Will It Ever Be Enough??

I’m really good at playing the Thanksgiving game.

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“What are you thankful for?”
God, family, friends, health, education…
*10 minutes later*
Making my Christmas list, complaining that the wifi is slow, asking if we seriously ran out of milk. 

—-
Wow. We laugh it off by calling them “first world problems” and attempting to justify our lack of thankfulness. But changing how we label it doesn’t change what it is.
Discontentment.

Selfishness.

Entitlement.

I like the idea and thought behind Thanksgiving. I’ve written posts in the past about thankfulness and choosing to have joy which I still completely agree with. But a fault I’ve started recognizing in myself is that I tend to convince myself I’m “being thankful” when in actuality, my heart is far from it.

“In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content. Whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” — Philippians 4:12 (HCSB)

Contentment. Joyful contentment. I think that’s the key. Not just being thankful for what we have, but letting that be enough. Not pining after or basing our happiness on what is next, on what will satisfy our earthly longings for one more day. But rather digging wholeheartedly into our Savior who is more than enough for us.

This world will never be enough.

All things are wearisome; man is unable to speak. The eye is not satisfied by seeing or the ear filled with hearing.” — Ecclesiastes 1:8 (HCSB)

I like to convince myself that I am being thankful, I can make my list of things I’m thankful for a mile long, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. Honestly, it helps my attitude a lot to think about things I am grateful for. But I have let it become a ritual an routine and the true joy and contentment that I am supposed to have in Christ has faded into extinction. I am often “thankful” because I am supposed to be, all the while taking for granted all that I have and all that God has blessed me with.

What kind of message is that sending to God and to this world?

God, You aren’t enough. You sent Your Son to be brutally killed for my sake even though I could never deserve it. You have gifted me with life and loving family and friends around me. BUT that’s not enough. I want more. I think I deserve more. Can’t you just make my life easy?

Wow. I would never verbalize it in that fashion, but is that not what I’m saying? I wouldn’t ever want to be that way. I wouldn’t ever want to be that selfish and shallow. And yet I am and I’m not even noticing it because I am still “being thankful”.

“And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.” — Colossians 3:15 (HCSB)

As long as I keep living with fake gratitude, I will never think anything is enough. I will always feel entitlement and contempt. But God has already provided so much more than enough. His gifts, are more than I could ever need. His faithfulness is everlasting. I want to start living in recognition of that. I want to live in recognition of the fact that I do have enough, and I want to live consciously in awe and amazement of what my Savior did for me. Because that… is so much more than enough. And that’s what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving.

 

— Taryn

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Adventure Is Out There!

“Adventure is out there!”

Pixar’s Up is one of the most emotional children’s movies I have ever seen. But this line never came across as one of the heavier parts until I was thinking through this blog post this week. First off, I am stubbornly and adamantly against change, or at least, I used to be. I like plans and order and consistency, but life with Jesus is an adventure, and when I stopped fighting it so much, I started learning to love the adventure, even when I can’t see the road ahead.

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My best friend embodies an adventurous spirit, and travel excites her like nothing else. I have always been hesitant to try anything new and instead have been perfectly content staying right here at home. It’s taken years of prodding for her to convince me that some trips might be fun… and may even be convincing me to travel out of the country! But regardless of how much I do or don’t travel in my life, I have plenty of adventures to experience right here and I don’t want to be afraid of them or take them for granted anymore. She hasn’t taught me to love travel as much as to be ready for any and every adventure that life has in story, scary or not. 

Five weeks ago, I started my first semester of college classes, and I absolutely love them so far! The immersion into new ideas and experiences sparks passion inside of me. I have a burning desire to learn and absorb information — and I am getting excited about things that I never would have imagined enjoying . My favorite two classes are Government and Business Law and reading old court cases can now intrigue me for hours! All of these new classes and opportunities have made the past month of my life an adventure to say the least, and I wouldn’t exchange it for anything! I was scared of it a month ago, the large campus with tens of thousands of people seemed daunting, but I’ve enjoyed it so much!

