It’s Sunday – my favorite day of the entire week! It’s been a LONG time since I’ve written a blog post and I’m gonna be honest, it’s because things haven’t exactly been “smooth sailing” lately. Life, as is true for everyone, has had it’s ups and downs…it’s just that the downs have been lower than usual and the ups, not quite so high.
I was so grateful to be back at church this weekend! Last weekend I was visiting Michigan for school orientation and I visited a new church – it was alright, but not MINE! Nothing ever will be and that’s something I’m going to have to deal with come this fall, but for now – I’m going to revel in the beauty and inspiration that my own church provides.
Today, during the children’s sermon (yes, you can laugh – I’m 21 and still LOVE to hear the children’s sermon.) our pastor talked about how we are similar to salt shakers. He spoke about how Jesus fills us up (like a salt shaker is filled with salt) and then when we go through a rough time in life and get shaken around, our true insides come out and show…sort of like that saying, our “true colors show”. I thought that this was a really neat concept and it got me thinking about my own life and my own experiences.
I think it’s important to consider what exactly we are filling ourselves up with on a day to day basis. I’m not talking food here – that’s an entirely different post. I’m talking about what we feed our souls….the friends we have, the people we interact with, the thoughts we think, our attitudes, our words, the way we live our lives and interact with others, and most importantly – the role that God plays in all of this. We have a choice as to what we fill ourselves up with. And if we choose worldly, temporary things we have to know that when we go through a rough time in our lives and we get shaken up – what comes out might not be so pretty. Our true colors might be a really disgusting shade of brown or grey.
I speak from experience here when I say that the hardest messes to clean up in our lives are usually the ones we create for ourselves. Hear me out here as I share my own struggles. Eating disorders are NOT a choice, nor are they caused by a possession of the devil or anything like that…but each individual’s disorder is driven by different things. I can only speak from my first hand experience with anorexia and say that I was filled up with some really hideous things and when life got hard and the world shook me up – only dirt came out.
It’s all the usual things: depression, anxiety, self harm, negative self talk, self esteem poorer than the world’s most desolate country, perfectionism, family issues, and the list goes on and on…throw in a topping of music performance and extreme pressure and stress and it’s what is often referred to as, “The Perfect Storm”. That was my life. I didn’t know what I was getting into and it was by no means a choice that I made…but I had to make the choice to get myself out of that situation and I have to make a choice every single day to STAY out of that situation.
My salt shaker was filled to the brim – I had a perfect, clean cut life (on the outside). I was a musician in a small town – well known thanks to my father and his music career, straight A (except for French and Physics) student, well liked by teachers and adults, a role model for younger aspiring musicians, and extreme perfectionist – a trait, for better or for worse, that’s wired into my personality. I had a small group of good friends, and was chasing dreams. I had a plan for my life and was planning on going places – big places. Places that, at the time, I thought I could get to by my own doing. Places I had never been before, but was sure I could handle traveling to and through on my own. I was so very wrong. My salt shaker was filled up with all these amazing things…but some moisture seeped in there and the salt began to clump up. Life was coming at me faster than I could possible run to keep up with it and my world began to crumble. After all, every realistic person knows that perfection is unattainable…but Satan was there on my shoulder, whispering in my ear that if I wanted to keep my “status”, my “friends”, my “respect” from teachers and adults and colleagues that I HAD to keep being “perfect.” So I struggled and…then I struggled some more..and some more. And well, then I failed.
I got so shaken up by the events of my life, the struggles of day to day life, the whirl-wind of catastrophic events that when I was tipped upside down and shaken to the core…all the ugliness that I thought I had hidden underneath the “perfect” life I lived came out…I was exposed. Everyone saw what and who I really was…and it was not a pleasant experience.
Not a pleasant experience – but a necessary one. Before you can address a problem in your life, you must first realize that there IS one.
One is a gross understatement…I had MANY problems, most of which I am still working on and through. After all, life is a journey right? Little steps..one day at a time. But the good thing is that, now that I’ve realized that I can’t walk this path alone and I’ve grasped tightly onto Jesus’ hand (and I’M NEVER LETTING GO!!) when I get shaken up (and I do – lots) my true self comes out…the self that was beneath all that clumped up salt.
The “self” that knows that Jesus is my everything. The “self” that accepts and knows Him as Savior, King, and Almighty God. The “self” that knows that He loves me – not because of anything I’ve done, but because of what He CHOSE to do…not because of how I “earned” love, but because He chooses to give it…not because I am so good, but because HE is so good! This is the “self” that is absolutely HORRIBLE at surfing, but chooses to ride the waves because I know that God is good and will never give me more than He knows me to be capable of handling. I know a God who makes no mistakes, who is never late, and NEVER EVER FAILS. This is my truth – this is what fills me up! I am choosing everyday to fight for my life, for my happiness, but most importantly – to live the life God has called me to lead and to…even when I get shaken up – ESPECIALLY when I get shaken up…share His love and mercy and grace with everyone around me.
As humans, we are like salt shakers…filled with SOMETHING. What will you choose to be filled with? We will all get shaken up at times – it’s inevitable. It’s a part of our learning process and it definitely pushes us to grow and to seek out our strength and push the limits of our courage. I allowed myself to be filled up with worldly things and the devil took advantage of that in my life. But I’m winning my life back now – day by day, moment by moment. I’m choosing to be filled up with the love of Christ and to share that with everyone I meet.
I challenge you this week to ask yourself each day, multiple times a day – is what I’m doing, saying, my attitudes, my thoughts…are they filling me up with something that I don’t mind the entire world seeing in me when I get shaken up?
Seek out the truth. Pray on it. And walk forward in confidence, knowing that God is a God who never, ever leaves us or forsakes us – He is unfailing and all loving.
“May we be strengthened with the understanding that being blessed does not mean that we shall always be spared all the disappointments and difficulties of life.”
― Heber J. Grant