One Year Anniversary

Crisp blue sky and vibrant green grass on college campus.

Yesterday marked my one year anniversary of a huge anxiety attack that sent me home from college, which eventually lead to a year off, a new health diagnosis, and deeper growth than I could have ever imagined. Honestly, I wouldn’t have remembered the specific day, but my mom texted me yesterday and told me how proud of me she was. A lot has happened in one year, so here is my one year update.

When I reflect on my growth this year, the person I am now looks only vaguely familiar to the person I once was. I’ve grown, and I feel like I’ve conquered so much.

I took the picture at the top of this blog post earlier this week as an appreciation for the beautiful school I go to and the beautiful fall weather we’ve been experiencing for the past week. The Lord has truly blessed us with warm weather for longer than usual, and I’m so grateful. Anyways, when I look at this photo, I believe it represents the current state of my soul and well-being. To me, this photo represents peace. Over the past year, I’ve mostly learned what it looks like to live at peace with myself, others, and God.

The photo contains vivid colors–the bright blue sky, the vibrant green grass– but it still has a calmness (stillness, contentment) about it. Peace doesn’t have to bland or boring. When we live from a constant state of peace our lives actually become more vibrant.

Peace is given to us by the Lord. Man-made peace will only be a temporary feeling, which some try to achieve by numbing themselves to their feelings through various coping mechanisms. True peace, placed upon us from our heavenly father, extends into all aspects of life. We nurture this God-given peace by reading the Word, prayer, and godly community.

This past year, I’ve become confident in who I am, even though, it’s a pretty broken me most of the time. Previously, my identity rested in the things that I did. For example, I was a soccer player. However, because of my health, I am not an athlete anymore. I’ve come to realize that wasn’t my true identity. I got caught up in my status as a collegiate athlete that I couldn’t see who I am, and I am so much more than an athlete. I praise God for that.

I could bore you with a long list of specific things about myself, but I’ll spare you. The list would consist of personality traits, activities I like and don’t like, but not things I do and what I’m good or bad at. What I do, doesn’t define me (or you). Overall, I’ve realized I’m so much more than my list of accomplishments, the sum of others’ feelings towards me, or my personal opinions of myself. I am created by God for God.

I have grown more secure in who God says I am, while exploring what it really means to be me by discovering how I process information and feelings, how I react to different scenarios. Through learning about God’s character, I’ve learned that it doesn’t really matter what character qualities I lack because God makes up for them. He is greater. Reliance in His character bridges the gap.

If a perfect God created me in His image, I can be at peace with who I am. Everything about me is unique and people can choose to accept that or reject that. And if they choose to reject that, I think they might be missing out on learning about God through me. Maybe I don’t get along with everyone, but each person and their personality is unique and should be celebrated as reflection of God’s character.

When we can focus on contentment in Christ and who He made us to be, we can shift the focus from ourselves to other people. We can be the hands and feet of Christ because we aren’t caught up in ourselves. We aren’t “me” focused and more but “you” focused.

My challenge to you is to undeniably embrace who you are in Jesus Christ. When we do this we become overwhelmed by comfort in where we belong. We were made for so much more than this earth offers, and accepting who we are as individuals (feelings, character, not what we do) is the first step in experiencing peace in Jesus.

As I’ve often heard: We are human beings, not human doings.

Be present, experience fully, and feel deeply.

Back to School

It’s that time of year again!

Most of us still have some connection to the back to school feeling whether that’s yourself going back, your kids, grand kids, whatever. We can all relate to that whirlwind feeling of starting a new school year. Maybe not everyone has positive feelings about going back to school. Maybe I’m weird because I’m going to be a teacher someday, and I think think that going back to school is just one of the best times of the year (besides Christmas, of course). Either way I think there is an anticipation of the new year.

However, for me at least, this feeling soon dwindles and eventually leaves me. Probably by the second week if I’m being honest. And then a routine is set. I’m going through everyday doing the same thing over and over again. I used to go to school, go to practice, do homework, watch TV, go to bed. The same thing. Every day.

