2020 Thoughts

Let me preface this by saying this is not a political post. I won’t share my political stance over social media. If you are truly interested in my political stance, message me personally. These are strictly my personal thoughts on the state of our country. 

Today I saw the political slogan, as I have so many times, “Keep America Great.” But today it hit me differently.

When I look at the state of our country, I don’t see greatness. I see pain. I see heartache. I see pride. I see citizens attacking each other, physically and verbally (and virtually). I see the greatest division our country has seen since the Civil War. 

I want to bring a challenging thought to the table: What if we’re putting too much stock in a person? In a political party? In a policy? A political candidate cannot and will not “fix” our country. Can they initiate change? Absolutely. But they are not the end all be all. No human will be the perfect leader. Ever. Because they’re just that. Human. Regardless of political party. 

I don’t ever want to be controlled by a political candidate or party. Do I have my personal stances, beliefs, and morals? Of course. But do I expect a single human to embody all of those things perfectly? Absolutely not. It’s not possible.

Let’s state a fact here: there will always be disagreement over politics. There will always be Republicans. There will always be Democrats. There will always be those who fall somewhere in the middle. But let me be clear: the party you choose to vote for does not and never will define you. 

I saw a quote the other day that said something to the effect of “I’m less concerned about who you vote for and more concerned about how you treat others who vote differently than you.” Forgive me if I misquoted. But the point stands. 

Is voting for who you align most with important? Absolutely. But does that also give us the right to tear into someone who may vote differently? No. Never. 

This country was built on freedom. And that means each citizen has the right and freedom to vote how they see fit. I’m all for healthy discussions and debates. But I am NOT for arguments with no other agenda than to just spit out personal opinions while degrading someone else in the process. I think we can do better as individuals and also as a country. 

I share this because this is something that has been weighing heavily on my heart, not just in regard to politics, but also in regard to everything that’s happened this year in this country. I keep coming back to this one question: “What would Jesus do?” And I don’t say that in the cheesy WWJD Bible school sense of the phrase. I want to know, if Jesus was here in physical form again on this planet in 2020, how would he respond?

I may not be able to answer that specific question, but I can look in the Bible to see how he responded in situations he encountered during his lifetime. And I believe it can be summed up in this: Jesus responded in love, passion, compassion, and by always putting other’s interests above his own. He spoke what he believed, but it was always from a place of love. That’s not to say Jesus didn’t say some hard-to-swallow things. But the way in which he did it is beautiful to me.

I think of the woman at the well. He met her and immediately told her all the sins she had committed. What a way to start a conversation. So why did he do that? To encourage her to turn away from those things. So he could show her he loved her anyway

Jesus had purpose in everything he said. He spoke with intention. And I think that’s the ultimate difference. How often do we speak without purpose? How often do we speak and the intention is actually harm? It convicts me just thinking about it. 

I say everything in this post with purpose and intention. I say this as a reminder and as a conviction, for myself as well, to remember that this election is not the end all be all. That’s not to say it’s not important. It is. But don’t let it consume you. Don’t let it steal your joy. Don’t let it push you to say things you’ll later regret. Don’t let it destroy relationships. Don’t let your political stance define you. 

Our hope should not and cannot be in a political candidate. They will disappoint us every time. There is only one perfect leader. His name is Jesus. And he will always be in control. No matter who sits in office. 

The Sun Breaks Through

I feel the sunshine touch my skin as it warms me ever so gently. This cloudless day reminds me that the sun always breaks through. Even when the clouds act as a blanket covering the sky, the sun is still there, hiding behind the darkness, ready to show itself. 

It reminds me that even in the darkest days, the sun doesn’t run from the darkness. It holds its place firmly. Never wavering. Never thrown off by the clouds. The sun doesn’t feel overpowered or overwhelmed. It’s not surprised by the rain. 

But when the sun does get its moment to break through, it comes through with force. It stakes its claim in the sky. It reminds the clouds that, unlike them, it’s here to stay. The sun doesn’t come and go like the rain. Although the rain and the thunder take over at times, they’re temporary. 

