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Redemption: A Valentine

Screen Shot 2013-02-14 at 12.32.12 AM7 years ago, on Valentine’s Day, The Lord redeemed me.

I remember it quite vividly—the strong voice of a mighty Spirit speaking to me, audibly, for the very first time. I knew it was the Lord because I learned what it felt like not to be alone. I love this part of my story.

Every year of my life I have been single on Valentine’s day. I don’t think this is by coincidence. And, honestly, The Lord has made it the sweetest time for me. Every year, my view of what Love is becomes sparklingly clear to me, not clouded by some poor reflection of love we so dearly crave and hold onto. I take this time to glorify Him, thank Him and reflect on what a Champion He’s been since the last spiritual birthday.

21 has been the hardest year of my life thus far, but I’m realizing that all of these trials are the most immaculate display of God’s love I could ever ask for.

I’ve learned that God is Jehovah Rapha, “The God who heals.” 8 courses of antibiotics, 6 courses of steroids and surgery during my last semester of college. Constantly ill, but The Lord sustained me, healed me and comforted me the whole time. There were tears. There were days I couldn’t get out of bed, but The Lord, my champion, knew I’d see His goodness. I’ve been healthy & thriving for almost 2 months now. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’m blown away and thankful for my Jehovah Rapha everyday I wake up healthy.

I’ve learned that God is the only Lover worth my complete devotion. I was in my first serious relationship this year. I fell in love and I fell in sin. I lost sight of who The Lord is by trading my time with Him for a man. I don’t regret deeply caring for this person at all, but I do have huge take-aways from my failure to keep Jesus the center of that love. I’ve realized quite quickly, no lover can satisfy my heart except the one I was created to love, the one who created love. I’m thankful that He is Jehovah-M’kaddesh, The Lord who Sanctifies. My heart is cleansed, my sins forgiven. There are days I’m bitter, broken and feel guilty. But when I look to Him, see His love, those feelings are replaced with ones from above —forgiven, whole, free. If I marry one day, I will be a better lover in light of this—not placing demands or expectations on a man he can’t stand up under. And I believe I have a fierce amount of love to give now that I know how much my Source has to give me.

I’ve learned that the God who created time can multiply it. I don’t know how I finished College early. I don’t know how I was able to handle the course load and a job for a large part of that time. My only answer is that I couldn’t, but He could. He showed off this year by honoring my commitment to Sabbath with multiplied hours, productivity and His awseomeness.

I’ve learned that the Lord is Jehovah-Jireh, The Lord who provides. I write this, 2 months after receiving a college degree, jobless. Many nights I have been kept up by this fact, striving and working so hard to change that; however, my striving will never change The Lord’s timing. My striving will never earn me blessing or grace. There’s beauty in that, but the enemy will continue to try to convince me I’ve failed Him. The beautiful and very poignent way The Lord is rebutting this lie from Satan is His daily provisions. I’ve received freelance jobs out of nowhere, gifts unexpected and provision like never before. I trust Him completely. I am not worried.

I’ve learned from my Friend how to be a better friend. I’ve learned I have the GREATEST friends—ones who call me out, let me cry, point me to The Lord and love me to pieces. Friends who love coffee, going on walks, animal memes, Outback, Bourbon and making things with their hands.

I’ve learned to go into a relationship trying only to give.

I’ve learned that there’s no limit to where my art can go because of the Fountain of creativity I was created from.

I’ve learned to ask Him for things—big, little, silly—becauase He cares.

He cares so much, y’all.

This is my season of life. These are the Joys I have in an uncertain time. This is how good and real and beautiful He is to me.

Today, I look to my Jehovah-Rohi, my shepherd, my great and eternal Valentine and ask Him to sweetly point me where to go—knowing He won’t reveal the plan to me all at once, because my small mind can’t handle or understand it. I think the most beutiful way I can sum up the encouragment that this post is supposed to be is a quote by Ryan O’neal of Sleeping At Last:

” It must be so hard, in the mess you’re always cleaning up,
to believe in the ghost of unbroken love.
but i promise you,
the truth is that you’re loved. so loved.”

Be blessed today.

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Finding Your Calling

In two weeks, I register for my first semester of senior year.

It is terrifying.

What do I want to do with my life?  Will I get a job?

Both of these are questions seem unanswered. But, I’m realizing slowly but surely, that if I figure out what I want to do and do it extraordinarily well, these concerns will melt.

I have a part time job this semester as a Junior Designer at NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC. My team is composed of some of the most talented people I know. They have helped me understand what it means to use talents for something that you’re passionate about. And isn’t that what talents are for?