Once this feeling sets in, life seems pretty bland again. It gets boring doing the same thing over and over again day after day, so I then shift my focus towards the weekend. I start wishing away the weekdays and anticipating the weekends or when the weekends don’t become long enough for me to rest, I start looking forward to the next break and the next break, then summer, and the cycle continues year after year.

In the past, I’ve been focused on the future and how the future will be different than my present circumstances. I try to convince myself that next school year will be better or the next one, because let’s face it, I won’t ever leave the school year mentality behind. But this has been so damaging to my everyday life.

When I begin to wish away everyday and treat it as a given not a gift, I begin to wish away my whole life. I don’t get the chance to live in my present experiences. I don’t get the chance to witness what God is doing right in front of me. I don’t get to see my relationships grow or the Lord work in my life. What I do get to see is that just another day passed, and I’m closer to the weekend.

Wishing away the present and living in a focus of the future is something the Lord has been convicting me about. I remember last fall I was talking to my friends saying how I wished I could be a part of something more than what I’m doing right now. I felt like a waste of space, and I thought that my purpose didn’t start until I landed my first teaching job. I thought for sure I couldn’t impact the world until I had a designated space to do so. But the truth is, I had it all wrong.

Maybe you too are starting a new school year and know the same thing will happen or has happened to you in the past. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that we are worthless or unimportant until some big life event happens like graduating college, getting a real adult job, getting married, having kids, whatever it might be for you. If we don’t live life through the long ugly parts, we lose life itself.

It’s hard to break through this mindset, but it’s possible. Every single day has purpose to it, and if we are caught focusing on what’s ahead of us instead of what’s directly in front of us we’ll miss so much of the life God intended us to have.

I read a book this winter, and the author wrote these words, “just today with Him.” Ever since I read this, it has stuck. Sometimes more days than others. I find this little saying to be so comforting. We don’t need to focus on the future. When we go through everyday with the intention of spending it with God, life is better. We see little things we never saw before. We see God in ways we never thought were possible. All of a sudden we see His hand in everything we do. Those in between mundane tasks we do become so much greater and purposeful that we could ever imagine.

In high school, I wrote a paper for English class talking about finding my purpose. I said I had no idea what God wanted me to do. I felt lost and confused, caught in an in between stage of life, again. (It’s crazy how much life is lived these moments.) My teacher’s response to the paper was, “Maybe your are already living out God’s purpose for you right here. Maybe being faithful to Him now and learning more about Him is your purpose for today.”

I believe there is so much truth in those statements. She was right. Sometimes, our purpose doesn’t feel like it’s impacting anyone, but these in between times may grow our character, lead us to a big life milestone, or simply reveal God to us in a new way.

So as we start a new school year (or continue in your job), I challenge you to live life. To experience every single day. Not to wish away precious moments, but to delight in where the Lord has you and what He is doing. And to open your heart and mind to the everyday miracles you may have missed before.

I hope you have a great start to a new school year 🙂

USWNT, LGBTQ+, the White House, and Faith

Back in January 2019 during a photo shoot leading up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Megan Rapinoe, forward and captain for the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT), spoke these words, “I’m not going to the f*ing White House.” Below is a video of her statement.

Here is a video of Rapinoe’s statements. Since then, during a press conference , she has supported her original statements made.

To give some background, four years ago, in 2015, the USWNT won their 3rd World Cup, the most of any country. President Barack Obama asked the women to come to the White House to celebrate. Everyone showed up, and there was no controversy.

As of Thursday, June 27, 2019, President Donald Trump responded to her comments via Twitter. A picture of his threaded tweets are below.

Rapinoe was supported by several of her teammates who also declared that they would not be going to the White House to celebrate upon winning a 4th Women’s World Cup.

Of course, there are plenty of comments going back and forth about free speech, civil rights, is political correctness, and division, but I feel it is necessary to share a few of my thoughts too.