When I look forward, adventure scares me to death, but looking back, I can’t pinpoint a bad adventure, only good ones. I don’t regret the risks I’ve taken, the new things I’ve tried, the passions I’ve pursued, they’ve been some of the best and most monumental parts of my life… and they have made me who I am today.

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God didn’t call us to a life of comfort filled with what is expected or usual. The disciples are described as immediately leaving everything to follow Jesus. Leaving their families, their jobs, their livelihoods… To take on the adventure of a lifetime. They didn’t know where they were going, they certainly didn’t know the whirlwind that would be their next three years, but they said yes to the opportunity of a lifetime. 

Can you imagine saying no to that? It might not have seemed like a big deal to stick with being a fisherman rather than following a carpenter you had never met. But can you imagine looking back three years later at what you had missed? I wouldn’t ever want to look back and regret missing an adventure with Jesus. He’s brought me safe this far, and I know that His faithfulness is never going cease. 

So honestly, I can’t rightfully say that I don’t like adventure. Does it scare me? Absolutely! But is it worth it? Every time. I have one life on this earth to live for Jesus, so I want to take advantage of every opportunity that He places in front of me and embrace all of the adventure that is out there!

— Taryn

Related Posts:

Take the First Step

Just Keep Walking

 

Joy is a Choice

What is joy? We probably all have a pretty good idea already, but humor me for a minute. 

The Bible has “The Love Chapter” (1 Corinthians 13) that lays out plenty of love is… statements. 

There’s also “The Faith Chapter” (Hebrews 11) that starts with “Now faith is…” 

But the Bible doesn’t lay out what joy is that plainly!! I’ve always known that joy is a deeper sense of happiness, knowing that God is taking care of me… but it wasn’t until recently that I learned what joy in my own life really looks like.

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I distinctly remember a conversation I had with my youth minister last summer at church camp. I was miserable. I didn’t feel one ounce of joy, and I felt completely empty. I believed in God, I didn’t doubt that for a second, but aren’t Christians supposed to have joy? I was filled with guilt because I believed I was an awful Christian if I was incapable of having joy in my Savior. 

I remember him telling me that we don’t always feel joy. Then he prayed over me, and that was such a special and touching experience to me, but still, the weight of his words didn’t hit me. 

Joy is not a feeling!! I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that, but now the truth is right in front of me. 

Joy is knowing that God is control. Resting in the love and peace that He provides and choosing to let that be enough. 

“The joy of the LORD is your strength” — Nehemiah 8:10

Joy isn’t a feeling, but choosing to have joy often does fill me with peace and a feeling and sense of excitement, knowing that God is so faithful. It strengthens me and fills me, but how do I make sure I have joy?

Joy is a choice. I get to wake up in the morning and choose to remember that God is control. Choose to rely on His faithfulness. Choose to let that be more than enough, and then that joy really does start to strengthen me. 

Some days, choosing joy is easy. But some days, it takes a conscious, concerted effort. One thing I’ve really enjoyed doing in 2016 is keeping a “happy journal”

 This journal was started as a project based on Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts”. It’s just a simple list of things that make me smile in a day. For example:

  1. Having a great hair day
  2. Understanding the physics chapter
  3. Sweet texts from sweeter friends

It may seem small and insignificant, but choosing to be thankful, choosing to recognize God’s provison, choosing joy really does make a big difference. I have so many reasons to be thankful and constantly staying aware of them keeps my perspective right and makes life so much sweeter. 

Christians are called to have joy, but not to “feel” joy. I’m going to make this year about choosing joy deliberately. Will you join me?

“Rejoice in the LORD always, I will say it again: Rejoice!” — Philipians 4:4

When Dreams Die

I laid on my bed sobbing uncontrollably. I’m generally an emotional person, but this was different. It felt like my life, my identity, my future, was all gone, and I didn’t have a clue how to get back up and keep going. Mononucleosis had been relentlessly ravaging my body for nearly a year. I spent that year fighting with every ounce of strength that I had. I didn’t take “no” for an answer and saw taking time to rest as failure. But at long last, it all caught up to me. I am not a superhero and I don’t have control over everything. —-

I started taking piano lessons when I was eight. I have an unmatched passion for music — every aspect of it. It is a vessel that God uses to bring me immense joy. I knew from the time that I was eight that playing piano, being involved in music in whatever capacity possible, was my dream. The May of my first year playing, I witnessed my first Senior Recital. I beheld the seniors playing as unobtainable, as perfect, as my life goal and dream. And I set out to make that dream a reality.

