag about.  When I am with Christians and get asked what I want to do with my life, I highlight the fact that Morocco is a restricted nation for Christianity because it gets me the “Wow, you are so strong in your faith to love God enough to spread the Gospel when you could go to jail for it” reaction.  Then, when I’m around academics, I highlight that I desire to obtain an MD/PhD degree before I practice medicine in a third world country.  I talk about how my research this year’s success has led me to this decision to try to get a PhD degree, too– a great way to throw my research success into a conversation.

See, God, I am still following Your call for my life.  I’m just milking every moment of the journey until then for MY glory.

Remember when I mentioned the catabolic explosion of God telling me to go to Morocco and be a medical missionary and scratch all my life plans?

That’s what He is talking about when He says in Luke 18:22, “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor…and come, follow me.”

First, let me define catabolism (side note: my spell check is trying to tell me that “catabolic” is not a word, and it definitely is…it’s driving me nuts…).  According to Bing dictionary, catabolism is “the breakdown of complex molecules in living organisms to form simpler ones, together with the release of energy” or “destructive metabolism.”  In biology, an example of a catabolic reaction is when the enzyme lactase breaks down lactose into glucose, a simpler sugar that can be easily metabolized (which my body cannot do– hence, lactose intolerance).

I need another spiritual catabolic reaction.  When God broke me down from the girl who believed she was all that and could do whatever huge thing she wanted with her life for her own glory, He made me into someone smaller– in a good way, in a way that made me put Him first.  And, the thing about catabolic reactions is that they release energy.  That energy that Him breaking me down from a self-absorbed dreamer to a God-obsessed strategic planner spread to others around me.  It fueled my entire life.

Here I am now, lacking that very energy.

God needs to break me down again, to work the wonders of spiritual catabolism on my life again.  I cannot keep wasting my life by using it to gain recognition for others until I have my MD/PhD and can finally go to Morocco.

God, I beg You, please do it.  Help me to “sell all that I have” and view it as nothing and realize I am small and insignificant without You.

And make that energy that is released from this reaction so explosive that it not only fuels my life but shakes everyone else’s worlds.

 

 

May I Starve

Well, the near year has begun.  Yes, I realize how belated I am on this realization, and I don’t even have a busy schedule to blame for just now contemplating what I want to be different in 2015 than 2014.

Just tonight, I realized that I’m sick of this.  I’m horrifically disgusted at myself.

I feel weighed down.

I want to vomit up 90% of the Me of the last 4 months here at college.

I desire for the very essence of Annika to be extracted once again, to have the beautiful terrain of my soul, every valley and every mountain, illuminated by the light of the Son.

I’M SICK OF MY SOUL SIZZLING SLOWLY IN THE SULFURIC ACID OF BEING DISINGENUOUS.

Yes, I realize that I have been told 890901903850981 times that I am one of the most genuine people that people have ever met.

But how come I still put on a facade about my faith– not so much to other people, but to MYSELF?

Do I really have the right to identify myself as a “strong Christian” whose “faith means more than anything to [her]” who believes herself to possess the spiritual gift of martyrdom?

My stomach is literally churning as I write this sentence (yes, literally literally– I know that every good writer out there knows exactly why I inserted this clarification).  Do I really think that the life that I am living reflects my claims to be a sold out follower of CHRIST, the CREATOR of the whole entire universe who has “CHOSEN ME BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD TO BE HOLY AND BLAMELESS IN HIS SIGHT” (Eph 1:4)?!

Today, I confessed all of this disgust to the LORD.  And HE gave me a solution.

Actually, let me clarify for a moment.  If I am committed to being genuine with myself about my faith, then I must admit that I came up with this solution without consulting HIM.  I am actually so far from the LORD that I feel as though I cannot hear HIM (something that I have never really struggled with).

Therefore, I am praying that this plan works, although it may not be straight from the LORD.

Every day this week, I will write in my prayer journal and BE HONEST with myself about what I am going through spiritually.  In the meantime, I will not read my Bible once as I wait.  Hopefully, this will show me how empty my life is.  I am praying that it will force me to assess my spiritual life genuinely while I starve my soul spiritually.

May starving myself give me an uncontrollable desire for HIM again this new year.

