Brokenness Aside

<<I am a sinner if it’s not one thing it’s another, I’m caught up in words, tangled in lies. But You are my Savior and You take brokenness aside and make it beautiful>>
My life is broken. 
I am broken. 
My life is marred my anxiety. By fear. By pride. 
And I’ve let those begin to define me. 
The shards and fragments and rough edges. I’ve begun to feel like I deserve them. Deserve to have to wear them as scars — as strobe lights declaring my faults and failures to the world. 
I wake up and see myself through a shattered mirror. I see myself, but only under the layers of cracks and distortion and fog. 
And you know what?
I’m a broken person. The Bible backs me up on that. I’ve fallen short of God’s marvelous glory (Romans 3:23). But He is the Creator who takes our broken pieces and doesn’t discard them, but instead reshapes and remolds them. Who takes them and somehow makes them beautiful. 
He is the Creator and when I turned to Him and asked for His salvation almost twelve years ago, He took the broken mirror away. He washed me white as snow. He healed my brokenness and started reforming and refining and sanctifying me. Sculpting me to be more like the image of Himself. 
He declares me to be His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10) and all of my brokenness and weakness doesn’t cease to exist, but He does use it for good (Genesis 50:20), and His power is perfected in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) 
My Father loves me so much that He doesn’t want me to keep watching my reflection through broken glass. He wants to turn me around and let me see myself through His eyes. 
Someone worth dying for. 
Someone He wants to use to accomplish His beautiful purposes. 
A child of the King. 

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10 Things I Learned My First Semester in College

Hey everyone!

So technically, I’m not done with college until next week, but as I’m in the midst of finals and projects and all of that fun stuff *not* I had all of these things bouncing around in my mind and wanted to go ahead and get them out there:) Some are basic college tips, some are about life and growing up, and as always, God has revealed some pretty awesome things to me about Himself as well. Thank you to everyone who has come on this journey with me through reading my thoughts a couple times every week, you’re brave 😉 Here we go!
1. Use Rate My Professor — Just do it. Of course it’s beneficial to stay away from the bad professors, but also, look around and figure out who those professors are that you just have to have. This may be just me, but it’s much easier to get myself up and to class in the morning when I’m actually excited for the lectures. I have two professors whom I absolutely love and that gets me to class on days I really don’t want to go.

2. You have to be proactive about making friends — In high school, especially going to a small private school, making friends came naturally. Here on a campus with 30,000 people, I could easily go all semester without speaking to anyone *guilty as charged* I told my Mom I have one and two-half friends on campus, and even that is a stretch. Honestly, I know some of my professors better than any classmates! I’m pretty upset with myself and how I let this semester get away from me. Be willing to start conversations, get to know the people around you, it won’t just happen if you don’t put any effort in.

3. Go to office hours and ask questions — I already mentioned that my two “best friends” on campus are professors, and this may sound really nerdy, but talking to professors excites me so much!! They are such smart people! I love asking questions after class or going to office hours to talk about things in more depth. They love when students come to talk to them about things other than makeup exams and late assignments. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge at your disposal!

4. I’m no longer a slave to fear — I have sang these lyrics for years, but honestly sang them without much thought. It seemed like a no-brainer because I had never felt enslaved to fear in the first place. Until this semester. I have no idea how or why, but anxiety has been taking hold of my life bit by bit this semester. And honestly, it seems like it is still getting worse before it gets better. The littlest things can set me completely off, and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night absolutely sure that something terrible has happened. I worry about anything and everything, and yes, I know the Bible says “do not worry” 365 times. But when I go into panic, I have no control over that. I make myself physically sick and life seems completely and utterly overwhelming.

Now all that sounds really negative and not at all like something I’ve learned this semester. But God has been right here leading and guiding me through. Even though I can’t always feel His presence. He keeps reminding me through His words and promises that His grace is still more than sufficient, He has a hold of me and is never letting me go, and although Satan wants me to be afraid, I am no longer a slave to fear. He has called me by name and I am His. I am His child, and nothing can ever change that. He wants me and loves me just as I am, anxiety and all. And that is something worth rejoicing and celebrating about.