I’m a fan of Megan Rapinoe. She is an amazing soccer player. She demonstrates selflessness on the pitch, which is clearly shown through her high assist count. In my opinion, she is the best crosser in the women’s game. She is constantly supporting her teammates by hustling to balls, getting back on defense, and displaying leadership well as a team captain. In fact, her jersey is the only USWNT jersey I own. The reason is partly because I was number 15 as a club player, but mostly because of her ability to make a lasting impact on every game she plays.

If you don’t know, Rapinoe is a lesbian, Trump has made it clear he doesn’t support homosexuality, and this is where the controversy begins. I’ll be honest, I believe homosexuality is a sin. It goes against what the Bible, the source of truth and the doctrine of my faith, says is true. However, never once have I thought of Rapinoe’s sexuality when analyzing her ability to play soccer so well. While it may be a part of who she is, it is in fact just one part. It is not her identity. I would also argue that no one is identified by one individual belief, besides Christians, but that is for another post.

So here’s a summary so far:

1) Rapinoe will not except an invite to the White House from Trump

2) Trump invited the USWNT regardless of a win or lose

3) Rapinoe is a lesbian

4) Trump is against homosexuality

Here’s my point: When did anyone ever tell you that we (every single person on Earth) have to agree on everything?

There are plenty of people in my country I don’t share the same values with. I also know that I don’t share the same beliefs as others in my immediate family. However, I still love this country and my family. I think it’s an enormous privilege to live in such a diverse place with diverse people.

The first amendment is what makes our country a beautiful place to live, but so does respect. And I know you or Rapinoe could probably come up with many instances of Trump being disrespectful towards the LGBTQ+ community. You may be thinking, “why does he deserve any respect, if he hasn’t given any out himself?”

But at some point enough is enough. Someone has to break the cycle. Someone has to forgive and forget, which is a lost concept in American culture (again another post). We all have differences and part of celebrating differences is celebrating conservative views as well as liberal views.

I know I can’t speak for every Christian out there, but I can speak for myself and so many others whom I know share my same beliefs. (I want to be clear: I’ve seen some terrible hate being spread by so called “Christians” towards many groups of people. I’m not ignorant. I know it’s happened and is happening.) We don’t want to fight with you. We want to love you right where you are at. That is the gospel. Love being given to others without merit because that’s what has graciously been given to us. (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

So Megan Rapinoe, if you’re reading this, my request is that you keep growing the game of soccer in a way that shows respect to all people. People that have the same beliefs. People that give you hate and show disgust. People that are like me and show respect for you but hold opposing beliefs. Little girls who want to grow up to be like you and play soccer for their country.

Representing your country is a privilege that not many people get, and I hope you chose to represent your country just as you have been–by playing soccer proudly, boldly, and loudly. It doesn’t have to be broken down by one person. You don’t have to support Trump, you don’t have to like him, but everyone deserves respect.

I’d love to have a conversation about this below. Let me know your thoughts on Rapinoe, Trump, LGBTQ+ community, the USWNT, Christianity, or anything else. Let’s show how we can have a respectful conversation about hard topics.

On that note, today is USA VS FRA [3 PM (EST) kickoff on FOX and Universo; also streaming on fuboTV; and in case you haven’t heard, “Hulu has live sports”] in the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. This is going to be the best match up of the tournament. Please watch. Grow the sport of women’s soccer. Cheer on amazing female athletes. Cheer on your country.

I know I will! GO USA! ⚽️

Podcast 1: Dealing with Disappointment

It’s been a few months of great recovery for me, and I’ve been able to get involved with many more activities at home. I recorded this podcast back in March and just didn’t have the drive to edit it and publish it until now. As I was listening back, it’s crazy to realize how much recovery I’ve undergone since then. My thought process is so much clearer now, and I don’t talk as slowly as I used to. I’m feeling more like me. Anyways, this podcast episode has nothing to do with my health and it’s improvement, but I thought I’d document it.