Today’s a Good Day for Sunsets

sunset

Today is one of those days that I walk around in a daze thinking about just about anything and everything you could imagine while simultaneously pondering absolutely nothing.  Yes, that made no sense.  Welcome to the world of an INTJ brain.  Days like this refresh me by catapulting me away from daily worries like homework and getting the “W” next weekend to seal us as the #5 seed in the NSIC conference tournament.  They throw me into a world in which I’m not a college volleyball player or a student-athlete (that’s classic NCAA lingo for you) and rather just an average 18-year-old woman whose life revolves around something other than a constant, unrelenting pursuit of excellence in one transitory area of this futile life.

Okay, not to say that I don’t love my life here.  Don’t think for a second that I would ever trade the privileges I have for just about anything (although ending sex trafficking might be worth it), but days like this give me the opportunity to breathe in what it means to have a blissful life which possesses more than one axis of rotation.

Sometimes, these days occur on the day of a huge exam or a match we HAVE to win (although, to be real here, we HAVE to win every match).  When that happens, these days pile on the stress because I can’t let my brain loose from the electrical fence-bound pasture of school and volleyball.  I see a sunset just beyond the sizzling wire, but running through it would mean leaving behind grass that needs grazing in order to grow.

And my job is to graze that grass.  It’s what I’m called to in this era of my life, so I have to ignore the beauty and chew on.

But today is Sunday.  Sundays equal no volleyball and only as much homework as I need to do in order to feel “set” for the week.  Considering I had 22 hours of bus rides in the last week to crank out pesky homework, today was the perfect day to notice the sunset and frolic through the fields beyond my fenced-in pasture.

Well, if it shows the state my brain is in right now, my structured life was not what this blog was supposed to be about when I started.  But, on days like today, why not take the random path that my neurons provide me with?

An “IN” Goes to College

Christ is ENOUGH

Well, I’ve decided to return to the universe of blogging (although one might note that I never really was a part of it, unless you count my 3 posts on this blog that I did nothing with and that killer blog I was required to write for Bible class senior year). I’m sitting at a crossroads of my life right now, in desperate, lonely limbo.

What a perfect time to find solace in electronic media.

I suppose I am living out a classic moment of life in America: beginning college. I’m caught in the shocks of moving to a new place (from a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, to a small town in South Dakota), making new friends (after having the same friends for 7 years), and suddenly having the weight of the expectations on my shoulders that come with having a volleyball scholarship.

Yes, I may have scored 98% Introvert on the Myers-Briggs personality test, but that does not mean that I do not crave communion with people. And I don’t just mean sitting around and chatting about nothing, but really TALKING to people. Like about our life story. Our background. Our hopes and dreams. Our love for the LORD.

Well, that isn’t going to happen automatically in college. That’s something that I must work towards. I must BUILD relationships again. I have to start from the bottom up.

Yet I am verbalizing the woes of nearly every person who begins college. Why do I feel as though I am alone in my alone-ness?

Maybe it has to do with my rare “IN” personality type (sorry for going all Myers-Briggs again, but, for real, this test practically described my life story, so I’ve got to give it some credit), which contributes to my need for constant DEPTH with people. Or maybe it’s how collaborative my faith walk has been thus far.

I suppose I can only speculate.

But, in my doubt this morning (another “IN” thing: we over think EVERYTHING and subsequently put ourselves into tizzies over nothing), the LORD reminded me of this: “The righteous has ENOUGH to SATISFY his appetite” (Proverbs 13:25a).

Isn’t that the core of the problem? Isn’t it that I’m not “satisfied” here yet (although, good grief, I’ve been here less than 48 hours)?

But of course I’m not satisfied if I’m not seeking the LORD every single moment that I doubt. That I wonder why I’m here. That I wonder how I handle not seeing my best friend until December. That I wonder how I will survive a whole month before I am reunited with my little brother again.

GOD doesn’t promise that life will be hard– especially the transitions. I’m experiencing one of the hardest, most drastic transitions that will ever occur in my life (although moving to Morocco to become a medical missionary will definitely top this). But where will I run in the midst of all this?

CHRIST IS ENOUGH. I can only be filled in HIM. Therefore, LORD, I run to you today.