5. Don’t take all your classes on one day — Especially seven. Don’t do seven classes in one day. Because inevitably exams and group projects come up and you will be at school for 14 hours straight. I won’t make that mistake again.

6. You’re not a failure — In a way, these next three all flow together. I have always been a perfectionist and put way to much pressure on myself. But I finally had to realize that I’m not a failure by Christ’s standards. I can’t make everyone happy. Not my friends or family or professors or even myself — and that’s not the goal. The goal is to pursue Christ with everything I’ve got and let that be enough. And when I do that, “failing” is irrelevant.

7. Push yourself, but give some grace too — I had to realize this semester that I couldn’t push myself in absolutely every area or I was going to crash. I pushed myself to take a lot of classes, so I had to realize I couldn’t beat myself up if I couldn’t keep a 4.0. There’s balance in life. I worked incredibly hard and studied for all my exams, but some nights I just needed to read and eat ice cream and forget about it all for a few hours. You won’t survive without the grace, so don’t feel guilty for it.

8. To say no! — Yes, that extra Bible Study on Thursday nights would be great. Yes, going to the grocery store every single week would help my family out a lot. Yes, I would love to be able to take my siblings to McDonald’s and the library all the time. My two best friends are captains of their soccer and basketball teams and I would love to be at all of their games. But I can’t do everything. Even all the good things. Even all the things I want to do. So sometimes I have to step back and say no to things, even good things, so that I can say yes to the things that are really most important.

9. Group projects aren’t pretty – -True story. I have a group project due on Monday for a group that has seven people in it. We had our first meeting three weeks ago and four people showed up. The next three still haven’t ever done their parts. Some people don’t care, some people never text back, and that’s going to have to be okay. You aren’t responsible for all of them, just do your best and let it go:)

10. God has already won — In a song by my favorite band, Anthem Lights, they sing Our King has won the war, He reigns forevermore, Hallelujah Hallelujah

The lyrics are simple but so true. God has displayed that truth in my life over and over this semester. When I struggled with health issues, He reminded me that He was the ultimate healer and His ways are so much higher than my own (Isaiah 55:9). When I struggled with anxiety and panic attacks, He reminded me that He was my peace and He was never ever leaving me (Isaiah 26:3). When Satan threatened to attack, when I ran out of time to study for my math exam, when everything around me tried to knock me down… God had already won. He is so much bigger than anything I faced this semester and then anything I will ever face. He speaks victory over me, and I get to live in that victory every day for the rest of my life.


Wow, as much as I wanted to share all of this with you guys, it also reminds me of how faithful my God is and makes me realize how much He has brought me through and taught me over these past four months. I can’t wait to take on whatever He has next, however crazy, I know that His grace will be more than sufficient for all of it.

Taryn

His Mercies are new Every Morning

I’m definitely a morning person. I can get up at 5:30 am and be productive (like this morning!), but once about 9 pm hits, I lose any ability to function. Most days, I look forward to going to sleep at night and waking up the next morning to a fresh day — a new start. But some nights, I don’t want to go to sleep, I don’t want to have to wake up and face the daunting day that looms before me.

On those days, I have often fallen into the trap of losing hope — of forgetting that God is sovereign and so, so faithful. I forget the verse that I clung to for all of last year, the verse that gave me a reason to keep persevering when that was the last thing I wanted to do.

“Because of the LORD’s faithful love, we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.” — Lamentations 3:22-23

They are new every morning! That is a reason to rejoice! Every single morning when I wake up, God has new mercy and new strength in store for that day. I don’t have to be strong enough, because He already is! And I don’t have to have the strength to get through tomorrow yet, that is in the future and God will provide what I need when I get there. When I wake up tomorrow, His mercies will be new all over again and then I’ll be able to take on the future, but not yet.

Not only does this bring hope and peace, it gives yet another reason not to worry.

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength — carrying two days at once! It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worry  doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” — Corrie ten Boom

Let me tell you what, I don’t have any abundance of strength to be wasting. I don’t want to waste the strength that God has blessed me with today by worrying about tomorrow. Especially since He says He will take care of it for me.

