I was sitting in counseling the other day, and my counselor asked me to lay out a scene of my past semester using numerous colors, objects, and paraphernalia. It was really messy and cluttered, filled with people I still have hopes to continue reconciliation with, people I have felt rejected by and have had difficult and vulnerable conversations with, and a lot of things I didn’t feel able to handle on my own. Then, she asked me to lay out a picture of what I wanted the rest of this second semester to look like, and I simply put down the cross, because I know that I cannot handle all of the things I need to nor grow and be refined on my own, only by Jesus.

Almost five months of counseling for almost five years of struggling with mental health in silence. Five months of healing for every year I struggled and suffered alone. No longer to have to hide in fear or shame, though the struggle continues, Jesus is a wonderful counselor and I am ready to begin seeing Him more regularly each and every day, and confiding in Him, and trusting His directions for me. Counseling has been wonderful and the Lord has walked with me in it, but I am ready for a new chapter of my life to begin.

This past week, I went on Alternative Spring Break. The week leading up to it, I felt very defeated and unwilling to go, tired and longing to go home, but praying for the heart to go and love and serve the people on my trip by God’s strength. Oh how He provided so beautifully.

It was me and a group of eleven other students, most who did not know the Lord. We went to New Orleans. The first few days, I was blessed to be able to work in a pull-out classroom and a self-contained classroom with students with special needs (I am a special education major, so it worked out beautifully). Our supervisor always provided sweet snacks for us everyday and was so kind in helping us to be a part of the work in the school. It was wonderful to meet the little boys and girls, and to see a vision of what my classroom might look like.

The days were long and hard as we did not always have a lot of sleep, but so very beautiful. My favorite thing about ASB is the life maps, a chance to share each person’s story. I believe that understanding and listening to people’s stories helps us to more deeply love them with the love of Jesus. It makes His love more real to others because it is the most beautiful thing in the world to be fully known and deeply loved, and I saw glimpses of that in sharing my life map.

During this trip, I met one of my best friends (hopefully he feels that way too! :)). I was always genuinely impressed by his kindness and compassion, and the way that he loves so well. I was amazed by his love towards me on my most ratchet days, when I was anxious and overwhelmed, and felt like so much less than. Without knowing Christ, he reflected His love so deeply and beautiful to me, and I continue to pray that he would know the deep love that the Lord has for him so that in heaven, we can stand and rejoice together, my dearest hope for today.

One of the most beautiful things about this trip was hearing about how people were so interested and curious about Christianity. I had never thought that people would be interested in hearing about Jesus, fearing rejection, but hearts were open, I believe. I was so grateful to have another wonderful believer on the trip who encouraged me so much and to whom I look up to in so many ways as my sister in Christ.

At the end of the trip, I wrote letters to a couple people I felt led to. I wrote to them about how God loved and cared for them, and how I would love to share with them more about God. My hope and prayer is to have the courage to follow up in person, face-to-face. My goal is to be courageous enough to have meaningful conversations with people who do not know the Lord and to speak boldly for Him. I have always loved the verse 2 Timothy 1:7, which talks about having a spirit of power and love, but I always thought it applied to things like talking to boys or silly things like that. As I read on past it, I realized the beauty of its hope and power in the strength the Spirit gives us to share the Gospel with joy and without fear.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord or about me His prisoner, but with me take your share of suffering for the gospel [continue to preach regardless of the circumstances], in accordance with the power of God [for His power is invincible], for He delivered us and saved us and called us with a holy calling [a calling that leads to a consecrated life—a life set apart—a life of purpose], not because of our works [or because of any personal merit—we could do nothing to earn this], but because of His own purpose and grace [His amazing, undeserved favor] which was granted to us in Christ Jesus before the world began [eternal ages ago]…” ~ 2 Timothy 1:7-9

 

What a hope and joy that the Holy Spirit enables us to preach the Gospel without fear, but with power and love, giving us the words to say and speaking through us. It is not about preaching the Gospel with my own strength, but by the power and love of the Holy Spirit. How wonderful it is to be a part of that work.

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