All of the designers on my team have had non-ministry job at some point and have succeeded in those roles. But, they choose to live in a small town and work at a local church. It doesn’t make sense to most, but it absolutely inspires me. They love what they do, because they are behind the cause. They are called to give their lives to that cause, so they found a way to use their talents there.

This is just an example to challenge you. What are you passionate about? What do you want to change about the world?

Use your talents, whatever they may be, for the things where your heart lies.

The best work is developed because you put your heart and soul into it.

So, start.

You’ve got your whole life ahead of you, and even if your collegiate journey is ending, the adventure doesn’t have to.

Corey.

So the other day, my car battery died again.

I made it way bigger of a deal then it should have been, because I’m a girl, and we don’t fix cars. Or at least this girl doesn’t.

However, I ended up at the local Autozone having and 18/19 year old guy change out the battery in my car. His name was Corey.

I was in such a rush that day…having my battery be dead was messing with MY agenda, MY day, MY plan. All I wanted to do was get out of there, but God started telling me to talk to this guy about his life.

I asked him if he went to school in the area. He said that he had graduated from Pickens High last year. He then went on to tell me that he’d been working 14  HOUR DAYS for the past two days and had another one tomorrow. He didn’t get the privilege of college. But he was standing there, joyfully changing my car battery at 7pm when he’d been at work since 9 that morning.

This got me thinking about how ridiculously spoiled I am as a college student. I don’t have to face reality yet. I live in this perfect little world where my parents pay my tuition, I have amazing friends, very little responsibility and the Holy Spirit in me. But, I was at Autozone, complaining in my heart  about a CAR BATTERY.

How did I get there? How did I get to the point where I felt it was right for me to complain about ANYTHING, EVER?

Philippians 2 says this:

“14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning,15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

 

Shwew.

How often do I complain about classes? Professors? Burnt dinner? Stress? Busy-ness? People? Oh my word. None of it is near acceptable.

Sitting there talking to Corey, those words from Philippians hit me in the heart. Did Corey know Jesus? Was I being Jesus to him? Was I being a light to his world?

I may have been nice to him in words and smiles, but my heart was screaming, “Hurry up, I just need to get on with my day. You aren’t important.” SO. WRONG. Jesus cares for him. Jesus loves me so that I can love. I must love him. People are the most important mission we have on this earth. What a great honor that God wants to use us to be fishers of men! That is the win, y’all.

I ended up getting to invite Corey to NewSpring and Clemson FCA. But, I don’t know if he’ll come. I don’t know if he would want to. I wonder if he could see through my facade of smiles.

So, this is the challeng: Channel every bit of energy that tempts you to complain into LIGHT.

So worth it.

Finding Yourself.

I love to write. It’s something that makes sense to me…organizing your thoughts in whatever way you feel like. When you are the writer, you make the rules. I like this, because you’re making records of how you feel, but you can be as cryptic or as public as you wish. This past summer was a really hard time for me. I met someone who changed me. If I’ve ever been in love with anyone, it was him. However, “him,” was everything I didn’t need and everything I did all in one person. A lot about him helped me discover that I wasn’t really being myself, I still cared way too much about pleasing people. Way, WAY too much. He helped me become a true artist. He became my best friend, when I was in the absence of one. But there was a huge void in this relationship: Jesus. I thought I could change or force him into a relationship with God, but in reality, that just isn’t true. I am not God. I can not force salvation on anyone. In this time, I chose to be with someone who was helping me “find myself.” What does that even mean? I have my whole identity in Christ. That, right there, is where I went wrong. I had my identity…I just needed a more laid back personality. In this time, when I was choosing what God didn’t have for me, His voice was very extremely difficult to hear. I distanced myself from him and wouldn’t give up the thing that was keeping me from Him. I KNEW what I had to do, I just wouldn’t. But, I did keep active journals and writings everyday through this time, dictating my heart.

I hesitate to release this. Not because I’m still where I was when I wrote this, not because I haven’t fully healed of this relationship, but because I don’t want you to question like I did. Jesus is GOOD. He’s more than ENOUGH. He is PRESENT. He is always AVAILABLE to you. Don’t let this writing confuse you. Rather, let it spur you on towards a relationship with your savior that isn’t so shallow as to be swayed by such little things as earthly, temporal love. Let this encourage you to the arms of your Savior, His written word and helping those who are feeling as far from God as I did this summer, even though I was most assuredly saved. Be the ears to listen, be the person to ask “how are you doing” and actually care.

With that said, I am no longer at this state. This time grew me in ways that I can’t even begin to describe. I know this post is not theologically or even Biblically correct, but it is REAL. This is REALLY what I was feeling. This is me being honest. This is me saying things that people are afraid to. I was in a rebellious phase when this was written, I am so thankful for my picturesque childhood, but it was fitting to include it as part of this free-writing. So, basically take this with a grain of salt.

