cropped-cropped-img_0487.jpg

It was towards the end of my junior year of highschool that I really started getting pumped for my senior year. I was over the major hurdles; I had tested well and gotten good grades. All I had left were finals, and the fun was going to begin! Although my junior year had been hard for various reasons, I was convinced that senior year would be different. Everyone around me said, “Megan, this year is YOURS. Do what makes you happy, and make this year all about you.”

I soaked in every word. I was tired of all that highschool had been, and I was ready to indulge myself for just one year. I was ready for a good time.

Although I didn’t notice it at the time, God started falling onto the back burner as this “me” mentality began rooting itself in my mind. I started giving in to little edges of resentment I had towards Him for allowing my junior year to go the way it had gone (when, in reality, I had a very blessed year). On the outside, I was perfectly happy to keep appearances.  I kept my Bible on my desk. I tweeted Bible verses. I went to church. I made everyone else think everything was okay, when in reality it wasn’t.

On April 30th, 2016, I was coming out of one of the roughest weeks I’d had all year. Instead of running to Jesus, I chose to run to my thoughts, to dreams of a better future, and to everything I could find that would distract me from Him. Gritting my teeth, I promised myself that I would have the best senior year any girl could have. It would be MY year. I made my manmade goals my ruler. I set college acceptance letters, scholarships, and grades above everything else and became addicted to analyzing every possible college statistic. Even during this state of mind, I gave a nod to God and mindlessly tweeted Hillsong lyrics from the popular praise song, Oceans. I asked that God would lead me where my trust was “without borders”.

I had no idea that He actually would.

The next day, May 1st, I was in a car accident. I was coming home from church down a small city road, and I drove straight into the back of a small Toyota sedan. The airbag deployed and I immediately went into shock. I couldn’t move. My memory clouded and I couldn’t process what had just happened. My eyes filled with smoke as I started panicking. I vaguely remember a man coming and opening my door, and all I could manage to say was “Please, tell me they’re okay. Are they okay. Are they okay. Are they hurt.”

I remember sitting on the grass median with my head between my knees, tears rolling down my face, knowing that everything was my fault but still blaming God. Even in my rebellion, He brought grace. The couple that I had hit (and given a totaled car) approached me with love, hugs, comfort, grace, and smiles. The young man reminded me of Christ’s forgiveness. Weeks later, I found out that they had not claimed a single thing on our insurance.

In the weeks that followed, I began to realize that no matter how hard I tried to hold circumstances in my hands, I would never be able to make life exactly what I wanted it to be. My dreams of senior year slipped away, unfulfilled. I had totaled my parents’ car. Soon after, circumstances caused me to quit a job that I loved very much. My hope of purchasing a car for myself completely died. July 1st came and went, and I didn’t sign a club soccer contract that I had signed for so many years prior. Over and over again, I asked why. Why would God allow such bad circumstances to pile up so overwhelmingly in my life. A friend told me, “Megan, Jesus is your only answer. You can choose to let circumstances win the war, or you can choose to accept the victory that Jesus has won for you.”

Even as I began to trust Him more, I rested my trust on conditions. I believed that the worst was over – that I had been through “enough”, that things would turn around and my year would still be mine.

As the beginning of the school year rolled closer, I noticed that health issues I had experienced the previous year were beginning to reappear, but this time it was much worse. On July 26th, I went to see my doctor for an annual appointment related to my celiac disease. When the test results rolled in later that week, the answers were not the ones I had hoped for. As days went by, my struggle with sickness became more and more real. Simple tasks became difficult – getting out of bed was monumental. Classes began, and my grades dipped lower than they ever had before. I went to more and more doctor appointments, with few answers. The strength of my medication increased and increased, while the number of foods I could safely eat decreased. My lifestyle changed, my diet changed – everything changed. Everything spiraled out of my control. Senior year slipped away from me, fraught with sickness, stress, and strained relationships. I blamed God bitterly for destroying my picket fence dreams. I will never forget His response.

“Megan, who told you that this year is all about you?”

What?

The castles I had built in my mind started crumbling down. Brick by brick, God tore down the dreams that had me at the center. It was one of the most painful processes I have been through, but also by far the most beautiful. Slowly, I began to notice all of the people around me – the hurting, the alone, the confused people. Even when I was out of physical strength, I discovered that somehow I always had the strength I needed for these people. Lamentations 3:22-23 became a life verse for me.

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

His mercies were truly new each day. I was forced to cling to God’s strength on many mornings when I had none of my own. Interestingly, I discovered that I rarely have the strength I need for my own agenda – but I always have the strength I need to accomplish what God has for me on a daily basis. He filled my heart with faces, the faces of the incredible people He had placed in my life. “Your year is their year, Megan. Lay down your plans and pour into them.”

This may sound unfair. It may sound overly spiritual. It may sound like God is some kind of tyrant who doesn’t want us to be happy and healthy.

It’s not true. Let me tell y’all something – I have found ultimate joy in laying down my dreams for His. When I was focused on my own desires, I could always find something to be unhappy about. Something was always going wrong. But when my heart was tuned to God’s song, I found myself dancing through even the darkest times this semester brought. I rejoiced in what my Savior can do, not what I can do. Instead of complaining about what I didn’t have, what was missing from my picture of a senior year…the simplest things became the sweetest of treasures. The smile on my mom’s face, a sweet cup of boba tea, a warm ray of sunshine in November. These things are worth thanking God for. When my eyes were on the storm, I missed all of these blessings. When my eyes shifted to Him, I was able to clearly see the abundance of gifts He had provided me with.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no shadow or variation of turning.” {James 1:17}

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” {John 10:10}

God wants us to live an abundant life. A “life to the full”.  This semester has taught me the most interesting thing about that – the more I pour into my cup, the emptier it seems. But when I pour and pour into others, my cup has never been fuller. I think this is Jesus logic and I love it 🙂

To those with senior year approaching anytime in the near future – plan. Plans aren’t bad. But be ready to plan with open hands and an open heart. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are higher than our ways. He may take you a place that surprises you. He may take you through the fire when you least expect it. When He does, though, remember that He never leaves us alone, and that His promises are TRUE. I encourage you to stay faithful in the small things you have in front of you, and you will be blown away by how the Lord demonstrates His faithfulness to you. Remember also that, no matter how much the enemy tries to steal your joy, you CAN have joy. The joy of the Lord surpasses any circumstance, and the joy of the Lord will be your strength. Here’s a couple of the promises I have held to this semester.

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” {Psalm 37:4-5}

“I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, am the God of Israel.” {Isaiah 45:3}

So, this Thanksgiving, I’m saying no to my circumstances. I’m saying no to sickness, to anxiety, to broken relationships, to despair. These things all have won battles that I’ve allowed them to win. But I refuse to let them win the war. Jesus went to the cross to get victory for us. This Thanksgiving, my circumstances will not determine my measure of praise – my measure of praise will determine my perspective. I kept waiting for my situation to change, when all I needed was a perspective change.

Today, right where I am, I declare that God is good.

I hope that today, wherever you are, you can say the same.

Love, Meg

P.s. Some of my friends reading may not have heard about my “illness” so I want to clarify – I’m okay, it has been a struggle, and I am still unsure of the causes. However, I’m on a better trend than I was on a few months ago. It comes and goes in somewhat unpredictable waves. Because of that, there are many times when I’m able to operate normally, and there are other times when I’m not able to do as much as I usually would be able to. In any case, I would love any and all prayers! Love y’all!

Advertisements