So this might come out as a bunch of rambled up, disjointed, incoherent words thrown together but, hey, at least they’re coming out. I’ve realized lately that writing (even if it’s not polished or very articulate) is not only a way for me to process things God reveals to me but also stirs my affections for Him more. If something stirs up my affections for sweet Jesus then I want to surround myself with it. Do it all the time, sort a thing. Because Jesus is worth my affections and my love. All of it, all the time.
Today, I was in a “funk” as I like to call it. I tend to just pile up all my days full of moodiness, unexplainable sadness, loneliness, basically any emotion that’s not happiness and dump them into the same category of a “funk”. I know that I have every reason to be joyful. And, really, every single day, in the depths of my heart I am joyful because my source of joy is unchanging, ever-present and nothing can separate me from Him. But, still, that doesn’t mean I’m always happy.
So, anyway, back to my little “funk” today. For some reason, for the past few days I’ve had an overwhelming yearning to grab my camera and take pictures. Of course, when the sun peeked it’s head out today and showered some love on all the students at UNL, I couldn’t resist the urge to run to my room before I went to the coffeehouse to study and grab my precious little canon baby. As I was flowing down the sidewalk toward downtown, I realized my steps were a bit lighter than before. I gripped my camera strap and proudly beamed to myself, feeling a little more secure, a little bit more like myself. I thought, you know what, I don’t even care if I take pictures today, it just feels nice to have my camera close to my body for the first time in weeks. I feel like the definition of who Sarah Stirling is holds a little more meaning now. The weight of the familiar camera, the strap heavy against my shoulder seems to connect all my body parts closer than before so I resemble more of a person. And not just any person, but me. WHAT?!?! I almost stopped in my tracks as these thoughts came colliding, crashing, swirling in. If I had been nodding my head in agreement with them before, now I would have been shaking my head ferociously. Sarah, this is your problem!! No wonder you’re in a funk, girl! You’re doing it again, you’re basing who you are, finding your comfort in the things that you DO. Ugh. It’s so funny (quick pause for picture time!)
because I seriously think all of my life’s problems (okay not always problems, sometimes just silly things that upset me) revolve around about 2 things…usually my pride, or my struggle with identity (and granted, all of it really stems from my selfishness, my natural tendency to put myself at the center instead of God) When I think I’ve “fixed” the problem, when I’ve brought it to Jesus and we’ve worked it out and He starts chipping more of those sins away, aha! they slowly creep in again. And it usually takes me awhile to recognize what’s wrong. I’m going going going but then, because if I’m not constantly rooted in Jesus, making a conscious decision to choose Him every day, then the real me, all my earthly desires, selfish motives, and lack of assurance of who I am in Christ, starts to dominate. It’s ugly. And it produces this weird funk.
SO, as the day has gone on and I’ve been able to venture on up to the top of the parking garage, take a quick trip in my car, and sit in the exact center of the granny rug in my room (3 of my favorite places to think I’ve decided) I’ve processed through some of what I’m feeling and what God is showing me through my somber mood lately.
I’ve been fixated a lot recently on the idea of being unique. I am constantly trying to uniqueify (not a word but in this case, to bring uniqueness to oneself) myself by dressing a certain way, developing certain skills such as photography, trying to come up with genious, brilliant ideas and express them to the people around me. I’ve been dwelling on what my major will be, what my passions in life are, what gifts I possess. But, to justify all these things, instead of just thinking about them in terms of myself, I’ve sweetly sugar-coated them with a layer of….I want to use this uniqueness to glorify God. Psssh. What does this even mean?! Oftentimes, when I think of bringing glory to God I think of lots of people noticing, I think of world-renowned prizes for my pictures or tons of popularity because the more people know and recognize my talents, the more glory God will have right? Eehhhh… maybe not. Jesus commands my love. Not my uniqueness. I need to re-evauate my conception of bringing glory to God. If He tells me to love Him with all my heart, souI, and mind as the first commandment, and also tells me to seek His Kingdom and righteous above anything else, I don’t think my gaining a bunch of fans for myself, will satisfy His heart’s longings. I think we need to glorify God in our hearts before we can glorify Him in the world. Glorifying Him in the world comes from first glorifying Him in our hearts. Instead of focusing on producing fruit or loving other people (glorifying Him in the world) we need to first seek intimacy with Him and ask Him to show us how to love Him more (glorifying Him in our heart). I looked up the definition of glory and this one caught my eye: adoration, praise, and thanksgiving offered in worship. God made me the way He made me not so I can show off my talents to people under the guise that I’m doing it for God’s glory, but so that in the deepest depths of my heart I can worship and adore and stand in awe and revel in and seek and cherish and treasure and delight and love Him. Everything I do- whether it be photography, writing, or even telling people about Jesus, should be to bring more praise, more glory to my Savior. To whisper directly from my heart to His, Jesus, I love you so much that I find joy in doing things with the sole purpose of worshipping and praising You. That is my single aim in life, Jesus. Simply to seek Your face. To seek intimacy with You. To love You all the days of my life.
With this being said, we should still totally rejoice in our uniqueness. But not in a way that turns into basking in self gratification and our own glorification. A couple weeks ago a few other friends and I were praying for an unreached people group. One woman that I really look up to prayed such a beautiful prayer. She just poured her heart out to God. During her heart-to-heart with Jesus, one thing in particular really struck me- she praised Jesus for making this unreached people group in a way so that they can uniquely bring praise to Him. She thanked Him that their language, their culture, their everything was made so that they can praise Jesus like no other people in the world can. He designed each of our hearts to love Him in an absolutely unique way. A way that no one else can replicate. Or replace.
One last thing (I know this is getting super long) I read this the other day and it struck me as beautiful. Each of us has the potential of being a vast reservoir from which God could receive eternal pleasure. Wow, to think, our hearts are a vast reservoir from which God receives eternal pleasure. I have never thought of it in that way. Sometimes, it’s easy to think my love doesn’t mean anything to Jesus. But Jesus really does want our love. Desperately. Of course, he doesn’t need it, but why would we ever doubt the fact or be upset with the fact that He desires love. It doesn’t make Him selfish or self-seeking. Not at all! He is completely and utterly worthy of all the love in the world. And, it’s totally for our sake too, because loving Jesus is what brings our hearts the only true satisfaction and fulfillment. As C.S. Lewis said, Jesus doesn’t want anything from us, He just wants us. Meaning, He wants Sarah Marlene Stirling. He wants you. Whatever talents, whatever quirks, whatever characteristics, whatever gifts I have should only be used as a means to love Him. To present myself to Him, a sacrifice that boldly and passionately screams, I give up everything to you Jesus. I will do anything for you. I will obey whatever you ask of me. I will love You (love as a verb) because I am IN love with You (captivated and wooed to You because of the unconditional love you pour out on me). Because I am madly deeply utterly in love with you.