If you choose to listen to this podcast –beware. I’ve never done something like this before and the editing is rough, my thought process is rough, basically, everything is rough. I appreciate you being on my blog today and giving me a chance to share with you what the Lord is doing in my life. Even though this was recorded a few months ago, it is still applicable to me today. Thanks so much for taking 20 minutes of your day to listen. I hope you enjoy it and that it’s not too painful on your ears. 🙂

Click here to listen.

Below are the links to the books I reference:

  1. Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst
  2. When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd

My Battle with Lyme Disease

This part of my journey has been very new to me and probably to a lot of you. About two months ago, I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. (Click here to find out more general information on Lyme.) First off, I want to say that I’m not writing this as a pity party for myself, but to educate those around me to what I’ve been facing. The Lord has been so good to me during this process, and even though I’ve been facing physical and mental struggles, He has been present through it all.

My last post was about anxiety and depression. My world was opened up four months ago to a huge battle that was going on inside my mind. One that I couldn’t seem to express to others or come to believe for myself. I know these are true struggles for many people, but can sometimes be overlooked by the Christian community as a lack of trust in the Lord. Four months ago, I was not me. I was attacked and broken by my own brain. I knew the Lord was there and active, but there was a huge disconnect between what I knew and how I felt.

As I was at home and struggling deeply with these two things, I was finally getting better and recovering. One day in November, after Thanksgiving, there was a day where I actually felt like myself. I felt like Hannah. I had energy, excitement, and hope bursting out of me for the first time in a long time.

I was so excited, and I decided to take this time I was off from school to be purposeful. I chose to reach out to my high school basketball coach and ask if I could help out with the varsity team there. Keep in mind, I know like 5 things about basketball and one of them is how to foul out consistently. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to be much of a help to the team or coaching staff. However, they accepted me with open arms.

Finally, I was able to do something with purpose. I was pretty anxious about going back to high school since I hadn’t been there for so long. Who would I see? What questions would they ask? It’s embarrassing having to take time off of school, so what would people think?

That day, thankfully, I was greeted with friendly and judgment-free faces. Although I had clear supporters, it was still extremely difficult to admit what was truly going on in my life. This was the first day I had talked about my anxiety and depression without crying. A huge step towards healing.

The plan was to run some drills with the girls as an extra player because small Christian schools seem to have a hard time just getting 10 girls to play. Anyways, I was rearing to go. It felt good to put on my basketball shoes that I hadn’t worn in quite some time. I thought since I was a collegiate soccer player, I would be able to hang with a few high school athletes even though I’d been down and out for almost two months. I couldn’t have been THAT out of shape, right?

Well, I was proven wrong. In fact, I participated in 3v2v1, according to my Fitbit, for exactly 8 minutes. Yes, I didn’t mistype. Eight short minutes. During these 8 minutes, I managed to fall on my butt pretty hard. I clearly was keeping up with my high school reputation of being clumsy. Now, I was just a clumsy college girl. Go me! Also, I didn’t take my inhaler, so I couldn’t breathe, AND I was dehydrated and thought I was going to pass out. I did great this day. Despite the struggle, I planned on coming back the next day for practice.

The next day, I woke up to my alarm as normal, but I felt like I got hit by a bus, or two, or twelve. At this point my body was a little sore, but not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I started my day normally, and within an hour of being awake, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. This was after getting about 10 hours of sleep the night before. I fell asleep on my favorite couch (I love couches for naps. There is nothing better.) for about 2 hours. I woke up from this nap and still felt beat.

Now I know at this point you’re probably thinking “You slept too much, that’s the problem” or “Dang I wish I could sleep for 12 hours a day.” I wish both of those statements could be true. Day after day, I felt muscle aches and soreness throughout my body along with fatigue that seemed impossible to cure. I couldn’t sleep right even though I slept for nearly 17 or 18 hours a day. I was still exhausted, and my brain function was equivalent to a pile of mush. I couldn’t think, read, or write properly. I was literally a couch potato, but not by choice.

