When You Feel God Has Failed You

There have been moments in my life where I have felt that God has failed me.

Maybe my prayers weren’t being answered the way I thought I needed, or I wasn’t seeing His promises being fulfilled in my life based on what I saw. Recently, I’ve allowed my surroundings to depict the truth about God’s love for me.

One day last week, I sat down to read my devotion from First5. And man, was it a good word.

It was based on Numbers 30, where Moses is addressing Israel’s leaders on the importance of vows – vows they made to God, more specifically.

“When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.” – Numbers 30:2

Now, I don’t know about you, but I take wedding vows super serious, despite the tendency of our society to throw them out the window pretty easily. Also, the fact that I’m getting married in 5 days (swoon) makes this vow subject a little more dear to my heart.

When I marry my best friend on Saturday, I will make vows to him in front of my closest friends and family. I will state promises complimenting the covenant I am choosing to make to him and to our Heavenly Father.

In the same way I will say those vows this weekend, I also made vows to God when I professed Him as my Lord in front of a body of believers. Do you remember that moment, when God saved you? So energizing, so refreshing, so new and exciting that no moment could even compare.

I’m afraid that sometimes our focus drifts and we become more focused on ourselves and our circumstances than on Heaven. Our newness of life wears away and our fire is dimmed – so we begin to engage in a lifeless and repetitive cycle of a request-filled relationship with our Father. If we don’t intentionally remain connected, our vows become duties or a checklist we become too tired to mark off.

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Image downloaded from First5 App.

Will you join me in asking yourself some questions and giving yourself honest answers?

What are some vows you believe we make to God when we choose Him as our Lord and Savior? Write these down.

Do you believe you are fulfilling these vows in your every day life? If so, how? If not, what are some practical actions steps you could take to do so?

When was the last time you were excited to fulfill your vows to God?

I’ve seen in myself that when I am not intentionally committed and fulfilling my promises to the Lord, those are the times I tend to believe God is not fulfilling His promises to me. Could it be that God has not failed us, but is waiting on us to take the relationship more seriously? How do we expect God to honor and bless us when we so easily neglect our commitment to Him in big and small ways?

Let’s choose to believe that, despite our surroundings, God is good. Because He is. He always sees us, always loves us, and is always after our heart. But He will not push Himself on us. He’s already chosen us, we must choose Him back – day after day.

Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day.

– Psalm 61:8

I don’t have to sink.

I stood there as firm as I could in the sand, feeling the waves crash over my feet one by one. At first, the water took away my foundation and then, a few waves in, I began to sink.

I like to play this game when the beach is within reach. I stand there for a while and see just how long I can make it without sinking.

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This time it brought me to a moment with God.

This year has been my hardest so far I do believe. Has it been wonderful? Absolutely, yes. But mentally and emotionally, it’s been rough. The waves of my mental disorder have threatened to leave me without assurance, without peace, without foundation.

Somewhere along my struggle, I began to sink. I wasn’t in community with my people, I shut truth out because I didn’t see evidence of it, and I stopped chasing after God. I asked the popular question “why?” and became more and more frustrated at His silence. I still don’t have answers and I don’t know that I ever will.

All I know is that I can’t conquer the waves. As long as I’m standing in the sand – the only foundation I can build myself – and tackle the currents alone, I will sink.

God is the only foundation on which I can stand tall and free.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” – Matthew 7:24-27

Wait For Him

I write to you today feeling so underserving of what I’m about to describe.

He is kind. He is unbelievably loving. He gives grace more times than I can count. He holds my hand when I’m afraid. He is strong in his faith and grounds me when I’m shaky with anxiety. He is trustworthy. He is generous. He is wonderful. He is imperfect, yes, but loves me so well. He is protective. He is encouraging. He is careful with my heart. He is patient. He reminds me how to have fun. He cherishes me and rejoices in every facet of my weirdness. He is handsome- inside and out. Most importantly, I see Jesus in him every day. He isn’t everything I always wanted; he is better.


Hey lady? Wait for this.

Years upon years I struggled with being single, not understanding why God was waiting to give me my heart’s desire. I look at Tyler and I know why.

I look back at our time together and our lives before it and I see so clearly God’s orchestration and purpose. He knit our stories together so intentionally and beautifully.

In April of 2015 I remember telling God that I would be single for life if that’s what He wanted. I wouldn’t promise to like it, but I would do it.

May of 2015, Tyler came back into my life.