I was never a naturally gifted pianist. There’s things I’m good at, such as memorizing songs, or picking things out by ear, but technique was never my strong point. I practiced twice as long as it should have take before I could learn some basic things, but it was more than worth it to me. I set crazily high expectations for myself, and did absolutely whatever it took to achieve them. That taught me discipline, perseverance, and hard work that have stuck with me through all of my life.

By my freshman year of high school, I was practicing for about two hours a day, and starting to consider pursuing music as my college major and career one day. I talked with my teacher about what that would take, and was willing to do it. Anything to achieve my dream. That year I also got to know another senior pianist that reinvigorated my passion to be able to play like he could. I was willing to push myself to even more hours, even harder music… Anything. I had intense back pain, but I fought through it, all the while believing I could do anything with enough hard work.

Fast forward to fall of my junior year. I contracted mononucleosis in August, but thought that maybe I was just extra tired because of school starting and so I didn’t go to the doctor. By the time I finally went to the doctor three months later, I was beaten to a pulp. My body could hardly handle going to school in the mornings, much less practicing piano for several hours a day. I fought the impeding verdict for an entire year. Each day straining myself to practice as long as possible, but it was never enough. By last summer, the summer before my senior year, God made the truth painfully clear.

My dream of having a senior recital was over. My dream of a piano performance major was over. There was physically no way my body could withstand that kind of pressure and commitment. My dream that I had striven after for nine years seemed pointless. It seemed wasted. Why would God have let me spend thousands of hours doing something that was going to end in what I considered failure?

Slowly but surely, God began chipping down my walls of bitterness. He began revealing to me that my dream might be dead, but it wasn’t wasted. Spending so many years working so hard towards a goal taught me perseverance, taught me hard work, and taught me discipline. I learned to work with other musicians, and at the root of it all, I spent thousands of hours doing something I love. Those hours weren’t wasted. There were hard days, sure, when the last thing I wanted to do was practice. There were songs I despised playing. But there were so many more good days. So many more times that music was my therapy. So many more songs that I loved playing.

Music and piano are gifts God has given me. His intention wasn’t necessarily for me to use them as my career, but that’s okay. His intention was to bless me, and also to enable me to serve Him through something that I love. I’m never going to stop playing in whatever capacity God allows me to. I play for church, I play for fun, rarely does a day go by that I don’t sit down and play just because it makes me happy. My dream may have died when I realized I couldn’t have a Senior Recital or a Piano Performance degree, but my dream was not wasted. I don’t know exactly where my future leads now, but I’m confident that He does, and that’s more than enough for me.

I’m a Social Media Hypocrite

I’m a social media hypocrite. If you were to scroll through my Instagram feed for the past several months, you’d think my life was all sunshine and rainbows. In a way, I’ve led you to believe that. And that’s a blatant lie. Now, don’t get me wrong, life is great. God is good, and those church events, concerts, and vacations really did happen. But so did a lot of other things. Scrolling through the pictures I’ve handpicked to put up on social media, you see highlights. You see good days. You see me trying to convince the rest of the world, and in turn myself, that life is great and that I’m content and joyful.
But there’s a lot you don’t see. You don’t see how exhausted and physically drained that great day made me. You don’t see that I couldn’t get out of bed for two days afterwards because I was so sick. No one knows that when I post happy throwback pictures, it’s because I’m trying to boost my own shattered self confidence and there’s not any current pictures on my phone. My feed doesn’t tell of the broken hearts, the hopeless doctors’ verdicts, or the anxiety attacks. No mention is made of rude customers at work, of failed Calculus tests, or of feeling isolated and alone.
Now I’m not saying this is wrong, I don’t think we have to, or necessarily should post all of our woes on the internet. I don’t think that would help much of anything, and frankly, I’m not too keen on sharing my hard days with a couple hundred people. But the problem is this — we are ALL social media hypocrites. Far too often, we forget that crucial fact.