This next part is gross, but I think it illustrates the pain and struggle of how hard these past months have been for me. I’ve realized that I took showers for granted before. Now, they were difficult for me. I don’t remember exactly how long, but I most likely went a week or so without showering because it took that much out of me. Even then, some days, I had to sit on a stool to make it through.

While experiencing all of the physical, mental, and spiritual struggles, I had absolutely no idea what was truly going on inside me. I’m so grateful for my mom, who never stopped trying to find a doctor to help me.

Through the Lord’s provision and timing, she was able to get into contact with a Lyme Literate Practice. Thankfully, an appointment was set up for me within two weeks. Typically, it could take four months to get an appointment. While my mom and I thought it could be Lyme disease, weren’t sure because I had never tested positive for it before even though I had experienced similar symptoms several times before.

I met with the Lyme Literate Doctor on January 2nd. Happy New Year to me! I was finally going to get answers about what had been going on in my body. He was everything I could have ever asked for in a doctor. He believed me. He listened to me. He genuinely wanted to make me feel better and to be able to live life fully. Without blood tests being done, he was certain I had Lyme disease based on my symptoms and our hour long conversation.

Fortunately, he decided to put me on antibiotics to start killing the bacteria inside me as soon as possible. Along with the antibiotics, I was given a list of natural supplements to take daily, and I was asked to stay on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet until my next appointment. I did what was asked of me, and began to feel very small positive changes inside of me. Nothing that anyone else could see, but only something I could feel.

Three weeks later was my check up appointment to go over the results of my 20 test tubes of blood that were taken. I had no idea what the results were going to be. I discovered I have Lyme disease and Bartonella, which is another tick born co-infection that more specifically affects the joints.

In addition to these diagnoses, the blood tests revealed the damage the disease has done to other systems of my body. Some parts impacted significantly are my glucose level, hormones, and sensitivities to wheat, dairy, and egg. I am also at risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis at a young age.

After discussing the results, I was put on an additional antibiotic for Bartonella and many more natural supplements. I was told to go on an even stricter diet called Auto-Immune Paleo. In summary, this means I can eat most vegetables, all fruit, and meat.

Currently, I am in a phase of extreme recovery and taking every day as it comes. I truly don’t know how I’m going to feel each day. I am trying my best to follow the doctor’s orders, which includes resting, resting, and more resting, which is the hardest thing I’ve had to do since I am typically an extremely active and busy person. I’m thankful that I have seen so many positive changes. For example, I have been able to stop taking my anxiety medicine, and I am working to stop my depression medication. I truly believe Jesus is healing me from the inside out and using this experience to guide me closer to Him.

Below is a picture explaining exactly how I feel on a day to day basis and how I will most likely feel for the rest of my life. It is a quick explanation of my energy level and that there is only a certain amount of it I have each day. If I go over my allotted energy, I will be impacted for the days to come. It is important for me to stay disciplined and conserve energy when I can. This is from But You Don’t Look Sick, which is a website that discusses various chronic illnesses more deeply.


My story is just one of many struggling with chronic Lyme disease. If it is not detected in the early stages of infection, it becomes more difficult to diagnose, and the long term effects are greater. I’d love to make this a conversation with you. If you have any questions about Lyme or my journey (as this is a brief overview), please ask them! Let’s talk!

8 Ideas for Managing Depression and Anxiety

As I explained in my last post, I dealt with some health issues in the fall and left school prematurely. When I got home, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, something I never imagined could happen to me. While I’m doing better today, I know each day can bring new pressures. Below I made a list of things that helped me during the darkest and scariest time my of life I’ve experienced. I know there’s no right way for someone to manage their anxiety or depression. This is just what worked and is working for me. It’s hard to see a friend experiencing these, and one can often feel like a helpless onlooker. I also added ideas of support I did or wished I received during this challenging time.

