When God Says Yes

Cover of "Yes"

Cover of Yes

I focus a lot on God’s “no”s.

No, Sara, you will not be a youth minister this year.

No, Sara, you will not date that boy.

No, Sara, you will not get down to your goal weight in one year.

 

It frustrates me when God says “no.”  I get confused. Each time I am always so certain that I am doing God’s will.  And when that “no” comes, it’s like a kick to the face.  Nos are awful.  Nos can easily send a girl into a downward spiral of despair.  Nos cause temper tantrums resulting in overturned bookcases and countless awkward stares from passersby.   It seems like Christian mentality focuses on this element of suffering, and where is God in this suffering, and how will we become stronger as we walk through the fire.

But what about those times where God lets us have what we want?  What about those times where God says yes?

Those times are tricky.  I think a lot of times we just kind of ignore God’s involvement in the yes.  We forget how God has blessed us out of God’s love for us.  We would rather think about how God totally hates us because we’re such screw ups and he’s going to punish us for the rest of our lives by denying everything that makes us happy and instead watch us suffer like the mean-kid-on-an-anthill-with-a-magnifying-glass-on-a-hot-sunny-day-he is.  I know I do.  I think it is so easy for me to fall into woe and despair.  It is easy for me to blame my unhappiness on God.  It is easier for me to blame my unhappiness on myself and my shortcomings.

But what about when God says yes?  What about those times when our dreams are coming true?

I know you are probably sitting there thinking, Duh, Sara.  You celebrate. But today I realized that God’s yes can be even more terrifying than his no.

You see, last Friday I was told that there was no placement match for me at JVC.  I was extremely bummed about this… it ruined my entire weekend and really made everything that much more sad.  I was so mad at God that I broke my Lenten promise just to spite him, I started to browse for other jobs, and started to apply for a different year of service on the opposite side of the country I had been otherwise focusing on.  It seemed like God would always say no… that I would never be happy… that I didn’t deserve to be happy.

And then today I opened my email and found one that read, Congratulations!  Placement offer! It wasn’t my first choice of placement… but it was the one where I remember feeling like I got along with my interviewers the best.  It is for a volunteer and guest coordinator position at a soup kitchen based out of New York, which is where I would never in a million years imagine myself being at any point in my life.  I am totally doubting myself now that I got picked for it.  I’m just afraid that I am not going to be what they expect, and I am not going to do the job perfect enough.  Now that I have this yes… I feel so much more pressure to not screw it up.

I think the scariest part of this “yes” is that it actually is going to make me move in a direction, rather than sit there and wallow.  As much as I hate wallowing, its become so usual that its almost like an old friend.  But now I can’t do that.  Now I have to go out and do what I have been dying to do–make a real difference.  Start making the world a little better than it was yesterday.  Provide for others their most basic needs and treat them with the love and dignity they deserve.  Let my passion for social justice breathe and burn.

This yes is a challenge, and I know that God expects a lot from me if he is willing to say yes.  I know that these yeses are rare.  This yes requires a lot of trust in a lot of different ways.  And God wouldn’t say yes unless I was ready.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Used by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inaugural speech

 

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God Sightings!

Icon of the Transfiguration by Theophanes the ...

Image via Wikipedia

I have not posted anything in a couple days, and for that, I apologize.  In my defense, my dad messed up the internet and I have not been able to get on the computer that is hard-wired to the internet because it is in my parent’s room and they go to bed while the sun is still up.

So here are some “God Sightings” that I’ve had these past couples days:

1) Mom and I went downtown on Wednesday because she had jury duty and I wanted a vacation from my house/give her moral support.  On the way back to the train station, we stopped by a church to say hi to Jesus for a little bit.  About five minutes in (and some random whispered side-conversations later), I noticed the monstrance, and suddenly it clicked that we were literally in the presence of Jesus, and I suddenly felt all nervous and stuff because I found myself in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and had been making all that noise with Mom.  It made me think, though, about all those times I don’t realize how THERE God IS.  God sometimes likes to hide right in front of my face, in plain sight.  Sometimes I’m just the one whose eyes aren’t open all the way.  Intriguing indeed.

2) Earlier in the day, one of my best friends was telling me a story about a vision she had in Alabama. Of course I believed that she saw it, but also believed she was a little whackadoodle in the noggin, because well, God has never spoken to me in such a crazy amazing way, and if it hasn’t happened to me, then it isn’t possible, of course.  Later in the evening I went to my young adult group at my church and we talked about the transfiguration of the Lord (where Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the mountain and got really glowy and God said “This is my son! Right here! Do you see him?? Do you need a brick to fall on your heads??”).  We were talking about why it is that God chose to reveal Jesus as his Son in such a magnificent way to only 3 people… why not to everybody?  Or why did Jesus insist on keeping it a secret?  And then I thought about the story that my BFF told me, and how I thought she was crazy.  If Peter, James, or John came up to me and said, “Jesus started to glow like he had some bad skin condition and we were really worried at first until we heard a voice from Heaven and saw Moses and Elijah, all of whom said it was okay, it just meant that Jesus is the Messiah,” I would probably say the same thing I said to my friend… that I believed she saw it, but also that she was crazy.  So perhaps Jesus will reveal himself in the way we will understand the best… whether its via the quiet peace in our hearts or a brick falling on our heads.

3) Last night I received a very disheartening email from my JVC rep saying that none of my potential placements were a match for me.  I felt my heart break, my eyes broke and tears kept leaking out, and I felt those familiar feelings of a hopeless future start to seep in again.  But then, clear as crystal, I heard in my heart the verse that gave me the strength to survive college.  For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  Plans for your welfare, not for your woe. Plans for a future full of hope.  (Jeremiah 29:11).  Those three placements I interviewed for obviously sucked for me.  There’s somewhere better. Or God is a sick, sick man. I’m hoping for the former.

4) I got this amazing massage today.  I literally feel like a brand new woman.  If you do not believe heaven is a place on earth, then you have clearly not received a professional massage.

There are my ‘God sightings.’  Hopefully it’ll appease you until the next time I am able to post… whenever that will be. 

And hopefully you will be able to find God hiding in plain sight this week, too. 🙂