Saturday, February 16, 2013

Angel Armies

I've been 31 years old for 2.5 weeks.  
Each new year has brought with it a new set of challenges and this year proves no different.  2013 may be exceptionally difficult, however... it feels like the hardest year of my life so far.  
This is the year I will learn to become a nurse practitioner.  I feel as though the past two years I've spent convincing myself that I can do this.  Now that I'm actually here, I'm doubting whether or not it can be done.  There is too much to learn... too much to know... and not enough time to do it all.  

You hear me when I callYou are my morning songThough darkness fills the nightIt cannot hide the light
Whom shall I fear?
Reflecting on this past birthday... a few things stand out to me.  This is the first year, in what feels like a very long time, that I've felt I've gained a new church family. It's been a huge answer to prayer. I've spent the last few years at a few different churches and it's been a heartbreaking transition each and every time.  With every church I decided to leave, I felt so disappointed... so lonely... and much like I was leaving an unrequited lover.  It hurt a lot to leave one church and brave another one on my own.  But if it took a few failed attempts to keep me on the search for a family that would love me back, then I'm glad I went through it.  I wrote before how I felt that churches were like different soils and I am a plant.  I can feasibly grow in different soils but some soils have the right combination of nutrients and minerals which are more suited to nurture the flower that I am right now.  It feels a lot easier to be here.  Like a breath of fresh air.  I'm not sure if I'm meant to be here forever but for now, I'm pretty darn sure this is where I was meant to be.  

I am also so touched and amazed by the number of people who gave me gifts which truly moved my heart.  And especially amazed at the extreme thoughtfulness of some of my newest friends.  I am always delighted to receive things from people.  Oftentimes, I am more delighted by the thought than I am by the gift.  I think that this year, there were SO MANY gifts where I was doubly delighted by the thoughtfulness of the giver and by the utter perfection of the gift.  I felt as though my lovely friends were mind if I were playing a game with all of you and I imagined something I wanted... and somehow so many of you just KNEW.  If I think realistically though... it's not as though all my friends are psychic... they were just really good at paying attention... and really talented and thoughtful gift buyers.  And maybe I got better at letting other people know me as well.  I've really, really enjoyed spending time with my friends.  I'm still enjoying spending one-on-one time with you.  I'm always really surprised at how much effort and how far some of my friends will go to spend time with me.  I feel like I am such a horrible friend compared to all of you.  After all my popcornopolis is gone... after all the gift cards to my favorite places have been used... my favorite things shared with my favorite people... have truly reminded me how loved I am and that I am not alone, despite how lonely I feel at times.

You crush the enemyUnderneath my feetYou are my Sword and ShieldThough troubles linger still
Whom shall I fear?

This past year may have been the first time that I've identified my deeply engrained fear of being unprepared and inadequate... and this year may be the first time that I'm being forced to confront these fears on a daily basis as I am constantly slapped in the face by my ignorance, naivety and lack of experience in the clinical setting.  In my first round of nursing school, I don't remember feeling so stupid all the time.  I remember being in awe of my preceptors... at how much they just knew... how much they could multi-task... at how natural they seemed at their jobs.  I'm still in awe of all of these qualities in my preceptors.  God has provided me with amazing people to learn from.  Maybe I'm so in awe that I'm dumbfounded... dumb and mute and paralyzed.  
I am sure that it is no coincidence that I'm confronted so frequently by my deepest fears.  If I am to work at my weaknesses, they need to be drawn out and brought to light.  And I have so many weaknesses.  It's overwhelming to think on them as a collection.  I'm just going to have to pick them out one by one and destroy them slowly.  It's like trying to get rid of an army of ants.  I have no Raid or bug spray.  I just have my finger.  One ant, one finger at a time.  And sometimes even though I think I've squashed it... it still lives.  Oh sweet Jesus, I pray for finger strength.  
I know Who goes before meI know Who stands behindThe God of angel armiesIs always by my sideThe One who reigns foreverHe is a Friend of mineThe God of angel armiesIs always by my side