1) Follow the doctor’s orders.

For yourself: Don’t be afraid to admit something is wrong. It will probably feel entirely out of your control because if it is anxiety or depression, it doesn’t define who you are. You might beat yourself up each time you think something could be wrong. Be willing to get help in whatever capacity you need. Go to the doctor, and follow his directions. You can get better.

As a friend: Support them and encourage them to see a doctor. Offer to take them or go with them. Support them in their decision making, but never force them to do something they aren’t ready to do. Check in with your friend after the appointment and see how they’re doing.

2) Pray.

When I was in the deepest hold of depression and anxiety, I really couldn’t get myself to do this. At least not more than a sentence.

For yourself: God hears the small short prayers, so even if you can only spit out a few words, He cares. He’s there. He hears you. All you have to do is try to talk to Him. It’s hard but worth it.

As a friend: Ask to pray with your friend. Notice I said with not just for. To me, there’s always been something special about one of your best friends praying over you. Pray for them while you sit with them. Your friend might not be able to utter words that you can. Give your friend a voice. Also, still pray for them when you’re apart.

3) Read Scripture.

This is another area that was extremely difficult for me to do as well, but there are so many simple ways to do this.

For yourself: Start small. Use the Bible app, and simply read the verse of the day. Only a couple sentences can help change your outlook for the day. It’s okay if you miss a day. Don’t beat yourself up. Life is one long journey.

As a friend: Make sure you are in the Word yourself. Text/talk to your friend about what you’ve been learning and share verses. Even sending encouraging quotes is sometimes nice. Leaving handwritten notes is also so special. (thanks soccer team <3)

4) Attend Counseling.

This kind of goes along with listening to your doctor’s orders. It’s hard to open up and discuss what’s going on in between your ears, but it is so worth it. I can remember my first counseling appointment. I cried for more of it than I talked, but it was a safe place. Thankfully, I’ve made incredible progress.

For yourself: You won’t want to go, so ask someone to go with you or at least drive you there. Remember, all your problems won’t get solved in one sitting. Express what you can, when you can. A little bit is better than nothing at all. Be consistent (go at least once a week to start), and find someone you are comfortable with.

As a friend: Offer to go with them to the appointments. If they say no, respect that and don’t push. If they say yes, just be there with them. Don’t say anything. You may think you know your friend really well, but you can’t read their mind. Only chime in if they ask.

5) Eat wisely and drink lots of water.

Everyone can always benefit from this. It was hard for me when I was struggling to make sure I still ate vegetables and stopped eating dessert 3 times a day.

For yourself: Don’t be too strict, but put in a conscious effort to eat wisely. If you eat badly, you will feel worse. Also, staying hydrated and fueling your brain properly is very important for mental and physical health.

As a friend: You do the same thing. It can only help you. Maybe don’t order that pizza at 11 pm or chocolate milkshake at 2 am then visit your friend with your new food. Don’t criticize your friends eating habits, but support healthy decisions.

6) Exercise. 

When I was depressed or anxiety-filled, one of the last things I wanted to do was move. Or really just get out of bed. Exercise, even small, helps everyone feel at least a tad bit better.

For yourself: Try to do something active at least 5 days a week. This doesn’t mean you have to run 5 miles every day, do an intense tabata workout, or max out on your squat. Try to walk around campus for 30 minutes or the treadmill or an elliptical or a stationary bike. Change up what you do and where you do it. If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. Again, something is better than nothing.

As a friend: If you’re going to the gym or doing a workout, invite your friend. Respect their yes or no answer for the time being, but don’t count them out the next day or the next. Keep the offer open and inviting. Always offer, never force. Your friend will go when they think they can, especially if you are persistent and encouraging.

7) Start a new hobby. 