What is going to happen tomorrow, next week, in the future… we have no control over! Worrying isn’t going to change any of it, but what we can trust is that God will give us the strength for it as we come to it. That He isn’t ever going to leave us out on our own. That no matter how bleak and helpless things look, His power is going to claim the victory. That brings me back to the verse that sparked this whole blogging journey…

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9

That’s more than good enough for me. I don’t have to worry, I get to live without worry knowing that He is abundantly strong and that He is going to take care of me. I get to rely on His new mercies every day, and drown every single day in His sufficient grace. Grace that’s bigger than failures, bigger than weakness and fatigue, and bigger than my extreme senioritis;) Grace in knowing that no matter what happens today, God is still going to be here being faithful tomorrow and it’ll be a new day with new joy in Him to look forward to.

“Weeping may last for a night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” — Psalm 30:5

“Perfect Church Girl” doesn’t exist

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t have my life all together! Not by a long shot. But I definitely fall into the “perfect church kid” stereotype. I’m at the church every time the doors are open, I play in the praise band, I’ve been a camp counselor, I know everyone there and they know me… but none of those things are synonymous with the word “perfect”. I’m really good at putting up facades. I’m really good at faking things. For the first fourteen years of my life, I let everyone believe I really was a pretty great kid. I hid the darkness in my life, and always smiled and knew the Sunday School answers to all the questions. But I was never vulnerable, I never let my guard down and admitted that I was struggling. And after hearing that I was “perfect” one too many times, I started feeling pressure to live up to that. 

My identity became being that “perfect church girl” I felt that was what I was supposed to be. I started believing that anything less was not acceptable. I was completely missing the point though. God doesn’t call us to be perfect through the world’s eyes. He calls us to follow Him. And that means admitting that we are not perfect!! Only in Jesus can we be made righteous. 

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is God’s gift. Not from works, so that no one can boast.” — Ephesians 2:8-9

Now, don’t get me wrong, God does call us to holiness. (Leviticus 20:26) We are called to do our best at everything to do for His glory (1 Corinthians 10:13, Colossians 3:17). But we aren’t doing any of this through our own power. And it’s not about what we do anyway. Being “perfect” isn’t a standard anyone can ever live up to. Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself or anyone else. Even the apostle Paul, who was stoned and persecuted for his faith, declared,

“But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ — the righteousness from God based on faith.” — ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:7-9‬ 

The goal isn’t perfection. “Perfect church girl” doesn’t exist, and it’s not the goal anyway. Don’t put pressure on yourself or anyone else to be that. Instead, focus your energy on following Jesus and living in His righteousness. Be willing to be vulnerable and admit that we aren’t perfect, that’s why we need God’s grace. And thankfully were drowning in His sufficient grace every day of our lives. Grace that covers our failures and shortcomings. Grace that covers all the times we are less than perfect. 

I used to let the fear of other’s opinions paralyze me. I was more worried that I would lose my “perfect” reputation that that I was living less than the abundant life God had planned for me. One night the summer before freshman year, all my facades crumbled. My youth group was on a mission trip, and all of a sudden, I couldn’t hold together my “perfect” image anymore. I made rash decisions that shattered my image and revealed how not together my life really was. I regretted it instantly, but not because I felt guilt for my sin. I regretted that my image and reputation could never be the same again. 

Now, I wish I could go back and not do the mean things I did that night, but God taught me so much through that experience. He taught me that my priorities were all twisted and while I thought I was living all for Him, I was really living all for myself. Living to be “perfect” is our selfish way of trying to win the world’s approval. I am more than guilty of that. But God has been revealing to me for four years now that “perfect” isn’t the goal. Living for Him, and admitting I’m hopeless without Him, acknowledging that I need His help and grace… That’s the goal. 

If I were to walk up to God on judgment day with a scot-free reputation but a dirty heart, He would see right through me. I need Him to cleanse my heart and make me new. And I have to humble myself and admit that my heart is a filthy mess without Him. I may be a “perfect church girl” by stereotype, but I don’t want to be that anymore. That doesn’t even exist. Don’t settle for a label or reputation less than the abundant life God has for you. He urges us to lay everything down before Him and live passionately pursuing Him, that’s how we find abundant life. So I’m laying down my reputation, I’m not going to focus on what others think, I’m going to try to be who God has called me to be and rely on His strength alone. Will you join me?