“The reason why we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” — Steven Furtick

All I see of other people’s lives, is what they want me to see, what they choose to put out there, what makes them feel good about themselves. But what do I see of myself? I see every failure. I see every hard day. I see every headache and tear and insult. And I fall into the trap of comparison. I fall into the clutches of the nasty monster that is self pity. I start complaining and cease to be content with the life God has blessed me with.

Life is hard for everyone. Just because they put up a smiling picture doesn’t mean life is perfect or that they’re not hurting inside. We can’t take social media at face value anymore. All that’s doing is sparking envy, causing us to think we want what others have. Thinking we want their lives, when in actuality, we probably don’t. God has specifically equipped each person with the strength to take on the challenges He knows are in front of them. I’m not made to live your life and you’re not made to live mine. Instead of saying “oh poor me, I’m at home alone while so and so is out having fun with friends” we have to learn to be content with our own lives knowing that no one lives a picture perfect life.

“Keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”” — Hebrews 13:5

I’m a social media hypocrite. And that’s okay. It’s fine that I pick and choose what parts of my life to broadcast to the world. As long as I realize that everyone is doing this. As long as I don’t compare the hidden parts of my life to the highlighted parts of someone else’s. Remember that the next time you scroll through social media. And remember that it’s more than enough to know that God will NEVER leave not forsake us. And then maybe, just maybe, we can put social media in its place and learn to be content and joyful with all that God has blessed us with.

It’s okay NOT to be okay

 

 

 

“Hold it all together, everybody needs you strong…”

 

These are the opening lines to one of my favorite songs “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns. Honestly, that’s how I feel about life most of the time. Like I’m not allowed to fall apart, I have too many people counting on me. I need to be a good sister, daughter, employee, friend, band member, student, and so many other things… All while having a smile plastered on my face because as a Christian, I’m supposed I be joyful. But you know what? Sometimes I don’t feel very joyful. Sometimes I’m falling apart on the inside, and sometimes, I don’t have the strength to fake it one second longer. As the next line of the song says

“But life hits you out of nowhere, and barely leaves you holding on”

Sometimes, God is calling us to put on a smile and keep going. And I’m not saying that we should make our life into a pity party. But it is okay to admit you’re struggling. It’s okay to
need help. To need rest. Some nights, it really is okay to need to scoop a bowl of Blue Bell and collapse in bed at 7pm. And some days, it’s okay to not be the strong one and instead admit that you’re hurting. To ask for help and prayer and let down the facades for a while. It can be tough to be vulnerable, and it’s easy to feel like that’s weakness. Like we’re not supposed to let ourselves have problems. Like we’re supposed to push through and not let them bother us. But that’s definitely not the case.

Throughout the first half of my junior year of high school, I was extremely sick with mononucleosis. It should have put me out of commission, but I didn’t want to let it. I wanted to prove that I could keep working, keep going to school, keep playing in the praise band… But in reality, I couldn’t. And although I though I was “being strong” and “being a fighter” I was actually hurting myself all the more. It took hitting rock bottom where I could barely climb out of bed to be willing to admit I wasn’t okay. To be willing to ask for time off work. To be willing to tell my friends I was the furthest thing from okay. And you know what? Sometimes that’s okay.

Sometimes I still have awful days. Whether it’s physically, emotionally, or some crazy combination of the two, there’s days I need some extra grace. And that’s okay. You don’t have to pretend you have everything together, no one does. Some days you’re going to need a nap, and you know what, God knows that. He made us to need rest, and He’s going to keep being faithful when we take some. Be willing to take that first step, admit you can’t do it anymore and fall on His grace, I promise it’s more than sufficient.

“When you’re tired of fighting, chained by your control, there’s freedom in surrender, lay it down and let it go”