I’ve started a couple new hobbies. This helps to take my mind off of everyday stressors and puts my focus on a bigger project. Some hobbies I dove into are gardening (indoors), journaling, reading, listening to podcasts, starting a blog, and selling clothes online through Poshmark. (Sign up for Poshmark with the invite code H_BERNSTEIN, and receive $5 towards your first order.)

For yourself: Try something you’ve always been curious about but hesitant to try. This could be calligraphy, creating a YouTube channel, starting your own business, or whatever else has been on your mind. Give yourself space to think big and grace to get there. Start small and see where a new passion takes you. Make sure it’s a stress reliever, not an inducer. If you stink at the hobby you chose, stop and try a new one. What do you have to lose?

As a friend: Join them in their new hobby, and encourage them to try new things. Maybe you’ll be really bad at what your friend is really good at. Oh well! It would be a good laugh for both of you. Most of all, be their biggest cheerleader.

8) Invest in something bigger than yourself. 

This is something I’m still trying to work on. Because of other health issues that were magnified, I haven’t been able to do activities I had hoped I could do.

For yourself: Invest in people. Find the age group you love. This could be elementary, middle, or high school students, elderly people, babies or toddlers, or college students. Once you find this, research local ways to participate and help these specific groups of people. Try it out and build new relationships you never thought were possible.

As a friend: Go with them to these volunteer opportunities or get involved somehow. Help your friend research places to go and things to do. It may not be your favorite age group, and you might not be entirely comfortable in the situation. Give yourself space to grow and learn alongside a friend.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with a few Psalms that are encouraging to me. Sometimes we just need a reminder of God’s love and faithfulness.

Psalm 9:10 “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.”

Psalm 12:6 “The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”

Psalm 16:8-9 ” I have set the LORD before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope.

Trusting the Lord

Recently, my life has pretty much been turned upside down. I’m thankful for a new year that will hopefully bring me healing in ways I didn’t see in 2018. The Lord used my friends, my family, and His word to help me discover what it really means to trust the Him. While I have by no means mastered this aspect of my life, I believe I’ve grown in my understanding.

Growing up in Christian school, this concept of trusting in God has been drilled into my head, but not my heart. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” This verse makes trusting the Lord sound really simple, right? In reality, it is simple, but it is not easy. If you’re anything like me, you want to have a plan for everything and for everything to go according to that plan.

However, the Lord typically doesn’t work like that, as I’ve been learning. The past few months He’s shown me that His plan is better than mine. I started this college semester like any other. In fact, I was more excited than before because I finally wasn’t the new kid for the first time in two years. I had a friend group established. I was a collegiate athlete. I was content in my major. I felt very confident going into school this fall.

My first month of school was as normal as it could’ve been. As expected, I wasn’t in shape for preseason, and I picked up all my friendships where we left off.

Suddenly, everything seemed to go wrong at once. I didn’t know why. (I still don’t.) I was missing classes because I was so exhausted. I was getting bad grades. I felt isolated and alone despite being constantly around people. I ended up dropping a class because I just couldn’t do it.

I felt like I was drowning no matter what I did to save myself. While I approached my friends to talk about the problems I was facing, I wasn’t completely honest and was trying to show I was a “perfect” Christian by accepting the bad things that were happening to me. As I continued explaining my difficulties, I was greeted with the “perfect” Christian answer: Pray about it. God’s got you.

There was nothing wrong with their answer. It’s true. I should have been praying about it, and God was there. He would see me through. Somehow this answer didn’t satisfy me. And here’s why.

Looking back at Proverbs 3:5-6, we see that it uses the word straight in regards to our path. Other translations say, “… he will direct your paths.” Nowhere in this verse does it say, “It. Will. Get. Better. Immediately.” In fact, nowhere in the Bible does it say this. Typically, it says the opposite. So why is our immediate response to people going through tough times to just pray about it?

Like I said before, prayer is the key to handling problems; however, it doesn’t always solve them. I do believe in the power of prayer and the power of God, but more frequently, God’s answer to our prayers is “no” or “not yet” instead of “yes”.