In my time of need... as I'm scrambling to find my way in the fog... I've needed to be encouraged by the Lord, by my family, and by my friends.  God has used so many of you to speak so much encouragement into my life... you're like my angel armies... always by my side.  I don't see myself the way you see me.  And I don't even care if you're lying to me just to make me feel better. I appreciate your sweet lies.  I don't understand how so many of you can be so confident in me.  Do I see myself so wrong and so distorted?  I've needed so much to rely on my friends for prayer and support.  I feel about as strong as overcooked spaghetti.  Many times throughout my days living as a limp noodle... I hear your words playing in my head... your encouragements... and it gives me just enough strength to carry on.  
My strength is in Your nameFor You alone can saveYou will deliver meYours is the victory

Whether or not I succeed or fail at becoming a nurse practitioner of excellence, I know that my true worth does not lie in my degree, in my license, in my job, in my relationship status, in my family, in my friends... or in anything else in this world.  No matter what I do... I am and always will be a daughter of the Most High God.  Adopted as His child... grafted into His vine.  Bought with a price... with the precious blood of the unblemished Lamb.  If this door closes and if I am forced to go back to working as a Registered Nurse... it's OK.  If I somehow lose my license and I can't be a nurse anymore... it'll be OK as well.  This stuff is temporary.  It doesn't matter what I do... it matters for Whom I'm living for and as long as between me and God, I'm living my life to the fullest and with utmost obedience... He sees my heart and He is pleased.  His is the only opinion that matters.  And at least I'll know that I tried and gave it my all.  And honestly... if I could spend the rest of my life being with people... meeting new friends... sharing life... laughing and eating and encouraging others... I think I'd be pretty happy and will have led a very full life.  The location... eh.  Could be here or there... in a hospital, in a clinic... at a restaurant... at the gym... at the park... it doesn't matter.  People matter and I don't need to be a nurse practitioner to be a person who cares for other people and isn't afraid to show it (most of the time).  Over the past few years, God has really opened my eyes and my heart to see people more in the way that He sees them.  It's truly amazing.  The depths of His love... are deeper than the ocean... and He has allowed me the opportunity to experience His deep love and to pour out His love to others.  Even when it sometimes feels impossible for me to care even an iota more... the moment I am aware of someone's hurt, someone's pain, someone's brokenness... it's as if there is suddenly just a little bit more to give.  
It doesn't always happen though.  In fact, today as I was sitting with a friend at Starbucks... I observed a deeply distraught person in an encounter with someone who knew her but didn't seem to care... and for some reason... nothing moved in me.  I was observing it... as if it were happening on television and I weren't 10 feet away.  I kept doing what I was doing just like all the other people sitting around with their laptops and headphones.  I observed some more and what I saw was humbling.  I saw another girl... one who wasn't so self-absorbed like me... ask if the distraught girl was OK.  She went and got her wallet and bought the distraught girl an ice-blended mocha.  And not a small one either.  After distraught girl left... the angel girl came and sat down with the man who appeared to know the girl but who didn't seem to care.  I witnessed her lay hands on this man and pray for distraught girl and for him.  I'm not sure what was said or what was going on... all I know was that I was humbled and convicted of my selfishness.  Honestly... what did it cost the angel girl?  Not much.  What would it have cost me?  Nothing much at all.  I'm thankful that the angel girl was there to be a salt and a light to distraught girl and uncaring man.  I didn't step up to the plate this time.  I'm glad that God provided for them in spite of me.  Must be more aware and intentional for next time.  

And nothing formed against me shall standYou hold the whole world in your handsI'm holding onto Your promisesYou are faithful

He is so faithful.  He has always been faithful.  He will always continue to be faithful.  How could I ever doubt His faithfulness and His provision when He has been nothing but unwavering, unchanging, unfailing since the beginning of time?  I can't even count the ways He has provided so bountifully for me in these past few years alone.  What makes me think that my present situation or whatever lies in my future... that He will be any different?  He will not change.  He will never change.  He is the only One with whom I can say with utmost confidence that He IS who He IS.  He is alpha and omega.  It is so, so true.  In big ways and small ways... He has been found faithful.  

The God of angel armies is always by my side - Chris Tomlin
Thank you for continuing to read my crazed and random thoughts.  Until next time... 

much love,


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