Please don’t hear me say that if you take certain steps you’ll get certain results. But I pray you hear so clearly that God desires to provide what you need. Pray for patience, talk to Him when you get angry and tired of waiting, and press into Him when you are overwhelmed with the limitations of your own understanding.

He has fulfilled promises for you up ahead, girl. Believe it in your heart more than you know it in your head.

You can see our full story here.

For When You’re Tired of Waiting

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Campus is quiet.

It’s that time between the conclusion of classes and the beginning of finals – the time of preparation and waiting. The time when the fear of the unknowns creeps in and the anxiety washes over.

I think the part that looms amongst us the most is the waiting.

Sometimes life is like that.

There are times when we feel we have all the answers and unfortunately realize we don’t. There are times when we feel prepared for the next step and feel peace that we’ve done all we can for God’s next step for us. And then there are times when God has given us a sort of study guide – a point of direction to where we’re headed – but not all the answers. And we’re in a time of waiting.

Much like the sidewalks of this small place where I’ve lived and learned, we get really quiet. We become inner focused. We get lost in the limitations of our own minds and fail to  remain gripped on the bigger picture.

Wherever you are today, whether you feel guided, lost, or in a time of waiting, God sees you. He’s not surprised at your emotions, your fears, or your questions. In fact, He wants you to talk to Him about them. He wants you to come to Him so He can restore your strength, your hope, your joy.

He knows your tomorrow and He’s already there. Let’s choose to trust Him. He’s working it all out for our good. And even if it doesn’t look like we hoped it would, it’s not even about us. It’s about Him.

Focus on the bigger picture. We don’t live for life on Earth. We live for Heaven.

“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” – 2 Corinthians 4:18, NLT

 

Sabbath :: What it Means

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I’ve never been a runner.

However, my mind and my heart constantly run faster and faster all day until my head finally hits the pillow at night. Sometimes so fast my energy just can’t keep up.

I don’t know about you, but more days than not I am exhausted from my heart of hurry.

Life is busy and, especially during the school year, I have to literally write time in my planner to do nothing. I realize how sad this is.

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Growing up in church, I’d always heard the word “sabbath” but always just thought it was another word for “Sunday”. What’s funny is that it literally translates to “Saturday”, so the only definition I actually had of it was wrong.

Maybe you’re in the same boat and are curious about what sabbath really means. And, my friend, I am so excited to tell you.

Sabbath is beautiful. Sabbath is freeing. Sabbath is needed. Sabbath is essential. Sabbath is important, crucial, commanded even.

Let me list for you three reasons why I love sabbath-ing, and then give you some practical ways I live out this commandment.

The Principle

Obedience: It takes being obedient to enter rest, being that it is something we do not fully always want to do or feel like we have to do. We get to the end of the week and see all that is still to be done ahead and convince ourselves that rest isn’t an option. But the beautiful thing about obedience here, or anywhere with God, is that when we choose to obey, He blesses us. When He sees that our heart is yearning for His, He finds favor in us. This command is for our benefit, for our freedom from anxiety and worry, and for the benefit of our relationship with God.

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” – Isaiah 58:13-14

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” -Hebrews 4:9-11

Refocus. In Pastor Chris Hodges’s book, Fresh Air, he write this: “A day of rest allows us to get that ‘heavenly’ perspective, to get away from the natural and into the supernatural. When we have faith, we can remain calm and contented, but when we don’t have faith, then we worry and fret and get anxious over every little thing.” Being in God’s presence is not only a gift because of what Jesus did, but is our source of joy for our souls. After a good or bad week, let us choose to enter the presence of God and be intentional about our time with Him.

“Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.” – Ezekiel 20:12

Rest. God wants to give us rest, just as He set an example and rested on the seventh day after the creation of the world. He wants to give us rest for our bodies, our souls, and our spirits. Will we let Him? Will we stop and give Him one day of the week to give us rest that can only come from Him?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:28

The Practice

Separate yourself. Get to a place where you can be alone with God. Go and just sit with Him for a while. Take some time to talk with Him about any worries or stresses you have in your life, as well as the joys. He already knows them, but He wants to hear them from you. Tell Him about the week you had and the week you’re getting ready to tackle. Rest in your conversation with Him and rest in doing restful things by yourself for a while.