Perhaps we’ve thought of the word straight the wrong way. Maybe it means He will guide us right where we need to go, not that it will be easy to get there. Maybe there will be a huge mountain to climb, but the path is still straight. Bumpy, rocky, challenging, but still straight.

Too often I want to fast forward the hard times of my life or forget that they existed. I don’t believe this is what we are called to do. God’s answer of “no” or “not yet” means that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not where I want to be.

In the second month of school, I had to leave for various health reasons some known and others unknown. During my time away from the hustle and bustle of life, I’ve been discovering this meaning of trusting the Lord. What I’ve learned so far is that waiting is the beginning of trust. Waiting isn’t lazy, despite our culture that demands business. Being hopeful in what is to come helps with the waiting. Whether I find healing in my time on Earth (which I hope I do) or in heaven, there is hope that one day I will experience healing.

I’ve decided to read through the Psalms daily, which has been a great blessing. Seeing David’s example of wrestling with God, admitting that he wasn’t okay, and returning praise to the Lord helps me battle with my feelings and attitude about what’s been happening in my life.

Psalm 16:8-9 says, “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore, my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope.”

My current prayer is that my flesh will rest in hope.

Galatians 1:10

This summer I worked as a camp counselor, which was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve ever done. The Lord was so good and faithful to me through this past summer. As soon as I stepped into that place, I knew the Lord was there and at work. I didn’t really know what that looked like for me as I embarked on what seemed like a never-ending marathon of summer to me. Often times, the Lord is working when you don’t know it or can’t see it. That is one attribute that makes Him so great. This is just what He did for me this past summer.

During counselor orientation at the beginning of the summer, we practiced the general routine of a regular day at camp. At 8:10 we would attend morning exercises. Don’t be fooled. This was really a time to sing and to hear a devotional from women on the leadership team. One of the days the wife of the Associate Director and her daughter gave us the devotional. She urged us to be purposeful this summer and memorize Scripture. She reminded us that Scripture has a great power when it’s memorized in our hearts. She and her daughter painted flowers on notecards for all the female counselors to write a verse and memorize it throughout the summer.

I had no idea what verse I would put down, but the Lord did. As I was going through the devotional for campers, I came across Galatians 1:10, which says, ” For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (ESV) I didn’t think much about it, but I decided to write this verse on my notecard simply because it “sounded good”. Little did I know the Lord was going to use this verse to impact me greatly.

As I navigated the camp counselor life, the verse was in the back of my mind. It wasn’t until I left camp for my one term off that I began to understand the power of this verse. I was struggling with a big decision for a while and had no idea what to do about it.

One morning, while I was praying, the Lord led me to review Galatians 1:10. This time it hit me harder than before. He made me realize that so much of my life was focused on winning the approval of my friends, my family, and even people I didn’t know. According to Galatians 1:10, that is the complete opposite of who we should be trying to please.

I sat contemplating the power of people pleasing had a hold over me. I was caught in a life of pursuing others’ approval instead of God’s approval. To be honest, at most times, I still am.

We live in a society where we will never be enough to the world, but the good news is that we have an amazing God who looks past the worldly flaws. I’ve now realized that I don’t need to rely on what other people think of me, whether that’s good or bad.

Galatians 1:10 states something powerful: “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” When we get caught up in what other people think, we miss out on God. We become self-obsessed and lose our identity in Christ. We become slaves of ourselves instead of servants of the Lord.

The truth is, if you have decided to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, you have been made approved. You are wiped clean because of the blood shed on the cross. There is no need to chase after people’s opinions of you because you have been declared righteous by the King. No matter what you do, the Lord is there forgiving sins and confirming good done in His name.

Living an approved life means you distinctively choose every day not to put your worth in others’ opinions. It is a battle. It is not easy. It requires daily prayer, confession, and commitment. If we can break this pattern of people pleasing, we will experience indescribable freedom through Christ.

Live each day knowing: I am approved.