Then go and pray for God to show you people around you that you can help see Jesus more fully.

So, with no further adieu, this is a writing from this summer entitled, “Finding Yourself:”

“A raindrop falls from the sky. You see it land on the window you blankly stare out of, on the way to nowhere.

But, where will it go?

It may meld with another drop and travel a while. It may find its own path and slither through, not really knowing the others.

It may gather with many making a vein of life running gently in front of your eyes, strong and proud.

But does that gentle little drop ever have a choice? Does its parent cloud determine its final destination or just its origin? Are the cloud and the rain always connected? Are they really dependent on one another?

You are the rain drop.

You must fall.

Simply because of your identity. But where will you go? And how will you get there?

We really are all just subjects of gravity. But what or who is that gravitational force? And where does that gravity pull us? Are we falling towards eternity or oblivion? Should we have hope or just write it all off?

However you define this, we are all falling collectively. We can choose to help each other along, making that vein of life running through galaxies, not trapped by time.

Or,

We can be a detriment to everything and everyone around us, stealing the water of life from those who can’t make it on their own.

What will you choose? And how will you get there? Is it even your choice?

I’m Elizabeth Ross Wall.

Born to two conservative Christian parents, smack-dab in the middle of the Bible belt, in Greenville, SC on August 2, 1991.

An epicenter for engineering, my dad one of them. My mother, a “stay-at-home mom.”

And, of course, I am the middle child. One of three. I have an older brother, by two and a half years, and a younger sister, by three and a half. (I think the halves are considered important.)

We all have family names, and classic ones at that.

I come from a world where there were no questions- everything was absolute. Everything was concrete. Everything could be held in your hands. I never questioned that. I never questioned anything.

I don’t know where this is going. And I don’t know if I like it. But I know I have to find myself. And I know that I have to find a way to do it.

I begin this journey not knowing where it will end. I am still on this generic path to generic-ville. And I want badly to get off of it.

Lets take a jog together in a different direction.

THE PAST:

Moving.

Turning wildly.

Dancing.

Never stop.

“Stop.”

No, don’t.

“STOP.”

I’m scared to stop.

Stop.

Stillness.

Quiet.

This is uncomfortable. I don’t get to speak next, I’m subject to the words and discipline of someone else.

Letters, numbers, words, sounds, facial expressions, tune-out, goodbye.

I am me. I am three. In a world with no bounds, no limits, no spells, no rules, my OWN world.

Why do you label everything? Why must everything have a label, why can’t it just be what it is?

Like the “Bumble-ball” that I hold to the top of my head, letting it fill my body with the oscillations of its insides. How does it work? I don’t know and I don’t care. It is not a “Bumble-ball” at all. It is magic. It is joy. It is escape.

Escape is a feeling, not a thing. Why give a name to escape? But we must learn, conventionally. We must learn the way in which everyone else learns. Because that is the only way, right?

Convention: A generally excepted standard for all of society.

Why be all of society? Why not be three?

That began it all. That moment began my life of convention, of wealth, of concrete, of a solid rock, of answers, never questions.

I am writing this at the angriest and most confused point of my life.

I’ve never known any kind of anger other than the temporal kind. I feel strangely alive for the very first time. I’m throwing EVERYTHING out of the window. My five year plan: gone. My attachments to everything: gone. My concrete: gone.

My: gone.

My whole life, from the very beginning, I’ve been called an extrovert, but I’m not. I’m a closet introvert, really. I enjoy being alone, I enjoy silence. But I’ve always been taught that neither is okay, that something is wrong with you if you are okay with that way of life.

NOW:

What’s my name again?

I feel absolutely ridden with amnesia.

Delerious

Did this happen

Is this happening

How

When

Why

Huh?

What happens when you allow someone to change you?

Do you fight it

Do you stop it

Do you allow it?

I no longer know my identity, which means someone has to define it.

Terror.

So, this is how this feels.

…..

Wake up.

Light

Burning light

Ouch

Who where what how why where wh what wh wha, huh?

White, all white

No one I know decorates in all white

Who do I know?

How do I know them?

I don’t know anything.

What’s my name again?

I don’t know you.

But you can tell me who I am?

Do I trust you, Do I scream, Do I run, Do I listen with closed heart and mind?

Who is the truth, What is the truth, Where is the truth?

Are you the only one willing to show me this relativity?

I think of him everytime I hear the word “because” said with a a certain length of the “au” syllable being spoken more like an long “o” sound.

I’m scared I don’t know who I am without you.

Jesus has always been my everything, but somehow I don’t hear His voice, rather yours echoing in my head all day and night.

Why is that?