Focus on Jesus. A lot of what I love to do on my sabbath days involves music and art. I love to paint and to pretend I’m good at lettering. I often worship Him by singing worship songs while writing them on paper. It helps me to focus my heart and my eyes back on Him, and to remember each week that He is my scope through which I see life. When I refocus my eyes and my heart on Him, I realize how big I’ve made everything else. He comes back on the throne of my life, and all those tests I’ve got in the upcoming week seem a lot smaller in importance.

Rest your body, mind, and soul. You work really hard during the week. Maybe you’re a student like me that works on homework and studying and life-balancing all week long. Maybe you’re a wife and a mother that often can’t find two seconds to sit down and rest. I beg you to fight for this sabbath time. Whatever that looks like for you, it is worth it. I promise. You need a day to stop and sit and breathe easy. God asks us to do it because it is good, friends. And that it is.

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So, what do you say? Let’s choose Sabbath together. If you’ve never done this before, right now is a great time to start. Plan your week with your Sabbath day in mind and choose to set that day aside. It probably seems crazy when you look at your planner with everything you need to get done. I know. But since when are God’s callings easy? Trust Him with this. He will bless you.

Even So – A Mental Struggle

A loving family, group of friends, and boyfriend. An amazing church family. Good grades at a school where I’m surrounded by professors and peers that seek God daily. (Finally) a roommate that’s willing to clean and take out trash every now and then. Heck, even this blog that God is using to reach people’s hearts in their most vulnerable moments.

All on paper my life was – is – the best it’s ever been, yet inside there was a hollow hurt that I could not seem to shake, a black smoke cloud that started in my heart, snuck up up up to my mind, and eventually spilled out in my actions and words.

I began to isolate myself. Instead of going to the school cafeteria with friends (we call it “the caf” here), I would eat alone in my room (I’ve never eaten so many lean cuisines in my life). Instead of making plans with my people on the weekends, I would get in my little blue car and drive home as soon as I could. The more I think about it, the more I wonder what I was hiding from. Shame? Embarrassment? The possibility of people misunderstanding me?

All I know is that I pushed back from my community when I needed them the most.

I felt alone – and sometimes still do – in my struggle with depression and anxiety. But how in the world were my people supposed to love me well if they had no idea the conditions in which they were loving me?

I know there are people who deal with what I deal with all around me, all around you, that are silent. I know it because for a while I was one of them.

If that’s you, if you’re struggling mentally and emotionally, please tell someone. This is not something you have to face alone. God has placed the people He’s placed around you to love you and fight with you. As someone who knows firsthand the feeling of isolation and shame, please hear me when I say it is freeing to tell a trusted loved one.

It is a sickness that is not easily understood, therefore causing much confusion and pain. You need your people and they need you to tell them so they can love you well.

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I’m still learning and still making it through this day by day, but I can tell you one thing.

Even so,
it is well.

No matter my thoughts on a given day, no matter the condition of my mental health, no matter how much of a failure I feel and how hard it seems to keep pressing into Jesus, I know the amount of energy it takes to do so doesn’t touch a morsel of the energy God has in loving me.

Even so, it is well with my soul.

Sing it with me?

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

What College Taught Me

Isn’t it funny that this is the goal? One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Graduate.

Samford would probably like for me to tell you that the most valuable thing I learned in my four years was how to market a product or how to act ethically in business or how to network with important people.

I’m writing today that this is not the case.

I’m here today to tell you that I learned how to do laundry by watching my friends do theirs in our freshmen community laundry room. I learned how to study my Bible from girls in my Bible study. I learned how healing community can be from my best friends made through God-sent circumstances. I learned how to love people well from my sorority sisters. I learned how to incorporate God’s truths in the workplace by watching my professors plan worship services for students after hours. I learned how to make a killer cup of hot chocolate and the joy of listening to “O Holy Night Bad Terrible Horrible Version” at Christmas time from my dear friend Elizabeth. I learned from my roommates how to be selfless in living in a box with a wonderful-yet-imperfect person. I learned the art of watching full seasons on Netflix. In the floor of my friends’ RA’s dorm room, I learned how to knit a scarf. My Bulldog Bucks taught me budgeting and how to say no to that second cup of coffee for the day from Einstein’s. I learned that Starbucks coffee is overrated and local coffee shops are the real deal. It taught me that loneliness isn’t as much about your surroundings, but more about your distance from those you call home.

Did I learn how to be a marketer? Sure, I did. But I learned so much more from you, SammyU. I grew up with you, with your people. So thanks for being a place where I could learn and thanks for sending me out with a great education, great memories, exceeded expectations, forever friends, and as a new – better – person.

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