The sun, however, always endures. It’s not frightened by the temporary roar of the thunder. The rain and the thunder, although strong and powerful, will never threaten the sun. They can’t overpower it’s flame. It’s constant. And it burns with a brightness that can never be extinguished. No matter how dark the storm. 

Although the darkness of life seems to be overwhelming at times, Jesus is still there, shining ever so brightly. Staking his claim. Ready to break through with force. The storm may be strong and powerful, but it’s temporary. It can’t stake its claim. 

But Jesus is constant. He doesn’t run from the darkness. He holds his place firmly. Never wavering. Never thrown off. He’s never overpowered or overwhelmed. He’s not surprised by the rain. 

Finding Contentment

I’ve been thinking a lot about contentment lately. What is it contentment? And what does it mean to be truly content? 

Life today feels like the polar opposite of contentment. There’s a lot of chaos in the world at the moment. But my personal life also feels chaotic. For the past few years, outside circumstances in my life have created a kind of chaos I never imagined I would experience – much less experience before turning 27. From the depths of my soul, I have asked the Lord, “When will I catch a break? Will it always feel like this?” 

A lot of days, I find myself wallowing in the things I have no control over. The exhaustion of fighting these battles hits me hard, and in those moments, it feels like there’s no possible way I can keep going. 

I think it’s easy to think of contentment as outside circumstances lining up. As the end of a battle. As something that comes naturally, because, hey! Life finally settled down! Now you can be content! But if we’re really honest with ourselves, life doesn’t settle down. The battle did end, but look! There’s a new one! And outside circumstances rarely line up. 

So back to my first question… What is contentment? And what does it mean to be truly content?

I’m immediately reminded of Paul in Philippians 4:11b-14. He talks about contentment and what it looks like. What it looks like to be lived out

“…For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

I’ve heard this passage a thousand times. But no matter how may times I’ve heard it, it brings a new kind of conviction when I think of my own contentment. How often do I complain? How often do I wallow in self pity? How often do I blame my outside circumstances for my actions or reactions? How often am I truly content?

But this is true: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” 

ALL things. Not some. ALL. There’s no “but” or “if.” ALL things. 

This brings me to the question, “How?” How was Paul so confident? How did he endure? How did he not only speak these words, but embody them? 

Faith. He believed what Jesus said was true

Yikes. Talk about conviction. So often in my life, I’m reminded of Mark 9:23-24 when a man asks Jesus to heal his son: 

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

I relate so much to this dad. How often I want to say I believe, but my heart says something different. But if you know the end of the story, you know Jesus healed the boy anyway. Sometimes I think we have to be brave enough, humble enough, to admit, “God I don’t believe! But I want to! Help my unbelief! 

This takes me back to contentment. How may times am I stressed, scared, worried, discontented, because I’m choosing to trust in myself instead of Jesus? How many times have I thought to myself, “I have to figure this out before I can be content,” instead of giving it to Jesus? Even in my doubt, even in my fear, even in my unbelief, the step alone to give it to Jesus is something extraordinary. Even if I come crawling on my hands and knees saying, “Jesus! Help my unbelief!” He’s still there to pull me close. To say, “I’ve got you.” To remind me that coming to him is the beginning of faith.

 I think back to that dad in Mark 9. He took a bold step just by bringing his son to Jesus. Sometimes all it takes is a step. And Jesus meets us right where we are. Even in our unbelief. 

I don’t know much, but I do know the first step in finding contentment in taking a step toward Jesus. Contentment is a choice. It’s choosing to take a step, to fight for faith, and trust Jesus to take the rest. Contentment doesn’t come from perfect circumstances. It doesn’t come from life settling down. It comes from ONE place, and one place only. That place is Jesus. And Jesus meets us right in the middle of the battle.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not great at this. Most of the time I dwell on how I can find the answers to the chaos in my life. But what I desire more than anything else is to come to a place, before the chaos takes over my my mind and my life, where I can say, “Jesus, I can’t figure this out. No matter how hard I try. I don’t have the answers, and I never will. But you do. You still calm storms. You still are peace even in the midst of the storm. I don’t have to have answers to find peace. I don’t have to figure it all out to be content. You are my peace. And because you are in control, I can be content.

Jesus is enough. He is all you need. He’s all I need, too.