An overarching phrase for the last year of my life could read something like, "God wastes nothing". Lately I've been reflecting on God's goodness and am finding myself so overwhelmed by the work He has done since my return to Kona, Hawaii. Neither my heart nor life are the same.
I feel led to share with you a small journey through my journal. Written below are 20 different lines recorded chronologically, beginning from last fall until this spring. Some of the snippets you will read are not so glamorous. They are not all full of Biblical truth, and they are not all pretty. What I love about God is how He carries us through the processes of life. We are never meant to be stuck in one place. Though we may experience heart-wrenching situations, there is always a restorative plan for us. Let us not despise the process or the mistakes. (I have made many of those.) But let us be people who grow, grow, and grow.
I hope you are encouraged to embrace the processes of life. No matter what, may you keep your gaze fixed heavenward and may your heart find true rest in Him.
Thank You, God, for using everything.
#1 - LET IT BE
It's true, I'm really not able to lead or step out on my own. I AM pretty frail, weak, exhausted, inadequate... but if my sweet, sweet Jesus can get even an ounce of the glory He deserves through my willingness and obedience... then let it be.
#2 - THE PRESSURE
Where's the Erika who claims to be hope-filled, right? I'm not losing hope... I'm just saying it like it is. This is real freaking hard some days. I'm just tired... tired of all of it. Tired of having to explain myself. Tired of letting people down. Tired of not living fully. Tired of discouragement. Tired of being misunderstood. God! I am tired! I need relief! I need You!
#3 - MY MOTIVES
Am in this neat missions endeavor to make myself look better? To feel good about myself? To truly glorify God? To serve Him and others? If you look at the way I spend my time, you would say I really value myself a whole heck of a lot.
#4 - PEOPLE PLEASING
What is a missionary? A missionary can be anything, but here is what it is not: a missionary is not perfect, not any more put together, not exempt from hurt of pain, not more special, not an easier life, not more loved by God... I feel the pressure right now to be someone I absolutely am not. I am extremely overwhelmed. I am upset with myself.
#5 - MISUNDERSTOOD
"Erika, my daughter. You need to give up your right to be understood. You need to hand your fears of being misunderstood. You have a lot of fear right now. You don't ever stop worrying what others are thinking about you. You can't have perfection. Let it go, Erika. You must."
#6 - SHAKE AWAY FEAR
I see how I am allowing fear to hold me back. I will just call it as it is and flat out address the issue as fear. I have some sort of trust problem and feel the need to uphold a certain kind of reputation which is also driven and motivated by fear from past failures, hurts, and experiences.
#7 - SOMEONE SAW GOLD
Erin told me yesterday she believes this is a time where I am learning to fight. Learning to fight over my identity - God's promises over my life - and receive grace over myself. Something happens when a community becomes vulnerable with one another. I'm learning what it looks like to invite people into the mess of life. It's no use acting like we've got it all figured out!
#8 - RISE ABOVE IT
Learning to live without being controlled by feelings or emotions is very, very hard when you are a sensitive person and physical pain stares you in the face. How do I rise above it? How do I choose to look past this and live in joy? God has given me so, so much. More than I could ever deserve. And yet, I struggle. I get caught up in my self-pity and become consumed with my people-pleasing, always caring too much what people think of me. The extra stress is stupid, really. No one is pressuring me but me.
#9 - THOUGH I CAN'T SEE
There is something God is up to. I'm not entirely sure what He is doing or trying to do, but I think I need to trust the process and embrace Him through it. He has been consistently trying to show me how He has not forgotten me. How he cares even about the smallest, simplest things!
#10 - ANCHORED
Always having hope. Living in a place of constant hope. There's not even an option to choose any differently. HOPE. Hope that is anchored in the veil. My heart cannot go to despair. It has seen God save and carry me through too many times! He WILL restore my life and make all things new. Comfort, grace, mercy...
#11 - AS I AM
I have to be me. I am already loved for who I am. And maybe it's messy and raw. But it's me. And the King is in love with me.
#12 - MOVEMENT
...there is something so wonderfully beautiful found in the process. The rants, the sloppy word vomits, the revelations sprawled across paper. I can see where I have grown. You can see my thought-train and how I come to understand certain parts of myself, life, and God's character. I can be a bit all over the place, but it's cool to see what was being highlighted and worked on.
#13 - A SHIFT
Today, my best friend told me, "I can hear the hope in your voice". It's a new season, and I am hopeful.
#14 - PRUNING
I have not been very nice towards myself lately. My view of and towards myself has been very much based off of emotion. When I'm happier, or surrounded by people, I feel beautiful. When I'm slightly struggling, it's enough to throw myself into destructive thought patterns toward myself. This afternoon around 2:30, I needed to get honest. With myself and before God.
#15 - NO ONE COMPARES
Stir my hunger, grow my affections for you, Jesus. There must be more... what are You like? Show me deeper portions of your heart. May I just have a glimpse? I want to see you rightly. Oh, to love You all the days of my life! I can't get enough! You are endlessly good and kind! Thank you for hearing my cry! What a Father you are to me!
#16 - DAILY DOSE OF LOVE
Oh, to be in love with Jesus! He really is the kindest! Everything about Him is saturated in love. It's who He is. So faithful to me. There is so much to Him. Endless love, endless kindness. There's not an ounce of condemnation in anything He does or says. He is only motivated by love. This just blows me away.
#17 - HE KNOWS BETTER
Oh, Jesus. I never knew a rejection email could reflect so much of your heart.
#18 - FREE TO BE ME
Honestly, I am so weak. And it's crazy to admit that after coming off of such an absolutely amazing week. But I think that's where the beauty is to be found... I am seeing more and more of my need for Jesus in my life. A very great need. I thought I could have this thing figured out. I thought I could please and impress. Nope. Not in the least bit. I am not a savior. I am not responsible for carrying others. I do not need the answers. I do not have to acquire fame, popularity, or achieve a cool status. I am Erika Anne Spitler. I am created this way for a reason, and I do not have to apologize for it, hold back, shy away, or think less of myself.
#19 - MY FOREVER HOME
God's presence always feels safe. I feel welcomed, accepted, and actually wanted. There's never the slightest tinge of rejection in HIm. Loneliness isn't a thing I have to fully know or experience when with Him. I can sit alone in a cafeteria and feel confidently safe. He's got me. Whether alone or with a multitude of friends, He's there.
#20 - THE FAITHFUL PURSUIT
Thank You for making life a beautiful journey. Even when it's hard to believe the truth, I remind myself that You are the very kindest and You have never taken back Your word. Thank You for Your company, Your chats, Your jokes, Your flowers, Your stories, Your character, Your love. Thank You for not being up and down or all over the place, but instead being One who is steadfast, constant, unchanging, and always exciting! I love that You are unchanging, because there is nothing about You to change! You are already so perfect. Everything I've ever wanted, I get to find in You each day!